Language certificates: Are they really necessary?

Language certificates

Language certificates are an essential requirement for almost any resume

Language certificates are there, precisely, because both job offers and offers of degrees, postgraduates and different scholarships require it. In the specific case of translators, certification is a sine qua non condition from the first years of their career since a translator must be required to master both the mother tongue (or of origin) as of the target. Now, are language certificates the best way to demonstrate the level of mastery of a language?

Mastery of a Second Language

As is well known, the level of mastery is established in relation to different standards; the international one is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​(CEFR), based on a scale ranging from level A1 (the most basic) to C2 (command of the language). This criterion aims to provide “a common basis for the development of programs, curricular guidelines, exams, manuals, etc., throughout Europe” (Council of Europe, 2002, p. 17).

Likewise, the common framework approach aims to describe and teach what students must know to communicate in a foreign language; that is, what knowledge and skills must be managed in order to have a competence in another language and be able to use it in a daily context.

In this way, the CEFR allows planning, on the one hand, learning programs – objectives, content and selection of materials. On the other hand, its objective is certification ​​based on the description of the contents of the exams and the evaluation criteria based on the positive performance of the students.

What are language certificates useful for?

Language certificates are an essential requirement in certain contexts. In academia, for example, language certificates may be required to study at a foreign university or to enrol in a degree, postgraduate or doctoral program.

Furthermore, many universities include credits in their degrees – the most common is English . To obtain a degree, students have had to show a certain command of a foreign language – depending on university, a minimum level of B1 or B2 is required.

These language certificates are also required in the processes of obtaining nationalities. For example, to have Spanish nationality it is necessary, in addition to passing the CCSE test (Test of constitutional and sociocultural knowledge of Spain), to accredit an A2 level of Spanish through the DELE Spanish diploma of the Cervantes Institute.

Language certificates are also required in job offers; in some cases, not having them prevents the application from going ahead. This occurs when mastery of a second language is required that will be used as much or more than the applicant’s mother tongue. For example, some competitive examinations in Spain set a linguistic requirement such as mastering, in addition to Spanish, the co-official lingo of the territory in which the position is offered.

What do language certificates prove?

As we have indicated above, language certificates follow certain standards to set the levels of mastery, around which the learning programs and exams are articulated. However, the fact that the level of mastery depends on an exam – or a certificate – invites us to think about how teaching is planned.

In the first place, because languages ​​are conceived in relation to titles, that is, as keys that allow doors to be opened. And, indeed, this is so because they ​​are communication systems, but not because they are the means for obtaining a degree that, in turn, allows access to a job. Furthermore, the absence of language certificates attesting to mastery does not imply that a speaker cannot be competent in another tongue.

Language Certificates as Filters

In many cases, language certificates serve as filters to know the command of a language – for example, in job selection processes – without taking into account that there are people who master several languages ​​without having an official accreditation for it. If one takes into account that it is possible to acquire falsified certifications – just take a look on the Internet or on the deep web – the paradox may arise that someone with an official title does not know how to say a word in that language, pulling by land the entire theoretical basis of the standardization of the domain of languages.

Division of Languages ​Is an Artificial Fragmentation

Second, the division of languages ​​into watertight compartments is an artificial fragmentation, a mere convention, which is not necessarily based on daily performance, but rather conforms to the criteria designed by teaching programs. If the purpose of the teaching programs is focused on knowing how to function in an exam model, then the student will know how to take an exam on vocabulary or grammar, but will not necessarily know how to handle a conversation away from the classrooms.

If the example is allowed, something similar happens with the driver’s license: you are taught to pass a test by repeating – sometimes in intensive courses – many different tests. As with the practical exam: you are taught how to pass an exam, but you learn how to drive later, on a day-to-day basis and when there is no longer a teacher as co-driver. Something similar happens with language teaching: patterns are taken as a basis and students are guided on how to take an exam. The language is acquired later, with the use and with the need to communicate.

Conclusion About the Usefulness of Language Certificates

In short, the usefulness of language certificates is indisputable both for the labour market and for academics, since it is agreed that accreditation  is certified by the knowledge of a second language. Although, in reality, what proves the knowledge of a language is its implementation. Because, as they say, “movement is demonstrated by walking.”

8 reasons to Study Translation and interpretation

Study translation and learn a new skill

Globalization and the pace of life bring us closer and closer to ‘global internalization’. So, it is essential to know at least one foreign language, and push it ‘a bit’ forward which might lead, like it did for me, to study translation and interpretation and make a career out of it. 

Study translation – Why it’s worth it

Previously, we talked about the benefits of knowing a foreign language and now we are going to concentrate on why study translation and interpretation might be worth it. Here’s why:

  1. If you have always been interested in communicating in writing from one language to another, this could be your career. It is when you realize that translating produces a feeling of happiness even though you might not yet have begun to learn the keys, rules and tricks of the world. Study translation and interpretation and you can be one of them… Sorry, one of us.
  2. Wanting to give a meaning to your already acquired linguistic knowledge and take advantage of it in your work is enough to put away your doubts once and for all.
  3. If what you want is to interpret in a booth, on a stage, or in a meeting. Do not hesitate, it is a magnificent profession that will make you sweat, feel nervous, learn and continue to learn continuously, catch up on news and news, feel that bug in your stomach that ends up becoming a smile and infinite satisfaction when you leave a cabin in which you have been giving the best of yourself and everyone congratulates you… You will have good and bad times and at the beginning everything will cost you a lot. But if you like it, don’t think twice.
  4. You like to travel and move in an international environment and whenever you have gone on vacation, you were like a child with a new toy, hearing speak a language different from yours: this is the way to go. Sign up to study translation and interpretation!
  5. You have a good ear and a good memory, because as my classical French teacher used to say: languages ​​can be learned by heart! Discover what it feels like to enter a performance booth for the first time. It is amazing!
  6. Your friends like to go shopping but you’d rather enter a bookstore to browse the latest and long-awaited edition of a great dictionary and you still don’t know why… I tell you: study translation and you might have found your path. What do you say?
  7. Don’t know yet where to work? Study translation opens up a world of possibilities. You’ll be able to find work with embassies, travel and tourism agencies, translation agencies, judicial agencies, publishing companies, state agencies that deal with foreign trade, companies that need to gain a foothold in the international sphere, subtitle and double films, teachers, non-governmental organizations, set up your own translation agency and be autonomous, etc. The list is almost endless.
  8. Study translation and you’ll be surrounded by students, specialists and other personalities who are passionate about languages and literature, just like you. Look for the nearest university or the one with the best prospects and sign up for your new career.

Want to Study Translation, Talk to the Professionals

Still having doubts, of course. Talk to a student or a professional who has opted for this path. Sometimes, it is necessary to know the impressions of a person who has already got fully into this world.

I hope I have opened your eyes a little. There are many opportunities for those who chose to study translation. Still, it is a decision that involves a lot of effort and work but if you want to be good at something, it is worth the effort.

A Passion for Languages leading to Study Translation

As for me, what led me to study precisely this very same path? A passion for languages, for learning, a fine ear (I think), meeting people who like the same things as me, travelling and being able to communicate with other people in their own language (and show off a little with my newly acquired skills), feeling great when entering an interpretation booth and end with a smile from ear to ear…

If you recognize yourself in that description, go for it! 

7 théories extraordinaires sur les origines des langues

Homme de Cro-magnon

Comment les langues sont-elles nées ?

Malheureusement, les mots ne laissent pas d’artefact derrière eux. L’écriture a commencé bien après la communication verbale, si bien que les différentes théories sur les origines des langues n’ont bien souvent fait l’objet que… d’argumentations.

Pendant des siècles, il y eut un nombre considérable de spéculations, sans grand résultat d’ailleurs, sur la question de savoir comment les langues ont été créées. À tel point que lorsque l’Académie française fut fondée à Paris en 1866, les textes de loi sur lesquels reposait sa constitution comprenaient une interdiction de toute discussion, quelle qu’elle soit sur le sujet. Les théories les plus anciennes font l’objet de différents surnoms qui leur ont été donnés par les linguistes, lassés de ces insupportables théories bancales et infondées.

1. LA THÉORIE BOW-WOW ou théorie de l’onomatopée

L’idée selon laquelle le discours provient des personnes imitant les sons que font les choses : Bow-wow, moo, baa, etc. Théorie très improbable, dans la mesure où un très petit nombre de choses dont nous parlons ont des sons caractéristiques qui leur sont associés. De la même manière que très peu des mots que nous utilisons n’émettent un son ne serait-ce que similaire à leurs significations.


L’idée selon laquelle le discours provient de réponses vocales automatiques, suite à des situations de douleur, de peur, de surprise ou de toutes autres émotions variées : un rire, un cri, un souffle. Or, de nombreux animaux émettent ces sortes de sons et aucun n’a abouti à la création d’une langue (encore que certaines personnes pourraient ne pas être de cet avis — les dauphins ou les baleines ne communiquent-ils pas entre eux ?).


L’idée selon laquelle le discours reflète quelque harmonie ou résonance mystique avec les choses du monde. Difficile de savoir comment enquêter sur cette théorie.


L’idée selon laquelle le discours a été créé sur la base des champs rythmiques et des grondements que les hommes utilisaient pour coordonner leurs actions physiques lorsqu’ils travaillaient ensemble. Théories intéressantes, si ce n’est qu’il existe un écart significatif entre les résultats obtenus à partir de ces champs et grondements ET ce que nous faisons la plupart du temps avec les langues.


L’idée selon laquelle le discours provient de l’utilisation des mouvements de la langue et de la bouche, et ce pour imiter les gestes manuels. Par exemple, dire ta-ta, ce serait comme de faire un geste de la main pour dire en revoir avec sa langue. Or, la plupart des choses dont nous parlons ne possèdent aucune caractéristique gestuelle qui leur est associée, et encore moins de gestes que nous serions susceptibles d’imiter avec la langue ou la bouche.


L’idée selon laquelle le discours provient des sons inspirés par le jeu, l’amour, la sensibilité poétique et les chansons. C’est une idée charmante, mais pas plus, pas moins improbable ou probable que les autres.

Théories d’aujourd’hui

Un siècle (approximativement) après le bannissement du débat sur l’origine des langues, les scientifiques commencent de nouveau à considérer la question, mais cette fois, en utilisant des indices issus de la paléontologie et en rapport avec les caractéristiques possibles de la configuration du cerveau et de la trachée vocale des anciens hommes et hominidés. Plutôt que de spéculer sur les différentes sortes de vocalisation ayant donné naissance aux sons du discours, ces mêmes scientifiques commencent à prendre en considération les différents facteurs physiques, cognitifs et sociaux devant être préalablement mis en place pour qu’il y ait un langage possible.

Certes, ceci ne permet pas de répondre plus aisément à la question du comment ont été créées les langues, mais cela permet d’apprécier que, nous disposons — heureusement — aujourd’hui des facteurs nécessaires au langage, quels qu’ils puissent être.

Voilà. J’espère avoir fait avancer le schmilblick.