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Languages at work
Languages at work

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4 Selling your language skills

In this section you will learn how to present your language skills on your CV. You will also be given the opportunity to research different types of language learning opportunities in your region.

Activity 14 What a CV should contain

Timing: You should allow 15 minutes

(a) What information can you normally have in a CV? Use this checklist to tick off what you think should be included

⃞ Name⃞ Voluntary work
⃞ Address⃞ Interests and hobbies
⃞ Nationality⃞ References
⃞ Age⃞ Marital status
⃞ Mobile number⃞ Computer skills
⃞ Facebook, Myspace, Bebo etc.⃞ Languages
⃞ Education⃞ Pets
⃞ Qualifications⃞ Personal qualities
⃞ Work experience⃞ Driving licence
⃞ Criminal record

(b) If you think language skills should be included, where would you place them on your CV, and how would you present them? In such a situation, do you think experience of foreign travel or residence could also be relevant? In which section would you include this information?


(a) Information that should appear on a CV includes: name, address, nationality, mobile number, education, qualifications, work experience, voluntary work, interests and hobbies, references, computer skills, languages, personal qualities, and driving licence.

(b) If your language skills are key to a job, include this information on a section that is likely to be read first, near the top of the page.

Activity 15 Case study

Timing: You should allow 20 minutes

Read the advert below. This is for a job in London in leisure and tourism.

Now read through the following three CVs submitted by the candidates for the job. Can you answer the following questions?

View document. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Who do you think has presented better his/her CV as a whole?

⃞ Helen Hardy  ⃞ Mike Smith  ⃞ Stephen Watson

Which lay-out of information do you prefer? Note down the reasons behind your decision.

⃞ Helen Hardy  ⃞ Mike Smith  ⃞ Stephen Watson

Who do you think has presented his/her languages skills better?

⃞ Helen Hardy  ⃞ Mike Smith  ⃞ Stephen Watson

How would you improve the presentation of languages skills on these CVs?


How to present your language skills on a CV

  • If your languages skills the key to a job you're applying for, include this information on a section that is likely to be read first, near the top of the page. For instance, you could list them in the education section, or in a section of their own, titled ‘Languages skills’.

  • List your qualifications and other details: the educational institution where you gained them and when, details of exchanges or courses abroad, your level of proficiency in spoken and written language, an explanation of what tasks you would be able to accomplish in that foreign language (write emails, answer the phone, deal with enquiries etc.)

  • Don't forget to talk too about your English qualifications, if relevant.

  • If you are bilingual or near-bilingual, include that information too, even if one of your languages has been traditionally regarded as a ‘minority languages’.


Language skills

Fluent in written and spoken French and Spanish:

– A Levels in French (Grade A) and Spanish (Grade B) taken at the Riverside Grammar School for Girls, 2005–2007

– Course in French Language and Culture (Advanced Level) taken in the Summer University at Lille (2007). Also worked at the canteen as a waitress, gaining more language skills in a work environment.

- Also fluent in Guajarati (family language).

Activity 16 Over to you

Now write down your language skills as if you were sending a resumé or CV.

Activity 17 Learning opportunities in the region

Timing: You should allow 20 minutes

Use the internet to find out information about language tuition providers in your area. You may wish to investigate the following:

  • colleges

  • adult education centres

  • universities offering language tuition to the general public

  • The Open University

  • private tutors.

Are there any courses that were of interest to you?

What method of learning would you prefer (evening class, private tuition, online learning, etc.)?

How long would you have to study to achieve the level you want?