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« 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.

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. Indeedif 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.

14 commentaires sur “« Where is my umbrella? It is in the kitchen! »”

Etienne dit :

Is this rating official? Because, I used to write on my resumé that I was bilingual (TOEIC score= 970/990) but once a recruiter asked me if I knew how to translate "une bougie de préchauffage de moteur"… Which I absolutely had no clew…
Next time can I answer: Bilingual is over 910 at toeic?

elaee dit :

The TOEIC score I quoted is not official. It only concerns the strongers! ;). Indeed, it said bilingual level begins at TOEIC score =900, at the very most… Congratulations for your english!!! PERFECT!!

marie dit :

‎"… And French accent is so cute." ! What a fireworks ! 🙂 This article is so good and so true ! Please, help yourself and reach out for a good english !

Martin dit :

Let's be honest, the TOEIC is such an easy test to have and does not give a great idea on english skills…
Overpractising could give a great score but what about being in a real life situation, umh ? Often people have the 750 score required for young engineers but how many are able to work in english ?
I actually say I am fluent in english, which is OK for lots of HR and show the magic when asked to really speak for an interview. Bilingual sound too self-comfident to me…

elaee dit :

Completely agree with you about the TOEIC, even if it is more high-developed than the TOEFL. 😉

Full Version dit :

On ne peut pas être bon dans tous les compartiments du jeu. Personnellement je préfère un stratège qui maîtrise mal la langue, qu'un bilingue qui raisonne mal. Un créatif qui a des idées dans une langue, plutôt qu'un interprète qui n'a pas d'idées. Les 2 me direz-vous ! Soyez plus réaliste: l'idéal n'existe pas, ou si peu qu'il ne vaut mieux pas en faire son ordinaire…

ValB dit :

Même si l'accent n'est pas là, même si le recours à la périphrase pallie le défaut de vocabulaire : l'essentiel n'est-il pas de se faire comprendre par le plus grand nombre ?
Quand je fais des présentations écrites ou orales en anglais, je veille à m'adapter à mon public la plupart du temps composé certes de "english/american natives" mais aussi d'allemands, d'italiens ou d'espagnols. L'expérience m'a prouvé que si je parle ou écrit "trop bien" en anglais, mes interlocuteurs ne suivent pas toujours !
Entre la parfaite maîtrise d'une langue et la capacité à faire clairement comprendre ses messages : que choisissez vous ?

Ex concret dans un mail de compte-rendu : "Harald will not be part of…"
(On m'a appris qu'il était plus correct de ne pas écrire les contractions : "Harald won't…" ) Harald est allemand et Harald a répondu : "It's not that I don't want : I can't !" et oui "will" en allemand signifie "vouloir"…

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