How to assess Italian fluency with an Italian proficiency test

How to assess Italian fluency with an Italian proficiency test

Our blog How to assess Italian fluency with an Italian proficiency test
italian proficiency test

If you're looking to hire employees who can speak Italian, now is a good time to find them! The number of foreigners studying it rose from 1.7 million to 2.2 million in the 2015-2016 school year, and according to the online language catalog Ethnologue, Italian is the 4th-most-studied language in the world. So you know they're out there. You just need the right Italian proficiency test to find them.

Determine what level of Italian proficiency test you require

Before administering an Italian proficiency test, you need to determine what level of fluency the job requires.

The Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of References for Languages is an international standard for evaluating language skills. It divides speakers into six proficiency levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. 

  • A1 (beginner). A beginner can interact with someone as long as the person they’re speaking to speaks slowly and clearly, introduce themselves and ask questions about personal details (e.g., when their birthday is, what their favorite color is, etc.), and understand basic expressions. 
  • A2 (elementary). An elementary speaker can directly exchange information, describe what they need in a simple way, and understand common expressions in situations involving employment, shopping, and family. 
  • B1 (intermediate). An intermediate speaker can briefly describe events, dreams, plans, and opinions, create easy statements about topics they are passionate about, deal with travel situations in the area where the language is spoken, and understand conversations about leisure, family, work, and school. 
  • B2 (upper intermediate). An upper intermediate speaker can make detailed statements about various subjects, understand the main ideas of a difficult text like a technical piece, and interact with the language speakers without much difficulty. 
  • C1 (operational proficiency). An operationally proficient speaker can make well-structured and detailed writings on complex topics, express ideas fully, use the language for professional, social, or academic purposes, and understand more demanding conversations. 
  • C2 (mastery). A master speaker can understand everything read or heard, express themselves with precision, and use various sources to make an understandable presentation. 

Once you use this framework to decide how fluent the employee needs to be, you can choose the Italian proficiency test you will implement to assess each candidate's Italian fluency.

Determine what testing measures to use

At the beginning of the hiring process, it is important to verify that applicants are serious about the job and can understand the language well enough to succeed in the role. Unfortunately, you can only glean so much from a cover letter or a resume, which is why we recommend that you start with an online Italian test.

For instance, if you want the future employee to focus on writing emails and documents, you may want to administer a writing test. If you want the future employee to focus on talking to consumers through the phone and/or face-to-face, you may want to administer a spoken/listening test. Finally, if you want the future employee to translate certain documents from another language to Italian, you may want to administer a translation test.

Administer an online Italian proficiency test 

Of course, you don’t have to create these tests all on your own. TestGorilla offers a wide variety of language proficiency tests, including two Italian proficiency tests.

The first is the  B1/intermediate Italian test designed for roles like sales representatives and customer service agents. It covers basic grammar and vocabulary, sentence composition, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension. 

The second is the C1/proficient Italian test designed for roles like writers, editors, customer success managers, and content creators. It covers basic grammar and vocabulary, composing sentences, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. 

Picking one (or multiple) tests can allow you to determine who has the best Italian skills, so you don’t have to spend precious time sifting through hundreds of applicants who don’t have the Italian skills you need. 

italian proficiency test
An example question from TestGorilla's B1 Italian test

In addition to these tests, you can add custom questions at the end asking for written and video responses. Ask each candidate to respond to these questions in Italian so you can get a better understanding of their fluency.

Conduct your interviews in Italian 

Once applicants have successfully demonstrated their fluency through their online Italian proficiency test, you should further evaluate their fluency through an interview. This ensures that the applicant can answer questions on the spot and in person as they did on the test. 

As with any interview, it is best to ask the candidate why they are the best fit for the job, your team, and the company.  You may also want to ask what resources they used to learn Italian and what aspects of the language they struggle with.

However, since this is a time-consuming process, it's important to invite a select few candidates to this stage. That's why the assessment stage is so critical. It allows you to focus on the very best candidates right from the start.

Ask for references

Not only can you use references to learn more about the work the candidate has done, how they interact with team members, and their ability to meet deadlines, but you can also ask how their Italian was while they worked with coworkers and customers, how often they used Italian on the job, and how they used their Italian language skill to solve conflicts and problems. 

It's best to request references directly from the candidate. If you contact a backchannel reference or contact any reference without the candidate’s permission, it can erode the sense of trust the candidate may have with you and by extension, the company. 

Hire Candidates with the Italian Skills You Need

The Economist Intelligence Unit found that 64% of businesses say language barriers are stifling their expansion efforts, and 49% said that misunderstandings related to those language barriers resulted in financial losses. So if you're looking to hire someone who can speak Italian, make sure they have the fluency necessary with an Italian proficiency test,

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