https://www.duolingo.com/.S.P.Q.R.

Do you think that language certification is really that important?

.S.P.Q.R.
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My parents, as well as many fellow Greeks, tend to think that the only thing important in learning languages is a language certification, mostly in English (Lower, Advanced and Profficiency) or in French or German.

The sad part is that all the language schools are centered in that and dont care about the overall knowledge of the student but only about the success on the exams. Students, also dont continue to exercise or study the language and leave it immediately after they have successfully passed the exams. That's why you see many students in Greece (my country) who have B2 Sorbone in French but don't know to speak two words with you in French.

I have some degrees myself (Profficiency in English) and some German ones, but my family wants me to take the German B2 diploma which I am a little bit hesitant to participate in , since I dont want to indulge myself in that nerve breaking procedure of students exams since I believe that this will only make me hate the German language.

Btw, I have taken the same test 2 times before but almost 7 years ago, and I hated German back then for that reason, but now I am liking it, although I dont imagine continuing so if I study for the exams.

Pardon me for spelling mistakes i am from mobile. So whats your opinion?

Edit; Weird my post had 20 likes yesterday and today only 4, why the dislikes? Cant we have a dialogue here?

1 year ago

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda
Luscinda
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It depends on why you want to learn the language and what you want to do with it, Nick. Do you have a use for certificates? Are you planning to work abroad or do you need them for job applications closer to home? You don't say anything about your circumstances or what you do for a living or whether you are studying. If you don't have much of a CV yet and you have reasonably easy access to taking the exams, you might want to. If not, if your German is good enough you can say you have conversational German and be prepared for someone to test you on it.

Assuming that you are past the school stage, you don't have to beat yourself up about an exam, you can just treat it as an exercise in testing out whether you are where you think you are with your German. But I wouldn't believe anything Duo tells you - if you want to take exams, I think you need to be looking at other course books, or you could get a nasty shock.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/.S.P.Q.R.
.S.P.Q.R.
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I am in the university at the moment. I had in the past a formal German education in a language school (pretty common in Greece), though despite the fact that I took the German B2 exams twice I never made it. After that, I gave up on German, but lately (2 last years) due to duolingo and other websites I restarted German, with the companion of several textbooks I had. I believe that I have a legit CV for my age, and I always include some other languages in my CV like Esperanto (which I state that I am at A2- B1 level), despite not having any diploma and the fact that Esperanto is well a constructed language. I dont know if its correct to do so, however most people like it. I dont need German for anything in particular, its a very important language to know nonetheless, but I am generally anti-diploma, its the norm in Greece among parents though to have your kids take several diplomas, mostly to boast for their achievements even if the kids forget everthing after their "success".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda
Luscinda
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I would have thought that the important thing for your parents is your degree! Does anyone really look at the lower level exams that you took after that? They don't in my country. You don't need certificates for the languages on your CV as long as can produce the language when called upon and don't claim to be better than you are. If it's going to cost more than you're happy spending or you feel it's going to be a cause of excessive stress, don't do it. If you feel it would be a nice thing to have on your CV and that you're capable of it, then why not go ahead.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xefjord

I have always been of the mind that language certification isn't what is important to the learner, but the employers. For a person attempting to learn a language. Your real goal is being able to actually use the language. Certification is pointless if you can't actually communicate with anyone on the topics that are important to you. But Certification is important to employers who can't just take at face value that you supposedly know a language on a resume. I would say its probably better to in your own time try to learn a language to become as fluent as possible. Then when you feel confident in your communication abilities, start taking the test for certification. And you will probably have a WAY easier time studying for that test after you can already speak the language conversationally.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Olbapz
Olbapz
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This is a great discussion! I've gone around and around on this topic in my head before, but I really think as someone that has experience with certificate programs, university programs and being an educator myself, that the test at the very least gives you something physical and tangeable to be proud of or at least to say to yourself that you put in x amount of effort, and then you get a certificate. Physical/tangeable evidence of your accomplishments is very important in an abstract area of study and pursuit like language learning. I would just say, just as you have pointed out, that the certificate doesn't mean fluency or a great level of real skill necessarily. Let me use myself as an example, I have been studying French on and off for 2.5 years now, my initial aim was never to get a test certificate, but now I think it would be a good time to consider that, so I have something for the efforts I've put into it. And you never know what kind of opportunities it could lead to. Sorry for my spelling I'm on a mobile as well.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TimmohB

It's important for employment sometimes and also for residency.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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I'm intrigued by the students you mention who "who have B2 Sorbone in French but don't know to speak two words with you in French". According to the official CEFR scale, B2 speaking requires:

I can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible. I can take an active part in discussion in familiar contexts, accounting for and sustaining my views.

I can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to my field of interest. I can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

As far as I know, these abilities are usually assessed in a conversation with the examiner and other examinees (there are videos of the process on YouTube, at least for the German CEFR exams). So how do these hopeless students manage to make the grade, and how do the testing centres which pass them manage to retain their accreditation?

dqxxmvyvoedn

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/D_..
D_..
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You can very well study and pass a test, which takes place in a very well defined and controlled environment and then, if you don't keep practicing you forget almost everything you knew. For example, it is a lot more difficult to not practice your English listening skills in Greece, as films/shows are subtitled, not dubbed and the vast majority of foreign shows are actually American productions. For any other language, unless you seek it out, chances are that you will not come across it in everyday life and grow to forget it, just like every other thing you were taught in school but can't remember because you never use.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/.S.P.Q.R.
.S.P.Q.R.
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after years of not interacting with the language they forget everything. the worst thing is that this happens in english too! i remember two girls in my high school class back in the day that were celebrating cause they passed the profficiency, a time which none of us had yet even started the preperations, but now if you ask them anything in english they will struggle to answer and they will ask their friends for vocabulary!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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Thanks for the reply! I can see how that could happen, though somehow I managed to escape it with French: I stopped studying it at 16 at a fairly basic level, didn't use it at all for almost ten years, and then discovered (unbelievably) that my French conversation skills had if anything improved in the intervening time. I'd probably forgotten a lot of vocabulary and grammar, but this was outweighed by the fact that I was a lot more confident and less worried about making mistakes :). It probably helped me that English and French have lots of similar vocabulary.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda
Luscinda
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Cramming, Pont. I got an A in my public exams in a language I wouldn't have a hope of speaking now.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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Doubtless that's part of the explanation, but I find it hard to believe that it's the whole story. B2 is a relatively advanced level, after all. Even at "cramming speed" it will take months to get there, and you have to forget a lot to go from "fluency and spontaneity" to "can't string two words together".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lea237351

It's not just about cramming, there are at least two other possible explanations how you can have a certificate and still not be able to speak. First, most tests, consist of several parts and speaking is only one of them, so you can do great at all other parts of the test (listening, writing, reading) and barely pass the speaking part, but as long as you do some minimum on the speaking part, in average you will past the test and get your certificate. That's how I managed to get a C1 certificate in English even though at that time I could barely speak. So, you can know a lot from for example reading and watching movies, but not practice speaking enough. And second, if you get a certificate and then stop using the language, you will forget it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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Thanks for the insight! I've never done a CEFR exam so I wasn't very familiar with the marking scheme, and I'd assumed that you need a reasonably good grade in every category in order to get the certificate. I'm rather disappointed to discover that the skill categories are so fungible -- it makes the qualification far less meaningful.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lea237351

I guess it depends on the exam. This was CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English), maybe some other tests are better leveled. But it still doesn't mean you can completely fail one part of the test and in total pass, just that you can have much better results in some parts than the other. In my case it was I think around 60% for the interview (so barely pass, but still a pass) and 90-95% for everything else. And even if you speak reasonably well during the test, it's not that easy to practice speaking a foreign language, so when you get the chance to do it it takes some time to get used to it a bit.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Beatles-Musician
Beatles-Musician
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I see certification only as a tool to prove my language skills when needed, not as an actual goal.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Borbotrincess
Borbotrincess
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Well, as long as your parents pay for those tests... :D

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HexManiacSarina

Even though I think real knowledge and proficiency is the most important, I think certification tests are important too, but only if you need them for employment or living in another country. If I were an employer considering a foreigner, I'd want them to give proof of some kind that they've studied English.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AmineHadji1
AmineHadji1
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Actually, I don't know the certifications you're talking about, but with some certifications, it is relatively "important".

For instance, if you want to pass the DELF B2 (French certification), you'll have to study approximately 900-1000 hours of French to reach the adequate level. The exam is composed of 4 tasks (reading, listening, writing and speaking), and you have a minimum passing grade for all the tasks. It means that even if you have more than 50 points out of 100 overall, you won't pass unless you have more than 5 points out of 25 in each task. Overall, a DELF B2 is a proof that you "really" had a good level when you passed it (of course, if you passed it 10 years ago and never practise French, you'll forget). So I would say that in this sense, a certification is important, because it's a way to show, to the others but also yourself, that you have a good level.

However, I know for sure that some certifications are not that relevant. I didn't know the B2 Sorbonne so I just checked, and it appears that even though the exam is complete, it's too focused on grammar, literature and civilization. So basically, if you revise these and try not to suck too much at speaking and writing, you can pass the exam. Well, according to the description, this certification shows that you "know" the language, not that you can use it.

Anyway, a certification in itself is quite good, just be sure to pass the one that fits what you want to be able to achieve.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/joannnelin

i haven't came here to comment my opinion but to compliment you on a 614-day streak:)) that's- impressive, to say the least

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Interesting discussion. For one of my jobs foreign language skills were important, and the major reason they pulled my resume out of the database to interview me was because of the languages listed there. I neither then nor now have any formal language certifications. At some point the language of the interview switched to Spanish, and then French, and that was that. I have no idea how such matters are held in other countries, enterprises, etc. I'm in the US, where language certification matters aren't well known in general.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AmineHadji1
AmineHadji1
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Well, in Europe it would have been the same... if the interviewer know those languages. Keep in mind that some companies require speaking a language no worker speaks. Generally, for English, it's easy, most interviewer have a good level of English, you will find some for French, Spanish, German (depending of the country), but let's say Arabic or Chinese... way rarer.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kmpala
kmpala
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The only real tests of language proficiency are everyday conversation, being able to read and write a newspaper if necessary, and dreaming in your "second" language. If you can do all that, you are at the top of the heap imo. Tests are only a small measure of proficiency in any intellectual pursuit.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NathanJho_

English, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic.

1 year ago
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