It is sometimes assumed that language specialists only become teachers or translators. While as professional scholars and teachers we are naturally gratified when our students do enter these professions with which we are closely associated, the fact of the matter is that only a small proportion of languages graduates do so, and a degree in modern languages should be viewed as a springboard to a wide range of professions.
Language graduates go into many different walks of life, typically those in which interpersonal relations are a priority and in which fluency in one or more foreign languages is likely to be useful. Some obvious destinations are the Civil Service, management consultancy, the tourist industry, the financial world. Look at CILT's (The National Centre for Languages) website for more information (click here).
Recent graduates of our Department work for Amnesty International, Ernst and Young, the British Council, Exeter University, etc. Among them are an immigration lawyer, a fiction writer, and a BBC journalist. Business and financial contacts between Britain and Russia are intensifying now that Russia's economy is undergoing fast expansion, and many companies are keen to recruit speakers of Russian. Potential employers are likely to look favorably upon your willingness and ability to become fluent in a less commonly taught language such as Russian.
Entry to most professions requires a short period of specialised postgraduate training.
According to a survey of human resources managers in 2,700 companies, workers who speak more than one language are likely to be paid between 12-20% more than their monolingual colleagues. As the Independent put it, "Britons who learn a foreign language are richer, happier and are regarded as sexier than those who can only speak English" (Independent, 1st November 2004). Should you be one of them?
If you study Russian at Queen Mary,
You will reach a high level of spoken and written competence in the language, which will in many ways enrich your life.
You will receive a rigorous training in reading analytically and writing lucidly, which are fundamental transferable skills.
You will learn to think deeply about a culture that is quite different, which is interesting, enjoyable and sometimes surprising!
You will have the opportunity to spend a summer or year abroad, which, as well as developing your knowledge of Russian, will give you interpersonal skills and demonstrate your adaptability and flexibility.
You will paradoxically learn to understand yourself and your own native tongue better by studying the structure of a different language and culture.