We acquire language only if we receive copious amounts of rich, compelling, and comprehensible input. Thus our long-term goals are twofold:
Provide rich, compelling, and comprehensible input to the greatest extend that we can.
Encourage and motivate learners by whatever means we can.
Input is compelling if it is something we want to read for its meaning. People are different and have different tastes, so what is compelling to one person will not be compelling to another.
Based on reader surveys, there are several subjects that might be highly compelling, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Vedas and Upanishads, Buddhist stories and sutras, and traditional grammar. We will focus our attention on these areas, though we will happily develop other resources as requested.
Input is rich if it is complex enough to contain features that we are ready to acquire. If we spread our resources across multiple series, we potentially sacrifice their depth and richness, which limits how much a reader can actually learn.
Based on reader surveys, we will focus our resources on two subjects from the list above, namely the Ramayana and Sanskrit grammar. Thus we have our Ramayana series, which tells the story of Rama with gradual Sanskrit that gets harder over time, and our nascent vyākaraṇa series, which teaches Sanskrit grammar in Sanskrit.
Although these two series will take priority, we will develop other series depending on user requests.
We currently make input comprehensible through word, phrase, and sentence translations, but our current system still has important limitations.:
Some words are too difficult to briefly translate because they depend upon cultural context, and as of today, our system cannot easily handle this;
Some words have different meanings in different syntactic contexts (e.g. kim can mean "what?" or "why?" but also can indicate a yes/no question when at the start of a sentence), which our current system cannot easily capture;
If the grammar of a word is so unclear that it interferes with comprehension, our readers currently have no recourse other than to consult an external resource.
Of these, the most urgent is the third, and we will continue to develop our tools for making input comprehensible.
We have partially made input accessible by improving our mobile display and by giving readers the power to choose which script to use. But in terms of convenience, the most critical need is story audio, followed shortly by providing translations in non-English languages like Hindi. We hope to provide both of these in time.
One of the critical factors in learning a new language is community. In any endeavor, friends can motivate and encourage us, and they can help us resolve important doubts as well.
The communities of Sanskrit learners are scattered and hard to find, so building and nurturing a community of learners committed to communicative Sanskrit is an important long-term goal.
January 2021 – Public launch
2021? – Story audio for 10% of the books in our library.
2021? – Create a Hindi version of our project that contains at least 10% of the books in our library.
2021? – Complete the Ramayana series.
2021? – Provide 50,000 total words of Sanskrit input.