LEARNING a foreign language was a fashion in China 20 years ago. Now, because of globalization, it is essential.
According to a survey conducted by recruitment website Zhaopin.com last year, 40.2 percent of 10,000 professionals recommended students major in a foreign language. Respondents said foreign language skills were important tools for the future, that they would help students land a job.
However, although foreign language study is among the top 10 most popular 2008 postgraduate majors, the survey found postgraduate language majors didn't have an advantage in job hunting
over their undergraduate counterparts.
"It's true. When you are doing a project in a company, I don't think having a foreign language master's degree makes a big difference," said Rita Liu, a 24-year-old translator and admin assistant from a Wuhan-based company. She got her bachelor's degree in English last year.
Study a specialism
"I am a professional translator and my daily translation
work, which swarms with business and industrial terms, would be an almost impossible mission for most of my ex-classmates now taking
advanced courses in literature or linguistics
. But I am doing well. That's why I said experience is the key factor for a job and some skills cannot be obtained from textbooks."
Other than institutions, such as translation
firms, English news media, embassies and universities, that take on foreign language masters or higher degree holders, many employers are looking for language majors that have another specialism.
China's biggest search engine Baidu, for example, is hiring people with both English and Japanese proficiency, and a good knowledge of the search engine industry, according to its senior
HR director Lu Lingmin. Kingsoft also posts similar job requirements.
These positions, which employers are eager to fill, obviously point a new direction for language majors who want to study more to add to their competitiveness in the job market.
Valuable postgraduate study
"Only during postgraduate studies are you given the opportunity to talk at length with your tutors, which is almost impossible during your undergraduate years. From my tutor, I got a large amount of up-to-date information about what was happening
circles. This helped to familiarize me with the latest trends in English teaching and study. That was the most valuable part of my postgraduate program."