Careers using languages – Linguistics

 

Careers using languages – LinguisticsLinguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguists study the nature and characteristics of human language. There are many different specializations under the umbrella of linguistics, including:

 

 

Anthropological linguistics: the study of the relationship between language and culture.

Applied linguistics: identifying, investigating, and offering solutions to language-related real-life problems.

Discourse analysis: the study of language in the context of conversation.

Etymology: the study of the origin of words.

Language acquisition: the study how we acquire languages

Morphology: the study of the internal structure of words.

Neurolinguistics: the study of the neural mechanisms involved in the comprehension, production and abstract knowledge of language.

Phonetics: the study of the physical sounds of languages, particularly the production and perception of those sounds.

Phonology: the study of how sounds are organized and used in languages to encode meaning.

Pragmatics: the study of the way language can communicate more than is explicitly stated.

Psycholinguistics; the study of the connection between thinking and the use of language.

Semantics; the study of meaning.

Sociolinguistics: the study of the relationship between language and society.

Syntax: the study of the rules that govern the way the words in a sentence come together.

Theoretical linguistics: concerned with developing models of linguistic knowledge.


Linguists work for a range of organizations, including universities and colleges, high tech companies, research institutions, consulting firms, government, and the military.

 

Careers using languages – Trainer

 

Language teaching & training

Language teaching may involve teaching a foreign language to students who share the same native language as you, or teaching your own language to speakers of other languages. Language trainers work in a variety of educational establishments from primary/elementary schools to universities, language schools and colleges.

There are many paths into language training: some people do a degree in a subject that interests them, then acquire a postgraduate qualification in teaching; some study education at undergraduate level; some start working as a teaching assistant, then later acquire professional teaching qualifications; some do some teaching while undertaking research.

Those teaching a foreign language need a near-native ability in that language, while a knowledge of other languages can be useful when teaching your native language to foreign students, especially to beginners.

 Careers using languages - Trainer

Careers using languages – Interpreting

 

Interpreters work with the spoken word at conferences, meetings, trials, hospitals and anywhere else that interpretation is needed. There are two types of interpreting: simultaneous or conference interpreting and consecutive interpreting.

Simultaneous interpreting usually happens at big conferences and meetings and involves the interpreter sitting in a soundproof booth listening on headphones to delegates giving speeches in a foreign language and at the same time, speaking a translation in their (the interpreter’s) native language into a microphone so that delegates who speak that language can understand what’s going on. Simultaneous interpreting is a high-pressure, high-stress and usually well-paid job. Simultaneous interpreters often work in teams with each individual interpreting for 15-20 minutes at a time.

Consecutive interpreting involves giving a translation after speakers have spoken, and often translating in both directions between languages. Consecutive interpreting may occur at smaller meetings, discussions between politicians, business people and journalists, and also in courtrooms and hospitals

Interpreters have to be able to interpret both to and from their native language without using dictionaries or other references materials. They also have to be very good at listening and remembering what has been said in one language while simultaneously or consecutively providing a translation in another language. A good knowledge of the subjects under discussion is also essential.

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, governments and the military.

Careers using languages - Interpreting

Careers using languages – Translation

 

A knowledge of one or more foreign languages can be useful in a wide range of careers. For some jobs, such as translating, interpreting and language teaching, language skills are one of the main requirements. For other jobs a combination of languages and other qualifications, knowledge or skills may be needed.

Specialist language occupations include working as a translator, interpreter, language teacher or linguist. For the former three you’ll need an in-depth knowledge of one or more foreign languages. Linguists don’t necessarily need to speak foreign languages, but such knowledge can be useful for them.

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. Fluency in the source language(s) is not essential, but you definitely need an excellent understanding of the written version of the source language and the culture of the people who speak it. Specialist knowledge of other subjects, qualifications in translation, and membership of a professional association are also very useful.

Careers using languages - Translation

Translators make great use of dictionaries, the internet, and other reference materials. Some also use translation memory software.

Many translators are self-employed and find clients themselves, and/or work for translation agencies, who find clients and arrange payment. There are also positions for in-house translators in some large organisations. Translators are usually paid per word in the source language.

Which languages have the most speakers?

Listed below are the languages with the most speakers. If you choose to learn one of these, you will have plenty of people to talk to!

Mandarin Chinese: 1.05 billion

English: 508 million

Which languages have the most speakers?

Hindi: 487 million

Spanish: 417 million

Bengali: 211 millionArabic: 221 million

Russian: 277 million

French: 128 millionPortuguese: 191 million

German: 128 million

Japanese: 126 million

Urdu: 104 million

These figures show the approximate total number of speakers for each language, including native and second language speakers. They do not include the numbers of people who have learnt them as foreign languages. Interested? Get in touch today! 

 

How long will it take to learn a language?

It depends on how much time you’re able to put into your studies, how often you practise using the language, and the degree to which you are immersed in it.

It is possible to acquire basic conversational fluency, i.e. the ability to understand and participate in ordinary conversations, in 6-12 months or even more quickly if you are immersed in the language and focus on speaking it. To acquire native-like fluency in a language is likely to take longer.

How long will it take to learn a language?If your aim is to read a new language, you could learn to do so within a few months, if you are able to do plenty of regular study and practise. However acquiring the ability to read the new language as comfortably as your own will probably take quite a while longer. Learning to read Chinese or Japanese takes considerably longer than other languages as there are many more symbols to memorise.

At Elite Learning we pride ourselves on helping learners acquire the skills required for them to be proficient users of a language in the shortest possible time, thanks to our dedicated team of trainers, who provide tailor-made guidance through the whole process, whatever your motivation for learning another language.  

Which is harder to learn, Mandarin Chinese or Japanese?

Learning to read and write Japanese is probably harder than Chinese because most Which is harder to learn, Mandarin Chinese or Japanese?Japanese characters (kanji) have two or more pronunciations, whereas the vast majority of Chinese characters (hanzi) only have one. In Japanese you also have to contend with two syllabic scripts (hiragana and katakana). On the other hand, some Japanese words and word endings are easier to read than Chinese ones as they’re written phonetically with hiragana or katakana, whereas all Chinese words are written with hanzi. If you don’t know the pronunciation of the hanzi, you can only guess it based on similar hanzi you do know.

Chinese word order is closer to that of English, and other European languages to some extent, whereas Japanese word order has a closer resemblance to that of Korean, Mongolian and the Turkic languages. So for English speakers, Chinese is easier than Japanese from this aspect.

Chinese grammar is generally considered a lot easier to learn than Japanese. Chinese is an isolating language, even more so than English, with no verb conjugations, noun cases or grammatical gender. Moreover plurals are only used to a limited extent and are often optional. Japanese is a agglutanative language with numerous verb, noun and adjective conjugations.

Japanese pronunciation is probably easier to learn than Chinese. Japanese uses a limited number of phonemes and has no tones. Japanese words do have different intonation patterns though which need to be learnt to ensure that people can understand you. Only a few Japanese words are distinguished by intonation though, so if you get it wrong, you’ll probably still be understood.

Chinese has a larger inventory of phonemes and each syllable has its own tone. Pronouncing a syllable with the wrong tone can change its meaning. Most varieties of Chinese other than Mandarin have more phonemes and tones – there are six or seven tones in Cantonese and eight in Taiwanese for example.

Are some languages more difficult to learn than others?

It is believed by linguists that no spoken language is significantly more difficult to learn than any other in absolute terms. Children can learn their mother tongues, whatever they may be, without too much trouble.

However adults already speak one or more languages and generally find it easier to learn a closely-related language than a distantly-related or unrelated one. For example, the least difficult languages for English speakers to learn are Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch and German, in more or less that order.

Written languages are a different matter – some, particularly Chinese and Japanese, are difficult to learn even if you’re a native speaker.

Each language presents you with a different set of challenges in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, spelling and writing system. The closer these are to your native language, the less difficult a language is to learn.

Researchers have found that the brain processes different languages in different ways. A particular study looked at brain activity in native speakers of English and Chinese when listening to their native languages and found that the Chinese speakers used both sides of their brains, whereas the English speakers only used the left side of their brains. The conclusion is that Chinese is more difficult to understand and speak than English.

Learning Writing Systems (Part 3)

 

Reading

Practice reading texts written in the new alphabet as often as possible. Even if you don’t know all the letters or symbols, you will be able to make out some of the words and to guess some of the others. Look out for the names of people and places and for loan-words from your own language as these tend to be relatively easy to spot and decipher. At first you’ll probably find that you have to sound out letters individually before you can decipher the words. Eventually you’ll be able to recognise words by their shapes and will only need to sound out the letters of unfamiliar words. Try reading aloud whenever possible.

 

Labelling

Label things around your home or office in the new alphabet. This will increase your exposure to the new alphabet and help you to recognise key words and phrases.

Learning Writing Systems (Part 2)

 

Association

Try to associate the shapes of letters with familiar objects: some letters may look like letters or numerals in your own alphabet, others may remind you of animals, objects or people.

 

Practice

Practice writing the letters as often as possible. Learning the standard way to form the letters: i.e. the shape, direction and order of strokes, will help you to memorise them, improve your handwriting and to read other people’s handwriting.

 

Transliteration

Practice writing things in the new alphabet then transliterating them into your own alphabet. Then try transliterating them back into the new alphabet. Also try writing your own language in the new alphabet.