India has emerged as the leading back-office support destination for many companies, as having a large English-speaking population is our primary selling point. Also, many corporates (mainly from non-Anglophone countries) have set up their captive centres in the country to manage their own back-office work.
This has opened up many new opportunities for employees who can enhance their career opportunities by learning a foreign language. Apart from the traditionally popular Romance languages like French, German and Spanish, many people are learning East Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
Anshumita Sahoo, who works for Flex as a Mandarin language trainer, has incorporated her passion for Chinese into her career. She teaches her colleagues to converse in basic Mandarin so that they can communicate easily with suppliers and customers based in China and other Asian regions. So far, she has trained more than 200 colleagues.
“I never had the idea of becoming a trainer when I was learning Mandarin. Later, I understood that it had job opportunities,” she says. Anshumita opines that if a person could communicate with a Chinese vendor in Mandarin, it could help improve the business. “If a Chinese employee knows that we could speak their language, he/she becomes more comfortable and this improves the rapport. They like to hear us wishing them in Mandarin language,” adds Anshumita.
Initially, it was a challenging task for her to teach the language. “It’s equally challenging for the students and teachers. To make it easier, I suggest some easy tips and give fun exercises to do. Chinese being a tonal language, it has different meanings of the same word in different tones. That is the biggest challenge many face in the beginning stage. You have to know which word you are going to use and in what tone — if you are changing the tone, then the meaning of the word will change and this would create confusion to the listener.”
Apart from the career prospects, learning a foreign language enables a person to gain a deeper understanding of that country’s culture and also helps develop various mental abilities. When Ragini went to Japan earlier this year, she found it difficult to communicate with the locals. “I couldn’t convey my feelings and found it tough to convince them in English as many don’t follow it. When I returned, the first thing I did was to enroll in a Japanese language class. I love the process of learning grammar, pronunciation, experimenting with new words and phrases.
I am planning to work in Japan because the pay in the communication industry is great when compared to India. I am a huge fan of animes and mangas, and the language helps me understand them better.”
Nandini Menon, who heads teaching and information at InKo Centre, says that the number of people showing interest to learn Korean has increased over the years. “In 2011, we signed an MoU with Sangmyung University, Korea, with a proposal to send well-qualified Korean language teachers to Chennai. Later, we collaborated with King Sejong Institute Foundation. Now, we have a structured learning pattern and we could see an increase in demand for Chennaiites wanting to learn Korean.”
Nandini has noticed that many learn the language to pursue their stream of studies and then migrate to Korea, while some learn it because they find interpretation and translation jobs lucrative. “Indians have a better command in English than Koreans.
So, job opportunities are more. Mainly, there are three categories of learners. Korean pop culture has grown into prominence and youngsters come to learn the language just for the craze. The second category of learners is purely job-oriented. The third section is senior people who learn it to explore a foreign language,” she remarks.