As the American population continues to diversify and businesses expand operations around the world, multilingual employees provide a valuable resource. Their words often generate a customer’s first impression of your company and determine his or her willingness to engage in the future. Determining that your multilingual employees are proficient will ensure that they will provide excellent service in all their interactions and is an investment in your company’s future success. As the recognized industry leader in language proficiency assessment, Language Testing International (LTI) provides consistent and defensible testing that helps companies make that investment wisely.
Establishing Consistent Fluency Standards
In most businesses, language testing methods evolve out of necessity. Some are informal, such as a conversation with a multilingual manager. Others have been formalized based on internally determined standards. It’s only in the last 10 years that the value of establishing proficiency expectations and measuring them against a national standard has achieved greater recognition in the corporate sector. The methodology for this type of testing has been evolving for decades outside of the commercial space. Soon after its creation, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) adopted the mission to develop a “common metric” for describing and testing proficiency that could be used across academic, commercial and government sectors. Since their introduction in 1986, ACTFL proficiency standards and assessment methodologies have increasingly been recognized as the “gold standard” for reliable language assessment. LTI, the exclusive assessment licensee for ACTFL, conducts more than 300,000 assessments annually in more than 100 languages and more than 40 countries. Achieving an ACTFL language proficiency rating provides assurance that an employee or job candidate has the language skills necessary to perform their required tasks successfully. Task-based proficiency ratings predict performance What makes ACTFL testing particularly valuable for business is that it measures an individual’s ability to effectively accomplish real-life communication tasks. LTI works closely with individual businesses to establish appropriate minimum proficiency levels for the successful use of language, which are then incorporated into that company’s position descriptions, testing protocols and hiring procedures. Because of its basis in real-world language use, proficiency testing is critical for businesses that serve customers from different language groups to ensure that the testing is based on what a candidate can do in a language and not based their ethnic background, years of language learning or other factors which are unfair and even illegal hiring biases. ACTFL ratings cover 10 levels of proficiency, from Novice to Superior, with specific criteria for speaking, writing, listening and reading. By screening job candidates for proficiency in the hiring process, your company achieves a higher level of confidence that customers will have the same experience with your company, no matter what language they prefer.
Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.