INDIA  :   Education

Cutting edge advantage of knowing a foreign language

Saturday , 20 February 2016

In times of immense competition in every field, knowing an additional foreign language is always a bonus


For any international engagement to flourish, good communication is necessary. An essential part of good communication is to have strong command over languages. This language imperative in the age of rapid globalisation has not only increased demand for qualified language professionals, but has also increased interaction between differing cultures, as well.

While European languages like French, Spanish and German are attractive prerequisites in the job market, relatively difficult Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese, too, have many pursuers. Arabic language is swiftly gaining worldwide interest as well.

Ever since India opened its market, as part of its trade liberalisation in the ‘90s, the ascending interaction between India and other countries has contributed to growing demand for translators and interpreters.

Indian education sectors, both public and private, were quick to react to this growing demand. The presence of full-fledged centres in India’s two top central universities – Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University – serves as proof for the increased demand.

Eligibility and courses

There are three types of courses to pursue for a career in foreign languages – a degree, a diploma and a certificate. While some institutes offer both graduate and post-graduate degree courses, other country-specific institutes offer basic and advanced level courses.

The eligibility for a certificate and degree course is 10+2. In most institutes, eligibility for a diploma course is the certificate course, in that language.  Private country-specific institutes like Goethe Institute for German; Alliance Francaise for French; and India-China Chamber of Commerce & Industry for Chinese, offer courses on languages running up to several levels. However, these are relatively expensive, when compared to the state-run colleges. They are also harder to get into, as state-run colleges only require basic knowledge of English.

Career prospects and remuneration

With the job of translators and interpreters being lucrative, for a foreign language professional, one can have a range of other options too, from freelancing to teaching.

Various sectors like aviation, hotel management, tourism and so on, also provide opportunities for aspirants dedicated to learning a foreign language.

To become an interpreter or a translator though, you should have excellent writing skills and strong vocabulary, in a particular language. After specialisation, one can work at international seminars and meetings as well.

Remuneration in this field depends on the employer, language skills and experience. For instance, a translator can expect Rs 300 to Rs 500 per page for European languages and up to Rs 800, for Japanese and Chinese languages. A few other areas where employment can be sought after studying a foreign language are Mass Communication, Embassies, Diplomatic Services and Public Relations Assignments.

United Nations also appoints interpreters and translators in six official languages, for which an entrance exam is conducted.

Translators are also employed by industries, government departments and research organisations as well. Job offers by multinational companies (MNCs) are alluring, as the packages range between Rs 6-10 lakh per year. Most of the students, as per reliable estimates, are placed in cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad, which are known to have a strong IT base.

Four top institutes

Many of India’s top universities now offer degrees in foreign languages. Two of the most important institutions are JNU and DU. The latter, acknowledged as one of the finest universities in the country, offers students the option of studying languages like German, French, Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Spanish, as full-time courses. Part-time course options are offered by a college like Hans Raj College, which offers a certificate in French, German and Spanish; diploma in French & German and advanced diploma in French & German.

The school of languages at JNU is considered to be the best option, when it comes to gaining fluency in foreign languages. This is also the only school that offers language courses at the undergraduate level with many centres: the Centre for French and Francophone Studies; the Centre for Spanish, Portuguese, Italian & Latin American Studies; and the Centre for German Studies.

Other two top institutes are English & Foreign Languages in Hyderabad that is affiliated to the UGC and offers, both full-time and part-time courses in languages like English, Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Turkish, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Hindi.

BHU is the fourth one in the list of the top four, which offers post graduation courses in languages like English, French, Persian, Sanskrit, Telugu, Urdu, German, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali and Chinese.

Then there are private, country-specific centres like Goethe Institute for German and Alliance Francaise for French that offer level-based education to aspirants of various ages. Rajesh Kumar from MOSAI informed TGI: “If a candidate wants to enroll for the first level, they have to pay a fee of Rs 19,500 at the time of admission and the remaining Rs 3,500 will have to be paid at the time of advancing to the next level, which will only be done if and when the candidate scores 60% or more in the semester test.”

Aditi Vij, a student of French language, who completed her mid-levels from Alliance Francaise in New Delhi told TGI: “I developed interest in French when it was an optional subject at school. I chose to pursue it and I have now completed up to mid-levels and teach a number of students at my house. The response for learning new languages in India is very positive and I can speak from experience that knowing an additional language can be extremly beneficial.”