foreign languages

It is often difficult to state what level you have in foreign languages on your CV.

Why? First of all it is difficult to evaluate yourself, without under or over estimating your level, and then it is complicated to use a word that actually means something to the recruiter. Know that you can stand out from other candidates if your level in foreign languages is clearly stated on your CV and if this statement reflects reality!

We advise you to keep well away from the famous ‘reading, writing, speaking’ which is far from being precise enough. Writing that you ‘speak’ French does not mean that the recruiter understands your level. They may start asking themselves if you can just say a few words or if you are completely comfortable in a language. Similarly, stating that you speak ‘professional French’ does not define your level, but simply implies that you use the language in a professional context.

For professions in Research and Development on the other hand, it is quite common to see ‘technical’ next to the language, signifying that you know around 100 words that are linked to the profession.

If you have passed any official exams such as the TOEIC or DELE, don’t hesitate to mention your score. The recruiter will be able to use this to better understand your level.

In any case, we advise you to stick to these four language levels:

  • Beginner: You know the basics and understand the most common expressions. You are able to express a simple idea, write a post card or fill out a questionnaire for example.
  • Intermediate: You are able to express an option or describe a situation both orally and written down. You can contribute to a conversation with help from the person you are speaking to. You are also able to write an informal letter.
  • Advanced: You respond spontaneously and naturally all while being able to make an argument using everyday phrases. You can easily follow programmes and films. Writing reports and complex letters as well as reading more complicated articles is not a problem.
  • Bilingual: With a deep understanding of the country’s culture, you understand the inner workings of the language both orally and written down. You are able to construct complex sentences and use expressions and figures of speech. Above all you express yourself fluently and with no particular effort.

Important! You can be a native or have a language as a mother tongue without necessarily being bilingual. You are advised to precise your situation. For example: bilingual English (mother tongue). Furthermore, write if you have lived in a foreign country for several years – but only if this reflects your current level or your ability to start conversing in the language again.