Alien tongues? Not anymore

THINK GLOBAL

Alien tongues? Not anymore

Since developed countries are taking a deep interest in doing business with India, companies, whether in IT or non-IT sectors, are now seeking multilingual or bilingual professionals who can cater to international non-English speaking clients. There are many markets that may still be explored but where communication presents a barrier due to the absence of people who can speak both in the local language as well as English.
Major software companies sub-contract or outsource their localisation and testing to small firms to save on costs. These companies, in particular, seek multilingual public relation officers and human resource managers to facilitate better corporate communication in the context of a mixed work culture. There are many Indian companies whose sole service is to cater to foreign language experts across the globe.

Rising demand, new opportunities

From government-related work to entertainment, such firms provide language solutions to their clients. Proficiency in English is an advantage for Indians who may teach foreign languages in other nations. Since it is a global communication tool, it is also observed that in most countries where people are still learning English, translation from their native language to English is a skill that serves as a propitious economic avenue. Surveys and analysis have led academics to espouse the inclusion of foreign languages in the syllabus of management schools. On the premise that intelligence and knowledge rule today’s world, foreign languages can play a seminal role in the qualitative improvement of the work force. Other career options in the education sector that call for foreign language proficiency are teaching, translation and interpretation. Research work, journals and documents need immediate translation into English to facilitate knowledge liquidity in the Indian market.

Competitive edge

There are many reasons why one should learn a foreign language. Language becomes a window to look into a nation’s culture, its traditions and its history. Intercultural insensitivity may lead to misunderstanding. A multilingual person can act as a bridge between two distinct cultures and actually represent various activities, be they social or professional. This is also a close result of globalisation, which has made learning foreign languages a necessity, especially in the business world.

For understanding a business of a particular country, understanding the culture and language of that country is also very important as linguistic barriers can become a hurdle in the smooth functioning of business. Employees need to communicate in languages other than their own in a different country. Many fields such as the travel industry, communications, advertising, education and engineering have sectors dealing with foreign language study. Having better employment opportunities and greater chances of excelling in business suggest the importance of foreign language study.

Intelligence gathering in another country is greatly hindered if the cultural and philosophical content of the country’s language are not understood properly.
Apart from languages like Russian and French,  Chinese has become the language of choice and it is not only being taught in high school and college, but online as well. Its rise in popularity shouldn’t be too surprising. China is the third largest economy in the world after the US and Japan, with a nominal GDP of US$ 4.4 trillion (2008), when measured in exchange rate terms. China is India’s closest competitor as well as business partner. Developing business relationships with China would require better communication with the country. Many MNCs prefer professionals who understand Chinese or — even better — speak the language. Proficiency in foreign languages not only enrich communication at the global level but make the exchange result-oriented. Building a future workforce that is fluent in a foreign language is vital to assisting India’s growing status on several international fronts.

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