Basic Language Proficienies?

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Aston2412
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Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby Aston2412 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:48 am

Was talking to one of my BigLaw friends and they advised me to include a note on my resume that stated what languages I had a base level of proficiency in - something perhaps that I took in school but am not fluent in.

Wanted to get thoughts on including this because while it may not come up ordinarily, if I'm interviewing with Linklaters or Clifford Chance and they decide that "Basic proficiency in French" means they want to conduct part of the interview in French, well, that would be bad.

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GeePee
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby GeePee » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:54 am

Aston2412 wrote:Was talking to one of my BigLaw friends and they advised me to include a note on my resume that stated what languages I had a base level of proficiency in - something perhaps that I took in school but am not fluent in.

Wanted to get thoughts on including this because while it may not come up ordinarily, if I'm interviewing with Linklaters or Clifford Chance and they decide that "Basic proficiency in French" means they want to conduct part of the interview in French, well, that would be bad.

If you're honest and you have space, it probably won't hurt -- they can't fault you for possessing the level of proficiency that you state that you have. However, if you go and embellish then, well, you might be in bad shape.

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TheFutureLawyer
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby TheFutureLawyer » Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:09 am

Aston2412 wrote:Was talking to one of my BigLaw friends and they advised me to include a note on my resume that stated what languages I had a base level of proficiency in - something perhaps that I took in school but am not fluent in.

Wanted to get thoughts on including this because while it may not come up ordinarily, if I'm interviewing with Linklaters or Clifford Chance and they decide that "Basic proficiency in French" means they want to conduct part of the interview in French, well, that would be bad.


It would be bad because you can't hold a conversation in French? If that's the case, you don't really speak French. In any case, it sounds like you probably shouldn't put it if you'd be uncomfortable trying your interview in French (I mean, what if they ask you one day to talk to some French people and you have to admit that you don't speak it well enough to be comfortable doing that, that would look bad, much worse than the benefit from putting on your resume that you do speak French imo).

Anonymous User
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:07 am

When I went through OCI I had "Language x - proficient" on my resume and yes, some interviewers at callbacks were native speakers of the language and ran part of the interview in that language. If you can't even make simple conversation, like that of a law interview, in the target language then you are very very far from proficient. Nobody at work gives a shit if you know how to say what day it is in a foreign language.

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thesealocust
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:09 am

Anonymous User wrote:When I went through OCI I had "Language x - proficient" on my resume and yes, some interviewers at callbacks were native speakers of the language and ran part of the interview in that language. If you can't even make simple conversation, like that of a law interview, in the target language then you are very very far from proficient. Nobody at work gives a shit if you know how to say what day it is in a foreign language.


+1. Fluency is a huge boon and firms may hire you specifically for it if it matches with their needs. Anything less exposes you to a risk of embarrassment and won't impress somebody in a hiring position anyway.

tipler4213
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby tipler4213 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:34 am

Fluency is such a problematic term though. From a definitional standpoint, it is the ability to speak with "ease". I can speak French about as well as any non-native speaker I know, discuss any topic, etc, but is anyone going to mistake me for French after a lengthy conversation? No. Have passed for Canadian a few times haha.

To be truly "fluent" in the as-good-as-a-native sense, you have to live in the country for 9 years (according to some study I am too lazy to find). So, where do you draw the line as far as inclusion on a law resume?

Aston2412
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby Aston2412 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:37 am

tipler4213 wrote:Fluency is such a problematic term though. From a definitional standpoint, it is the ability to speak with "ease". I can speak French about as well as any non-native speaker I know, discuss any topic, etc, but is anyone going to mistake me for French after a lengthy conversation? No. Have passed for Canadian a few times haha.

To be truly "fluent" in the as-good-as-a-native sense, you have to live in the country for 9 years (according to some study I am too lazy to find). So, where do you draw the line as far as inclusion on a law resume?


You sound fluent to me.

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npe
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby npe » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:38 am

tipler4213 wrote:Fluency is such a problematic term though. From a definitional standpoint, it is the ability to speak with "ease". I can speak French about as well as any non-native speaker I know, discuss any topic, etc, but is anyone going to mistake me for French after a lengthy conversation? No. Have passed for Canadian a few times haha.

To be truly "fluent" in the as-good-as-a-native sense, you have to live in the country for 9 years (according to some study I am too lazy to find). So, where do you draw the line as far as inclusion on a law resume?


Um... before your first paragraph. Nobody thinks "fluent" means "can convince others I'm a native speaker."

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sambeber
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby sambeber » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:39 am

Perhaps this would be helpful. It's used by the Foreign Service Institute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILR_scale

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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:43 am

tipler4213 wrote:Fluency is such a problematic term though. From a definitional standpoint, it is the ability to speak with "ease". I can speak French about as well as any non-native speaker I know, discuss any topic, etc, but is anyone going to mistake me for French after a lengthy conversation? No. Have passed for Canadian a few times haha.

To be truly "fluent" in the as-good-as-a-native sense, you have to live in the country for 9 years (according to some study I am too lazy to find). So, where do you draw the line as far as inclusion on a law resume?


Agreed. I published two academic articles in a foreign language and have led historical tours in that language (have to be anonymous for that reason). Clearly I know it quite well. But do I feel comfortable ordering dinner at a restaurant in that country? Can I carry on a conversation about soccer? No. I learned the language in an academic environment, which did not translate to conversational skills at all, and my perfect grammar and sophisticated vocabulary can't mask that, since I'm not familiar with everyday speech, which is quite different from academic speech. That means that I could do legal research and writing with ease yet be unable to make small talk with a client (unless he wants to talk about Renaissance literature, of course).

tipler4213
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby tipler4213 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:44 am

sambeber wrote:Perhaps this would be helpful. It's used by the Foreign Service Institute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILR_scale


I have actually already considered this, and and it is part of my concern here. I was FSI tested for Arabic in Tunisia and had my tester run an informal test for me in French (Tunisia is bilingual)--she said I was "between 4-5, probably a 4-advanced" in French, so I don't know if I should put "fluent", "Professional Level Proficiency", "4-Advanced", etc since it wasn't official.

Probably all a somewhat moot point, but I still wonder about it.

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Vronsky
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Re: Basic Language Proficienies?

Postby Vronsky » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:42 pm

tipler4213 wrote:
sambeber wrote:Perhaps this would be helpful. It's used by the Foreign Service Institute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILR_scale


I have actually already considered this, and and it is part of my concern here. I was FSI tested for Arabic in Tunisia and had my tester run an informal test for me in French (Tunisia is bilingual)--she said I was "between 4-5, probably a 4-advanced" in French, so I don't know if I should put "fluent", "Professional Level Proficiency", "4-Advanced", etc since it wasn't official.

Probably all a somewhat moot point, but I still wonder about it.


I used this basic scale and qualified my abilities on my resume. thus I have "Conversational proficiency in Language X, and Basic/Elementary proficiency in Language Y."

From that, I think (hope) it's clear that I can converse in X, ramble a few words/sentences in Y, and am fluent in neither.

ETA - for you, i might put something like "Fluent in French (Tunisia)" if that indicates the dialect that you speak. But i might be misreading you and Tunisia is just a place you visit/live/work. I don't think it's worth stressing over level 4 or 5 if you are that good - you're not going to get burned by saying "Fluent" when you are a mere level 4/Advanced Level.




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