Language Testing for your Industry
Industry specific language testing gives you peace of mind and confidence in your staff
Most of the employers we work with are happy to have bilinguals on their team because they automatically open doors to serve a limited-English market with their business.
They are excited for potential opportunity, but it’s a nervous excitement because they’re not objectively able to assess the bilingual language skills of their teammate in-house. Even if your team member is “native” – proceed with caution until you can verify that they are speaking in their “native” language just like you would have them speaking in English. This is particularly important when there is a certain professional level of speech that you want to maintain with clients or when there are legal and ethical ramifications of speaking a 2nd language at work.
General language assessments can validate your staff’s communicative competency in a 2nd language.
However, general language tests may not assess precisely what your teams needs competence in. The problem with general language tests for most of our clients are:
The assessment of their language skill is general conversation, not specific to the industry or job function. Is it valuable that your team member can converse about the weather, hobbies, food preferences, etc? Or would it be more beneficial to have a language assessment gauge how well they can move a lead to a sale, or the specifics of a customer service interaction?
Language assessments don’t include training to help people recognize their own limitations with the 2nd language they’re speaking. Most people will max out their abilities at some level when working in a 2nd language – how will you help them recognize their limitations?
Testing results don’t translate into functional and actionable information. Often it’s hard to interpret test results in terms of what someone can or can’t do at work.
If a general language assessment is exactly what you need for your team because it matches the nature of your business, contact us for a referral to one of our trusted providers; we’ll be happy to send you to a reliable test.
What about the other industry-specific language testing… is Common Ground the only option?
We’re definitely not your only option. There are some industry specific tests offered by a small handful of providers. However, these other tests tend to be operated by interpreting agencies, and by default they tend to include interpreting competencies – which is not a skill that most companies need to assess. Interpreting competencies assess someone’s ability to act as an intermediary between 2 people who don’t speak the same language. This is definitely an important skill to assess if you need interpreting – but if you only need is to asses an individual’s ability to speak a second language, a test that includes interpreting will fail people who may be competent speakers (just not competent interpreters).
*Side note – Read this article on why you should never assume that your “bilingual” team member can do that interpreting for you.
Most of our clients ask us for some combination of the following language testing variations:
Job Applicant Screening; we work with you to screen potential hires.
- During this screening we help you identify key language abilities to function in the position you’re hiring.
- After the language requirements are solidified, we schedule screenings to verify that applicants can speak this 2nd language well enough to perform the job tasks needed to complete.
Custom language tests for your workplace; we help you approve current team members to use a 2nd language on the job. Here is how the process usually goes:
- We listen to your workplace language needs and requirements
- We help you assess any ethical and legal implications of using 2nd language in your workplace
- We develop a skills based test centered on the needs of your workplace (oral, written, region-specific language, etc.)
- We integrate some training into the assessment process so that your team can recognize when they are beyond their abilities in the language.
- After the language assessment, we provide you with functional feedback on what your staff member is able to do and not do well. Additionally we provide your team with a report on their areas of strength and their areas for growth.
The value of customized language testing for your workplace is that you have confidence that the communicative skills that your staff needs to be effective on the job are being evaluated.
You don’t run the risk of assuming someone is competent in another language because they self-evaluate as “bilingual”, you have peace of mind that the word choice and tone that your team uses reflect the culture of your company that you strive to protect.