Languages When it comes down to it, only 6.5% of the world’s population are native English speakers. And more, only 25% can speak the language. While English is definitely the language of business, being fluent, or having intermediate proficiently in another language will obviously be of benefit.
As the world gets smaller and more and more companies become multinationals, the need for people with language skills increases. Employers, therefore, generally have a positive perception of graduates holding awards in modern languages. People who undertake such studies are likely to have spent periods of time abroad, gaining an insight into another culture, adapting to new surroundings and people, and working or studying with them. Employers in all sectors will value these skills and experiences.
The economic environment in Ireland is very suited to people who choose to study languages at 3rd level.
Firstly the expansion of the European Community has brought with it a large increase in the amount of information passing between Ireland and different member states. The EU has laws that offer protection and equality for all member state languages. This has further helped develop opportunities in the Irish translation sector.
Secondly Ireland now has an international economy with a huge number of multinational companies located here. Ireland is seen as a gateway to non-English speaking countries in the rest of Europe. A large number of call centres have set up in Ireland directly as a result of having these language skills available locally.
A recent Government report on ‘Future Skills’ has identified linguistic expertise as one of the key skills that is essential for our continued economic development. A combination of languages and other qualifications together with industry knowledge and skills may be needed to gain employment in this area. For example, people with languages plus IT, law, finance or sales skills are much sought-after.
Specialist language occupations These include working as a translator, interpreter, language teacher or linguist. For the former three you will need an in-depth knowledge of one or more foreign languages. Linguists don't necessarily need to speak foreign languages but the ability to do so may be helpful in gaining employment in certain sectors.
Translation Translators translate written material from one language to another. The kind of material involved may include product manuals, business reports, business correspondence, legal documents, websites, subtitles for films, song lyrics, and literature.
To be a translator you need the ability to write and express yourself very well in the target language, usually your native tongue, and a good knowledge of the source language(s), usually foreign languages.
Interpreting Interpreters work with the spoken word at conferences, meetings, legal trials, hospitals and anywhere else that interpretation is needed. Many interpreters are self-employed and find clients themselves, and/or work for agencies, who find the clients and handle payments. There are also positions for interpreters in some large organisations, such as the United Nations, EU organisations and Government departments.
Language teaching and training There are many paths into language teaching: some people do a degree in a subject that interests them, then acquire a postgraduate qualification in teaching. A significant number of language graduates still pursue the traditional route of second-level teaching. Others continue to study a language after graduating with a degree and go on to teach in a third level college or training body.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language refers to teaching English to students for whom it is not their mother tongue. Ireland is a leading world location for TEFL teaching. There are many language schools or summer camps operating in Ireland. Many young people, usually those with a Degree and a TEFL qualification take up this type of teaching throughout the world. They work within the state school system of a foreign country or in private language school.
Linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguists study the nature and characteristics of human language. Linguists work for a range of organisations, including universities and colleges, high-tech companies, research institutions, consulting firms. There are a number of courses in Irish Universities that train people in this very specialist field.
Heritage and Culture Working in the area of heritage means working with the artifacts and cultural expressions that are inherited from past generations. These may include buildings and historic places, monuments, artifacts, etc., that are considered worthy of preservation for the future. These include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specific culture.
Natural heritage is also an important part of a culture, encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna. These kind of heritage sites often serve as an important component in a country's tourist industry, attracting many visitors from abroad as well as locally.
The heritage that survives from the past is often unique and irreplaceable, which places the responsibility of preservation on the current generation. Smaller objects such as artworks and other cultural masterpieces are collected in museums and art galleries. Grass roots organisations and political groups have been successful at gaining the necessary support to preserve the heritage of many nations for the future.
Preservation of our Heritage is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Most employment in this sector would be through Local Authorities, where those with specialist qualifications in subjects such as (for example) history, archaeology, antiquities, sociology, heritage, culture and languages could pursue their interests.