Imphal: Enchanted Institute of Foreign Languages (EIFL) celebrates its first day of foundation on Sunday. It is a language learning institute founded on August 21, 2021.
EIFL was born out of a call to make language learning more accessible and manageable for students in the Northeast to get ahead in their careers. With the ambition to arouse and encourage new students to follow a foreign language course. The Institute began with an introductory course in French followed by Korean and Manipuri. The Institute is happy to add other languages as long as there are willing and motivated learners.
In terms of the opportunities and potential in the northeast, particularly in Manipur, where people grew up learning or favoring another language from the start of their schooling, making a living from language learning and leveraging it seems fair enough. As the world emerges into a global village with advanced technologies, the team believes there is no better time than now to equip students in the region with language skills. Staff from all continents can more than ever interact, work and cross paths in each other’s lives.
The Institute of Foreign Languages was founded by three women, Thingshung Christin, Yarmi Sayai and Zenngaihlun from Manipur, who left their lucrative jobs at the University of Delhi et al. introduce a foreign language to the region. They reflect a new model of urban education, leaving well-paying jobs to give back to their roots.
Born and raised in Imphal, Christin obtained her B.Com (Hons) from SRCC and her MA in French Language and Literature from EFLU, Hyderabad. She holds an Advanced Diploma in French from St. Stephens, DU, and teaches at LMA Dimapur. Yarmi comes from Ukhrul. She holds an MA in French and Francophone Literature from JNU, New Delhi, and an M. Phil degree in French Literature from DU. Recipient of the Charpak scholarship from the French Embassy, she followed a Master’s program at the University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, France. Zen comes from Churachandpur. She holds an MA in French Translation from JNU, New Delhi, and is a recipient of the UGC/NET JRF Fellowship. Yarmi and Zen have previously taught at the University of Delhi.
Growing up, Yarmi recalls that her only dream was to become a college professor. However, after spending a year in the south of France for her master’s program, she began to consider a French connection in the northeast. Then, while teaching at the University of Delhi, she meets Zen. It was a pivotal moment for Yarmi, who decided to return home and start her dream. At home, she came into contact with Christin, who also harbored similar dreams.
After many discussions about where to start the institute, Christin wanting Imphal and Yarmi wanting Ukhrul, they got in touch with Zen and finally settled on Imphal. “It’s not something we started out of nowhere,” Yarmi said. “The aspiration has been there for many years. The planning and discussions that took place in 2020 did not materialize until 2021.”
Reflecting on their EILF journey, Christin mentions that the idea came about 5/6 years ago. After her return from France, Yarmi became something of a mentor while Zen helped her pass the JNU entrance exam. Meanwhile, Christin contacted Zen, asking him to be one of the founders of the EIFL, which Zen readily accepted. That’s when the team started planning.
Initially, Zen mentioned that she was worried about starting a foreign language institution because it was a novelty. Yet she realized it was a golden opportunity to provide a more equitable education to the region. She points out that school children in metropolitan cities take a number of foreign language courses while the state does not have such facilities. With these prospects in mind, the team decided to move forward with their plans.
The Institute started with the introductory French course with 12 lessons of one and a half hours each, as the curation of the tailor-made courses by the founding members, bringing together what they feel is vital for beginners. The Institute also introduces the A1 course, which is similar to a beginner level. But then, with the A1 course, they followed a proper manual and program and went for a week three times for three months. The duration of the course is repeated by one and a half hours. If anyone would like to register for a more advanced level, EIFL is welcome. But from now on, the Institute provides the A1 course. But they are ready to upgrade to B2 level.
Courses A1 and A2 are compulsory; each international language has its level given by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). The common reference provides the framework for European languages. So, in this particular CEFR, they have levels A1, A2, B1, B2, and C1 and C2, consisting of six levels. This applies to European languages like Spanish and French. EIFL begins with an introductory course, which is just an introduction, talking about the culture the language entails, pronunciation, the alphabet and basic grammar. Then move on to A1, where the Institute starts working on a given textbook below the CEFR level. The CEFR has an international example, the DELF, which is still called the Diploma in English. This diploma is valid all over the world, it is basically like TOEFL and IELTS.
The main obstacle and biggest challenge facing the Institute right now is that the people of the region are lagging behind, but they are naive and innocent due to a lack of awareness. And they are not ready to accept and invest in language. Young people lacked the information that learning a foreign language can help them get better jobs in the market, including their parents and guardians. So many young people are unaware of the benefits and opportunities that come with a foreign language.
When Yarmi and Christin visited schools in Ukhrul, Manipur, all the head teachers they spoke to raised the same issue: parents don’t have enough money to fund extra lessons due to financial problems. . Every parent struggles to help their child with school fees; additional fees and courses will add extra costs, and it will be an extra burden.
The team believed that things would work out for them if the lack of awareness was resolved. Zen exclaimed that when she was studying French she had to be a second person in the Paite community, and every time Zen came home from vacation she was bombarded with questions like “what are you going to do with French? With a foreign language? Zen says these are skill sets that not only set her apart, but put her ahead, among her co-workers, in jobs, or in whatever she does. The sad thing is that there is no awareness, and the region still does not know the right skills to develop the region.
Even though the road is not well paved, Yarmi is in a good mood. She believed that the Institute was progressing; even if they don’t have a stable income but still survive.
Talking about giving them opportunities, even if the chance is up for grabs, they’re just blindfolded, laments Christin. Christin continues that even though we tell them it’s possible, a second problem creeps in, and that’s funding. No one thinks investing in a foreign language is a priority, and they think it’s just an extra thing they can add on top of their education if it doesn’t work out. So in fact, that’s not the case.
People who have worked inside and outside the company would know that having a high and shiny degree, without proper communication skills or technical know-how, is not enough to survive, or you could not find work. ‘use. It is the same with foreign languages. Because in this world, no company works by itself, and it works with different companies.
Speaking only English is very limited now in this global world, and in this rapidly developing world, you have to equip yourself with different languages. EILF’s biggest challenge is to break down the importance of language and create regional awareness.
We have no models to follow. So, many students ask, what after learning a foreign language? Do you get a job immediately? Or what are the prospects? They didn’t see anyone in the community who had learned a foreign language and made a career out of it. It’s, again, a lack of information plus a lack perhaps of a role model they can go to. So that adds to the obstacle.
The EIFL is independent and private. They have no funding and are not affiliated with any institute or university.
The Institute aims to reach more students and help them acquire language skills that will enable them to progress in their careers. With globalization, the rapidly increasing demand for professionals with language expertise is growing. The team aims to generate interest, educate and raise awareness in the region about the opportunities that language learning can bring, enabling them to acquire the language skills needed to more easily obtain higher paying employment. The Institute seeks to empower young people and provide guidance, engaging them in this global world. It is also their aim to provide a platform for cultural exchange where different cultures are learned, embraced and celebrated, making quality skills education accessible to motivated learners. At EIFL, the team is committed to providing learners with accessible and concise lessons that are fun for the workforce to learn and practice.
So far, the Institute has had many successes as such, who have learned a foreign language with us and obtained a scholarship abroad, or have already obtained a job in an MNC or in a university. But in the future, the Institute looks forward to the success stories which are its priority. The institute also seeks to spread and grow; considering having a base at Imphal, Ukhrul and Churachandpur.
The team planned to expand and successfully introduced a regional language – spoken Manipuri. And in foreign languages, they look forward to adding Chinese and Japanese by this year and starting with a batch or two.
EIFL looks forward to bringing new awareness and imparting skills to students in the North East and, at the same time, raising awareness of foreign languages and their scope.
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