In 1780, John Adams, the second President of the United States, argued in a speech to the President of the Continental Congress that English would one day be more popular than Latin or French. Nobody wanted to believe him then, but he was right – the language has become the lingua franca of the world of business, tourism and international relations.
In business, knowledge of foreign languages is as important as it is necessary
For companies with foreign sales ambitions, English is the absolute minimum – however, cooperation where companies are able to ensure communication in the language of the contracting party is increasingly appreciated. Having staff with the right language skills has many tangible advantages: employees who speak a foreign language can conduct business negotiations freely, and relationships with foreign partners and suppliers are also strengthened. In multinational companies, intercultural teams are becoming the norm, and any communication problems can be an obstacle to employee productivity. Being able to speak a foreign language helps employees to communicate effectively, thereby reducing stress and helping to achieve optimum team performance.
How to effectively verify foreign language skills?
It is obvious why language competence from a business perspective is so important. Therefore, it is extremely important to verify them properly, especially at the recruitment stage and before and after language training. Language audit is a simple and effective tool for assessing language competences in terms of knowledge of grammar structures, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing and speaking. The audit is an ideal solution for companies that value reliability and time. A person subjected to external verification of language competences is assessed according to the CEFR classification of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This framework includes guidelines in the area of language proficiency and skills, which are divided between six levels. The primary division is given by the letters: A – basic, B – independent and C – proficient. Each of these is additionally divided into: 1 – lower and 2 – higher.
How are language audits organised for companies?
The language audit process itself begins with an analysis of the company’s current and future needs. On this basis, an appropriate programme is designed, taking into account the defined objectives. The company is also assigned a coordinator who is responsible for the organisation and smooth running of the process. The language audits themselves should be tailored as much as possible to the needs of the company – both in terms of the skills assessed and the questions and instructions in the test. Audits on the Focus platform additionally make it possible to personalise the communication with the auditee and to ask the auditee a few additional questions (open or closed) for internal HR purposes. Before starting the auditing process, it is also worth deciding whether the auditee will know the results of his/her test or whether they will only be known to designated people – however, this option can be set for each commissioned audit. Focus allows audits to be conducted entirely remotely – this not only saves time in verifying the language skills of employees or job candidates, but also money. The assessment is carried out by a team of qualified teachers with years of experience in teaching foreign languages and assessing language proficiency.
What types of audits does Focus offer?
In Focus you can freely configure the tests in terms of e.g. assessed skills or the number of questions and instructions in a given section. The most popular types of audits are:
- Recruitment audit: created specifically for the recruitment of new employees, which allows you to quickly check their level of proficiency in a foreign language, in the areas of grammar and vocabulary, writing and speaking, without the need for an appointment with the auditor, which significantly reduces the time needed to obtain results.
- Full audit: the most detailed and extensive audit covering 5 parts: grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing and speaking, allowing for an in-depth verification of language competence and learning progress.
- Abbreviated audit: ideal for prescreening candidates on the basis of their knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension. It can be used as a complement to a company’s own recruitment process, where language skills are tested e.g. during an interview. It can also serve as a screening of individuals for whom verification of writing and/or speaking skills in a foreign language will be commissioned.
So why is it worth taking an interest in language audits? Developing an efficient recruitment and training system, based on reliable and credible results of language audit, is not only a way to be up-to-date with the latest HR trends and enable more efficient management of language competences in the company, but most of all it is a key to a stronger position of the company on the increasingly globalising market.