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Home » IAS Articles » Indian Foreign Services Articles » Foreign Languages - Employment Avenues, Study/ Training

Foreign Languages - Employment Avenues, Study/ Training


Tourism, public relations, mass communication, embassy and diplomatic services, conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs offer freelancing opportunities to language graduates. Even fashion journalism may offer opportunities.

Foreign embassies employ language specialists for Secretarial, Executive and Public relations assignments. In the UNO (United Nations Organization) appointment of translators and interpreters in six official languages is made on the basis of a written test and interview. Interpreters employed by them have to acquire certificate of proficiency from the School of Interpreters at Geneva or the International School of Interpretation and Translators in France. To join these institutions proficiency in 2 foreign languages is necessary. The languages are French, Spanish, Arabic, English, Chinese and Russian. There is a likelihood for German to be included also. The positions available, however, are very limited and competition is very tough.

UN organisations often work in all of its six official languages- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Recruitment in this occupation is by competitive exam and interview in: translation, interpretation, editing, verbatim reporting, and proof reading. Successful candidates are put on a roster or general pool- based on geographical representation-from which posts are filled according to vacancies. Translators are required to translate from at least two of the official UN languages, into their main language, which must be one of the six official UN languages. Contact; Professional Staffing Service, Room S-2500, UN, New York, NY 10017: fax: 212-9633134: website: www.un.org .For information on conference interpretation contact International Association of Conference Interpreters, 10, Avenue de Sicheron,CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland.

Translators are employed by industries, government, international organizations, organizations undertaking translation work, and research organizations. The Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre employs full time and part time translators for many languages. Interpreters and Translators work generally as free lancers as there is no organized recruitment structure and most often the job is task specific. Opportunities abound in the travel sector, hotel industry, airlines offices, service sectors, export agencies, trade fair organizations, radio service, and international trade organisations.

Worldwide, translations into English are mostly required from languages widely used in international business-like German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Such assignments are handled principally through the Internet. Note that translations from English into such languages, are always handled by people for whom the language of translation is their first language.

Job opportunities are in translation bureaus, international organisations like UNO, FAO, Reserve Bank of India, publishing houses etc. Expertise in foreign languages coupled with additional qualifications in areas of management, tourism, hospitality industry, airlines etc yield better job opportunities.

Teachers have to be graduates in that language and must hold a teaching degree. There are, however, special courses for language teachers.

Apart from Japanese and Chinese, knowledge of Spanish and German have assumed great significance in the IT-enabled service sector, mostly due to the large Spanish speaking population in business spots like Texas and California. Most call centres in India prefer people who have fluency in Spanish, or else train them to read, write and speak the language with efficiency.

Thus, from call centres to online journalism, from transcriptions to tourism, a basket of lucrative careers are currently available to students of foreign languages.


Remuneration for language teachers depends upon educational qualification, individual skills and experience in the field. For instance, school teachers can earn anything between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month. And while a lecturer starts with a pay scale of Rs.15,000 per month, professors can expect over Rs.18-20,000 per month. Freelancers, however, earn a minimum of Rs. 100 per page for foreign languages, including English. Call centre jobs fetch Rs.15,000-16,000 per month.

Study & Training
To became a foreign language specialist there are 2 major routes. One is after +2 you could take a 3 years graduate (BA) degree or even a 5 year integrated language course in a university. Another option is to learn the foreign language of your choice at language institutes run by embassies/consulates of foreign countries. They conduct basic to advanced courses even extending upto 5-6 years. These are part time (evening) courses. Some Universities also run diploma/certificate courses for graduates and post graduates. Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi has a prestigeous centre for foreign language learning offering the following foriegn languages - Arabic, Chinese, German, Spanish, Japanese, Persian, Portugese, Russian and Italian.

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