The term “language proficiency” is commonly used to define how well-versed an individual is when it comes to another global language. It’s how they showcase a language skill other than their mother tongue. This kind of proficiency is being measured via semantics, syntax, vocabulary, and other receptive and expressive factors that exhibit a higher level of language competencies.
It’s a no brainer that “language” is the medium of which humans used to communicate, whether in symbols, written signals, manual, or speaking. It’s a system where everyone expresses, understands, and convey messages. By just using the word “proficiency” notes a significant impact on the global way of communication and how these diversified countries interact with each other professionally.
Combining both “language and proficiency” establishes an extensive standard in our communication system. It brings out a different level of understanding a second, third, or even more, languages that boost education quality, enabling us to appreciate other countries’ traditions and culture through their native languages. Students will also be influenced to enhance their knowledge to learn another global language, which they will benefit from when aiming for higher educational attainment or career. This is the point where you’ll gain more understanding of the various levels of language proficiency and its advantages.
The Benefits of Language Proficiency and Skills
In any business, reliable and robust communication is its primary key. In fact, it is also the core of every successful and lasting relationship. Being able to build a substantial and weighty conversation with either your business partners, colleagues, teachers, classmates, peers, friends, and your significant others assures you that your bond will last. Why? Because you can genuinely understand each other regardless of the difference in your language.
Discovering a foreign language is a skill that needs to be improved and nurtured regardless of age. Again, there is no age requirement when studying a foreign language because education is genuinely unlimited and is a lifetime treasure.
- There are tons of day-to-day activities being able to speak another foreign language that can become highly beneficial. Being bi- or a multilingual speaker can considerably open a lot of doors to students and career-driven individuals. Here are several fundamental reasons why investing in learning another language can work wonders for you.
- You can easily engage within a conversation confidently regardless of who you are speaking to.
- Seizing more significant opportunities and addressing specific concerns and problems become manageable.
- Corporate working relationships can mold a better and stronger relationship across neighboring borders and countries.
- Productivity increases because communication was made easy.
- It’s more than just a skill because learning a non-native language enables a person to make more sensible and reasonable decisions.
- Those who can speak more than one global language are efficient multi-taskers because they see changing languages as a form of mental exercise.
– You get a better job opportunity when the company learns that you are capable of speaking two or more languages.
– Various enterprises even find it more beneficial to employ bi- or multilingual professionals because it can significantly help the business grow and spread worldwide.
– You can be sent abroad to represent the company where you can understand and communicate using the country’s language.
– Training manuals and digital-learning programs can be created to establish a better learning structure to help those who wanted to boost their language skills and become better foreign language communicators.
– Technology enhances multimedia capabilities making it more adaptable to foreign language learners. Such programs can assess their learning style, pace, and progress. This kind of system works with both the educational institutions and corporate industries.
Because languages should be spoken and heard, reading it won’t improve the skill. It is the reason why language learning systems and programs should support foreign language speaking classes and curriculum even more. With the latest technology that can now be efficiently utilized for a dozen practical purposes, online learning and training can help students and employees improve their pronunciation and communication skills. It will help them become more confident in conversing using the foreign language they have chosen to learn.
While English falls third to Spanish as one of the most spoken languages worldwide, large-scale businesses still opt to have a broader communication scope from company and colleagues across neighboring borders.
It is through these diversified languages nations get to establish an incredible deal of doing business together. Creating a reliable and trusted communication framework can make or break any company or institution and so as with personal and individual development.
- Travel the World
Being given the opportunity to travel and study abroad at the same time is a huge deal, especially to bi- and multilingual individuals. You can be entitled to participate and attend seminars and conferences abroad set in various languages like Russian, Chinese, Spanish, German, and French. You can also enroll in a wide selection of programs being offered abroad and internships, research, and career growth opportunities.
- Professional Objectives
In order to achieve your dream career, it sometimes will require you to be proficient in foreign languages. Those who graduated from language schools and institutions have used their international language skills to achieve their dream careers in various fields. You can find them in law, medicine, foreign service, social work, journalism, community organizing, education, military, hospitality, law enforcement, and lot more.
- Immigrant Communities
Data show that 1 out of 5 American citizens can speak another language other than English. It has been known that Spanish is one of the most spoken languages all over the world, followed by German, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Polish, Russian, Italian, and Korean. Consider this, learning another foreign language can be your gateway in discovering the culture and tradition of the opulent immigrant population. At the same time, you can take advantage of doing charity or volunteer program while gradually scouting and planning your business ventures.
- Curiosity About Ancient Times
If you have a deep interest in other countries’ politics, literature, culture, and history, being proficient in that foreign language is highly suggested. You will no longer be surprised that various language graduate programs will ask you to be verbally equipped in either Spanish, German, French, or other global languages. Mind you. It is regardless of the course that you specialized in.
- Nurturing Your Intellectual Gift
The ability to learn another language other than your mother tongue trains your multitasking skills, sharpens your memory, enhances critical judgment and learning abilities. Language students from different age groups stated that the level of discipline and consistency in being proficient in a language helps them thrive in their other academic activities and work areas.
- Breaking the Language Barrier
One of the reasons why some families failed in keeping their bond tight is the difference in their speaking language. Therefore, if you are fluent in the language that your relatives speak, then you are bridging the gap and breaking the language barrier that separates your tribe from one another. It enables you to understand them better and can even become the reason why your family can have a close relationship again.
These are just a number of the primary reasons why being proficient in your non-native language is crucial. It will not only help you bind people together, but you can also easily comprehend and express yourself using the language everyone understands.
Now, after getting a better view of its benefits, it’s time to understand the different levels of language proficiency.
What are the levels of Language Proficiency?
In terms of the corporate world is a concern, there are certain factors that you need to comply with first when pursuing a position or career. One of the most critical points is your language proficiency level, which should be indicated in your resume and job application requirement. There are five (5) language proficiency stages, but some employers will ask you to pass three (3) professional language proficiency levels.
Five (5) Language Proficiency Levels
These levels are imposed by the U.S Foreign Service Institute, which is also the standard used by various industries worldwide.
- Zero (0) or No Proficiency Level
As the lowest level, this section indicates that a person does not know about a foreign language – at all. He can possibly speak a few words but is not enough to construct a sensible sentence or even begin a conversation.
- One (1) or the Elementary Proficiency Level
This promising level is where a person can already construct a necessary sentence using a non-native language. It is considered as the “starter pack” of the language proficiency level. It includes the ability to ask and answer basic questions. It is the level where a person is just exploring a new country and has just started familiarizing himself with the country’s native language.
- Two (2) or the Limited Working Proficiency Level
A level designed explicitly for a corporate setting. It is the stage where a person can already understand and construct basic foreign language sentences and work-related instructions. They are somehow comfortable in engaging with simple conversations at work and can also express themselves easily. Those who fall under this level will still seriously require more language training and thorough communication practice. At the moment, they can only handle the necessary verbal interaction.
- Three (3) or the Professional Working Proficiency Level
Those who have reached this stage can already be sent to attend corporate meetings and are expected to participate in any discussions that may take place. They can also deal with business clients and can handle in partaking instructions and roles at work. At this level, a person can speak a foreign language at an average pace and is pretty much knowledgeable about specific words and vocabulary. Some companies find this proficiency level acceptable but will still require continuous training based on the job description.
- Four (4) or the Full Professional Proficiency Level
It is the level that is highly acceptable by the majority of the employers. Those at this stage can already carry out a more professional conversation about various topics like current events, business, and even personal life. However, people ranked at the level may still mispronounce some foreign words that will just be considered a minor mistake. They are also expected to have extensive knowledge about the vocabulary and can confidently start a meaningful conversation.
- Five (5) or the Native and Bilingual Proficiency Level
Those who meet this level are considered a native speaker or raised in an environment that speaks the language very well and fluently.
So, do you already see yourself in any of the levels mentioned above? Do you still need more practice and should enroll in a language school, or you just need a refresher course to at least meet the third level? Well, there is basically nothing wrong with whatever answer you have. Just bear in mind that acquiring a new language is never easy, and you should not rush it. It is estimated that it will take at least 250 hours or even more to learn a foreign language. Which means you should take it easy and never pressure yourself. You will get there.
Determining Language Proficiency
Technically, it is difficult to determine a person’s language proficiency through their resume or application forms alone. Although, language proficiency is classified as the measurement of an individual’s mastery of a language. You assess proficiency through vocabulary, syntax, semantics, and other expressive and receptive language abilities and skills.
Language proficiency has four (4) domains:
Here’s how you can determine your language proficiency level:
- Basic Knowledge – It is equivalent to an Elementary Level. Understanding vocabulary words are limited, can speak straightforward sentences, finding it hard to understand the natives of the country, has the writing and reading skills of an elementary level when it comes to foreign languages.
- Conversant – This level is considered the intermediate stage of language proficiency. It is where a person can somehow handle fundamental social interactions and conversations using a foreign language. It can gradually express their personal life. Engage in a basic genuine conversation about topics that everyone can relate to and be able to ask and answer questions. At the same time, the writing and reading skill parts may vary, though.
- Proficient – When we say proficient, it means that a person is highly competent in a particular skill like speaking a foreign language. However, they are not as skilled and advanced as natives of the country and those fluent in the language.
- Fluent – This is paramount to the foreign language proficiency level. A fluent speaker in the stage can flawlessly speak a foreign language regardless of the topic. They can also showcase a superior level of expertise in the following areas:
- Writing – can confidently construct sentences and text in a foreign language.
- Reading – can very well understand and read phrases and texts written in a non-native language.
- Speaking – can boldly convey and begin a conversation using the foreign language, which can also be understood by native speakers.
- Comprehend – can impeccably grasp and follow any verbal conversation in a foreign language.
- Native Speaker – Any language that becomes your mother tongue is your native language. It is the language that you learned growing up. It’s what you’ve heard around you. Once you are a native speaker, you are more than just being fluent in the language. He can smoothly speak and convey error-free sentences in the foreign language with total sense, using idioms, slang, and expressions in the country.
- Bilingual – A person who is identified as “bilingual” can speak two languages without any difficulty. It’s learning a second language other than your mother tongue.
Overall, the levels of language proficiency are not easy to explain and measure. Those who are experts in defining it are linguists, translators, and interpreters. Still, they also have varying ways and terms as if they are native speakers, proficient, fluent, bilingual, and many others.
Usually, the term language proficiency can be vaguely used in ways that confuse. It sometimes creates a misinterpretation to those who are not aware of the levels of language proficiency. It is why it is also crucial for language instructors, interpreters, and professional translators to be knowledgeable and aware of the language proficiency levels. Albeit, they should also be meticulous in ranking a person about their proficiency level when studying and learning a foreign language.
There are language testing programs that can determine and improve your proficiency in a language like TOEFL, ACTFL, DALF, DELE (for Spanish), and TOEIC, just to name a few. These are the trusted language learning and testing programs that will help you achieve the proficiency level you are required to have. They are highly advantageous if you apply for a particular job abroad or wanted, especially if you’re dreaming is to learn more than just one global language.
Learning another language aside from your native language is both a skill and gateway to a brighter and better future. Notably, if you wanted to travel the world, migrate to another country, and establish a foreign land career or study abroad. It’s a skill that will significantly improve your mental health and self-confidence. Whereas language proficiency levels are your guide for knowing where you are ranked, you can identify the areas you need to improve and study more.