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Language Proficiency Levels

There are 0-5 levels of fluency

Levels of Language Proficiency

For anyone pursuing a career in corporate finance, it can be important to include your level of language fluency on your resume and job application. There are 0-5 language proficiency levels, and many employers require at least level 3, which is professional working proficiency. This guide will discuss the five levels in more detail to ensure you have the appropriate one listed on your resume.


Levels of Language Proficiency


0-5 Language Proficiency Levels

Below are the language proficiency levels that you can choose from for your resume. They are based on the Inter-agency Language Round-table (ILR) scale that is set by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.


0 – No Proficiency

At this lowest of the language proficiency levels, there is basically no knowledge of the language. The person may know a few individual words, but can’t form sentences or have any type of conversation.

Phrased as: “No English”


1 – Elementary Proficiency

At this language proficiency level, a person can form basic sentences, including asking and answering simple questions. This is essentially the starting point of the language proficiency levels and is where someone who is traveling to a new country and just beginning to study a language (English, Spanish, French, etc.) would start.

Phrased as: “Elementary Spanish”


2 – Limited Working Proficiency

Someone at this level can follow basic work commands and social prompts. They can carry out casual conversations at the office and discuss their personal life. Someone at this level still needs help with more complicated matters at work and can only operate independently on basic matters.

Phrased as: “Limited Working English”


3 – Professional Working Proficiency

Someone at this language proificiency level can make contributions to office meetings, have conversations with clients, and carry out most work functions requested of them. A person at level 3 can speak at a normal speed and has a fairly extensive vocabulary. They likely still have an accent at this level and require help understanding subtle and nuanced situations. Some employers consider this level or above acceptable, depending on the specific job.

Phrased as: “Professional Working Spanish”


4 – Full Professional Proficiency

Full professional fluency is desirable for most employers. Someone at this level can have advanced discussions on a wide range of topics about personal life, current events, and technical topics such as business and finance. People at this level still have a minor accent and may occasionally misspeak or make minor mistakes. Their vocabulary is extensive and they can carry on conversations with ease. Most employers consider this level or above acceptable.

Phrased as: “Full Professional Spanish”


5 – Native / Bilingual Proficiency

Someone at this language proficiency level was either raised speaking the language as their native tongue or has been speaking it so long that they are completely fluent and may have no accent at all.

Phrased as: “Native English” or “Bilingual English & Spanish”


Language Proficiency Levels Resume

Let’s look at how to list language proficiency levels on your resume. They are typically listed at the bottom of your resume, under “Skills” or “Additional Information” and should include a shorthand description of the level you are proficient at (the “phrased as” terms shown above after each proficiency level definition).  Below is an example of what it looks like to have a language proficiency levels resume inclusion.


Language Proficiency Levels Resume Example


Download Free Resume Template.


Additional Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to language proficiency. To separate yourself from the competition, enroll in CFI’s Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)TM program and gain the skills employers are looking for in their finance hires.

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