a diverse group of professionals having a discussion In a recent study conducted by ACTFL, it was reported that 9 out of 10 U.S. employers rely on “U.S. based employees with language skills other than English, with one-third (32 percent) reporting a high dependency.” (p. 5). With this high demand for bilingual and multilingual professionals, the bar has been raised on the importance of validated language proficiency in the workplace. The demographic shift we are experiencing in the U.S. is creating an increasingly multilingual and multicultural society, and American employers are quickly learning that approximately “65 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English (40 percent with limited or no English proficiency) and 96 percent of the world’s consumers and two-thirds of its purchasing power reside outside U.S. borders” (p. 6). What the results of this study tell us is that professionals with bilingual or multilingual skills are in high demand as companies look not only to reach their customers in their preferred languages but also to expand globally. However, it’s not sufficient to state on a résumé or application that you are bilingual or multilingual. More and more employers are validating the level of language competency and proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Why? Employers need a valid proof that job candidates truly possess the language skills they claim to have to make sure that whoever they hire will successfully perform the tasks required for the job.

In a recent episode of “Language is Your Superpower” podcast, host Lisa March chats with Vinay Patel, PhD, Senior I-O Psychologist working on the HR Research Team for AT&T. His role focuses on ensuring an objective, valid, and reliable process for employee selection, assessment development, and confirmation of job language competency. By using language assessments, employers are better equipped to test and track their employees’ language proficiencies to fill any gaps, better serve their customers, and grow their businesses. However, Dr. Patel warns against homegrown assessments and advises companies to rely on language testing experts that have decades of research, experience, and validated tools to ensure that they are measuring what they are intending to measure, which is language proficiency. Assessing language proficiency is both an art and a science that requires a certain level of flexibility as roles and responsibilities on the job evolve as well as the research and empirical evidence needed to validate the reliability of the assessments. As a potential language test-taker, you also want to have the comfort of knowing that the process is just, fair, and meets your proficiency needs.

AT&T relies on Language Testing International to perform language proficiency assessments with their bilingual and multilingual employees. We have conducted over 5 million language proficiency tests over the last 30 years across most industries and are a leading expert in this field. To learn more about how to get certified, visit LTI today!

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