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Proficient vs. Fluent: which is the higher requirement (in a job ad)?
Thread poster: Mikhail Kropotov

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 15:47
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Jul 19, 2019

Hello,

We routinely post job ads where we require applicants to have a certain command of English, including both spoken and written English. Some roles require a better command of English than others. We need to be sure we're using the terms Proficient and Fluent correctly to make the difference clear.

Can you please cite any "official" definitions of these terms? Information from renowned authorities in English language instruction and certification would be preferred
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Hello,

We routinely post job ads where we require applicants to have a certain command of English, including both spoken and written English. Some roles require a better command of English than others. We need to be sure we're using the terms Proficient and Fluent correctly to make the difference clear.

Can you please cite any "official" definitions of these terms? Information from renowned authorities in English language instruction and certification would be preferred.

Thank you so much!
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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:47
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
ACTFL American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Jul 19, 2019

When I was still teaching, at both high school and university levels, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines provided a common way to define language skill level in the U.S. On the page cited below you see a chart listing the levels, and you can download a pdf with the descriptors. However, I am not sure whether these are still as much in use as they were then.

So a job requirement might read: "We seek candidates with speaking skills at the Advanced Intermediate level of the ACTFL scale,
... See more
When I was still teaching, at both high school and university levels, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines provided a common way to define language skill level in the U.S. On the page cited below you see a chart listing the levels, and you can download a pdf with the descriptors. However, I am not sure whether these are still as much in use as they were then.

So a job requirement might read: "We seek candidates with speaking skills at the Advanced Intermediate level of the ACTFL scale, and writing skills at the Superior level."


https://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012
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Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:47
Chinese
Fluency is part of the proficiency description. Jul 19, 2019

According to the Interagency Language Roundtable scale (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILR_scale), fluency is part of the proficiency description.

[Edited at 2019-07-19 23:07 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:47
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Proficient is less advanced than fluent Jul 20, 2019

There's a good description of the different levels of language ability at https://csb.uncw.edu/cen/docs/determining%20language%20proficiency.pdf

According to this document, a "Proficient" speaker "is very skilled in the use of a language but who uses the language less easily and at a less-advanced level than a native or fluent speaker".


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:47
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Why don't you just use "a good command of English" vs "an excellent command of English"? Jul 20, 2019

Most of your potential applicants who are not native in English would not easily distinguish between "being proficient" and "being fluent" anyway. You would run the risk of seeing quite some people understand these words in a way just opposite to what you intend them to mean.

[Edited at 2019-07-20 17:15 GMT]


 


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