Career in Foreign Languages


With Indian companies emerging as global players and Indian market being eyed by multinational companies, it becomes essential that there is no dearth of professionals who can overcome language barriers and facilitate smooth communication for proper business transactions. Foreign language experts with a good understanding of cultures are in great demand in the corporate world. The scope of foreign languages as career is stupendous and candidates willing to explore it have multitude of job opportunities in various multinational companies and multilateral organisations. Moreover, language skills are essential attribute in most professions and help in the advancement of career.


There are various options to learn foreign languages. Whereas several students start learning a foreign language in their schools, numerous others opt the course after their 10+2 and go for graduation courses that are offered by various institutes, colleges and universities. Then there are some certificate courses and diploma courses which take less time and duration and are available in a condensed form – candidates who have done 10+2 are eligible for such courses. Those who are interested in higher education in foreign languages can opt for post-graduation and PhD which are being offered at select universities in India.

Start Early

Language skills are like sport skills wherein early starters are at an advantage. Therefore, it is advisable to make an early beginning as love for a foreign language cannot be developed; it has to be felt from within. Some public schools in India have foreign languages in their curriculum. Home tuition is ideal for those who have passion to learn foreign languages. Moreover, in order to attain proficiency in language skills, practice is key. Therefore, it helps tremendously if the learner is able to build a group wherein they converse in the concerned.

Is it the Right Career for Me?

If you have a deep interest in knowing the way of life, language and culture of other people, learning a foreign language is an extraordinary career option. Career in a foreign language is not only attractive in terms of fulfilling the innate passion to know culture and people but also earns you handsome salary. Knowing one foreign language alongside English adds significant value to career prospects. However, be ready to put in a lot of effort as learning a language is a painstaking task and requires high levels of concentration and a lot of hard work.

What would it Cost Me?

Whereas fee for foreign language courses in central universities such as University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University is minimal, Max Mueller Bhavan or Inlingua charge considerable fees from students. The fee depends upon the language and the number of learners. Whereas learning Korean, Japanese and Chinese is tough, these are available at only few centres in India and are available at a high cost. Arabic and Persian are available at most of the national universities and that too at very low fees. Alliance Française offers courses in French language and the whole course lasting for five year can cost anywhere between Rs 3-4 lacs.


Jawaharlal Nehru University offers attractive scholarships for students studying foreign languages. The university has excellent student exchange program with various universities and foreign language students receive option to study in foreign universities for certain period during their study in JNU. University of Delhi too offers certain scholarships based on merit and performance in university exams. Similarly, governments of South Korea and Japan offer students of Korean and Japanese a number of scholarships. Max Mueller Bhavan offers two scholarships at its centres in India to the two best students of advanced level learning. They are offered a chance to visit Germany and observe the society and people to learn the language with first hand interaction.

Job Prospects

Academic qualification and proficiency in foreign languages opens the gate for career in sectors such as tourism, embassies, diplomatic service, entertainment, public relations and mass communication, international organisations, publishing, interpretation and translation, etc. Additionally, various multinational corporate bodies require candidates possessing excellent language skills in French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, etc. Some new avenues such as online content writers, technical translators or decoders too have come up in a big way.

International organisations such as the United Nations Organization (UNO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and various Indian national organisations such as Ministry of External Affairs, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), etc too require professionals who have specialisation in foreign languages.

Pay Packet

Foreign language professionals earn attractive remuneration depending upon the work and the organization. Professionals working for PR or Marketing Department of any MNC can earn Rs 30,000 – 50,000 per month. Teachers can earn any salary in the range of Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 a month.  Translators on the other hand receive Rs 250 to Rs 500 per page; compensation depends a lot upon the proficiency in the language. Similarly, an interpreter who is paid on an hourly basis can earn Rs 2000 to Rs 4000 per hour, again depending upon his calibre and work experience.

Demand and Supply Despite huge demand for foreign language professionals there is not much information available for aspirants. As a result few professionals come out from foreign language institutes which ultimately results in a dearth of trained foreign language experts. India requires a huge number of foreign language experts, particularly in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages. Whereas India possesses millions of English language experts, it faces shortage of people who know French, German and Portuguese. One important reason for shortage of trained foreign language professionals is lack of infrastructural set up in institutes and universities. Also, there are not many institutes which offer quality training in any foreign language. Additionally, most of the foreign language training centres or universities are located only in metros and big cities and candidates from small cities cannot afford to come to learn languages in metros.

Market Watch

Market for professional experts in foreign languages, particularly in European languages is expected to widen up in couple of decades. Evalueserve, an international research company claims that there would be a requirement of more than 1,60,000 foreign language professionals in various BPO, IT and KPO processes in India. Moreover, there is a strong requirement for skilled foreign language professionals who can effectively work in language-sensitive processes outsourced to India by companies located in the European countries.The research company concludes that the total addressable market for language-sensitive work is worth USD 14.4 billion. The demand is putting aside the English language experts which are in plenty in India.

A major issue with India’s foreign language professionals is that they are not efficient enough to work in language-sensitive processes thanks to their inefficient training. Numerous companies hire foreign professionals with proficiency in languages for outsourced work despite their heavy fees which, in fact, shows that Indian language professional can cash in, given right training is provided to them.

International Focus

Whereas Indian MNCs require trained foreign language professionals to open their operations in foreign countries, foreign multinationals require such candidates at cheap salaries from India. The situation is so attractive for Indian foreign language professionals that language experts in Japanese, Chinese and Korean get jobs soon after their five year language course from various institutes. International job opportunities for foreign language experts from India are open in supranational bodies such as United Nations Organization and its other bodies, various projects of India’s Foreign Ministry and of course India’s spy agencies.

Positives/Negatives The demand for a language depends a lot on the country and its economic prowess; therefore, it is important to take an informed decision while choosing a particular language as a field of study. One fine example is Russian language. When the Soviet Union was at the helm of international business and India’s biggest development partner, Russian experts were in high demand; however, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, there is not much scope for Russian language professionals. Same is the situation with Persian language. Now it is China and Japan that offer attractive job prospects for Chinese and Japanese language professionals respectively.

Despite the fact that there are certain inherent risks in deciding upon a career in foreign languages, it is an interesting career. Nevertheless, the satisfaction of knowing a foreign language is worth taking the risk. And in any case, a well thought out decision taken after setting the priorities is certain to steer you in the right direction.

Different Roles, Different Names

Foreign language experts don a variety of roles depending upon their skills and experience as well as the job. Here are some of the professions you can look for:

•    Diplomatic Service Professional
•    Foreign Language Trainer
•    Translator for MNCs and Government Organizations
•    Research Associate
•    Interpreter
•    Tourist Guide
•    Air Hostess or Flight Steward
•    Attendant at hotels
•    Freelance Writer, Translator, Interpreter
•    Public Relation Officer

Top Companies

Some of the top corporate companies that hire language experts are:

•    Accenture
•    Evalueserve
•    Wipro
•    Fiserv
•    TCS
•    Tech Mahindra
•    Infosys
•    Kuliza
•    Scabbard

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