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Off topic: Is the need for French language skills decreasing?
Thread poster: Sonja Tomaskovic
Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:43
English to German
+ ...
Jul 22, 2006

I am not sure if this is the right place to post this thread, so please feel free to move this to a more appropriate forum.

I am currently trying to brush up my French language skills and was looking into the various examinations offered by different bodies that would certify my language skills.

The easiest way, so I thought, was to find out what kind of courses our local "Volkshochschule" (adult education centre; you can find them everywhere here in Germany) offered. I was pretty sure that they offered a great variety of such courses, at least they did when I last had a look at their course program.

However, the picture is quite different now: they now only offer very basic courses, and according to the woman I talked to on the phone, their French language section hardly survives with the few people taking courses these days. The same is true for similar institutions in my area. None of them offers a preparation course for any of the DELF or DALF examinations; most don't offer courses that go beyond the B2 level of the Common European Frame of Reference.

On further investigation, I also found out that a lot of language schools (at least in my area) are now decreasing their language teachers for French and Italian, and one of these schools even decided to drop their Italian courses completely.

Is this development seen elsewhere, too, or am I just unlucky to be in an area where language schools (and other institutions) are "downsizing" and becoming more "cost-effective"?

I also noticed lately that there are a lot of translators/users on Proz.com who mention in their profiles that they were trained in French but do not make any use of the language anymore. I am curious to hear why they have dropped French as an active working language. Is the market for French translators saturated or is this just a personal decision that you made based on other factors than market demand?


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Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:43
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
still translating French, but not interpreting Jul 22, 2006

Sonja Tomaskovic wrote:

I also noticed lately that there are a lot of translators/users on Proz.com who mention in their profiles that they were trained in French but do not make any use of the language anymore. I am curious to hear why they have dropped French as an active working language. Is the market for French translators saturated or is this just a personal decision that you made based on other factors than market demand?


As a translator, I keep French as an active working language, and I do get some work therein, but, I confess, I get way more work for my other pairs, especially Spanish/English work.

I haven´t bothered to acquire any interpreting credentials in this pair, because, honestly, there is really little to no demand for it in my area (CT, USA), whereas I get sporadic Portuguese work due to the growing population of Brazilian immigrants, and the demand for Spanish/English is huge, even though the supply of interpreters seems to also be rather extensive.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 01:43
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
French English Market Jul 22, 2006

My experience is in line with yours. Any French business I do get is a feeder from my other languages. My impression is that the ratio of work/translators is rotten, at least from the standpoint of translators. Also, they almost all involve test translations, suggesting the market is glutted.

Stephen Rifkind


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
French/Dutch (and German) market Jul 23, 2006

The fact that Belgium is a trilingual country, and that you can literally stand with one foot in the Dutch-speaking part and with another foot in the French-speaking part produces a lot of translation work . It may be that the into French into English and vice-versa-market is saturated, but I don't think this is the case with French into Dutch and vice-versa and French into German and vice-versa.


[Edited at 2006-07-23 06:40]


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eltorgomania
Local time: 01:43
English to Arabic
+ ...
French - Arabic Market, on the contrary Jul 23, 2006

Though there are not-so-many postings here at Proz about this pair, yet the market is full of materials to be translated (FrenchArabic). What is good about French in Arabic countries is that you don't find that saturation of EngAr market (translators). French is top on the list for me, and I hope I will have mastered the language by the end of 2008 In Shaa' Allah.

Another excellent aspect in the French market, is that the projects are of relatively large size (usually novels). I have read also that the UN publications are not translated with the swiftness of translating their English counterparts (lack of professionals?!).

I agree with Williamson about the saturation of "EngFrench". May be the reason are the usual "intruders", with both languages being spoken worldwide (of global nature).


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:43
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
I agree Jul 23, 2006

Williamson wrote:It may be that the into French into English and vice-versa-market is saturated, but I don't think this is the case with French into Dutch and vice-versa and French into German and vice-versa.


French>English and viceversa may be, but not (for example) Italian >French and viceversa.

As for teaching, here in Italy French is increasing, on the contrary German is decreasing.

For example; I teach French and Italian in a languages school , they are increasing their teachers of French and Eglish, while they are decreasing their teachers of German (at present only 1, who is also teaching English in order to get a decent salary).


My 2 cents.

Angioletta


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:43
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
In India Jul 24, 2006

Hi Everyone,

Well, the case seems to be quite different in India... quite a few local organizations need translators/ interpreters and as my main workig languages (for which I do more work than others) are English and French I can say that market in India, at least, is yet to arrive at that point.

Of course, we have to struggle a lot and the rates are stagnant and not anywhere near the International Standard... but that is understandable as most of my clients are Indian organizations. Yet they offer a lot of work. Eg. An organization is currently looking for Translators to translate 200 pages from French to English. As this is a local project, it will probably not be advertised anywhere as the clients' awareness of sites like Proz is very low and they usually ask University teachers about it. It's the teachers who refer the client to their students (or ex-students)... And interpretation work is the worst in terms of payment, yet... Well, I do both and am off today to a Milk Processing Plant in Karnal (app. 3 hours drive from Faridabad, where I live) for a 5 day interpretation project. Only wish they paid more...

So I guess, it is actually all a question of one's location... but I agree it'll be difficult for someone in Europe to work for Indian organizations because of the low rates. Yet, as they have a lot of work to offer maybe... and hopefully, one of these days they'll wake up to the reality and start paying more.

So maybe moving to greener pastures is an option

Anyways, let's hope things improve for everyone's sake.

Till then... just stay around... from this point on, things definitely need to improve.

Sincerely,

Ritu Bhanot


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:43
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting Jul 24, 2006

Thanks to everyone so far.

Of course, the demand for translators will depend on the language pair and where a translator is located, so this is a purely market-driven decision.

As for the language schools, it is interesting what Angioletta has pointed out, that German is decreasing in Italy while French is on the up. It does seem to be different here in Germany, but this may be due to the general economic situation that we are currently experiencing here. Nevertheless I am somewhat surprised that hardly any language school in my area offers courses in French business communication or alike. And, of course, this situation makes it difficult for me to effectively brush up my French because there is hardly any course that would suit my needs.


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