Published: 26th May 2021
Boundless, a foreign language institute, helps students looking to study in Europe learn French and German holistically
Boundless is a Kochi-based institute that offers French and German training to aspirants by taking the cultural aspects of the language into account
In January, 2019, Jaison and Tijitha Sabu had just returned to India. Jaison, an MBA graduate from Hult International Business School London, and Tijitha, who was a primary school teacher in Switzerland, had just welcomed their first child when the idea hit them. Why not establish a foreign language institute that understands and takes culture into account?
Boundless was first set up in Kakkanad, Kochi, with a single batch. With her experience in the Swiss education system, Tijitha has near native proficiency in both German and French, so the institute offers both these languages for students hoping to study abroad. Just two years later, they have six batches running parallel. And thanks to their tech-forward team, they immediately transitioned to remote learning during the pandemic.
SPEAK UP: Students are introduced to various concepts
In terms of curriculum, their vision is to bring world-class foreign language education to their hometown. The focus is not entirely on students picking up the language simply to get through the visa interview or to reach a certain level in their application. With Boundless, they want students to absorb the language holistically. So the classes come with free culture coaching to explain to them how German culture is different from Indian culture and about the things they would need to keep in mind when they travel there.
Students who join the institute are those who may have failed their A1, A2, B1 or B2 exams multiple times. No points for guessing that they pass these very exams after training with Boundless. “One of the things we always make sure of is to hire highly qualified teachers,” says Jaison, “Generally in the market, there are many courses for spoken languages but they are all taught by people who have just passed out themselves. We can find A2 level teachers teaching A1 level students. We don’t do that here. Our minimum qualification is C1 and the hiring process became easier when we went remote because we could hire teachers from all over the country.” This year, they also hired two trainers from Austria and Germany.
PASS POINT: The focus is not simply on passing exams
When the feedback came in, it was clear that people were adamant on preparing exclusively for exams. So the syllabus evolved into a blended one. “It’s not just the ‘pass-the-exams' model. We introduce the students to apps that help you learn German when you are actually living there. This will help them pick up words daily. It may not help you pass but it definitely helps you assimilate. The blended model is the best of both worlds,” Jaison opines.
He continues, “One big struggle we notice for students here, especially in Kerala, is that there is a high volume of aspirants, but not enough exam centres. So there have always been long queues in institutions here. Students also have to travel all the way to Coimbatore, Hyderabad or Gujarat, which can be stressful when you are already planning to move abroad. In Kerala, there is a monopoly of sorts on this and we wanted to do something about it.”
After two years of chasing documents and permissions, they very recently established their own exam centre. And exactly one day before the second lockdown was declared in the state, they conducted their first exam. Currently, they are waiting for the lockdown to lift to conduct their next round. So far, 347 students in 56 batches across 14 countries have passed out through the Boundless programme.