Language Skills & How to Write Them in Your Resumé | Lexika

Language Skills and How to Write Them in Your Resumé

Dominik Parajka Ciferník29.09.2022 For Customers Reading time: 3 min.
language skills in a resume

How good is your command of a foreign language? Ask this question of ten different people with the same language training, and you will get several different responses, all based on their subjective assessments. Luckily, today we can measure language proficiency objectively as well. But what methods are used to do this?

Language Proficiency Levels

Linguists have always strived to design a language proficiency scale that is universal and globally applicable. A scale that would work for all languages, such as English, Italian, Chinese and Hindu alike. It must be clearly defined and comprehensible. After numerous analyses, extensive research and agreements, multiple scales have been devised, as opposed to universal one.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

Let’s start with the old continent, Europe, where they use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). CEFR is accepted not only in the European Union, but also in many countries worldwide. Some believe that this framework will one day be used globally.

CEFR works with three main levels, which are further divided into two competency levels.

Basic User – Level A

  • Level A1 (Breakthrough): the language user can form basic sentences in the given language and understand other speakers, assuming that they speak slowly and provide help.
  • Level A2 (Waystage): the language user can understand commonly used phrases and communicate in day-to-day situations requiring only a basic information exchanges.

Independent User – Level B

  • Level B1 (Threshold): the language user can write a simple text on topics of immediate relevance, use this language when traveling and describe experiences and events.
  • Level B2 (Vantage): the language user can elaborate a text on a wide range of topics, have spontaneous conversations, understand the basic ideas of more complicated texts and can communicate viewpoints on topical issues relating to their specialization.

Proficient User – Level C

  • Level C1 (Effective Operational Proficiency): the language user can understand longer and more comprehensive sentence structures and fully understand their meaning. They can spontaneously express ideas without much obvious searching for expressions, as well as write texts on complex subjects.
  • Level C2 (Mastery): the language user can understand virtually anything that they hear or read. They can detect various meanings of words and sentences while spontaneously communicating on a level close to their native language.

American Language Proficiency Frameworks

The US uses two frameworks to assess language proficiency: the ILR (the Interagency Language Roundtable) and the ACTFL (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages).

Language Skills Measured on the IRL Scale

The IRL scale evaluates language proficiency on a scale of 0–5.

  • No Proficiency (0): language proficiency is limited to occasional isolated words.
  • Elementary Proficiency (1): language proficiency allows the user to form basic sentences and converse in daily situations.
  • Limited Working Proficiency (2): language proficiency allows for the understanding of basic instructions and holding a conversation on selected topics.
  • General Professional Proficiency (3): language proficiency allows the user to fluently communicate in the workplace. However, using specialized terminology might be problematic.
  • Advanced Professional Proficiency (4): advanced language proficiency that allows the user to communicate clearly and effectively with only minor mistakes.
  • Functionally Native Proficiency (5): language proficiency allowing for fluency without traces of a foreign accent.

Language Skills Measured on the ACTFL Scale

This scale is divided into four main levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior. The first three are further divided into three sub-levels: Low, Mid and High.

How to Write Your Language Proficiency Level in Your Resumé

Language proficiency is often described as “active” or “good”. However, these descriptors can be vague and easily misinterpreted.

When listing your language skills on a resumé, stick to the following rules:

  • State your language proficiency using one of the official frameworks and scales.
  • If you hold a language certificate or a language course completion certificate proving your language proficiency level, then mention them in your resumé.
  • Never lie about your language skills. Hiring managers may test your language competency, and a lie will not stand up to tests.

TIP: If you’re more fluent in writing than speaking, then do make sure to describe your language skills in greater detail and delineate your proficiency in different competencies (similarly to the Europass resumé format).

Determining Your Language Skills

If you don’t have a certificate to verify your language skills, then it might be difficult to estimate them on your own. You can always rely on online tests. If you choose this method, then we advise choosing a test from a reliable source.

For example, you can test your language proficiency in English at After completing the test, you will obtain a certificate for a fee of €15.

Do you know any other scales used to assess language proficiency? Have you ever completed an online test focused on other languages? Let us know in the comments.

Dominik Parajka
Dominik Parajka
Junior Copywriter

I started working as a copywriter at Lexika in 2021. However, online marketing, blogging and writing texts have been my domain for over five years. I love foreign languages and mostly work with English. I learned to like it when I was a kid because I used to live in England during elementary school for almost a year. I enjoy diving deep into foreign nationalities and cultures.

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