I (Neil) have spent the last few weeks in an intensive month-long Tamil program. It's been pretty good and has given me a good foundation for more learning in the future, but being conversational is still a ways away. One problem is just finding people to practice with as most people only want to speak English with us. Here's a conversation I had on the bus today:
"So where are you from?" asks a 20 year old guy
"America lirundhu [from America]."
"Oh, US. Are you working here?"
"Naan velai seirein [I am working]"
"What? You speak English, right?"
"[sheepishly] Yeah, I'm working here."
"How do you like Tamil Nadu (the state)?"
"It's really nice, I'm trying to learn the language, but it's very hard since I don't get to practice it much."
"Yeah, the only way to learn it is to practice talking with people. You have to practice a lot. So, where are you staying?"
"Thiruvanmiyur tengi irukein"