Foreign language has the potential to give you an edge over others
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2016 MUMBAI
Ni Hao, konnichiwa, Bonjour or Hola… Learning a foreign language is gaining momentum in India. In case you are wondering what is the need to learn a foreign language, Swedish researchers from Lund University have the answer.
Young recruits at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy learned a new language at a very fast pace. By measuring their brains before and after the language training, the researchers had the opportunity to observe what happens to the brain when we learn a new language in a short period of time. The MRI scans of the recruits showed that the size of the brain had increased. If you aren’t convinced yet, Anjali Gangolli (Professor & Teacher’s trainer at Alliance Française, Corporate trainer) believes that learning a new language is like a gym workout for the brain where the brain is stimulated. On the other hand, Dimple Dalvi (Japanese interpreter at Torico and Teacher at Indo Japanese Association) says, “Culture and language go hand in hand, so when you learn about the people and language of another country, you get on to the global platform.”
Indians are also said to be at an advantage when it comes to languages. “Indians are versatile at learning languages. Most people know at least a couple of languages, so when your brain is used to learning languages you become better at interpreting and learning a new language. It is also easy to teach a new language using Indian languages,” says Usha Sahoo (Founder of Yeh China).
There are so many similarities as well as differences between cultures of different countries; this helps us to learn from one another, which is possible by learning languages, believes Vidya Govindani (Co- founder of Academia De Español).
In the ocean of languages, it gets tough to decide which language is suited to you. Dimple says, “I would first assess what the student likes. Do they like the European, or the Oriental culture and language” whereas Anjali asserts, “It is important to assess how the language is going to help the student. For example, are they going to be studying or working in a French-speaking nation? So is it going to be helpful there? They also need to keep in mind how international the language is, like French is one of the official languages of the United Nations”.
Japanese and Chinese have pictorial scripts whereas French words seem hard to pronounce, Spanish may come across easy but you cannot take it easy. Learning a language takes effort as Vidya says, “Learning a foreign language isn’t easy as you don’t get as much exposure to practice speaking the language. So it needs systematic effort and practice from the student”.
Learning a language opens up a varied arena of jobs from translation, interpretation, teaching to working in a corporate framework. India becoming an IT and software hub, many Japanese and Chinese companies are setting up base in India. Japanese companies are looking to recruit Java and software developers. Trade relations with China have also made Mandarin an important language to pursue. Usha says, “As India and China are trade partners, a lot of products are being imported from China. Chinese speakers can also get a job of brand managers wherein a Chinese product needs to be branded to suit Indian taste.”
On the other hand, French and Spanish are popular languages spoken in many countries around the world. From the pharmaceutical industry, MNCs, and Foreign Banks in Spain, to the luxury and hospitality industry in France, India seems to be an attractive place to invest, and learning these languages will clearly give the candidate a better chance of landing a job. As the world comes closer, demand for translation and interpretation has grown substantially. Need for translating documents for various sectors has increased, consecutive interpreting (where an interpreter translates the text after the source-language speaker has finished speaking and/or makes a pause) has also become important with the growth of the foreign corporate sector. Many people don’t look at translation as intellectually stimulating, but all four of the language teachers have unanimously voiced that translation is tough and it’s the amount of experience that determines the quality of work.
Institutes like the Academia De Español and Alliance Française not only help students in providing diplomas from affiliated universities but also help in the recruitment process. Yeh China, and Indo Japanese foundation encourage students to take part in competitions at the international level. Many international schools too have integrated foreign languages as a subject of study.
As the world moves closer to being a global community, foreign languages play a huge role in communication and better relations between nations.
By NISHTHA BALAGOPAL