Grading descriptions of language skills:
1 – No Proficiency
At this lowest level, there is basically no knowledge of the language. The person may know a few words, but can’t form sentences or carry on any type of conversation.
2 – 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. This level reflects someone who is traveling to a new country and who has just begun to study a language.
3 – Limited Working Proficiency
Someone at this level can handle basic work commands and social phrases. They can carry on limited casual conversations at the office and discuss their personal life. Someone at this level still needs help with more extensive conversations in the language. They can only operate independently in basic conversations.
4 – Professional Working Proficiency
Someone at this language proficiency 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 in the language and has a fairly extensive vocabulary. They likely still have an accent at this level and probably require help understanding subtle and nuanced phrasing. Some employers consider this level or above as basically acceptable, depending on the specific job.
5 – Full Professional Proficiency
Full professional fluency is desired by 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 may 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 level 4 or above acceptable.
6 – 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. They have little or no accent.