Free Press Journal

Counsel queries on Learning Foreign languages, Instructional, Public relations and Biomedical Engineering


Learning foreign languages

I have discovered that I have a flair for languages. I am learning French currently, and plan on learning Spanish next. I am looking at a pursuing my career in this field. My only worry is that since I am studying English literature, my dominant language will be English. Will this pose a problem in me looking at becoming a good foreign language translator and interpreter? – Sheetal Kumar

Dear Sheetal,

It is wonderful that you already know what you like and you are ready to invest your time and energy in improving your knowledge and skills in the field that you intend to build your career in. You also are giving yourself enough time to become multi-lingual, which is an added advantage. Anyone who is as sincere as you are about her work can never really be ‘bad’ at anything she does. You need to realise that for everyone there is always one dominant language, which is most often the language that they have studied in. You are working towards learning others, which is great. The fact that you are concerned about this thing shows that you are a perfectionist and intend to deliver good work in the future. Also, learning English literature has nothing to do with you being ineffective with other languages. Think of it this way – whenever you use Hindi, does your knowledge of English pose any problem? I am guessing not. In a similar manner, you will not be affected when using other foreign languages. In fact, I know of several people who know more than one language, and are very good at it.

Instructional design

I am a BCom student. I attended a seminar in my college where one of the speakers was talking at length about instructional technology and design. She was talking very highly of the field and the opportunities in it in the future. I have read up on it, but I am still not very clear. I have good language skills, but am an introvert by nature. Will this field work out for me? Also, where can I pursue a course? – Shailaja Patankar

Dear Shailaja,

It is great that you learnt about a new field when you attended this seminar. It is commendable that you have an open mind towards a new field rather than looking at the traditional fields like finance and MBA or CA. I feel that you have what it takes to be successful in this field, but you will have to put your introvert nature on one side, whichever profession you enter, since every field requires some interaction with different people. You will have to talk to different people, including clients for needs, the subject matter expert for the content, seniors for guidance and deadlines and colleagues and team members for the working of the project as a whole. Also, you will need to interact with graphic designers and programmers, who might be designing the stuff. Try to develop a comfort zone in interacting with others. Otherwise, since you like the field of education and have great language skills, it is likely you will do well in instructional design.

Instructional design is the part of the teaching and learning process to develop and design materials in a way that they can be administered in an effective manner to the participants. It has been a few years since this need has come to India, and professional courses are not being offered by a few institutes as well. We do have professionals who have been trained in other countries, but most senior professionals have learnt on the job. Companies offering e-learning options taught their designers on the job.

Some institutes that offer courses are:

  • Symbiosys Centre of Distance Learning – Post Graduate Diploma in Instructional Design (PGDID)
  • SNDT Women’s University – Offers a 4-credit Online Course on Instructional Design and a Master’s in Educational Technology with Computer Applications (METCA)
  • ibruk Consulting Pvt Ltd – Various Certificate Courses in Instructional Design and Technical Writing

You will have to check the individual eligibility for each of these courses, and then work upon it. Certain personality traits are needed to work successfully in this field. First, you need a good command over the English language, since most instructional material is written in English and delivered by someone else. Your instructions need to be clear and precise. Brevity is construction of sentences will be a virtue. An analytical bent of mind is required to match the appropriate theory to the learning needs. And for that, you need to have a passion for teaching and learning.

Public relations

I am a mass media student and after I graduate I want to take up public relations (PR) as my field. I am however confused whether to pursue a postgraduate course to know more about the field, or whether work with the knowledge I already have? I feel I can learn on the job. Please advise. Which institutes offer courses in PR? – Mehek Raja

Dear Mehek,

The thing is that you have to do your own research and weigh your pros and cons with respect to pursuing a postgraduate course in any field. No one can really provide you with any guaranteed information regarding securing a job in a particular field either with or without acquiring a special degree in that field. It largely depends on what is available at the time, your own skills and experience. If you have worked at internships in your holidays over your graduation years, it might easier for your to look for a job opening. A few skills that you need to work on include:

*             Make and customise your resume according to the individual needs of each hiring organisation

*             Prepare to talk well at the interview and learn how to behave in different situations

*             Don’t just look at the pay packet, look at the learning as well. After all, you are just starting out.

*             Express willingness to learn and upgrade your people skills

Institutes in Mumbai that offer courses include:

* Xavier Institute of Communications

* School of Broadcasting & Communication

* EMDI Institute of Media and Communication

* The Press Club, Mumbai

* Northpoint Centre of Learning

* Harkisan Mehta Foundation Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication

* Livewires – The Media Institute

* The PR School

Biomedical Engineering

I want to pursue my biomedical engineering for which I am working on the entrance exams next year. Can you tell me whether it will need too much of a detailed study in several disciplines? I just want to be prepared for what lies ahead. Is it possible to switch from one to the other in egineering? – Manan Parekh

Dear Manan,

Biomedical engineers usually need to integrate knowledge of fields like mathematics with the biological sciences and with medical studies to function well. The aim to solve problems related to living systems. So, biomedical engineers are required to have a solid foundation in the engineering discipline with understanding its application for and to the human body.

If you want to work well, the complexities should be understood well, especially of the biological systems of the human body in order to improve the experience of the medical procedure for the patients. Any procedure involving a machine would require the patient to be absolutely comfortable with the thought, whether the machine is going into the patient’s body (like a pacemaker or stent) or whether the patient is going into the machine (like the CT scan or MRI).

After HSC, you will be pursuing the bachelor which is of four years duration. Students usually apply for internships and jobs after completing this programme. Some aspirants, however, also opt for further education, which presents itself in the form of a master’s programme (ME or MTech). The bachelor’s degree is a main requirement to apply for the master’s. In addition to a degree, a professional should:

*             Have interest and ability in engineering as well as medical disciplines

*             Have the ability to think analytically to solve problems

*             Be able to look at complex equipment to visualise solutions

*             Have good communication skills

*             Feel for improving healthcare

It is not really possible to switch between other streams of engineering and biomedical engineering. I think that this is a specialised feel which requires specific training.