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Looking for a language job abroad? Do you actually SPEAK THE LANGUAGE?

2013-12-02 16:00:00 +0000 by Herbert Croezen


When it comes to living and working abroad - we mainly deal with language jobs where you will need to speak at least 1 European Language as well as English. The great thing is that as the world becomes more and more internationally minded, language jobs abroad are constantly growing. 
But what does it mean exactly – to speak a language? At what level do you actually need to speak the language to apply for that language job abroad?

First of all, regardless of what language job you apply for you need to be fluent in English as for all our clients and pretty much every international company is their main language to communicate with employees and the language they use to interview potential new employees. Most of our clients assess the written English of candidates but not to worry, they don’t require the same level as the language job you are applying for. An error or 2 is allowed as your English will improve over the course of the contract and most written communication is internal only. So if you want to work in  Germany or the Netherlands we do not require fluency in German or Dutch as well, unless it is the internal company language. 

However, English is not the main language people fail with. It is the language you want to use in the job that has to be up to the right standard or (near) native. With near native we mean you are comfortable using the language on a daily basis but perhaps have a small accent, but otherwise as comfortable as a native speaker. 

What people tend to forget is that the language they want to use has to be used at a business level and not to order a 3 course meal in a restaurant followed by asking for directions to the nearest train station.
What we mean is that you will be discussing deliveries, dealing with complaints, arranging meetings, closing sales etc.
With customers becoming more and more demanding this means you need to be able to speak and write these languages, without hesitation or spelling and/or grammar mistakes. 

What we like to do when assessing the language of a potential jobseeker is to switch suddenly from English to the desired language required for working abroad. A very simple rule with Careertrotter is that you have to be able to switch without hesitation. If not, we might have an issue. The following “fails” happen on regular basis:

  • Oooh I need a week to be up to scratch

Well if that’s the case work on your language skills before you apply. If we hadn’t tested your language and took your word for granted you might have failed the first phone screening and won’t get a chance for another 6 or 12 months depending on the company rules for re-applying to work abroad.

  • Replace words you don’t know with English. 

Nice try but we are not assessing your English but your other language skills you claim to have. 

  • I can speak it but need Google translate for the writing part

So you are saying you are going to copy and paste every email into Google translate to spellcheck? We can see your productivity target going through the roof! 

We are not looking for perfection, hence we make grammar and speling erorrs (see what we did there). However, the errors need to be once in a while, rather one in ten emails than ten in one email. 

Ideally you grew up with the language, studied or lived in a country for some years plus gained some business experience. Already done this? Time to apply for a Top language job abroad – with Careertrotter! Apply here... 

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