Introduce yourself in a few words. What is your background?
My name is Anne, and I have been teaching French to non-native speakers for almost 15 years. I was introduced to teaching and literature from a very young age, thanks to my parents, both of whom were passionate about language.
After obtaining my Master's FLE in Didactics and Linguistics, I had the chance to teach French at the university and in language schools.
In 2015, I teamed up with Gwénolé Raoul to create a blog (parlez-vous-french.com) as well as a YouTube channel that now has close to one million subscribers. We also offer online French courses and French learning programs for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
What types of questions are included in a French test?
A French test is designed to evaluate a candidate's knowledge of the French language, according to the level targeted.
A test consists of questions on grammar, spelling, conjugation, vocabulary, expressions, and comprehension.
The questions asked are all related to the professional world. Indeed, it is important to evaluate the candidate's level of comprehension in an authentic context, i.e. in situations that the future employee will be confronted with in a company.
For which positions can it be interesting to evaluate a candidate's French language skills?
There is a tendency to think that mastery of the language is only useful for management positions or positions in direct contact with the client.
Whether internally, with colleagues and superiors, or externally, with customers and suppliers, effective communication between the company's players is essential.
Conversely, if communication is not effective, the consequences can be very negative for the company.
Let's take the example of a company that recently recruited a non-French-speaking technician for a production line. His qualifications and experience theoretically allow him to be operational immediately. However, if the employer does not test the employee's French language skills beforehand, the company is exposed to the following problems
-Safety: Is he/she able to understand and apply the safety instructions and procedures in place? Is the employee able to interpret written documentation?
-Relational: Can the employee communicate with colleagues and management? Is he/she able to formulate or respond to a specific request?
-Integration: Is the employee able to understand the social, administrative, and legal context of his/her new environment? Is his well-being outside of work assured?
It is therefore wise for a company to ensure at the time of hiring that the candidate has the necessary French language skills, regardless of the position held. This maximizes the chances of successful hiring, both for the employee and the company.
What are the mistakes to avoid when sending a French proficiency test?
A French language skills test is a very effective tool for ensuring that the candidate's profile matches the needs of the position.
Nevertheless, the relevance of the results depends on the quality of the test proposed.
It is important to avoid the following mistakes when sending a test:
-Targeting only one skill: a vocabulary test does not evaluate the candidate's ability to structure sentences. Similarly, a grammar test will not measure the extent of the candidate's technical vocabulary.
-Not adapting the test to the objective: it is not relevant to evaluate the candidate's mastery of figures of speech for a maintenance position.
-Not considering the candidate’s level: a test that is too difficult will lead the candidate to answer randomly. Conversely, a test that is too simple will not identify the candidate’s weaknesses. This is why the test must correspond precisely to the level expected for the position and, ideally, propose.
-Do not estimate the length of the test: a test that is too short does not allow for an effective analysis of the candidate's skills. On the other hand, a test that is too long may unnecessarily weigh down the recruitment process and make the analysis more tedious.
-Not following the CEFR: The European Framework of Reference for Languages defines the levels of language proficiency. It should be used as a framework when conducting a French test, to allow an objective evaluation of the results. If this framework is ignored, it is impossible to define the candidate's level of competence.
Why is this skill important today?
In the age of spell checkers and other artificial intelligence, we tend to think that linguistic skills are losing their importance. Recent advances in proofreading software allow us to automatically avoid many mistakes in writing. However, these solutions are still imperfect and do not dispense with a good command of the language.
Indeed, in the professional world, grammar, conjugation, syntax, and style mistakes can hurt the credibility of an employee and the company he represents.
In the emails we receive daily, for example, mistakes are most often associated with scams and fraudulent emails, which are often recognized by their low level of French.
In the same way, a website containing mistakes will scare away potential customers. Not to mention applications full of mistakes that are rejected by recruiters.
We consider mistakes to be negligence or a lack of consideration for the recipient. Conversely, a good level of language is generally associated with seriousness and reliability.
This is why the language level of candidates, both oral and written, is a major issue for recruiters, whatever the position. It is therefore important to attach great importance to language tests during the recruitment process.
Anne Le Grand founded Parlez-vous-French.com. She has a Master's degree in Didactics and Linguistics and has been teaching French to non-native speakers since 2009. In 10 years, she has developed her expertise in the French language to make French accessible to the highest number of people. She regularly posts videos to learn French on YouTube.