By Lovish Gidwani:
The history of human civilization is full of examples of languages going in and out of fashion as the favored choice for communication. And with the advent of globalization, one finds that a simple idea of communication has acquired an unprecedented significance. With booming economies and an ever increasing penetration to remote corners of the world, language skills have emerged as a key asset and a career in foreign languages is gaining traction. With Indian multinationals expanding their offshore reach and their foreign counterparts requiring cheap professionals, the demand for Indian candidates is surging. The market for language sensitive work is estimated to run in billions of dollars. Modern trends suggest an exponential growth in markets for European languages in the coming decades. Also, the notion of ‘Look East’ is gathering momentum where in languages like Mandarin, Japanese and Korean are in huge demand.
Language skills find acceptance in wide range of fields. Be it the traditional, yet still coveted areas of translation and interpretation or be it in newer disciplines of tourism, public relations, mass communication, publishing etc. Teaching jobs in particular have become highly sought after these days due to an ever increasing demand for trained professionals. Max Muller Bhavan, an institute for German language, for example, has entered into understanding with schools like Delhi Public School and Kendriya Vidhyalaya to provide them with school teachers. Additionally, IT sector has emerged as one of the largest job provider for language professionals. With such high demands, this discipline by a logical extension has become a highly lucrative field where salaries can run into high six figures per month.
Amidst all the talk about opportunities and growth, one serious challenge that this industry faces is the lack of quality specialists. India requires high quality experts in German, Portuguese, Japanese & Korean but a lack of them has caught the industry in a fix. Most centers for language training are only present in metros and their absence in tier two and tier three cities means that people from these parts of the country just don’t get enough exposure and quality training. Of the institutes which are present in these parts, most, if not all, have below standard trainers and a lack of proper infrastructural setup. This translates into a situation where although the demand is high there just aren’t enough skilled professionals who can feed an industry that thrives on in-depth knowledge of the language under question.
(For the academic session 2013-14, the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi is not offering a diploma in foreign language education (FLE) in German. The reason, they cite is shortage of teachers!)
This domain does involve some high stress and high pressure jobs where conforming to deadlines is the key. Even learning the languages can often prove to be exhaustive hence patience and diligence are two of the most useful traits that you should have in your armory. For becoming a language guru, regular practice is the mantra. So, if you think you have that flair for languages and a good verbal aptitude then this discipline might just prove to be your calling!
Private vs. Government
Some of the most highly pertinent and polished language courses are run by both universities and private Institutes. Opinions are sharply divided on which route to take. Universities like DU, JNU, EFLU focuses on literature and cultural aspects of a language in addition to the written and spoken parts. On the other hand, private institutes like the Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance FranÃ§aise and Instituto Hispania focus on communicative aspects of the language. In addition to this, these private players also inculcate among students the ‘business’ facet enmeshed with a particular language. Another thing that has to be kept in mind is the fee structure associated with a language course. Government universities run scholarship programs in addition to having a very nominal fee structure as compared to their private counterparts.