Donít be tongue-tied, learn Chinese
As the world becomes a global village and interaction within and amongst countries increases, the need for understanding people who speak different languages is growing. Earlier, learning a language was more of a hobby. But today, individuals proficient in more than one language can use it to their advantage, both personally and professionally. And while for many decades, the focus of international business and trade was on the western world, languages such as French and German were increasingly used. However, of late, it is South-East Asia that is becoming increasingly important.
In fact, in recent years, Chinese has become one of the top foreign languages studied worldwide. The rapidly expanding interest in the language is being fueled by China's emergence as an economic superpower.
Language skills on their own are of very little value. What matters is the framework of technical, professional or practical skills within which a person can apply a language. There are very few careers for which languages are the primary skill required but for a growing number of careers, the knowledge of an additional language is a useful, and sometimes an essential secondary skill.
For those who are proficient in the Chinese language, there are job avenues in overseas universities, in primary/secondary schools, in foreign trade institutes and in defence establishments. Legal and medical transcription work in Chinese language has also thrown up openings in BPOs. Top-notch companies like HP, Oracle and GE are always scouring the job market for Chinese language experts. The expert is expected to be fluent, have the right accent and a good understanding of the Chinese ethos.
Fluency in the Chinese language can also help you get jobs in embassies. Also, you can work as interpreters, particularly during conferences. At international conferences, interpreters may be required to do ‘simultaneous’ interpretation, where the meaning of a speech, often on complicated subjects, is relayed almost instantaneously.
Besides the immediate and tangible benefits that the knowledge of another language provides, the knowledge of a second-language also comes in handy in many other areas.
- The ability to travel with ease in non-English speaking countries
- An opportunity to experience foreign language literature, films and music in their original forms
- Exposure to cultural diversity
- Knowledge of English is enhanced by the study of second-language structures and semantics
- Memory skills are improved
- Self-expression and self-concept are enhanced
- Vocabulary is expanded, as well as the ability to use one's own language in new ways
Often, a good ear for languages is an inborn talent, which would be difficult to acquire. But an agile mind and an ability to concentrate for long stretches of time and to work under pressure are some of the personal qualities required for a successful career in languages. Excellent interpersonal skills, a knowledge and understanding of people, observation skills, good memory and an open mind are key attributes.
Where to study?
School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Department of East Asian Studies, Delhi University
Amity School of Languages, Amity University