How to Accurately List Your Language Skills on Your Resume

Language skills are in demand for many employers. Understanding a second, or even third, language can make your skills more competitive in the market today and land you a great opportunity. But bilingual is technically defined as a proficiency equal to your native language. So what do you do when you need to list your language skills on a resume? Here are some tips depending on where you fall on the language spectrum.

Beginner Skills

You likely know a few words and phrases if you have beginner skills but have difficulty understanding native speakers. This is essentially the amount of language you may have learned in a high school or college course without the intention to become immersed. You may be able to read and write a few words. If you have basic skills at this level, you should not include them on your resume.


This means you can engage in a simple conversation with a native speaker. You may be able to say things about yourself and ask questions. However, with conversational language skills, you won’t have proficiency with reading and writing. If the job you’re applying for can benefit from conversational language skills, you can include them but be honest about your skill level.


Experts suggest that “proficient” is an overused term, and you may wish to avoid it on a resume. When you’re proficient, the level of understanding means you grasp conversations and can read and write beyond the basics, but you still don’t have the mastery of someone fluent or native. Instead of simply stating that you’re proficient, include a few examples to communicate your skill level.


With fluent language skills, you have near-native communication skills in a learned or second language. You speak fluidly without halting or pausing to think of words or phrasing. You can read, write, comprehend and speak the language with others who are fluent or native without any question or misunderstanding. If you are fluent, be sure to include that in your resume.

Native Speaker

In some jobs that require English and another language skill, native speakers who are fluent in English may be great candidates. Be sure to emphasize your skills with both languages to include why you are a good choice for the bilingual role.

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