« Where is my umbrella? It is in the kitchen! »
Here comes the time you have to master your English. Perfectly. All the more so that more than 50% of firms demand a high level in English before employment.
By the way, have you ever asked a recruiter which part of CV is most « embellished »? Most of them would answer: «language skills». Anyway, it is interesting to point out that 49% of French middle and senior managers admit to feeling uncomfortable when English speaking is required in their professional activity, even though 75% declare speaking one or even several languages… weird, isn’t it? In these conditions, we could legitimately imagine many people « oversell» their English skills althought it is essential to build business relationships upon trust.
And now, I am wondering one thing: What is your REAL English level?
5 levels are usually defined, which are «academic», «intermediate», «fluent», «bilingual» and then «native tongue».
1- «Academic» describes the weakest tongue level. We consider the only words you know in English are those you learnt when you were in high school. «Where is Bryan? Bryan is in the kitchen!», «Hello, my name is Lucas, do you want to be my friend?» or, my favourite: «Hey, it is raining today, where is my umbrella?». Another way to qualify it, often employed: « J’ai des notions ». In any case, at this level, you have trouble understanding and need to make people repeat.
2- «Intermediate» means you can make yourself understood and mostly, you understand what people say. Nevertheless, it is complicated for you to structure what you mean and you usually use simple sentences. If you are, however, in the habit of listening English-speaking songs or watching subtitled movies, you might master “conversational English”!
3- «Fluent» is the most widespread level. Officially. When your English is fluent, you can watch movies in their original version (without subtitles!), talk about this and that and are familiar with enough vocabulary to hold conversations in various fields. Should you do well at this, you sound like a New-Yorker! Yeah!
4- You are bilingual! Shakespeare’s tongue has no secret for you! You speak the Queen’s English, talk about business or politics easily, you use slang English or just even talk for the sake of talking. You are brilliant! Golden certificate TOEIC = 910/990! Ding! Ding! Ding!
5- «Native» is certainly the least deserving one. Indeed, this is also known as « mother tongue » and, to me, it is reminiscent of a funny anecdote: I had a meeting with an applicant for a job which required English speaking at mother tongue level. And so it was that, at the end of the interview I asked: So, English is your mother tongue, right? The candidate became suddenly serious and anxious, frowned, and he finally confessed to me: «Hmm… not exactly.. It is not technically correct …Hmm… Does it really matter if… Actually, it’s my father who speaks English very well… (hesitation)… my mother doesn’t.
Here is the time you all should assess your real English level. On the other hand, recruiters do know applicant English skills are relative and I have good news for you: professional English is the easier one to learn. Indeed, if you can gather 150 words from your own professional semantic field, you can lead negotiations and build good acquaintances at work. To end, never forget the most important thing is to enunciate, be self-confident, daring… And French accent is so cute.
Sources: www.apec.fr, Le Nouvel Obs, Le figaro.