Can you speak a foreign language?
An individual who is fluent in foreign languages always has a niche above the rest. We talk to Umita Melwani, Co-Founder and Director of Institute of Foreign Language and Culture to know more about this growing culture.
Learning a foreign language is an investment for the future that can produce many benefits. And learning a foreign language is becoming the need of the hour. So while you decide on your pick we bring you some facts about learning languages like Spanish, French and German. Umita Melwani is the co-founder and director of IFLaC - Institute of Foreign Language and Culture, in Bangalore. She believes that knowledge of a foreign language has now become a necessity for every individual. She has been speaking Spanish since a very young age and over the years as she visited Spain; she became more fluent in the language. Eventually she obtained additional diplomas from esteemed schools in Spain after becoming a graduate. As she believes in innovative way of teaching a language, she also presented a paper on the use of songs for teaching the language. Below are the excerpts from the interview.
1) Why are foreign languages gaining importance?
As globalization grows, post the recession in the USA, Indian companies are looking at diversifying the markets that they are working with. A lot of the traditional markets that the Indian companies work with have been countries where English has been the predominant language. With a change in the scenario, the companies are now looking at countries with non- English speaking capacities.
2) How does learning a foreign language help individuals at work and personally?
Learning a language for work reasons has various benefits in India.
* Indian companies are actively looking at improving their presence in foreign countries where English is not commonly spoken.
* A lot of companies from non-English speaking countries are looking to open their offices in India and therefore require personnel who can interact with the head-offices of the parent company.
* Students who are now looking at taking up study programmes in countries which offer them better combinations of courses as compared to the ones in the traditional favourites like the USA or the UK.
* On work front as well as on a personal level, learning a foreign language opens the doors to a different culture. It makes a person more knowledgeable of the world around him, helps in working with different kinds of people as well as widens ones horizons of human understanding. It makes for a more well- rounded personality.
3) Do you think learning a foreign language is an added advantage? Should it be incorporated in the curriculum at schools?
It is definitely an advantage as employers are always looking out for people with additional skills. And off late schools are incorporating it in the curriculum which enhances a child’s knowledge extensively making him stay above from the rest.
4) What are the important factors that one needs to keep in mind before learning a particular language?
Firstly one should have the desire to learn a language as it takes a minimum of one or two years for a person to be fluent. It also requires a lot of hard work and patience to learn any foreign language. One can take up a weekend or an everyday course depending on their suitability. One must also be interested in the culture of the country and learn about the people, the geography for a better grasp of the language.
5) Apart from French, what's the most commonly learnt language?
Worldwide English and Spanish are the most commonly learnt foreign languages. But In India it is French is widely popular followed with German and Spanish in that order.
6) What are the main career options?
* Teaching in schools- international IGSCE AND IB schools as well as CBSE and ICSE
* Call centers catering to the foreign markets
* Most IT companies and KPOs are doing business with Latin America and southern USA and even Spain.
* Working in consulates and foreign offices.
* Indian Foreign Service- to name a few.
7) Is it an expensive hobby, if we can term it so?
I would not say so, it is priced like any other course. Unlike other hobbies a lot of language specialists can use it for a part-time career in addition to their regular careers by doing translations, interpretation and can also impart their knowledge by teaching in the evenings or during the weekends.
For more information you can visit the website: www.iflacmundoespanol.com, www.iflac.net