We did the test. Now what? Part 2: Year Over Year Comparisons and Data Analysis.

In my previous article, I took a high-level look at my 11th and 12th graders over three years (2019-2022). In this post, we’ll dig in a bit on the data analysis, or what I did as I looked at the data from AAPPL reporting tool. I started by looking at the top performance by grade for each year, creating my own Excel spreadsheet to dig in on the numbers a bit. I exported the data from the AAPPL report and laid it out as shown below.

Year over Year Comparison (Top Performance by Grade Highlighted)

Figure 1 captures my analysis in Excel of what years my students had the highest performance for each skill. The highest speaking performance for 11th graders happened in 2022, while the highest performance for 12th graders was in 2020. In writing, the highest performance for 11th graders happened in 2019; in 2020 for the 12th graders. In listening, 11th graders peaked in 2020, and 12th graders in 2019. Reading scores were highest for 11th graders in 2022, and in 2021 for 11th graders. Clearly, if I were to depict highest scores on a linear graph, it would not look like linear growth from year to year.

Figure 2 shows the aggregate by grade and skill over three years. Looking at 2019-2022 average scores, 11th graders showed lowest average scores in listening and speaking and highest scores in writing. For seniors, lowest average scores were in reading and interpersonal listening and speaking; highest scores were in interpretive listening.

Now my deeper analysis begins. My next step is to compare my students to the averages within my school (see image below). I can see that in half of the modes and grades my students have performed above our school’s averages historically. There are some specific factors at play in different years, for example I tend to test students who are in our most advanced classes (College Credit Plus), so the expectation should generally be that they outperform our school’s averages. More importantly, I can compare my students’ performance to my prior students, which tells me that while my students from this year matched or outperformed prior years in terms of getting close to or beyond I-5 (our criteria for the Seal of Biliteracy), there has been a trend downward in speaking scores over the last three years.

Below you’ll see that I plugged my data into an Excel spreadsheet. I know not everyone is comfortable using Excel, but I didn’t use any advanced functions. I simply copied the data from the AAPPL Report and pasted it into Excel.

Figure 3 shows my analysis comparing my students to the school averages. Again, I simply pulled the numbers from my AAPPL reporting and plugged into excel.

This analysis drives me to refine my conversational activities moving forward, increasing the number of scaffolded conversations with specific examples of how to give narration, rather than leaving most of my conversation activities open-ended. I suspect that part of this downturn is my overconfidence in my students based on classroom activities where they shine in a particular topic, as well as my belief that the simple fact that they participate in Spanish-language conversations with native speaker partners on a regular basis leads to increased proficiency. It is clear to me now that even in those settings my students might benefit from clearer instruction on how to participate more actively and completely in an Intermediate High/Advanced Low setting. Stay tuned for my next post on differentiating your focus.

Be More Than an Insurance Agent—Be an Agent of Change!

Handling insurance details, claims, and sensitive and delicate information where emotions are involved can be a difficult task even when the policyholder and the insurance agent speak the same language. Can you imagine how challenging it can be when we add a language barrier into the mix? The insurance industry is aware of the need to recruit employees with adequate language proficiency levels to meet the diverse needs of customers today. If you are a bilingual or multilingual professional and your intention is to pursue a career in the growing and constantly evolving insurance industry, you should know that both employers and customers need you.

As stated by a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for ACTFL, most employers point out that the demand for languages other than English has grown over the past five years. Additionally, the ability to speak more than one language has become one of the top skills required in the delivery of different services, including insurance offerings. Establishing a connection between language skills and economic competitiveness is just one of the main results of this survey, which strives to raise awareness and action around the establishment of language competency in the United States, as specified in the report.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the insurance industry is currently transforming to encourage and boost diversity in their organizational culture. A multilingual or bilingual insurance agent is a valuable resource that can make recommendations based on the specific needs of the community he/she works for or represents. Similarly, their commitment and meaningful participation in the community they serve is a vital piece of creating powerful relationships and gaining the trust of prospective clients. An article featured in AgentPipeline.com highlights that, “A more significant piece of what insurance agents do is educate our customers on how to ensure they are covered and help protect their financial security and teach them how to take advantage of benefits that are included in their insurance policies.” To become active in your community, they recommend volunteering at community events, supporting local businesses, and developing professional connections online with digital tools, as well as other activities.

One of the main goals of the insurance industry is to provide quality services. The insurance world recognizes that hiring professionals who can speak more than one language is an advantage that helps impart exceptional customer service that focuses on individuals’ preferred language. Communicating in an accurate way and overcoming language and cultural barriers can help build relationships, not just locally but internationally.

Helping customers understand what an insurance policy has to offer, especially those whose first language isn’t English, does create more business opportunities; however, and more importantly, it allows agents to make an impact in the lives of those they serve.

Contact Language Testing International (LTI) if you need to get certified in another language and provide your current or future employer and your customers with reliable and legally defensible language proficiency results. The validity of each assessment is supported by three decades of research. LTI makes the process simple with remotely proctored assessments in over 120 languages that you can take anytime, anywhere.

How to Highlight Your Language Skills to Get Noticed

If you are proficient in more than one language, you possess a highly marketable skill. Do you know which languages are most marketable? According to Preply, the three most frequently requested languages in job postings are Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), and French.

Consider this: As of May 15, 2022, Indeed has posted over 900 jobs in the U.S. with the keywords multilingual speaker. Just over a year ago, Indeed also posted an article on the 13 Best Careers for Multilingual Professionals.

Learning another language is a skill that requires dedication and commitment. In addition, those who are bilingual and multilingual are known to be better multitaskers and problem solvers—qualities you want to make known while job hunting.

Achieving a level of expertise in another language is impressive and should definitely be highlighted even if you’re not looking for a job where a second language is required.

Here are three suggestions for how to highlight and showcase your language skills to get noticed.

Make your language skills visible everywhere

Your resume is the first place where you should put your language skills. To make sure that these special skills are noticed, consider including them both in the skills section and the summary. As recruiters often only skim resumes, including your language skills on top of your resume will increase your chances of getting noticed. LinkedIn is another place where you should highlight your language skills. If a job application process also requires a cover letter, be sure you mention your language skills in there, too. Many companies are looking to expand globally in the near future, so even if language skills aren’t required for the job, being proficient will certainly make you a stronger candidate.

Be clear about your language proficiency

Many candidates include phrases such as “Fluent in . . .,” “Conversant in . . .”, or “Working knowledge of . . .” on resumes. Language fluency is hard to gauge, and your perception of your proficiency might not match what your true proficiency is when measured with a language proficiency assessment. It’s easy to overstate one’s proficiency. A recent survey has shown that nearly 60% of job applicants overstate their abilities on their resumes, including their language proficiency.

If you possess language skills, consider obtaining an official language proficiency certificate by taking a language assessment, such as the ACTFL language proficiency tests. An ACTFL test not only tells you exactly what your proficiency level is, but it also comes with an official certification that lets your prospective employer know exactly how well you can communicate in another language. The ACTFL assessments also come with digital badges issued by Credly, which makes showcasing your language skills on your resume and professional networking sites easier.

Be specific with your examples

Have you used your language skills in professional settings before? Talk about it! Instead of simply stating that you command another language, give specific examples of how you used them. Having a few concrete examples of how you incorporated your language skills into your work shows the hiring manager a level of ability in addition to just showing them your proficiency level. Another idea: post videos of yourself speaking or presenting in another language on your professional network such as LinkedIn. Recruiters searching for candidates will immediately notice them… and your language skills, too!

You might be proficient, but be prepared for a test

According to a recent ACTFL report titled, “Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demands Among U.S. Employers,” 9 out 10 employers rely on language skills other than English to conduct their business, and this demand is expected to increase by 56% in the next 5 years. Client- and community-facing departments, such as Customer Services, Sales, Marketing, Management, and IT have the greatest need. Therefore, employers who rely on bilingual and multilingual employees need to have a reliable and validated method of checking job candidates’ language abilities. Validated and certified language proficiency testing offers an accurate measurement of language level, so more and more employers include language assessment as part of their recruitment process. If you haven’t taken a language proficiency assessment and don’t have a language proficiency certificate, you might be asked to sit for a test as part of your interview process.

Want to get certified? You can start here.

An Incentive to Stay: Employer-Sponsored Education and Certifications

In today’s hiring environment it’s very difficult to compete…as an employer. The unemployment rate is at an all-time low, and the lived experiences of working-class adults in the U.S. during the pandemic made many reconsider what they valued (or not) about their workplace culture.  Employers across all industries are now challenged with mitigating the demands for mindfulness, empathy, and creating a sense of purpose for their employees. Loyalty and staff retention is tied to the experience new hires have during the talent acquisition process, onboarding, and in their day-to-day circumstances at work. They want to find value in the work they are performing and feel that their employers care about them.

Recognizing the contributions of people while they are in the workplace and providing enrichment opportunities through training and employer-sponsored education are easy ways to boost morale and elevate the skills of your employees. Employers have always been able to facilitate these growth opportunities. Upskilling internal teams can ignite more productivity. It also helps build an organizational culture that seeks to invest in improving people to grow business not only in the U.S., but globally. It’s part of humanizing how we do business moving forward.

One often-missed business opportunity is tapping into an ever-growing pool of multicultural and multilingual professionals that are part of the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020 one in every three adults in the U.S. workforce identifies as being part of a non-White ethnic or cultural group, and these diverse communities are not monolithic. The Black community can have representation from people who identify as African American, Caribbean, and African. As for people of Asian descent participating in the U.S. workforce, the demographic make-up is comprised of people who identify as Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani, Cambodian, Hmong, and others. People of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity can be of any race and represent 18 percent of the total labor force. This poses diversity in thought, approach, perspectives, innovation, and skills such as bilingualism or multilingualism. It also reflects diversity in new or repeat customers.

Many companies have adopted education coverage as a formal way to engage with their employees and helping them earn degrees that can be beneficial for business growth and expansion into global markets. For example, JetBlue Global Scholars Program offers the airline’s crewmembers the opportunity to earn a fully accredited associate or bachelor’s degree that includes major cost coverage, required licenses, certifications, transfer course credits, as well as job experiences and JetBlue training.

JetBlue also allows its multilingual employees to earn college credits by demonstrating proficiency in other known languages. JetBlue employees can take ACTFL language proficiency assessments in speaking, writing, listening, and reading and receive an official ACTFL language proficiency certificate for each test. Five of ACTFL assessments, which are conducted by Language Testing International, are recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE) for college credit. This affords bilingual or multilingual JetBlue crewmembers the chance to earn as many as 12 college credits per assessment, advancing their education and work opportunities as well. Many graduates are promoted to assume new roles within the company or qualify for more flight routes as a direct result of their language certification and their degree, thanks to the JetBlue Global Scholars Program.

Read more –> Business Benefits of Multilingualism

As word gets around among job seekers and workers looking for better employment opportunities where they will be incentivized for the skills they bring to the table – including proficiency in other languages – employers are pressed to identify, cultivate,

and provide opportunities for higher education and/or certification to their employees. They, in turn, will benefit from increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty, recognition as a mindful and supportive employer, and broadening of their market share by reaching multicultural customers using the language proficiency of their team.

Are you interested in language proficiency assessment as part of your employer-sponsored education opportunities? Learn more here and contact us to get started.