Learning a third language can give job seekers an advantage, says a European language expert. As so many people have a knowledge of English, other languages such as German, French or Japanese could be considered, according to Dr Renate Scherer, head of the language department, Goethe-Institut Hong Kong. Dr Scherer said the number of students studying German at the language centre rose 10 per cent to 620 or 630 per course during the past year. She attributed the increase to young working people - 40 per cent of them were working for German, Swiss and Austrian companies - who wanted to improve their career prospects. 'The economic downturn has led some students to learn another language to enhance their qualifications. Some of our students say that they are unemployed. I'm sure there are more of them than there were two years ago,' Dr Scherer said. The centre offers courses at several levels - from beginners to specialised courses for those already proficient in the language. Classes in German for professional purposes are targeted at those working for German, Swiss or Austrian companies. Emphasis is on everyday office situations and work-related tasks. Classes in business German are more advanced, preparing students for business trips or training sessions in Germany. Other interesting classes include an e-mail writing course, an Internet course, and a course in German cinema. There are five terms a year, each lasting nine weeks. Classes usually have 16 to 20 students and meet three hours a week. Certification is offered at several levels.