India: Children in this remote Maharashtra village speak Japanese, thanks to their passion for robotics

Dubai: Children speaking Japanese in a remote Indian village school is not something you would expect to hear. But, it was fascination for robotics, that inspired pupils of a a small school run by the local administration in Gadiwat village, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, to learn Japanese.

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According to news reports being shared by Indian Twitter users today, internet connectivity proved to be a boon for these students. 

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Apparently, the the village locate 25kms from Aurangabad city, and doesn’t really have access to good roads and other necessary infrastructure.

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Last year, in September, the government-run school decided to launch a foreign language programme. Students from grades four to eight were asked to choose a foreign language, they would like to learn.

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“Surprisingly, most of them said they were interested in robotics and technology and were keen to learn Japanese,” said Dadasaheb Navpute, a secondary teacher at the school, according to a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI)

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However, the school administration wasn’t completely equipped for this. They did not have proper course material, or professional guidance to teach Japanese.

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Inspired by the students’ wish to learn, teachers started collecting information from videos and translation applications on the Internet.

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When Sunil Jogdeo, an Aurangabad-based language expert heard about the school’s initiative, he approached them with a plan to conduct hour-long evening classes virtually for free.

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“I have conducted 20 to 22 sessions since July. Children are dedicated and eager to learn. It is amazing how much they have picked up in this short span,” Jogdeo said, according to a news report.

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Since all students do not have access to a smartphone to attend online classes, the school came up with another interesting system called vishay mitra (subject friend), in which students who attended the online classes would further teach classmates, who had no access to smartphones.

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The students started practicing among themselves. “Ever since the online classes with Jogdeo started in July, children have been speaking with each other in Japanese,” Padmakar Huljute, school headmaster, said.

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“We first learnt some basic words and now we are gradually learning how to communicate in complete sentences,” said Vaishnavi Kolge, a grade 8 student and the daughter of a farmer-couple.

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Ramesh Thakur, education extension officer of the area, said that the school has more than 350 students, of which 70 have been learning Japanese.

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