The best English certification for working abroad: which is the most useful and what level is required?

migliore certificazione inglese

The best English certification for working abroad: which is the most useful and what level is required?

The importance of knowing English to enter the international job market has grown significantly over the last few years. Many companies – both multinational and local – often request official documentation of a candidate’s linguistic competence and this is why English certifications are so important. As there are many different options to choose from, in this article we will focus on evaluating the most popular ones in order to help you decide which English qualification is the best for you.

We will explore the features of each qualification, the required levels of competency as well as their specific advantages and disadvantages. My goal is to help you make an informed decision on which certification is best suited to your personal and professional needs.

Whether you want to work abroad or are seeking a competitive advantage through English language certification, this article is for you.

Best English qualification: IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most widely recognized and popular English language qualifications worldwide. It was specifically designed to assess the linguistic proficiency of non-native English speakers within academic and professional settings.

The IELTS exam is divided in to four main sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Each section is evaluated separately and the final result is presented on a scale of 1 to 9.

The IELTS is widely used both for academic and professional purposes. Many universities request a IELTS score from students wanting to study abroad as evidence of their language proficiency. Similarly, numerous organizations and companies make IELTS a mandatory requirement for employment, particularly in sectors that require effective communication skills in English.

IELTS scores are categorized into bands ranging from 1 to 9. A score of 1 indicates no ability in English, while a score of 9 signifies an expert user. Typically, a minimum score of 6 or 6.5 is the required proficiency level for working abroad, although this may vary based on the specific criteria set by the country and employer.

Like any qualification, the IELTS comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. One of its key advantages is its international recognition, ensuring individuals receive a widely respected and standardized evaluation of their language proficiency. Furthermore, the IELTS offers a comprehensive assessment of listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills, providing a well-rounded evaluation of an individual’s linguistic abilities.

However, some might consider the time and commitment required to prepare for the IELTS exam as a disadvantage. Additionally, those who are unfamiliar with the structure and format of the exam may find it challenging. Nevertheless, despite these potential challenges, the IELTS continues to be one of the most beneficial certifications for working abroad due to its widespread recognition and its ability to accurately assess linguistic competencies.

English certification levels: TOEFL

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is another highly recognized examination for assessing the linguistic abilities of non-native English speakers. The TOEFL was specifically designed to evaluate English proficiency in academic and professional contexts. Similar to IELTS, the TOEFL exam is divided into four main sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each section is assessed independently and the final score is reported on a scale ranging from 0 to 120.

The TOEFL is widely used by academic institutions around the world as an admission requirement for international students. In addition, many multinational companies request the TOEFL score as part of the selection process for candidates aspiring to work in international environments where English is the predominant language.

The ideal TOEFL score to demonstrate English proficiency for working abroad may vary based on the specific requirements set by the country and employer. However as a general guideline, a score ranging from 80 to 100 is often considered good for professional purposes.

A potential disadvantage to choosing the TOEFL could be its emphasis on academic competency which might not fully address the specific language requirements of a professional working environment. In addition, the structure of the exam requires dedicated preparation to become acquainted with its specific format and instructions.

English language certificate: Cambridge Assessment English

Cambridge English is an organization that develops and offers a range of linguistic qualifications including the Preliminary English Test (PET), the First Certificate in English (FCE), the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

Cambridge certifications are specifically designed to provide precise assessments of linguistic abilities suitable for both academic and professional purposes. For instance, the Preliminary English Test (PET) may be required as an admission prerequisite for basic-level English courses. On the other hand, the First Certificate in English (FCE), the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), and the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) may be required to gain access to certain university study programmes or to demonstrate advanced proficiency for professional purposes.

The required competency levels for working abroad can vary based on the country and the specific company or organization. As a general guideline, the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) are regarded as high-level qualifications and may be requested for professional positions that require advanced English communication skills. However, the Preliminary English Test (PET) and the First Certificate in English (FCE) can still provide a solid foundation for jobs that need basic or intermediate levels of English proficiency.

Cambridge qualifications offer several advantages. Firstly, they enjoy wide international recognition and carry a strong reputation, providing a higher level of credibility to the candidates who have them. Additionally, Cambridge qualifications encompass a broad range of competency levels, allowing candidates to demonstrate their progress over time and tailor the certification to their specific requirements.

However, it is worth noting that some individuals may consider the focus on British English in Cambridge exams as a potential drawback, as it doesn’t cover much American English or other variations. Additionally, the cost and availability of the testing process could pose limitations for certain individuals, making it less accessible for some.

Which is the most useful English qualification: Trinity College

Trinity qualifications, provided by Trinity College London, include the Integrated Skills in English (ISE) exams, which consist of three levels: ISE I, ISE II, and ISE III. These certifications were specifically created to assess the language proficiency of non-native English speakers in an integrated way, putting the emphasis on the ability to use English in real-life situations.

Trinity qualifications are designed both for academic and professional use. In the academic field, the Trinity ISE can be requested as an admission requirement for intermediate or advanced English courses. The Trinity ISE is often requested by companies and organisations who are looking for candidates with a practical competency in English communication making it a valuable certification for these purposes.

The competency levels requested to work abroad vary depending on the specific requests of the country and the company. In general, a certification of at least ISE III may be requested for jobs which require an intermediate level whilst the ISE III level might be requested for jobs that require a more advanced level of English communication.

One of the many advantages of these qualifications is that the testing methods are structured in a way that reflects the practical use of English in real-life situations, providing an authentic evaluation of a candidate’s linguistic proficiency. Furthermore, Trinity qualifications focus on the integration of linguistic abilities by evaluating reading, listening, writing and speaking in a combined way.

One potential disadvantage of Trinity qualifications is that they may not enjoy the same level of international recognition as more popular certifications like IELTS or TOEFL. As a result, academic institutions or employers may be less familiar with them, which could potentially impact their perceived value.

PEARSON

Pearson is one of the leading international companies in the education and learning sector. The Pearson qualifications include the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) and the Pearson Test of English General (PTE General). These qualifications were specifically developed to assess the language proficiency of non-native English speakers as part of Pearson’s language assesment portfolio.

Pearson qualifications are designed to cover academic as well as professional requirements. PTE Academic was designed with a primary focus on academic purposes, and it is widely recognized and accepted by academic institutions worldwide as evidence of candidates’ language proficiency. It serves as a valuable measure of their ability to effectively communicate in English in academic settings. The PTE General exam places emphasis on general English and provides an evaluation of linguistic competency for both professional and personal purposes.

Pearson certifications offer many advantages. One significant advantage is that the tests are based on advanced technology and use artificial intelligence to evaluate linguistic competency in an accurate and reliable way. In addition, the test results are available quickly with the assessment scores ready usually only a few days following the exam.

As a general guideline, a score between 50 and 90 in the PTE Academic is typically regarded as demonstrating sufficient linguistic skills for both academic and professional purposes.

Pearson certifications offer many advantages. One significant advantage is that the tests are based on advanced technology and use artificial intelligence to evaluate linguistic competency in an accurate and reliable way. In addition, the test results are available quickly with the assessment scores ready usually only a few days following the exam.

As is the way with less well-known certifications, one possible disadvantage of the Pearson qualifications is that they may not enjoy the same level of widespread recognition as other popular certifications such as IELTS or Cambridge. As a result, some academic institutions or employers may be less familiar with Pearson qualifications and may lack awareness of their validity or reliability.

LANGUAGECERT

LanguageCert is an organization that specializes in linguistic testing and offers certifications across various levels of linguistic competency, aligning with the EU guidelines for linguistic ability as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). These qualifications cover levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2, providing a comprehensive evaluation of candidates’ language skills.

LanguageCert qualifications are designed to assess and certify proficiency in the four main language skills: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Similar to the previously mentioned certifications, LanguageCert qualifications are recognised both in academic and professional contexts. They can be used as evidence of language competency for educational institutions, employment opportunities, or any situation that requires an evaluation of language proficiency.

For academic and professional purposes, a level B2 or above is generally considered to demonstrate adequate linguistic competence. Achieving a B2 level signifies a good command of the language and the ability to communicate effectively in various contexts.

LanguageCert qualifications offer many advantages. One significant advantage is they are based on the CEFR, a widely recognized evaluation system for language proficiency worldwide. This ensures that candidates are assessed and graded using a standardized and globally accepted framework for evaluating their linguistic competency. In addition, LanguageCert qualifications offer the convenience of online testing. This allows candidates to take the exams remotely, eliminating the need for physical test centres providing greater accessibility and flexibility in scheduling and availability.

One potential drawback of LanguageCert certificates is as with other examples mentioned previously, they may not enjoy the same level of widespread recognition as more popular qualifications such as TOEFL or Cambridge certificates. While LanguageCert qualifications provide a standardized evaluation of linguistic competency based on the CEFR, some academic institutions or employers may not be as familiar with them or their specific value.

Conclusions

In conclusion, selecting the most suitable English qualification for working abroad is a very individual decision that relies on the specific goals and objectives of the person seeking employment opportunities in a foreign country. Remember that the value and recognition of all the certifications mentioned in this article may vary depending on the specific region, institution, or employer in question.

If you would like to receive more information about these qualifications or on the levels to reach in order for a success working abroad, please get in touch! I will be more than happy to listen to your story, help identify your needs and give you advice on choosing the best solution for you.