Mumbai: The love for European languages has flourished in classrooms across India for decades with German and French being a common fixture in school and college curriculums in our institutions.
While the languages transitioned from hobbies to an extra skill for many who have learned the language, they have also become helpful for many students in India to build a career abroad. An example of that can be found right in the financial heart of India, Mumbai.
Hundreds learning German from Mumbai varsity
“Students who come for A1 level especially learn the German language with the intention of going to Germany for studies,” stated Meher Bhoot, head of the German department, at Mumbai University (MU), who added that at least 700-800 students are currently learning the Indo-European language from the University.
Meher added that the students hail not only from India but around the world as they joined the online programmes on German, organised by MU, during the peak of Covid-19 in 2020-2021.
Learning French more than just a passion
Not far behind is the official language of 29 countries on multiple continents, which also prides itself on creating an association of nations based on its very existence, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
French has thrived in India as the go-to language for students who are taking small steps toward the world of linguistics but in today’s day and age, it has far more value than just being fashionable.
“Students, who learn the language since Class 5 or 7, do it as a hobby but go on to prepare themselves with B1-B2 levels for future opportunities,” stated Khushboo Solanki, a French teacher at Orchids The International School.
Moreover, learning French has become essential in one of the most popular study-abroad destinations for Indian students, Canada.
‘Growing Nova Scotia's Francophone Population: An Action Plan for Success (2022-25)' aims to attract French-speaking immigrants to support the existing francophone and Acadian communities, which can have direct benefits for Indian students who enrol in language institutes such as Alliance Francaise.
Though not a necessity, institutions in France have also assured a smooth process for students who might want to take up a second language while being in the country.
"Unlike the traditional study destinations like US, UK, France allows to follow studies comfortably in English medium while giving students a chance to learn on the side a language which would have a great impact on their careers: 50 countries have French as their 1st or 2nd official language. It’s a great skill to add to one’s profile, though not required to join a course or obtain visa provided that it is 100% in English," said Maud Le Bars, South Asia Area Manager, Rennes School of Business.
But things can get tricky according to Indian students, if they don't know the basics of the language.
"Language is a big concern for students who don't speak French. The French take pride in their language and its distinctiveness which can make students second guess their plans to study in France," stated Vishnu Nair, an MSc student in International Luxury and Brand Management.
A newer entrant stepping up
Another language that has gained increasing popularity among students, which goes hand in hand with the country’s recognition as a primary study destination, is Italian.
There are various ways in which the language has gained increasing recognition, according to Federica Maria Giove, the director of Uni-Italia India, which aims to promote Italian higher education programmes and assist students, and researchers in their academic journey to Italian universities.
“The Italian Cultural Centre organises several courses that students can register for. Moreover, students can attend the online certified classes offered by the Italian lecturer at Mumbai University,” stated Federica.
With thousands studying in Germany, France, and Italy having to capitalise on what the countries have to offer, especially in the fields of STEM, Management, Art, and Design, knowing the languages provide a personal touch for the students who interact and spend time with the locals in the entirety of their study journey.
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