Knowledge of foreign languages is one of the most common requirements mentioned in job offers. They are relevant in various fields of work, and a frequent employer expects a candidate to know more than one foreign language. Job advertisements often emphasize the need for excellent knowledge of the Lithuanian language.
CV-Online together with Skrivanek Translation Office and Language School in 2022. August 16 – September 4 conducted a study of the need for foreign languages in the labor market. 1100 respondents participated in the survey.
In the job advertisements published by www.cvonline.lt companies, the most popular requirement for candidates is English – it is indicated in 45% of job offers. The second most popular language in advertisements is non-foreign, but the state language Lithuanian – 27%. Other required or preferred languages are Russian (1%), Polish (1%), French, German, Spanish and Swedish.
Although not abundant, there are job offers that require knowledge of Danish, Estonian, Italian, Latvian, Norwegian, Dutch, Romanian or other languages. More often, the candidate is simply expected to know at least two foreign languages.
According to the survey, respondents mostly use the following languages at work: English (44%), Russian (36%), German (4%) and Polish (3%). 8% of respondents do not use any foreign language at work. Thus, although the Russian language requirement is not often indicated in job advertisements, this language is still used quite actively in the market.
Kristina Šuškevič, head of the “Skrivanek” language school, notes that the need for English language training in the business environment continues to be enormous. Both specialists and managers of a higher or highest level – those for whom English is necessary for written and oral communication with foreign colleagues, clients, partners or suppliers – are eager to improve their knowledge. Companies invest not only in popular English, but also in German, French, Spanish, and Polish language courses. It is interesting that in Lithuania the need to learn the Latvian language is growing – it is mostly chosen by company managers planning to enter the Latvian market.
Which foreign languages and at what level will be needed at work depends on the field and duties
In the field of information technology, English is a matter of course. It often includes the job offers themselves – a signal that English is used in the workplace every day. Specialists in this field are expected to have excellent knowledge of the English language, both written and spoken.
The ability to communicate freely is necessary in the field of customer service, so it is not surprising that employees are required to speak 2-3 foreign languages. A trio of English, Lithuanian and Russian languages is usually indicated, and a whole bunch of other foreign languages would be considered an advantage. Perhaps the widest range of required foreign languages can be found in the areas of customer service and administration.
Meanwhile, in the field of transport, in addition to English and Russian, Polish and Scandinavian languages are relevant in the field of banking.
Excellent (spoken) knowledge of the Lithuanian language is extremely important in trade, but in the field of production, knowledge of foreign languages is rarely required, except for specialists or managers in higher positions.
Which foreign language will be required also depends on which country the capital company is looking for an employee, for example, a German capital company will expect knowledge of the German language from candidates. Of course, the need for a foreign language also depends on which markets the company works with.
Setting the level of foreign languages
Although it is common to require foreign language knowledge from candidates, according to the survey, few companies use more serious language level assessment methods and tools during the selection process. 54% of the survey participants stated that during none of the selections in which they had to participate, knowledge of foreign languages was not tested. 21% of respondents said that knowledge of foreign languages was checked in less than half of the selections.
According to the manager of “Skrivanek”, K. Šuškevič, professional foreign language testing is not always necessary. Everything depends on the requirements for a specific job position – if the future employee uses a foreign language only occasionally during work, you can also rely on the information provided in the resume. However, if the foreign language will be the main work tool for the employee, for example, Swedish will be actively used at work every day, written or spoken, professional testing is necessary.
The vast majority of companies that test candidates’ knowledge of foreign languages do so by asking specific questions or conducting the entire interview in a foreign language. 20% of companies use a language level test, and 15% of companies rely on a foreign language level certificate provided by the candidate.
If the candidate submits a certificate of a certain level of language proficiency, several points must be assessed. First of all, when was this certificate issued – if it happened more than three years ago, it is worth checking whether the candidate is currently actively using a foreign language, because the skills of the language that is not used are disappearing. Second, which institution issued the certificate, can it be trusted? If there are doubts about the level of language proficiency, the employer should consider professional foreign language testing, which allows to assess all language skills – grammar, reading, vocabulary, writing and speaking. Such testing can be done using the innovative Focus testing system – it is convenient because the entire process is carried out remotely, and objective results allow the employer to understand whether the candidate’s language skills meet the requirements of the position.
Which foreign languages are studied most often?
As many as 86% of respondents believe that they should acquire or improve their knowledge of a foreign language. The main motive is to be a competitive participant in the labor market.
Survey participants would prefer learning or improving English (58%), Russian (13%) and German (11%). A smaller number of employees would like to learn Spanish, French, Swedish, Italian or Norwegian.
And yet – although employees understand the importance of foreign languages, few of them learn them. During the last two years, foreign language(s) have been learned or improved:
– in individual courses – 25 %,
– in group courses – 16% of respondents.
These respondents indicated that they studied with their own funds or used free alternatives. Consequently, employees tend to invest both their time and money in improving their knowledge of foreign languages.
Forms of language learning
If employees could choose, they would prefer individual, distance or live foreign language courses. The second most popular option is live or distance group courses, while the least acceptable form of learning is on-site courses (before, after or during work).
K. Šuškevič, head of the “Skrivanek” language school, claims that the results of the survey reflect the current prevailing trends: “During the pandemic, the forms of learning foreign languages changed drastically. Remote foreign language lectures, which were a rarity before the pandemic, have now become the standard – online the format was liked by both teachers and learners. Even now, when all conditions are in place to return to contact foreign language courses, neither side is willing to do so. Companies also organize only distance courses for their employees – it is much more convenient for employees to join a lecture from home or office, attending a lecture is not hindered even by a secondment in another city or country.”
By the way, the survey participants are also quite actively interested in independent language learning, e.g. using specialized apps.
According to the head of Skrivanek, the most important thing in learning foreign languages is motivation: “When a person clearly knows why he is learning a foreign language, success is almost guaranteed. Learning is best done when knowledge of a foreign language is highly needed (for work) or highly desired (personal goals). If you are interested, you can easily find a wide variety of language learning apps that help you learn a new foreign language on your own or improve your existing language skills. The most important thing remains motivation and the ability to study consistently, not for a few days or weeks, but for months or even years. Not everyone succeeds in this – in the end, most motivated people decide to travel through the interesting world of a foreign language accompanied by a professional teacher.”
The research was conducted by:
CV-Online – the leading provider of complex personnel search and selection services in the Baltic States.
Skrivanek is a leader in language services, ranked 50th among the largest language service providers in the world and providing top-quality translation and localization services in more than 100 languages and foreign language training in more than 35 languages.
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