I am a student of class XII and I am keen to learn a foreign language. What is the appropriate stage to learn a foreign language? Can one get a job on the basis of a foreign language?
From the perspective of knowing a different country or culture, you can start learning a foreign language as early as class V. your age will not prevent you from grasping the basics of a foreign language. Early learning encourages one to move beyond mere literacy and read the original works of literature. In fact, institutes like Max Mueller Bhawan (for German) and Alliance Francaise (for French) rather than follow a translation approach, encourage you to communicate in the new language from day one.
However, from the job perspective, it is better to study a language once you are clear about your career objectives. Direct job opportunities in foreign languages are limited to teaching at school and college-level or at foreign language institutes. You can also take up translation. But as a translator, the chances are that you will come across more work for translating personal documents or instruction material for some machine. The more challenging task of translating literary works will be available only if you are exceedingly good at the language.
Then there is the job of interpretation. The new age economy is opening up avenues for interpreters, who have good spoken language and communication skills, in travel and tourism, hospitality, public relations, event management, and so on. However, in most jobs, foreign language is a time-consuming and costly affair. You will tend to forget it if you do not constantly practice that language or use its vocabulary regularly.
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