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Leading through languages

delhi Updated: May 31, 2007 19:38 IST
Highlight Story

The growing popularity and queues for foreign language courses fail to surprise one these days. A language course along with a regular graduation degree has almost become the norm.

Ayesha Mahanti, a third year student of Literature at Miranda House opines, “A regular college degree is just not sufficient in today’s competitive job market. Innovation is the name of the game and a language course opens uncharted territories.” Anna Lungany is a classic case in context. She did her Economics (Hons.) from Delhi University (DU).

After her daily dose of economic fundas, she dashed off to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, where she attended French classes. As a stand-alone qualification, a language certificate may not have taken her very far. At best, she would have got a part-time job as an interpreter or a translator. But because she combined Economics with language skills, her prospects have become much brighter.

Today, complementing a degree like BCA or BBA, with a language qualification can easily get you a job with a good transnational outfit.

It is evident by the trends and figures that the student profiles for language courses cut across all sections - from housewives and college-goers to career-oriented professionals. Explains Mansi Sachdeva, Course Counsellor with Alliance Francaise de India, “Some do it to enhance their profiles while some do it for immigration conveniences. There are individual opinions but we are happy to cater to all.”

From this academic session, all courses at Alliance Francaise will be oriented towards the DELF pattern, the official French proficiency exam of the French Ministry of Education. Besides immigration, language courses have other benefits too. Explains Dr. Babli Moitra Saraf, Director, School of Indian and Foreign Languages at Ramjas College, “Students choose language courses primarily to apply for further studies in the respective countries. They are particularly beneficial in the case of the European Union. The Erasmus Mundus scholarship is a befitting example.”

Fantastic job options await students who are linguistically diverse. Besides translating, they can look at becoming tour guides too. The emoluments for translating languages like French, German and Spanish range from Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 per page while for Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Russian, these range between Rs. 500 to Rs. 700 per page.

According to Professor Varyam Singh, Dean, School of Languages at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), “At JNU, we offer language degrees at both the undergraduate and the postgraduate level. By virtue of being tough languages, Korean, Japanese and Chinese command fatter salaries and are in greater demand.” Outsourcing is another sector that employs linguistically gifted people.

Whether it is call centres or research based units, according to Saraf, options for students are unlimited. Adds Sameer Walia, Managing Director, The Smart Cube, a specialised KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) company, “The remuneration for linguists in our industry varies by experience, and ranges from Rs 40,000 to Rs 65,000 per month.

There is much to gain in the KPO sector - a specific career path, high monetary incentives and the vibrancy of working in a large organisation.” Besides some staple DU colleges and some not so staple languages that they offer, there are other options too. For the academically inclined, the School of Languages, JNU, offers foreign language courses up to the Ph.D. level.

In fact, with a five-year, fulltime course, you can even land a job with an international agency like the UN, but for that you must also develop an expertise in simultaneous translation in at least two foreign languages, a hot trend abroad that is yet to gain ground in India. One can also look towards the certificate course in International Business Languages at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT). In a nutshell: words in your mouth equal feathers in your cap.

List of colleges which provide Indian language courses

Punjabi
Bharati College (W)
College of Vocational Studies
Dyal Singh College
Dyal Singh College (Eve. Classes)
Deshbandhu College
Deshbandhu College (Evening)
Indraprastha College for Women
Kamala Nehru College (W)
Lakshmibai College (W)
Miranda House (W)
Maitreyi College (W)
Mata Sundri College (W)
S.G.T.B. Khalsa College
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa College
School of Open Learning
(Campus of Open Learning)
S.G.G.S. College of Commerce

Bengali
Deshbandhu College
Deshbandhu College
Dyal Singh College
Indraprastha College for Women
Kirori Mal College
Kamala Nehru College (W)
Lakhsmibai College (W)
Maitreyi College(W
Miranda house (W)
Zakir Hussain College
Zakir Hussain College (Evening)

Urdu
Dyal Singh College
Dyal Singh College (Evening)
Kirori Mal College
Lady Shri Ram College for Women
*Miranda House (W)
Mata Sundri College
S.G.T.B. Khalsa College
St. Stephen’s College
Satyawati College
School of Open Learning
(Campus of Open Learning)
Zakir Hussain College
Zakir Hussain College(Evening)

Arabic
Zakir Hussain College
Zakir Hussain College (Evening)

Persian
St. Stephen’s College
Zakir Hussain College (Evening)

Telugu
*Miranda House(W)
Sri Venkateswara

Tamil
Dyal Singh College (Eve. Classes)
Miranda House (W)
Sri Venkateswara
School of Open Learning
(Campus of Open Learning)

Malyalam
Dyal Singh College (Eve. Classes)
*Miranda House (W)

Sindhi
Deshbandhu College

Oriya
*Miranda House (W)

Assamese
*Miranda House (W)

Kannada
*Miranda House (W)

Manipuri
*Miranda House (W)

Gujarati
*Miranda House (W)

Dzongkha
Sherubtse College

* Teaching for these languages is provided in the Department of Modern Indian Languages, University of Delhi