Critical Language Scholarship Program | Kolkata, India

Kolkata, India

Program Dates:

June 15 - August 20, 2017

Hosting Institution:

American Institute of Indian Studies

Program Overview

The CLS Bangla Program in Kolkata, India is a flexible and learner-oriented language acquisition and cultural immersion program. Students spend 20 hours per week in the classroom, with additional activities, classes and excursions outside of these hours.

Kolkata is the capital of the state of West Bengal, India, and is located near the border between India and Bangladesh. With a population of 4.5 million, Kolkata is the largest city in East India and the third largest in India after New Delhi and Mumbai. In the 19th and early 20th century, it was the center of the Bengal Renaissance, a period of great growth in art, science and culture. The hosting organization in Kolkata is the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS). AIIS is a consortium of 71 American universities with South Asia Studies Centers and is recognized by the Government of India as an institution of higher learning and research. AIIS has been instructing American university students and scholars in Indic languages for over 50 years.

In Kolkata, students will spend their time in grammar, conversation, pronunciation, journal writing, and dictation language classes in order to hone the four skills of language development – listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The CLS Program works with students to set both short and long term learning goals, and the faculty works collectively and individually to help students achieve these goals throughout the summer institute. Students are placed in small classes according to their level indicated on their application, the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) exam score from the spring, and an in-country placement test.

In addition to formal evaluations such as tests and quizzes, student–teacher meetings are held every week to discuss student progress and language-learning goals. Classes are held five days a week from 9am until 1pm. In the afternoons, students attend a cultural activity class or meet with their Language Partner for Bangla conversation practice. In the past, students have had a choice of singing, dancing, storytelling, cooking, or painting as their cultural activity class. Students also can complete homework in the afternoons with the help of teachers, or request additional tutoring.

Weekly activities supplement formal classroom instruction and include guest lectures, monolingual guests such as shopkeepers or tradespeople, and music and dance performances. Several local group excursions take place over the summer, allowing students to explore the area, gain in-depth knowledge of culture and history, and meet locals from different backgrounds. In the past, such cultural excursions have included visits to College Street, the Rabindrabharati Museum, and Kumartuli. Students also travel on one overnight excursion to Bishnupur. Towards the end of the program, each student works with his or her instructors to complete an independent project of their choosing. In the final week of the program, students of all levels present their projects entirely in Bangla to their classmates. CLS participants live with host families to maximize language learning and the cultural immersion experience. In the mornings, institute-provided transportation picks up students from their homes and takes them to school. In the afternoons, students are free to stay in the institute to study, or arrange their own transportation home or around the city. While most weekends are scheduled with CLS excursions or activities, students have 2-3 free weekends over the summer which they can use to rest or travel around the state or country, distance permitting.