Being a Polyglot Pays.

Tongue tried: Naomi Lobo. | Posted online: Thursday , October 18, 2007

Students aspiring for a global career realise this and are learning multiple foreign languages. With French and Russian taking a backseat, students (along with the corporate) are focusing on Japanese, Spanish, German and Chinese. This is understandable as countries like Japan, China, the US and Italy are hiring individuals who have the technical skills coupled with the knowledge of a foreign language.

The growing market of multinational companies, IT industries, call centres and the urge to widen business operations worldwide has further added to the trend. Most IT companies that are seeking computer professionals and software programmers have their presence in non-speaking English countries. So employers are in search of candidates who are proficient in a foreign language, says Divya Kulshresth, director of Sensei Academy of Japanese Language.

To cater to the needs of wannabe linguists, there are nearly 40 institutes in Mumbai. Max Mueller Bhavan’s Goethe-Institut, Mumbai, encourages people to learn and experience Germany’s culture while the Alliance Francaise teaches students about the French culture and language. Most institutes teach only grammar and not the basics, says George Fernandes, director of Language Lab, an academy that teaches Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and French. The courses are audio-visual and the teachers speak in respective languages while taking a class. English is not spoken at all, adds Fernandes.

Today, Spanish is the first language of 50 per cent of the population in the US and is the official language in 21 countries. It’s even an official language of the UN. Releasing its potential, Dinesh R Govindani, who was born and raised in Spain, founded Academia de Español in the city. “I get e-mails from companies in the South American market seeking students who know Spanish for various fields like pharma, textile and jewellery,” he says.

The beginner’s course is preferred for students going abroad as they want to interact with the citizens of a particular country. An advanced course is tougher and students need to work hard to be good interpreters, says Professor Sanjib Bhattacharya, who initiated the El Dorado Academy. He teaches German, French, Japanese, Russian, Thai, Chinese and Korean languages. “Courses are customised as per the requirement of a candidate,” says Bhattacharya, who has branches in Delhi and China.

Sensei Academy has been conducting international examinations in Japanese in collaboration with Japan Foundation every December for the past five years. “The certificate is recognised globally,” adds Kulshresth. Beginners working as translators and interpreters can earn anything from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh a month. Wipro and Satyam hire candidates and send them abroad for onsite projects where they can earn around Rs 60,000.

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