If one has a deep interest in knowing the way of life, language and culture of other people, learning a foreign language is quite an exciting career option. A career in it is not only attractive so far as fulfilling one&’s innate passion is concerned, but at the end of the day one also earns a handsome salary.

And with Indian companies emerging as global players and the Indian market being eyed by multinational companies, it becomes significant that there is no dearth of professionals who can overcome language barriers and facilitate smooth communication for proper business-transactions. It goes without saying, foreign language experts with a good understanding of cultures are in great demand all throughout the corporate world. The scope for this discipline as a career option is stupendous and candidates willing to explore it have numerous job opportunities in various multinational companies and organisations.

While several students start learning a foreign language during school, numerous others opt for the course after their 10+2 and go for graduation courses that are offered by various institutes, colleges and universities. Then add to the list, ever-growing certificate courses and diploma courses which take less time and duration and are available in a concise form. Candidates who have done their 10+2 are eligible for such courses, while the ones interested in higher education in foreign languages can opt for post-graduation and PhD which are being offered at select universities in India like University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, English and Foreign Languages University, Jadavpur University, University of Calcutta, etc.

Honestly, language skills are like sport skills wherein early starters are at an added advantage. Therefore, it is advisable to make an early beginning as love for a foreign language cannot be developed; it has to be felt from within. On one hand, you’ve public schools in the country offering the course, while for early starters back home, private tuitions might just do the trick! But, in order to attain proficiency in language skills, practice is always vital. 

Talking about the fee for these courses, central universities such as University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University offer it in a affordable range. But Max Mueller Bhavan or for that matter Inlingua charge considerable fees from students. Moreover, it also depends upon the language and the number of learners.

While learning Korean, Japanese and Chinese is tough, these courses are actually available at only few centres in the country and are available at a relatively high cost. Arabic and Persian are available at most of the national universities and that too at a cheaper rate as the course fees.

Alliance Française offers courses in French and in case one is interested the cost is a whopping Rs 3-4 lakh.

Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi offers attractive scholarships for those studying foreign languages. The university has excellent student exchange program via tie-ups with various universities. Foreign language students here receive option to study in foreign universities for certain period during their study in JNU. University of Delhi too, offers certain scholarships based on merit and performance in university exams. Similarly, governments of South Korea and Japan offer students of Korean and Japanese a number of scholarships. Max Mueller Bhavan offers two scholarships at its centres in India to the two best students of advanced level learning. They are offered a chance to visit Germany and observe the society and people to learn the language with first-hand interaction.

Academic qualification and proficiency in foreign languages opens the gate for career in sectors such as tourism, embassies, diplomatic service, entertainment, public relations and mass communication, international organisations, publishing, interpretation and translation, etc. Additionally, various multinational corporate bodies require candidates possessing excellent language skills in French, German, Russian, Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese), Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, etc. Some new avenues such as online content writers, technical translators or decoders too have come up in a big way of late. Moreover, organisations such as the United Nations Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation and various Indian national organisations such as the Union ministry of external affairs, Reserve Bank of India, etc, too require professionals who have specialisation in foreign languages.

A foreign language professional can earn attractive remuneration depending upon the work and the organisation. Professionals working for PR or marketing department of any MNC can earn somewhere around Rs 40,000-60,000 per month. Teachers can earn in the range of Rs 25,000-35,000 a month. While, translators on the other hand receive Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,500 per page; compensation depends a lot upon the proficiency in the language.  

Despite the huge demand for foreign language professionals, there is not much information available for aspirants. As a result, few professionals come out from foreign language institutes, which ultimately results in a dearth of trained experts. As per recent surveys, India requires a huge number of foreign language experts, particularly in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.  The lack of an infrastructural set-up in institutes and universities are a huge problem for aspirants. Also, most of the foreign language training centres or universities are located only in big cities and for candidates coming from small cities, the process becomes invariably demanding.  

The market for professional experts in foreign languages, particularly in European languages is expected to widen up in couple of decades.

Evalueserve, an international research company claims that there would be a requirement of more than 1.6 lakh foreign language professionals in various BPO, IT and KPO processes in India. Moreover, there is a strong requirement for skilled foreign language professionals who can effectively work in language-sensitive processes outsourced to India by companies located in the European countries.

Though a major issue with India&’s foreign language professionals is that they are not efficient enough to work in language-sensitive processes because of inefficient training, numerous companies hire foreign professionals with proficiency in languages for outsourced work despite their heavy fees which, in fact shows that Indian language professionals can cash in, given they are provided the right training.