Language is the most effective and powerful means of communication. As the world becomes a global village and interaction within and amongst countries increases, the need for understanding people who speak different languages is growing.
Earlier learning a language was more of a hobby than anything else. However now individuals proficient in more than one language can use it to their advantage, both personally and professionally.
Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that language skills on their own are of very little value. Saying that an individual can speak French or German is, on its own, about as useful to an employer as saying that a person can speak English. What matters is the framework of technical, professional or practical skills within which a person can apply a language.
There are very few careers for which languages are the primary skill required, and even these require other skills and qualities. For a growing number of careers, however, languages are a useful sometimes essential, secondary skill.
LANGUAGES AS A PRIMARY SKILL
At international conferences interpreters may do either `simultaneous' or `consecutive' interpretation. Simultaneous interpreters relay the meaning of a speech, often on complicated subjects, almost instantaneously. The technique can be learned, but the talent and temperament
BUSINESS AND SPECIALIST INTERPRETERS
The skills of these specialists are required, for example when receiving trade delegations, negotiating international contracts and at trade fairs. Some of these interpreters may need specialist
knowledge (such as engineering, economics, information technology, computing or physical science).
Most general interpreters are accredited guides who need a considerable amount of historical knowledge. A large number of general interpreters work as tourist guides, in travel agencies, airlines etc.
Translators must be able to translate idiomatically and to write lucidly and concisely. Merely being bilingual is not sufficient. Specialists require a very good education and specialist knowledge of a range of related subjects though this maybe acquired on the job. Most translations have some specialist content-contracts require some legal knowledge; scientific articles some understanding of the subject matter.
Translators often have to discuss phrases and technical jargon with engineers, scientists, lawyers, etc. to get the accurate meaning. The scope and prospects for translators of Russian Japanese and Arabic is witnessing a tremendous rise with growing business and interaction between India and these countries.
Another avenue for individuals who are specialists in languages is teaching. The task of a teacher is
to teach students in such a way that the students become proficient in the use of that particular language.
Language as a Secondary Skill
There are a number of areas in which the knowledge of a foreign language can be a requirement or an asset, though it is not the primary skill and may not be a day-to-day part of the work. These include travel and tourism, banking, export marketing, receptionist etc. These careers do not require the knowledge of a language as a prerequisite. Rather competence in a foreign language helps enhance almost any career, giving a person more interesting prospects, at home and abroad.