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Français anyone?

Students learning French at the Alliance Francaise centre in Chennai. Photo: Shaju John  

With France and Francophone countries, gearing up to celebrate the Bastille Day, the French national day on July 14, the focus is on France and French language. You may well ask, why do people study French, in non-Francophone countries like India?

Passion can be a great motivator especially in the domain of foreign languages. Especially, in India where people study to become engineers and doctors. Dr. Chitra Krishnan, head, department of French, University of Madras, says, “It is a path less travelled. I have worked in the ‘French’ domain, all these years, and it still raises eyebrows in conversation circles,” she adds.

Study of foreign languages tends to be a labour of love. She says, “Humanities, as a whole, and languages, in particular, are not fields you choose to earn millions but because you have a passion. If you were to weigh the two aspects — job satisfaction and salary — you will find that French is able to hold its own against any other field.” She adds “Every single student who graduates gets placement every year. So, why would you not choose French?”

Motivation

Interested and motivated students will find their own career path, but for those people who trust their instincts, French is an exciting option. Shubhada Kaul, senior lecturer, Centre for European and Latin American Studies, Jamia Millia University, says, “I wonder what a financially viable-career means. One can always get a job to put food on the table, but to follow your love, your passion for something — in this case, a foreign language — it depends more than 80 per cent on the individual's motivation.”

More jobs

Chennai is a hub for many French multinational companies especially in the field of automobile manufacturing, and those with French language skills stand to benefit immensely. However, if you were to look at the nation-wide picture, French may or may not be an unusual career choice. Says Dr. Sushant Kumar Mishra, associate professor, Centre of Foreign Languages, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi, “It depends on where you are based. If you are living in a tier II city, French may be an unusual choice. But in class A cities, French is not an unusual choice. Facilities for French teaching and learning are readily available. Many of the tier II cities also provide this choice, for instance, Lucknow, Varanasi, Puducherry, Guwahati, Shimla and Coimbatore.”

But then teaching French may not be remunerative according to Dr. Sukumari Pollavaram, guest faculty at the department of humanities, IIT Madras. She feels that studying French is not financially viable as French teachers are not paid well, especially if they seek employment in private institutions. However, French does appear to give a range of choices as pointed out by Dr. Kiran Chaudhry of Centre of French Studies, Jawarharlal Nehru University. She says, “freelance translation, working as tourist guide, giving tuitions, medical transcription, outsourcing information for French companies and multinationals, are some of the options.” Teaching is definitely an option. Loyola College in Chennai, has been offering BA degree in French since 1925. Vialli Jacob, tour guide, who studied French at Loyola College and at the University of Madras, says “Although, teaching is a general option, being a tour guide is one of the best ways of seeing India, especially if you accompany tourists across the country.” Perhaps, you could try your hand at French, too.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 10:00:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/franais-anyone/article6203982.ece

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