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Design Student Devises a New Way to Learn Kannada. And It’s Visually Spectacular!

Sakshi’s project promises to make learning the language fun and engaging.

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Moving to a new city, one often finds themselves a little lost in the beginning. The environment, atmosphere, culture and language change. That was also the case for Sakshi Gaggar, a fourth-year student of Visual Communication Design at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru.

Sakshi arrived at Bengaluru 4 years ago, from Mumbai, but didn’t learn Kannada until recently. Like her classmates, she didn’t see the need to learn the language, since Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan city, and English and Hindi work fine.

However, while staying in her P.G, she met a few people, who were keen to learn the language. While there are websites and apps to teach Kannada, the average migrant still finds it hard to grasp the nuances.

Sakshi’s research revealed that the lack of interest to learn the language stemmed from time constraints, resources available and the necessity to speak. An online survey and a questionnaire and interview with various migrants, helped her understand how important learning a local language was, and the issues encountered while doing so.

Sakshi then conceptualised Kannada Kaliyiri. Her project aims to aid migrants looking to learn the language, via visual aid.

Kannada Kaliyiri's study material. Picture Courtesy: Sakshi Gaggar.
Kannada Kaliyiri’s study material. Picture Courtesy: Sakshi Gaggar.

For this project, Sakshi has concentrated on reading and spoken Kannada. She credits her brain-child to the need to belong to a place. The challenges that she faced included using the Devanagari script on the computer keypad.

Sakshi believes that in India, diversity in language leads to communication gaps. Simple tools like this can motivate and inspire people to learn the language and be more confident. She also realised that Hindi would be an ideal bridge language for people to learn Kannada. The method however, can be replicated across various languages.

Kannada Kaliyiri’s brilliance is in its simplicity. The identity of the project is reflected in its form. Fun, rounded and colourful, it evokes curiosity. Sakshi realised that a lot of people are not tech-savvy, which led her to make the Kannada learning experience fun and seamless.

Sakshi’s project includes the following:

Kannada Varnamala/Reading Chart — Designed cleverly, this associates the form of each letter of the Kannada alphabet series to the form of the object that begins with it, which makes learning fun, as people associate this with a game. For example, for the term “mother”, the illustration is of a woman holding a child. This chart contains both vowels and consonants.

Kannada-Hindi Manual — This manual helps translate Kannada words to Hindi, and vice versa. It simplifies learning by laying down words based on their first letter, and further breaking them down across ten categories, namely—pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, time, relation, number, food articles, greetings and questions. Instead of teaching full sentences, it encourages people to get the basics of the language right and create their own sentences.

GIF Series — This series associates letters with photos of objects. It would work well as a screen display in a public place.

The Kannada Kaliyiri approach thus is three-pronged.

The Kannada Varnamala. Picture Courtesy: Sakshi Gaggar.
The Kannada Varnamala. Picture Courtesy: Sakshi Gaggar.

With its book, it aims to help migrants learn words, to form sentences later. As for the chart, it assists in learning letters of the Kannada alphabet. The GIF’s, if implemented at public places, like bus-stops and metro stations, will be able to help people brush up their Kannada-speaking skills on the go. The GIF series comprises of six letters, which form around the object and what they stand for, hence associating the form of each letter to that of the object.

The project also includes an extremely portable book, which you can carry around, to brush up your linguistic skills on the go!

Sakshi tested this initiative with multiple users. The results were quite positive, and people found her idea engaging, handy and fun.


You may also like: 10 Unusual Facts About Indian Languages. How Many Do You Know?


Living in Bengaluru doesn’t require a person to know Kannada, but learning the language definitely helps. It aids in helping you immerse yourself in an entirely new culture, learning new customs, and discover something new, while you express yourself in fluent Kannada.

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