The Shape of Letters

During my trip to Ahmedabad a couple of weeks ago, I spent an evening with Kalapi and Satya discussing type. We were talking about how we learn to write, and Kalapi complained that the process of teaching children how to write Gujarati in schools is very hurried. They are quickly taught how to write the alphabet and on to the barahkhadi before they know it.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about how quickly or slowly or effectively I was taught how to write Hindi or English in school. All I remember is that I was very enthusiastic about learning. My recent experiences with script primers have not been bad. When I was learning to write Kannada, the books I used had a section on drawing basic shapes before one was introduced to the alphabet.

The book that really takes the cake is a three-part Tamil script primer a friend got back from home. The first part only teaches the shapes that form the basis of the Tamil alphabet, and to do that it compares them to day-to-day objects a child would be familiar with. Learn how to write Tamil using pictures of rain, a whistle and a telephone receiver!


Comments 3

  1. Mukund Gokhale August 6, 2011

    First step is to teach them is the phonetic relatinship of the aksharas ie. to teach them phonography. Teaching alphabets with object similarityshould be treated as an secondary step. Teaching alphabets with shape similarity without giving thought to the rich phonetic tradition of India is the danger signal for urther studies in languages.

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