German Language Professionals: German language opportunities

Surprisingly the foreign language most preferred by Indian students is German. Career opportunities are expanding for those who know this language
A growing volume of trade and commerce between India and other nations has resulted in a rapid growth in the student population studying for foreign language degrees, diplomas, and certificates. While a large number of students study languages to add to their qualifications in science and technology, commerce, law, public affairs, or even secretarial skills, a growing number are studying foreign languages with an eye on careers as translators, interpreters, or teachers.

Surprisingly, the foreign language most preferred by Indian students is German. One reason why Indian students gravitate towards learning this guttural and throaty European language could be that many of its words are derived from Sanskrit. But a more credible reason is that career opportunities are expanding for those who are familiar with German, as Germany is Europes most populous (87 million) and economically strongest nation with which Indias trade is expanding.

Most of the major universities in the country offer diploma, degree, or certificate courses in some foreign languages. Admission conditions differ from university to university, but most degree courses are open to graduates of any discipline. The duration of courses also varies with a minimum period of six months allocated to certificate courses. Those who have acquired graduate level proficiency in foreign languages can go for the Masters programme at selected universities. The Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL), Hyderabad, offers Masters (correspondence-cum-attendance) courses in several languages, including German, for diploma or degree holders in foreign languages.

At the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) School of Languages, New Delhi, a five-year integrated MA programme in foreign languages is offered to Plus Two level school leavers. Admission is on the basis of an entrance test of the objective type. The languages taught include German, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Persian and Arabic. Students completing the three-year BA (Hons.) programme in foreign languages automatically become eligible for the two-year MA programme. This is the most comprehensive course in foreign languages available in the country. Other reputed universities and schools offering graduate and postgraduate study programmes are:

School of Foreign Languages, Delhi University

Viswa Bharati University, Shantiniketan

Punjab University, Chandigarh

Goethe Institute, New Delhi

Foreign Language Studies, Pune University

Symbiosis Institute of Foreign Languages, Pune

The best institution for learning German is however the Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB) which has branches in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and New Delhi. MMB offers three elementary level courses under its Grundstuffe programme and three intermediate level courses under its Mittelstuffe.

There is a growing number of job opportunities for people interested in using language skills as an additional qualification. Theres a rising demand for secretary linguists who can do secretarial work in English and one or more languages. Likewise theres a bright future for those mastering German, as Germany has recently opened its doors to Indian infotech professionals. Of late, BPOs which are outsourcing work from German-speaking areas are also knocking on the doors of language scholars. Also, theres a dearth of language instructors who can undertake commerical classes. Those possessing knowledge of the language have a definite edge over those who dont. German fluency is also a bankable proposition in tourism, airlines, and hospitality industries where interaction with foreigners is required.

Indo-german trade boom. Among all the foreign languages, German offers the maximum career opportunities because Germany is economically strong and Indo-German trade is growing continuously,” says Veena Vaswani, who has impeccable academic credentials in the German language and almost 29 years of experience in the use of her German language skills. Vaswani works a busy day doing translations with work pouring in both locally as well as through the Internet from other parts of the world like Germany, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

Vaswani got her first taste of German when she joined the Max Mueller Bhavan, Pune, in 1968 after finishing school in the six months free time she had before joining college. I loved the language and decided to do my BA in German at Elphinstone College, Mumbai. After finishing my BA, I did a one-year full-time intermediate level course called Mittelstuffe at the Max Mueller Bhavan, Pune. In 1973 I got a scholarship from MMB to do advanced course in German — Oberstafe, a four-month course at the Goethe Institute which has branches all over the world. I was sent to Kochal Am See, a very picturesque village in Germany,” recalls Vaswani.

After returning from Germany, she landed a job at MMB, Mumbai, to teach German at the intermediate level. Vaswani taught there until 1977 when she had to leave for Dubai as her husband was transferred. There, she landed a job in a large German firm where she worked for ten years before joining the German consulate.

Back in Mumbai in 1990, Vaswani undertook freelance work as she had to mind her young children. Ive expanded my base and today I have customers in Germany, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. They e-mail the text matter and I send back the translation via the Net. The Net will definitely expand opportunities in this field and because of the Internet theres also the job of translating web pages,” she says.

According to Vaswani, learning German as a career choice is not for youngsters who want quick money. Its a long training process and you must train in Germany for some time. I would advise them not to learn German as a main subject but to complement it by doing a course in foreign trade for instance. It could be a valuable add-on,” says Vaswani.

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