Indian students are increasingly learning foreign languages to move up their career graphFRANK Smith, a renowned psycholinguist, famously said, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Imagine a situation, where from amongst thousands of job applicants to an MNC, you get selected, because your CV boasts of Spanish, or say, French. In India, proficiency in a foreign languages seems to have become a norm now, as it guarantees a job in an Embassy with quite a number of perks, or one which offers foreign trips and so on. “With organizations expanding internationally and venturing into new territories, they stand in need of skilled professionals who can transcend languages and cultural barriers and enable smooth and successful business transactions,” said Aditya Narayan Mishra, President – Staffing of Randstad India, an HR services provider.
There is a growing demand for candidates with great language skills in multinational companies and Indian conglomerates across sectors like IT, Publishing, Advertising, Entertainment, Mass Communications, Aviation, Hospitality & Tourism, Education & Training and Public Relations, to name a few.
Students have many foreign languages to choose from: Arabic, French, German, Mandarin, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Tibetan et al, including English. Various universities and institutes across the country offer several courses in these languages from certificates to doctorates. According to Randstad’s Mishra, “The popular foreign languages in great demand in India are French, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, German and Spanish.”
Eligibility and duration
Anyone can start learning any language, but for immediate professional use, anyone who is an adult, is eligible to learn it. Apart from courses offered at schools and hobby classes, one can obtain certifications, diplomas, BA, MA, or even PhD in languages and all of these have different eligibility criteria. Though embassy-backed institutes like Alliance Francaise or Max Mueller Bhavan or Institute of Spanish do not need any qualification to start the first level, some of the institutions have written and oral tests. Universities and institutes offering certification or degrees have a minimum eligibility of 10+2.
The duration of these courses range from 3 months to 5 years, depending on the degree one is willing to acquire.
The fee structure of the courses varies from public to private institutes. At Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a language student has to pay just Rs. 500-600 annually, and at Delhi University (DU), it is between Rs 3000-3500. At language institutes like Alliance FranÃ§aise (French), Instituto Hispania (Spanish), Institute of Russian Language, and Max Mueller Bhawan (German), the fee ranges between Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 20,000 per session.
Numerous options are available for those who are keen on becoming proficient in these popular foreign languages. At the beginners level, one can opt for certificate courses offered by institutions like Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance Francaise and similar others institutes. One can opt for a 4-year integrated Bachelor’s Degree course at DU, or a three-year Bachelor’s degree from JNU, Jamia Millia University, The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) and other universities.
Almost all universities have avenues for postgraduate and doctoral studies. A language graduate can opt for Master’s followed by MPhil or PhD. The higher degrees open up opportunities in teaching at universities and senior positions in companies that need language specialists. Besides, the earning potential also increases to a great extent, depending on your qualification.
To get a good job, proficiency mattersmore than a degree or a certificate
What do you study?
The curriculum of degree courses aims to create language skill in speaking, reading, writing, translation and interpretation in the particular language. The course also includes history, culture and literature of the language. Audio visual language laboratories and films make learning simple and interesting. At institutes like Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance Francaise and similar institutes, the language certification levels are usually divided into six to eight levels, i.e. Beginners level -A1, A2; Intermediate/Expert - B1, B2.1, B2.2; Superior - C1, C2 (usually done to step into teaching profession). At these institutes, one learns both theory and practice – translate songs, participate in plays, and watch movies. These exercises largely improve speaking and reading expression.
Aditya Narayan MishraPresident – Staffing,Randstad India
When countries outsource their operations to India, mastery over foreign language is a business necessity
Evelyne Sirejols, Director of Alliance Francaise, Delhi said that unlike traditional institutes that focus on writing and grammar, Alliance Francaise mainly focuses on communication skills. “From the first class, which is the beginner level, our teachers speak in French only, they avoid using English for translations. We teach them to communicate first and then grammar and writing. We help them to attain expertise in basic communications in different situations, for instance, how to buy a ticket, invite someone at home, asking for an address and other daily-use communications,” she elaborated.
Alliance Francaise has cultural and pedagogical centres in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Karikal, Kolkata, Mahe, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pondicherry, Pune and Trivandrum. Similarly, Instituto Hispania (Institute of Spanish) prides its practical and communication-focuses pedagogy. “Instituto Hispania teach maximum in less span of time, hence save time and money, unlike many other institutes,” claims Laura Benito, Director General of Instituto Hispania. She added that the institute has 45 experts to teach, and publish its own curriculum and teaching material, specially designed for Indian students. “We have created 4 level books as of now. We have six levels, Rs 10,700 each level, which runs for approx 3 months, and we have new classes starting every month,” Benito said.
Institutes such as Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance FranÃ§aise and Instituto Hispania or MOSAI focus on the communication proficiency in the language while universities like DU, JNU, EFLU emphasize on literature, linguistics and translations, as well as culture and history of the language’s origin. To become a college teacher, one needs an MPhil and a PhD degree in the language.
Teaching & Research (in India or abroad)
Print and Electronic Media
All India Radio (foreign language services)
Indian Armed Forces
Scholarships and exchange programmes
Some universities and institutes engage in student exchange programmes with foreign universities, which help Indian students to meet students from other nations and get on-field experiences. JNU and DU, both offer certain scholarships based on merit and performance in university exams. Moreover, JNU has a programme where foreign language students get a chance to study in foreign universities for a particular period during their course.
At Alliance Francaise, if students in any one of the 15 branches across India wish to pursue a training programme in France they get benefit of free visa, medical insurance coverage, assistance to find affordable students accommodation, full tuition fee waiver at public universities or partial tuition fee waivers by other institutions, depending on the individual’s prorities.
“For practical learning, we offer study abroad programme to our students where they can go to Spanish speaking country or Spain for one week to one month,” said Benito. However, it seems not all the certifications or diplomas have equal value in the market. Randstad’s Mishra says, “Organisations look for a Bachelor of Arts degree/Master of Arts in foreign language depending on the position.” “Diploma and Certificate courses are also considered as long as they are from a reputed institute and is recognized globally,” he added. A few renowned language institutes also offer distance learning, e-learning courses, and private tuitions in several foreign languages.
Where should one study?
Instituto Hispania has branches at New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Pune. It is an affiliated centre of FIDESCU (Ministry of Education, Spain), and offers Diploma Internacional de EspaÃ±ol (DIE) examinations. For German, one can choose Goethe-Institut (Max Mueller Bhavan) run by the Federal Republic of Germany, in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmadabad, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum.
For Japanese, students prefer Mombusho Scholars Association of India (MOSAI), Delhi as it works closely with the Embassy of Japan in India, The Japan Foundation and other Indo-Japan organizations and offers attractive placements.
Student Learn speaking, reading, writing, translation and interpretation at language schools
How to get it
Most of the universities offering BA conduct entrance exams to gauge the applicants’ aptitude. The papers for BA are largely based on general knowledge, reasoning and a bit of English, which basically judges one’s language aptitude. For the MA exam, one must have a reasonably good command on the foreign language. Simple, clear sentences and well articulated ideas are appreciated by examiners.
One may also be asked questions about the language, literature and cultural norms of the country where the language is spoken. The same applies to oral exam. And in Master’s level there’s a great emphasis on oral communication.
JNU organizes an aptitude test in 34 centers in India for admission to full-time foreign language courses. For JNU aspirants, students’ unions organise a free orientation course. Most countries also hold certification exams via their consulate for foreign language professionals.
For cracking the entrances for BA/ MA/ MPhil in various universities, one can get old question papers from college libraries or websites. There are also several books and e-books available in the market to prepare for these entrance exams to renowned colleges.
Freelancing could also be taken up, as rare languages are known to yield a good deal of income. The job roles and salaries vary according to employers. The popular jobs available for language experts are:
Foreign language teacher
Translator for private as well as
Air Hostess or Flight Steward
Hotel resource associate
Freelance Writer, Translator,
Public Relation Officer
Job market for trainers
The demand and growth of foreign languages institutes in India has created a huge job market for trainers. Max Muller, along with the German Foreign Ministry has started an initiative - German Language at 1000 Schools. Under this project Max Muller and the Foreign Ministry have partnered with 1,000 state-run KendriyaVidyalayas and others to teach about one million students by 2017. With such big waves coming, many foreign language students aspire to become teachers.
Director, Alliance Francaise, New Delhi
We teach them to communicate first and then grammar and writing. We help them to attain expertise in basic communications in different situations
Opportunities for freshers
Pankaj Kumar, 25, who is learning German at A2 level at Max Mueller Bhavan says that just a graduation does not ensure any job these days and a foreign language ensures a job even without degree. Pankaj plans to study German till the highest C2 level and become a foreign language teacher.
Did you know?
Bartholomaus Zeigenbalg, one of the first protestant missionaries in India from Haale, was the first German linguist to visit India. Zeigenbalg also explored south Indian languages. He went back to Germany and published the first Bible in Tamil to help spread theology.
About 170 years ago, another renowned German linguist Dr Hermann Gundert came to India and mastered the south Indian language, Malayalam. Gundert compiled a Malayalam grammar book, MalayalabhaashaVyakaranam, a Malayalam-English dictionary, and contributed to Bible translations in Malayalam. His name is enshrined in the history of Malayalam journalism as the one who started the first Malayalam newspaper, Rajyasamacharam in 1847
“There is nothing called ‘unemployed’ if you know Spanish in India,” Benito informed while speaking about 100 per cent placements at Instituto Hispania. Other language professionals concur.
“In just beginner’s level in German, freelancing opportunities start pouring in. Recently, I had a freelance assignment with an online shopping company, and I used to get Rs. 1000 per hour for checking German, and I had the complete flexibility of choosing my number of hours and times,” added Pankaj.
Neha Choudhry, Bilingual Spanish Representative at Business process outsourcing (BPO) giant Convergys feels that language experts always have a good market, especially since the BPO sector is persistently growing in India.
Driven by her passion to discover new cultures and literature, Neha enrolled for the basic course at Instituto Hispania and then graduated to other levels. She got her first job of Rs 40,000 per month plus incentives. “The starting salary for freshers is on similar lines in the company as far as it’s for a foreign language concerned role,” said Neha.
Owing to the growing demand and opportunities for language experts, Neha is now planning to learn other languages like Japanese, Italian and so on. Besides fat salary, Neha says travelling is a big perk to learn a foreign language.
Courses run by select institutes
Goethe-Institute (Max Mueller Bhavan)
Certificates 30 weeks, Apr-Oct
ABK-AOTS DOSOKAI, Tamil Nadu Centre
Bangalore NihongoKyooshi- kai (BNK)
Institute of Russian Language
Chinese Language Institute
Bangalore NihongoKyooshi-kai (BNK)
The School of Foreign Languages(SFL) (Under Ministry of Defence,Government of India)
Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia,Burmese, Chinese, French, German Hebrew, Persian, Pushto, Russian, Sinhala, Spanish, Tibetan“
Certificate of Proficiency (COP)/ Advanced Diploma of Proficiency (ADOP)/ Interpretership Course
International Language Schoolsof Canada
International Lingua Institute
French German, Mandarin, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, English
Mombusho Scholar’s Assosiation of India
Japanese Language Teachers’Association
The Indo-Japan Welfare andCultural Association
BharatiyaVidayaBhawan- Jawaharlal Nehru Academy of Languages
Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Italian, English, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese,
Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Japanese
Language professionals freelance or work full-time, and are mainly sought by organizations in Publishing, Tourism, Education, PR, Aviation and other government institutions for positions such as online content writers, translators, interpreter, tourist guide, diplomatic service professional and foreign language trainer, to name a few.
Those with a good grip are well paid. “Typically, language experts earn anywhere between INR 20,000 to INR 60,000 a month These professionals are given attractive remuneration packages depending upon the nature of their work and the organization they work for. Language proficiency is also an important deciding factor when it comes to pay and compensation,” Mishra sums up.
Courses run by universities
University of Kashmir
French, German, Russian
Chinese, German, Spanish,Japanese
Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Italian, English,
MA/ MPhil/ Certification/ Diploma
German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
Advance diploma/ Certificate/ Diploma
Jawaharlal Nehru University
English, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Russian, Spanish
BA / Diploma/ Certificate/ Advance Diploma/ MA/ MPhil/ PhD
English and Foreign Languages(EFL) University
Arabic, French, Russian
Arabic, Modern Arabic, Swahili, French, Spanish, German, Italian, English, Portuguese, Romanian,Japanese, Chinese, Korean,Japanese
BA Honours/ Diploma/ Certificate/ Advance diploma/ MA/ MPhil/ PhD
University of Calcutta
Chinese, French, Persian,Russian, Arabic
Diploma/ Pre-MA/ MA/ PhD
University of Mumbai
French, Spanish, Italian
BA/ MA/ Certificate/ Diploma
University of Pune
French, Spanish, German
Diploma /MA/ MPhil
Punjab Technical University
French, Spanish, German,English, Chinese, Korean
BSc TTI (Technical Translation & Interpretation)/ Certificate
Arabic, Modern Arabic, French,Spanish, Italian, English, Portuguese, Turkish, Persian, Modern Persian, Turkemenian, Turkish (Part-time), Catalan
Diploma/ Advance Diploma/ COP/BA/ MA/ MPhil
Arabic, French, German, Japanese, English, Persian, Russian
MA/ Senior/ Junior Diploma
Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Italian, English, Portuguese,Finnish, Japanese, Chinese,Korean, Japanese, Russian, Swedish
MA/Advance diploma/ Higher Diploma
French, Korean, German,Spanish, Japanese, English
Certificate/ Advanced certificate
Indira Gandhi National OpenUniversity (IGNOU)
Few foreign languages which are high in demand are Mandarin, Japanese, Hispanic, Portugese, German, etc.
Yes, after completing a language course candidates can work as a freelancer in MNC's, Government Organization, Hospitality Sector, etc.
Looking at the present market scenario, languages like Korean, German, Mandarin, Spanish, etc are some good options in terms of creating employment opportunity.
Mandarin is the most widely spoken foreign language around the globe in case if both Native and Non Native speakers.
Some of the best institutes for studying/ learning Koran language in India are JNU (Centre for Korean Studies), Delhi University, EFLU Hyderabad and Indian Institue of Korean and Chinese Language, New Delhi.
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