‘Learning new languages will enable better intercultural understanding’
German and Japanese are popular among students.pune Updated: Apr 20, 2018 16:14 IST
The department of foreign languages, Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), established in 1954, offers courses in five foreign languages - French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Preetha Kadhir talks to Sunanda Mahajan, German professor and head of the department of foreign languages, SPPU, on the benefits of learning a foreign language.
What are the benefits of learning a foreign language?
The knowledge of a foreign language enhances one’s employability and offers new career possibilities. Learning a foreign language is like getting to know another culture and way of life. In a broader sense, it enables better international and intercultural understanding. Global markets will not sustain if local markets do not support them. Global entrepreneurs today need to connect with consumers in their local languages and that is one of the reasons why learning a foreign language becomes important. International companies in India prefer to communicate in regional languages to reach out to buyers. The corporate sector needs people who can translate their product brochures from French, Japanese and German into Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and so on. These are the opportunities available for people who know that particular language.
Do you think this trend has changed over the years?
Now, education is seen more as a goal-oriented one; one which should make a person employable and should also impart information, skills and techniques. The thought that one gains knowledge through education has been pushed to the background. Increasingly, students in Pune are learning German and Japanese. Lesser number of students opt to learn Russian, though the market needs people who know Russian. Spanish is also becoming popular gradually.
Are more people learning foreign languages? Which age group do they fall in?
Our part-time language courses are gaining popularity and there is an increase in the number of private institutions offering basic language courses in and around Pune. More people want to learn a foreign language. Not all have the patience and capacity to dive deeper into the language and so, they seem to be happy with a basic course. Most of the students are college-going youngsters and are between the ages of 16 and 30.
Which language is in demand and which one helps students get better placements?
German is attracting many youngsters. Japanese is is also popular among students. There are more than 300 German companies or German-Indian collaborations in and around Pune, requiring persons who have good knowledge of German. A person who has learnt any foreign language can exploit the job market if she/he knows know how to apply her/his knowledge and how to enhance their own individual linguistic abilities by refreshing and training themselves constantly.