The footballer and the language test
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The Footballer and the Language Test

It’s been widely reported that the Italian police are investigating “irregularities” involving a language test and the footballer Luis Suárez. Apparently, he had to demonstrate B1 level Italian to be awarded citizenship so he could to play for an Italian club. Newsworthy in itself, and for us, 3 things stand out as relevant to language training in the Netherlands.

Know your ABCs

Firstly, B1 level was reported as “very elementary Italian”. It’s not. B1 level is what you could describe as “daily competence”. Speakers can communicate on a range of familiar topics, keep a conversation going and read correspondence from colleagues or for example the local council as long as the language is fairly straightforward and their counterpart is patient.

Learning languages takes time

Secondly, apparently, Mr Suárez’ Italian citizenship application only took 15 days to process (it usually takes 2-4 years) and he demonstrated only an “elementary” knowledge of the language. The reality is that no matter how courses are marketed (blended, intensive, self-paced or any other buzz-word), learning languages takes time. Reaching and maintaining B1 level from scratch (A0) will take the average adult learner somewhere between 6 months and a year of training, practice and exposure to the language.

Be ambitious and realistic

Finally, it would appear that Mr Suárez himself is not under investigation, but the University involved is. They deny any wrongdoing. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that language training organisations need to be realistic when it comes to testing levels and managing client expectations. Something which we at The Square Mile work very hard to get right.

Would you like an straight answer to your language training questions? Contact us and we’ll share our experience of best practice and realistic training methodology. Otherwise you could perhaps end up biting off more than you can chew…