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In a scenario where people are increasingly realizing how interconnected they are as global citizens, a foreign language can indeed be a valuable asset and a lucrative career option. By Krupa Shah

In today’s world, no distance is too long to travel and no information too difficult to find. This contraction of space has exposed us to a rich potpourri of cultures, languages and ideas. Learning a foreign language is not just a leisure activity any more, it can help you earn big bucks.

3 reasons to learn a foreign language
There are several benefits to learning a foreign tongue, both as a part time activity as well as a full time profession.

Enhances your resumé: It can easily distinguish you in a crowd and add weight to your achievements. Knowing a foreign language allows you to access a whole new domain of information through websites, films, social networking clubs and cultural events and benefits your career prospects. Even if your professional field is not related to languages, a foreign language will only speak for your versatility and your interest in other cultures.
Improves your prospects: Learning Russian, for example, can open up new vistas to study medicine or engineering in Russia which is known for academic excellence in these fields. Furthermore, certain embassies and foreign language institutions also have tie-ups that allow students to pursue their studies in the foreign country through exchange programs and sometimes with scholarship.
Lucrative career alternative: A foreign language can become a wonderful career prospect for those who are not interested in management or other technical fields. It is also a good investment if you are looking for a shortcut to a lucrative profession as a language course is easier to learn and quicker to complete than lengthy and expensive technical courses.

Which language to learn and where?

Among the European languages French, German, Spanish, Russian and Italian are good options. On the other hand, Japanese has immense translation potential and pays extremely well although the language can be very difficult to learn. French and German have been popular options because of established language training institutes like the Alliance Française and the Max Mueller Bhavan which are accessibly located in several cities.

The El Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi offers Spanish courses and has tie-ups with other institutes like the Institute of Foreign Language and Culture (IFLAC) in Bangalore, the Rama Krishna Mission in Kolkata and the Inaword Centre for Languages in Chennai as well as the Ranade Institute in Pune. For Japanese, there are several institutions offering language courses. Abk Aots Dosakai, Mombusho Scholars Association of India and the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry are some of the well known organizations. The Russian Centre of Science & Culture conducts year long classes in Russian and has its own levels of proficiency and examination. The Italian Cultural Institute in New Delhi offers a wide range of courses as well as online sessions.

Jobs available for foreign language students
Before choosing a language remember to keep in mind factors such as the availability of the language institute, language opportunities in your city or neighbourhood, and the level of proficiency you want to achieve in the time that you can invest. Some institutes follow proficiency levels defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) which range from the basic (A1, A2), to intermediate (B1, B2), and advanced (C1, C2).

There is a host of possibilities in the field of foreign languages. Shweta Khandai, Junior Translator for French at Renault-Nissan, Chennai says: “There are many opportunities for translation especially in the domain of engineering and IT with some of the biggest MNCs. You can also opt for teaching at International Schools which is a very lucrative career and also far less hectic than sedentary corporate jobs.”

While you would require an excellent command over the language for translation, you could also take up interpretation assignments or conduct language workshops at cultural events and festivals. Starting off as a freelancer has its own challenges but once you have contacts and establish your skills, the business can be steady and rewarding. Foreign languages also have immense potential in tourism especially if you like to travel and meet new people but for these jobs you must have achieved a high level of proficiency.


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