Language Proficiency Test – A Complete Guide

Are you learning any language? Find out your level by appearing one of the several foreign language proficiency tests in India.
Foreign language proficiency tests

Learning any language? Do you know what level you have? Find out your precise competence when you take one of the Foreign language proficiency tests.

Due to the rapid development of communication, growth of international trade and commerce, widening the scope of specialized studies and increasing foreign language jobs in the developed and developing countries, more Indians are considering a career in foreign languages.

While which foreign language to learn for a career depends on many factors and extremely subjective. It is always advisable to pick a language to learn as per your career goal or interest.

What is a foreign language proficiency exam?

The foreign language proficiency exam is a way of proofing the competency of a person’s ability to speak a particular language. They are of great significance for business organizations, educational institutions, and government establishments to help know more about the language skills and personality of prospective employees or candidates.

It is the international standardized tests that assess someone’s non-native language skills. Whether you are at the advanced level in your language studies or just starting, you can prove your competency level through various international proficiency tests. Some of the famous ones are DELF, TEF, DELE, HSK, TOPIK, JLPT, ZD, TestDAF, TORFL, CELI, to name a few.

Foreign Language Proficiency Test

The Importance & Benefits Of Language Proficiency Test

The language proficiency test is valuable and beneficial as well for obvious reasons. Apart from the fact, they can be used as adequate proof of knowledge and proficiency in a particular language. It can also help a great deal in satisfying the demands of both employees and employers alike.

A foreign language test emboldens the academic qualifications of an employee seeking for a particular job, where the corresponding language is required. The documentary proof of language test certificate added to other requirements will put you on your way to a smooth interview process. It is as a result of your language test certification included in your qualifications.

These language certifications are recognized worldwide by public and private educational institutions, governments, and small to large corporations. It is also mandatory for a wide range of UG, PG, and Doctorate courses in thousands of Colleges and Universities across the planet. It will open a whole world of job opportunities across the globe and supports career advancement.

Another great advantage of a foreign language proficiency test is that it becomes a confidence booster right from the moment you pass them. It can translate into developing your personality at a career and social transitioning level. Moreover, It will also help your Visa or PR application, traveling abroad, and of course, confirmation of your proficiency level.

11 Proficiency Tests Foreign Language Learners Should Know

As far as foreign language proficiency exams are concerned, there is plenty of fish in the sea. Choose the one as per your fluency level, requirement, and convenience. Since there are different sets of rules and a test pattern. Thus, one should ask to target institution what proficiency tests they require and accept. Here is the list of the most prestigious and widely-recognized foreign assessments in the top 10 most popular foreign languages in India.

Language Proficiency Test

1. French Proficiency Test

Parlez-vous Français? Find out the exact level when you take a French proficiency test such as DELF, DALF, TEF, TCF, etc.

As the number of people learning French is speedily growing worldwide, so are the opportunities to put their skills to use in a wide array of careers. It has led to the demand of French in India in a plentiful of sectors and industries. The international French-language certifications and diplomas can add considerable value to your CV and also enable you to study in any Francophone countries.

A) DELF and DALF

Have you been burning the midnight oil to learn French in India? If so, consider having your hard work officially recognized, and take the DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) and then DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française). Both DELF and DALF are diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education.

In total, there is 4 DELF (A1, A2, B1, B2), evaluating from beginners to higher intermediate level and 2 DALF (C1, C2) exams, for those who are proficient. Each of these has its accompanying CEFR level marking, as well. At each level, four skills are evaluated: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

These exams are valid for life and are recognized around the world. The numerous DELF Exam Centers in India are located at many Alliance Française branches. Additionally, there are also DELF Prim (ages 8-12), DELF Junior (ages 12+), and DELF Pro for adults interested in integrating into a French-speaking country.

French language proficiency Test

B) TEF and TCF

Are you’re looking to immigrate to Canada or Quebec or France? Well, then you cannot afford to miss the Test d’ Evaluation de Francais (TEF) or Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF). Both exams are regarded as an international benchmark test that gauges your skill and knowledge in French.

The TEF exam also follows more or less the same pattern and style similar to TCF. There are FIVE different types of TEF and TCF exams for a variety of purposes, ranging from academic or professional reasons to French citizenship. If you intend to reside in Canada or Quebec province, you will need to take the TEF/TCF Canada or TEFAQ/TCFQ.

In both TCF and TEF, your scores will be valid for TWO years only. The main difference between the DELF & DALF and TCF &TEF is that the latter is one single test where your score will determine the points awarded for French language proficiency. AF networks are the authorized TCF and TEF exam in India.

2. Spanish Proficiency Test

Why learn Spanish? Well, Spanish is one of the most vital languages in the world. While there many advantages to learning Spanish in India. The most-sought-after reason is Career Scope after Learning Spanish. To prove your knowledge, you can appear for either DELE or SIELE.

A) DELE

It is an important test that is heard four times a year—April, May, July, and November. DELE stands for Diploma de Español Como Lengua Extranjera. DELE is administered on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education & Science, by Instituto Cervantes. This Spanish certification exam in India adheres to the strict standard of the CEFRL—Common European Framework of Reference for Language.

Like all other tests, the DELE will put you to the test in the area of Spanish listening, speaking, reading comprehension, and written exams. The good thing about the DELE is that while the result of other test lasts for two to five years, the most, DELE give you a result that is permanently valid for a lifetime.

The test has six different versions from which you can decide at will. From A1, A2 to B1, B2, and C1, C2. You can choose beforehand which of the test you would like to take. The Instituto Cervantes conducts the DELE Exam in India.

B) SIELE

What is SIELE Exam? SIELE is the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española, which electronically certifies the competency level of your Spanish language. This international Spanish certification test is supported by the Cervantes Institute, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and the University of Salamanca.

It is a single, multilevel exam and results of knowledge-levels of the Spanish language based on a scale of 1000 points, equivalent to the CEFR levels. SIELE certifies your level of proficiency with four tests: Reading and listening comprehension, Written expression and interaction, and Spoken speech and communication.

Spanish certification exam gives students seeking education in Spanish-speaking countries, job seekers, and employees a competitive advantage. Thus, It is a great asset to include in your CV. The SIELE Certificate is valid for five years. As of January 2019, there are 18 SIELE test centers in India.

CEFR Levels

3. German — Zertifikat Deutsch, TestDaF, & More

If you’re interested in studying in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, Then you should participate in one of the German proficiency tests in India. You can prove your German skills by taking a test such as the Zertifikat Deutsch, TestDaF, DSH, TELC, ÖSD, or ÖIF.

Zertifikat Deutsch (ZD) is the proficiency test that will ascertain your competency in speaking the German language (Deutsch). The exam is promoted and supported by the Government of Germany and follows the set-out guidelines of the CEFR. The test is performed in levels ranging from A1, which is for beginners, to C2, which is for advanced speakers of the language.

While there are plenty of benefits of learning German in India, one primary reason to study the German language in India is overseas studies. If you pass the Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS) test. Then, you will be eligible to study at a German university or institution of higher education where teaching is done through German.

TELC, which stands for The European Language Certification, partners with the Federal Government of Germany to test your proficiency in German (Deutsch). The test takes place as per the set-out guidelines of the CEFR. The TELC also allows you to choose which area of the exam you wish to be tested on.

TestDaF and DSH exam are for those who want to access higher education in Germany, where the medium of instruction is German. There are three levels, which correspond to CEFR levels B2-C1. All German universities and institutions of higher education recognize the TestDaF and DSH certificate. Several Universities in Austria and Switzerland also accept it. Goethe-Institut conducts the TestDaf exam in India.

4. Chinese Mandarin — HSK

Do you think you know Mandarin? Then take Mandarin proficiency test, i.e., the Hanyu Shuiping KaOshi (HSK) test, as performed by Hanban, representing the Chinese Ministry of Education.

There are six levels from which you can choose—HSK1, the easiest, to HSK6, the hardest. The HSK oral test, i.e., HSKK, is divided into three levels, i.e., HSK (Elementary), HSK (Intermediate), and HSK (Advanced). You can always decide which level of the test you which to take before going to sit for the assessment.

China’s economic growth is changing the world. The demand for the Chinese language in India is growing at an unprecedented level, thanks to career options after learning Mandarin. An initial ₹ 1500 price is charged as written fee beginning from HSK1 and which increases by ₹ 6500 as you make progress further to the most advanced level, i.e., HSK6. As of January 2019 – There is a total of 11 HSK test centers in India.

5. Korean —TOPIK

TOPIK stands for a test of proficiency in Korean. It is currently being offered six times a year in Korea and twice in other countries, including India, to people studying the Korean language. The test measures your proficiency in Korean through listening comprehension, writing, and reading in the Korean language.

TOPIK has TWO different levels of testing, namely; TOPIK-I and TOPIK-II, which are subclassified into levels 1,2 (TOPIK-I, beginner-level) and Levels 3, 4, 5, and 6 (TOPIK-II, intermediate and advanced level). TOPIK exam is held twice in India, in April, and in October.

The validity of the TOPIK test is for two years and can be used in a variety of situations like improving career options after learning Korean and job opportunities in Korean companies. Many Korean companies and universities require this exam, and it can also be used when applying for obtaining residency in South Korea. As of January 2019 — There are 5 TOPIK exam centers in India.

6. Japanese — JLPT

There are several benefits to learning Japanese in India. For the majority of candidates, Career Options after learning Japanese is the utmost important reason. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test in India (JLPT) provides you with an opportunity to test your proficiency level in the Japanese Language. In Japan, It has been administered by JEES, while the Japan Foundation administers overseas tests.

The JLPT certification exam is the most widely recognized Japanese language test. Test takers are evaluated on a scale of N1 to N5, with N1 being the easiest level and N5 the most difficult. There are 7 JLPT Exam Centers in India, and the test is held twice a year in July & December. The JLPT exam fees are between Rs. 1,000 to 1,500 and the certification is valid for life.

7. Russian — TORFL

If you’re learning the Russian language in India, then you might be aware of The Test Of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL). It is administered by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. The TORFL evaluates candidates across five competencies: writing, vocabulary/grammar, speaking, reading, and listening. All five skills are equally weighted – 20% each.

Russian Language Proficiency Test

If you’re interested in covering Russia as an ideal study abroad destination, then it is compulsory to appear for TORFL. The Russian proficiency exam is conducted over two days, and you will receive their results within ten days.

8. Arabic — ALPT

The ALPT stands for the Arabic Language Proficiency Test. It was developed in 2002 as a way of testing the proficiency of foreigners in the Arabic language. The ALPT currently serves as the global Arabic language proficiency standard in terms of reliability and validity.

It consists of five skills tests of writing, reading, and structure, listening, and speaking. The test requires access to a computer and internet connectivity for you to complete it. The test is used by schools and organizations worldwide. You can take an ALPT test if you’re studying the Arabic language in India.

9. Portuguese — CAPLE

The CAPLE (Centre for Evaluation of Portuguese as a Foreign Language) is a Portuguese language proficiency test offered in Portugal and 45 other countries and territories. The exam is based on standard European Portuguese. Another Portuguese test (CELPE-Bras) is a Brazilian Certificate of Proficiency in Portuguese for Foreigners.

The CAPLE examination levels are divided into 6 sub-levels: ACESSO – A1, CIPLE – A2, DEPLE – B1, DIPLE – B2, DAPLE – C1, DUPLE – C2. CAPLE certificates/diplomas never expire and accepted and recognized across Portugal. If you’re learning Portuguese in India, you might be aware that these exams are conducted by and at Camões Institute, New Delhi.

10. Italian — CILS, CELI, PLIDA, CIC, IT

Do you speak Italiano? You can check your Italian knowledge by appearing in one of the Italian proficiency tests, namely CILS, CELI, CIC, PLIDA, or IT. These Italian exams are organized all around the world who want to prove their Italian language proficiency with an internationally recognized certificate.

There are many reasons to study the Italian language in India. And if you have any convincing purpose of learning Italian. Then, you can appear for one of the Italian proficiency tests such as CILS or CELI to check your Italian knowledge. The Italian Embassy Culture center in New Delhi or Mumbai are the authorized CILS exam centers in India.

11. Dutch — CNaVT & NT2

If you’re studying the Dutch language in India, you can attempt to clear CNaVT (Certificaat Nederlands Als Vreemde Taal) test. The CNaVT certifies your Dutch language proficiency as a foreign language worldwide. The certification is widely recognized as proof of ability in Dutch if you want to study in the Netherlands and Belgium, or if you want to apply for citizenship in these two countries.

Dutch Certification exam


The Staatsexamen NT2 is another Dutch exam that will enable you to work or study in the Netherlands. Both the CNaVT and NT2 certificates teach to levels specified in the CEFRL. These tests are organized frequently for those who want to prove their Dutch language proficiency with an internationally recognized certification.

Final Thought

A foreign language proficiency test is the yardstick that measures your knowledge of the language you have spent so much time and resources to study. The essence is to create a sense of qualification around the spectrum of that language when called upon. It is something you should consider doing irrespective of the language you are learning.

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Vikash Gupta

Vikash Gupta

I take a great interest in the languages of the world and that is why I choose this career. By profession, I'm a College lecturer and Foreign language faculty and by passion, I am still a language learner. I write at languagenext.com/blog and studyfrenchspanish.com

19 thoughts on “Language Proficiency Test – A Complete Guide”

  1. Mr. Vikash,

    Can you tell me about how many total students appear for the top 10 Language Certification in India per year? I will be grateful for your answer.
    Regards
    Niraj

    1. There is no such data, but my guess is close to 6 figures if I consider all certifications (University, International, private, and others).

    1. Not compulsory but recommended. It is incredibly challenging to acquire a language without any teacher or learning center.

  2. Sir, please guide me. I want to learn Japanese for my making career in the foreign language field. I am confused between the value given by embassy related institutes like MOSAI versus the private institutes. My confusion is that they have the same value? (for a good job, atleast?) I know that Mosaic gives higher exposure to Japanese culture, but for a career-oriented thing isn’t the normal private institutes enough or a good option in this career?

    Thank you, sir.

    1. From the job perspective, private institutes are as good as embassy affiliated educational center provided that quality of teaching, course content, and reputation is good enough. Later, you can also appear for international JLPT test.

    1. You can contact GMAB in Bangalore. They conduct CNAVT Dutch proficiency test. I think it is the only center in India.

  3. Dear Sir,

    Will be grateful if you can guide more about TORFL exam, it’s test centres in India, Exam dates and sites to apply for the same.

    1. The Russian proficiency test i.e TORFL consists of 6 different levels as per CEFRL. The total time to take the test is five hours and usually the exam takes place over two days. The exam is conducted usually 6 times in a year. You can check the centres outside Russia LINK. While there is no Indian test centre in the list, I’m certain that Langma at South Ex-I, New Delhi is one such centre. Contact them for more details.

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