Hi there, it’s Luca from MosaLingua. Lately, I’ve been getting many questions from our users and subscribers asking: are language certificates useful or not? My answer? Coming up!
I’m sure you are familiar with the most popular language certifications, such as the TOEFL, the TOEIC, and the IELTS for English; the DEFL and DALF for French; the DELE for Spanish; the Goethe-Zertifikat for German, and so on. I have some experience with these certifications, as some years ago I took the TOEFL, the Certificate in Advanced English (issued by the British Council) and the DELF for French.
So, Are Language Certificates Useful?
It really depends on your goals and your personal circumstances… These certifications are useful or even compulsory in some situations. For instance, if you want to study at a foreign university. Some of them even require a specific certificate, such as the TOEFL or the IELTS.
And another situation: if you want to get citizenship in another country. This was my case last year, and having passed the DELF helped me obtain French citizenship. If you want to work in particular fields – translation and interpretation, for example – these can be quite useful, especially at the beginning when you don’t have a lot of references yet.
There is one more situation when having these certificates can be really useful: when you are looking for a job. In some countries like Italy, France and Spain, people tend to overestimate their language skills. So you have a bunch of people claiming to be fluent in English on their CVs. Then, when they arrive at the job interview and you start asking some questions in English, they go pale. They realize you’re going to find out that they exaggerated when it comes to their actual language proficiency.
That’s why many companies that hire multilingual professionals prefer to give interviews to people who have these certifications. This way, they don’t risk it on candidates who might waste their time. So, a language certificate could keep your CV from being thrown out before you even make it to the interview stage.
Another Interesting Question: Are Certifications Useful for Learning or Mastering a Language?
Of course it depends on the certification program, but generally speaking I do not think they are enough to really learn and be able to speak the language. Even if preparing these exams can help, you should not rely only on them to master a language.
Some certifications focus too much on writing and grammar. This means you end up with people who get very good scores but still can’t speak the language. Plus, when preparing for these exams you end up working a lot on activities that are more useful for passing the exam than for using the language in real life. I mean, how many times in your life have you had to describe a picture of a family or a landscape? These tasks are often asked of students for certain exams, but aren’t the most useful aspects of a language…
On the other hand…
Studying for a language certification can be useful to some extent, because it gives you a deadline and basically forces you to study. That’s what happened to me when I registered for the Certificate in Advanced English. I had to pay about $150 just to take the exam, which was a lot for a student. I can assure you that this motivated me to study every day for 3 months, because I did not want to waste my money by failing the exam.
To conclude, language certifications can be really useful proving your skills in different situations, but taking the exams to get them will not help you master a language. They can be of great help, but you should not only rely on them for a good command of your target language!
One more thing. If you are interested in language certifications, you can get a MosaLingua Certificate if you use our apps or our web platform, MosaLingua Premium (Web & Mobile). When you reach certain milestones, you unlock a personalized MosaLingua Certificate. It is useful for motivation because you can print it and proudly display it in your home or office.
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