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If You Applied For A Job Would I Need A Certificate to Say That You Can Speak a Language Fleuntly

For this I mean like would I need a Certificate to be able to prove to them that I can speak the language?

September 28, 2017



Well, depends on the job. And I mean you are the evidence for your capacity in a language. On my resume I say I am fluent in Spanish, I have functional Portuguese, and basic Arabic. If an employer asked me about my capacity in each language, I would tell them what I view as my capacity in each language. I think this is very clear.


How do you know if you're basic?


Well, based on my knowledge of what I would call basic and from having learned 2 other languages, I say basic. There are markers for language proficiency like the IRL scale—whose descriptions I like—but I just like to describe where I am at myself because how and in what ways I know each language is different.

I say I have 'basic' arabic having studied the language for two years in a college setting. I can count, ok, tell time, ok, and do dates, not great. I can read phonetically and I understand the script pretty well. I can say quite a bit of what I think in Fooshaa, or modern standard arabic, but I struggle with listening because when individuals use arabic they speak in dialect. I write and I read ok. To me I call this basic. When I worked at my previous job I sometimes chatted in Arabic with a volunteer from Iraq and I could interchange some decently sophistacated information about my life. I call this basic; and one thing, I do not use duolingo's measure—it is not accurate, which is fairly obvious.

For portuguese, I may apply for a job that requires knowledge of portuguese, and if I do, I plan to be honest: my portuguese level is functional. If I do get an interview, I will tell concisely how I have learned it: I started learning in the west bank when I met a friend from Brazil, started doing duolingo, and have talked a lot with friends in portuguese. I am fluent in Spanish which helps, and I was planning on taking the 3rd year portuguese class at my university until some things came up. I read really well in portuguese; I have very high comprehension. I write decent too, and I would feel semi-comfortable translating material into the language with the given that there will be errors, my gramar will be not perfect, I think I can translate the overall meaning of things, but for something that would be legal or crucial information (IE like safety) for this job, I worry about that and that is where I feel my limit is; if I had write some facts about the US (the position is for an exchange program) in portuguese—easy. I speak ok, though I have a very strong accent because I have learned a lot on my own (personal note I wouldn't include: I am working on it and I know how to make it a lot better), and while I can say a decent amount of what I think, I lack tangible reciprocal, communication experiences which limits me— I heavily rely on my knowledge of spanish to speak in portuguese. I understand ok, but not well because of the reason in the last sentence. In summary, my portuguese is ok, but not great.

And I am fluent in Spanish for a bunch of reasons: courses I have taken, places I have traveled, what I can do in spanish, my limitations, but mostly focusing on what I can do which I think are good markers.

I have quite a bit of experiance, and I don't always love the mumbo-jumbo of instituionalized language markers—though I beleive they have use, like the ILR—but I rather to convey in a more personal human way where I feel like I am at, which I do with an objectivity and humaness to the best of my ability.

If you are level 13 in german and all you have done is duolingo, I would question even saying elementary.


Well i hope you aren't planning on showing them your duolingo account? No offense but you can't get to a good measure of fluency with Duolingo alone, its more of a side meal for a bigger class/ learning experience. However if you are not a native speaker then duolingo has a certificate application I believe for proof of english speech.


Nah mate I wanted to learn the language as I have a few family members in Germany and I like the country and culture. I can speak Croatian fluently and I know that isn't necessarily going to help me get any job but I just wanted to ask that.


You thought I was a keyboard-challenged hiring manager?


Any serious company would test you for the language you say you can speak and a certificate won't help much :

  • if they hire you because you speak the language (suppose you say you speak spanish and they need someone speaking this language to send him there), then they will very certainly test you in person during the interview.
  • if they hire you for your qualification in a specified field and not because you speak a foreign language, the certificate is almost useless.

I once was interviewed (and later hired) by a big (european) company where all enginners and researchers were supposed to speak one or two foreign languages (other than french and english that were obvious ones). The interviewer tested me in all the languages I had mentioned in my resume, certificate or no certificate.


This would depend on the company or government department doing the hiring. Some may ask for proof you know a language, in which case some kind of certificate would be useful. Some may actually test you. I recently applied for a job at the UN, and they wanted some proof at the online application stage that I knew certain languages: a certificate would have been fine. They also tested me later on in the process. In any case, try to get a certificate that is widely recognized.


Most large companies have a two-phase hiring process: first you have to get through the application/sifting process by HR, then (if you get through the first filter) you get an interview with people from the actual department that has the open position. If the job requires some language capabilities, and there are a lot of applicants, HR may use certificates as an easy criterion to filter out applicants ("checking the boxes"). Past that point, certificates are likely to make little difference.

[deactivated user]

    While your future employer may test you during the interview, a certificate can help distinguish your CV from others. It is definitely much more impressive to mention a Zertifikat Goethe of certain level, than let the HR guess what does "conversational" mean.

    Such an exam has more benefits. It can push you out of your comfort zone and make you learn stuff you will find useful later and that you may have been avoiding. It can give you a goal to strive for and help you with the structure. Getting the certificate also proves the level to you, so you know what kind of jobs with a language requirement you can do and what you cannot.

    I always feel bad, when I don't have a certificate and have to write my level somewhere. I am never sure what to say and always feel like a fraud, even when I very probably have the skills :-D I don't want to use the vague descriptions people often use and lie about. The HR are probably used to people lying about stuff like "fluent". But you are obviously not lying, if you mention an exam you've passed.

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