Lessons In New Tongues




Young professionals, students queue up to learn Spanish besides Japanese, Chinese.

Anna Biernat

Mumbai, June 29

For them, English is passé. Chinese, Japanese and Spanish are in.

To be a more active global player, many in Mumbai are heading to language schools. So it is Chinese for tourism and managers, Japanese for engineers, Spanish for call centers, French and German for workers of non-profit organizations.

“The demand for Chinese tutors inIndiais growing annually”, said Jenny Zelieng, assistant director of the India-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Her unit that has been conducting Chinese classes since 2004 initially had about 15 students annually. Now, the number has grown to over 30.

Changing economic and power dynamics have prompted many to take up Mandarin in Mumbai. Job prospects for Chinese literates are on the rise, especially among software and travel and tourism professionals. “For them it is very important to know the basics of the language. Not only does it bridge the communication gap, it also creates a friendlier atmosphere,” said Zelieng.

Amit Kulshreshth, coordinator, Sensei Academy of Japanese Language in Kandivili seconds the view. “The growing interest in the language is due to the recent rise in Indo-Japanese trade. Engineers working with companies trading withJapanlearn the language to increase their professional potential,” said Kulshreshth.

“Mumbai alone has about eight Japanese language schools. The number of students learning the language is quite significant,” he said. In just over a year, the number of students at their academy has nearly doubled from 35 to 60.

Likewise, the popularity of Spanish is growing in recent years. “A decade ago, we started with about 50 students. Currently, we have 570. Every year, there is a 20 percent growth in the number of people wanting to take Spanish lessons,” said Dinesh Govindani, founder of the Academia de Español Language School and an accredited Spanish language instructor.

“Not only students, we also have working professionals from various backgrounds,” said Govindani.

Learning Japanese is my hobby, but with this level of interest, I’d like to be a teacher. I’m giving lessons to five students.


Housewife, student of Japanese (intermediate level)

I’m going to Hong Kong to do an MBA. Though the course will be in English, knowing Chinese will definitely be helpful.


Engineer, student of Chinese

I have been guiding people in English. Now, I would like to do it in Spanish as well. There’s a huge demand for guides knowing Spanish.


Tourist guide from Udaipur, completed first level Spanish

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