Many companies would agree that possessing the ability to communicate with diverse audiences, potential customers, or clients, and even with potential investors or strategic partners in more than one language is a valuable asset to have. After all, 75% of consumers say they’d be more likely to make a purchase from a company that had customer support speak their language1, and 56.2% of consumers reported they’d be willing to pay a higher price if a company provides information in their own language2.
However, companies and in-house HR professionals who have ventured down this path know it’s never easy to find the perfect candidates. On top of all the time it takes to review resumes, and to schedule and conduct the minimum number of interviews required for any job opening, hiring candidates based on their language proficiency presents even more hurdles.
For starters, if the HR representative or hiring manager are not fluent in the language they are hiring for, how do they evaluate the candidate’s proficiency, or their ability to communicate in the language in a professional setting?
Language Testing International (LTI) helps our clients reduce that time by eliminating the guesswork of whether candidates who claim to be fluent truly possess the language skills required for the job. Recent survey results showed that about 60% of all job applicants will overstate their abilities, including language proficiency3. From the start, ACTFL language proficiency assessments delivered by LTI give employers the confidence to know that their candidate, whether they are a new hire or a current employee you want to train from within, has the right level of language proficiency for the role. As the exclusive licensee of the ACTFL assessments, LTI provides opportunities for employers to administer valid and legally defensible tests to measure language proficiency.
Conversely, for the job applicant, verifying their language skills with LTI demonstrates a strong work ethic every employer looks for. Companies seeking to reach customers around the world look favorably on an applicant who is culturally aware and has the required language abilities to help grow their business and generate new revenue. Reports show that bilingual employees can earn up to 20% more than those who speak only one language4.
Celia Patitucci, an HIV educator and tester based out of Central Florida, also advises that it is very important to also become culturally competent in addition to having high proficiency in a language: “It’s not just knowing the language, it’s also knowing the culture.” Knowing the language and the culture of the language you speak go hand in hand.
Celia has worked on the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases for more than five years. In a recent episode of LTI’s podcast LANGUAGE IS YOUR SUPERPOWER, Celia shared key insights with us regarding why it is import for bilingual job candidates to take their language proficiency to a professional level.
“I think that one of the things that people need to do when they speak a second language is also take it to the level of professional speaking. It’s not the same as being able to speak the language,” Celia said. “You should be proficient in a professional setting. You should also be able to write and read it in a professional setting. For example, if somebody speaks Spanish, it doesn’t mean that when it comes to work it translates [the same way]. There’s terminology you need to learn.” She advised, for “somebody that might speak Spanish and wants to advance their career, they should look at what field they’re in and learn that terminology in that language.”
Celia explains that this is important because “sometimes you learn things, and we live here, and we learn that terminology in English. And then, you have to stop and you’re not sure. When you’re in front of your customer or your client or your patient, you have to be able to say those words in Spanish. And you have to be able to use the right terminology, and you have to be able to explain it to them in their language, because, if you’re having to do it in Spanish or Portuguese or Creole, you can’t be going back and forth with Spanglish, because that might confuse your client. So, do your research,” she said. “Just because you speak the language, it doesn’t mean you’re proficient within your field.”
From her own experience, Celia stated, “I’m telling you because that’s one of the first things I had to do is learn this terminology in Spanish. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. That is my first language. But I did not use medical terms in my everyday life in Spanish. So, when I became a tester and when I became a part of the community in this capacity I had to go and look it up. I had to go and look it up and translate and make sense of it, for me first, so I can express it to whoever I was serving at that point.”
There is tremendous value in leveraging ACTFL language certifications delivered by LTI for companies and HR professionals who are looking for qualified candidates, as well as for bi/multi-lingual professionals seeking to advance their careers.
You can provide affordable, valid, and legally defensible language proficiency testing with LTI. Visit www.languagetesting.com to get started.
To learn more about Celia’s story, listen to our podcast here.