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Languages on a Resume: How to List Language Skills?

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Psycholinguist Frank Smith once said, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

Do you want your resume to open doors and land you that job? Then add languages to your resume. Read on and learn how to boost your job application with resume language skills, with detailed explanations on where to put language levels on a resume.

This guide will show you: 

  • How to write language skills in resumes to prove more valuable than the other candidates.
  • How to describe language proficiency on a resume and determine your fluency level. 
  • Inspiring resume examples with language skills.

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

Sample Resume made with our builder —See more resume examples here.

If you want to know how to list programming languages on a resume, check out:

Or switch to Billingual Resume to highlight your mastery of two languages. 

Resume Language Skills: Example

Freya White

Digital Marketing Specialist



Dynamic and dedicated Digital Marketing Specialist with over 10 years of experience driving brand growth and improving market share. Seeking to support Digital Dynamo in increasing its online presence and customer engagement by leveraging expertise in search engine optimization, content creation, and social media management. Spearheaded a campaign at Click Marketing that boosted web traffic by 40% in six months.


Digital Marketing Specialist

Click Marketing, Columbia, MD

January 2016–Present

Key Qualifications & Responsibilities

  • Implementing SEO strategies, resulting in a 35% increase in organic search traffic.
  • Developing and managing content for the company's website and social media platforms.
  • Coordinating email marketing campaigns, leading to a 20% increase in conversion rates.
  • Writing 10 monthly articles for the company’s blog, growing its traffic by 15%.

Key Achievement: 

  • Led a digital marketing campaign that increased website traffic by 40%.

Digital Marketing Assistant

SocialSphere, Columbia, MD

June 2012–December 2015

Key Qualifications & Responsibilities

  • Assisted in the development and implementation of digital marketing strategies.
  • Conducted market research to monitor and predict industry trends.
  • Managed social media accounts, resulting in a 15% increase in audience engagement.

Key Achievement: 

  • Developed a social media campaign that boosted engagement by 25%.


Bachelor in Business Administration, Major in Marketing

University of Maryland, College Park, MD

August 2008–May 2012


  • SEO and SEM
  • Content creation and management
  • Social media management
  • Email marketing
  • Market research
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Collaboration and teamwork


  • Google Analytics IQ Certification, Google, 2016


  • 2018, Digital Marketing Specialist of the Year, Click Marketing


Member of the American Marketing Association since 2012

  • Conducted a seminar on SEO trends during the 2017 AMA Conference, Chicago.


  • English—Native
  • Spanish—Advanced


  • Creating and managing a personal blog on digital marketing trends.
  • Participating in digital marketing webinars and workshops.

1. How to Describe Levels of Language Proficiency on a Resume

What does it mean to be proficient in a language? Is there a difference between proficient vs fluent? Can an intermediate candidate perform customer service?

If these questions pop up in your head—there’s a good chance they also make the recruiter wonder.

Luckily, to make things easier for everybody, there’s something called a language proficiency scale.

A language proficiency scale is a framework created to grade language levels based on language accuracy, fluency, and other factors. It standardizes scoring, so everyone is on the same page and there’s less confusion.

Here are the most common language proficiency level frameworks:

And here’s how the main language scales’ scores compare to one another:

How to Describe Levels of Language Proficiency on a Resume





Native or bilingual proficiency




Full professional proficiency

4, 4+



Professional working proficiency

3, 3+


Advanced High

Limited working proficiency



Advanced Mid



Intermediate High, Advanced Low

Elementary proficiency



Intermediate Mid

0+, 1


Novice High, Intermediate Low

No proficiency


Novice Low, Novice Mid

 language skills

Remember to always mention the language levels in a CV or resume. A list of languages with no further explanation is not useful to recruiters. Just use the above-mentioned scales as language levels for resumes.

Pro Tip: If your language abilities are as good as a native speaker’s, say you possess near-native skills. You won’t be lying on your resume, and your application might just pass the automated scan (if being a native speaker is critical for the position.) 

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.

When you’re done, our easy resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

2. How to List Languages on a Resume

Many people list their language skills and levels of language proficiency in the resume skills section, together with job-related hard skills and soft skills like communication. The result? They become invisible! And you’ve invested lots of time and money to learn the language, right?

Don’t make the hiring manager look for a needle in a haystack—give prominence to your language skills. A resume with a singled-out language section is superior and can move you to the top of the list of prospective candidates. 

How to describe language skills in a resume

A language resume skill section makes for a great resume category section. If you have any certificates (more on that later), make sure you include them in the certifications and licenses section.

Here’s how to write language skills in a resume:

  • Give your language skills on a resume their own section.
  • Add the language skills resume section after the core sections (heading, experience, skills, and education resume section).
  • List languages with your level of proficiency using one language framework.
  • Start at the top with the language you are most proficient in.
  • Add regional variants of languages if you specialize in them.
  • Skip languages that you know only at the beginner level—they won’t be useful to employers.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Check out a brief example of how to put language skills on a resume:

Skills: Languages in Resumes Sample

  • American English—Native
  • Brazilian Portuguese—Fluent
  • Egyptian Arabic—Conversational
  • Bravanese Swahili—Limited working proficiency

Simple and very easy to understand for recruiters.

You can also use the widely-recognized frameworks to indicate your language skills.

Check the samples below:

Sample Resume: Languages

  • English—Level 5 (ILR)
  • Bengali—Level 4 (ILR)
  • Mandarin—Level 3 (ILR)

Adding the name of the scale next to the level helps recruiters to understand which framework you’re talking about.

Here’s one more language resume skills section sample:

Levels of Proficiency in Resumes: Sample

  • American English—Native/Bilingual (ILR Level 5)
  • Canadian French—Native/Bilingual (ILR Level 5)
  • Russian—Full Professional Proficiency (ILR Level 4+)
  • Malay—Professional Working Proficiency (ILR Level 3)

This sample shows a combination of LinkedIn language proficiency levels with the ILR scale. It’s a great way to go if the recruiter posted their job ad on this particular network. Of course, remember to also optimize your LinkedIn profile before applying!

Here’s one further example to show a different point: 

Language Levels on a CV: Example

  • British English—Native/Bilingual
  • Italian—C1 Certificate
  • Polish—B2 Level

That’s for a resume in Europe using the CEFR scale. Notice the difference in the Italian and Polish languages? It means we earned an official certificate of Italian C2 level, but we self-assessed our Polish as a B2.

There’s no single right way to add your levels of language fluency. However, there are some mistakes you can make, so be careful.

  • Be consistent: don’t mix and match language proficiency frameworks.
  • Use the most relevant system: if you are applying for a job in the EU, use the CEFR levels.

Pro Tip: Some people have put their years of language use when describing proficiency, but this is a big no-no. Your 3 years studying Spanish in high school is usually less effective than living in Costa Rica for 3 months.

How to list languages on a resume 

Bilingual on a Resume?

Being bilingual isn't just a resume skill or a resume strength, it's a resume superpower. Mention it—especially that demand for bilingual employees has doubled in recent years. Besides the language skills section, mention you’re bilingual in your resume summary or resume introduction.

While we’re on the topic of words, you’ve got to make sure to use the right language when writing your resume. Check out our guides on targeted resumes, resume keywords, and resume action words (and buzzwords to avoid.)

For more on communication skills, switch over to:20+ Effective Communication Skills for Resumes & Workplace Success

3. How to Find Your Language Level of Fluency

You put communicative as your Spanish language level in your resume. That’s because you chatted with a waitress while on holiday in Mexico. Now, your boss thinks that you can negotiate with suppliers in Spanish, and you don’t know how to tell them the truth.

Don’t just speculate your language level in a resume. Either you’ll overestimate your abilities, or you’ll underestimate them.

Instead, choose one of two options:

  • Official language certification: it’s best when the job requires the language in many ways. Most language schools offer exams and certificates, and you can also obtain language certification online. 
  • Self-assessment: follow the official guidelines for each framework to find out what’s your level. You can find details about the ILR scale, CEFR grading, and ACTFL scale on their websites.

Pro Tip: Do I add my native language? Yes! It takes just one extra line, but it might hurt to leave it off.

Trying to write your resume out in word? No sweat, check out our guide:How to Make a Resume in Word: Step-by-Step Guide

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Adding languages to a resume

When adding language fluency levels to a resume skills section, keep in mind:

  • Add your levels of proficiency in languages to its own section.
  • Use a language framework instead of using your own wording for fluency.
  • Choose the most appropriate language scoring system for your job.
  • Remain consistent and relevant throughout your resume language section.
  • Self-assess your skills rather than estimating your competence.

Have any questions on how to write about language skills in resumes? Not sure which language proficiency framework or scale to use? Let’s talk about this using the English language in the comments below, and, as always, thanks for reading!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines. We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.


Frequently Asked Questions about Languages on a Resume

Should you include languages on a resume? 

Being proficient in one or more languages is one of the skills to put on a resume that will impress the recruiters. Speaking more than one language makes you stand out more and gives you an advantage over other candidates. 

It works well, particularly in roles that require communicating with other people. If you’re writing, i.e., a customer service resume, proving you can communicate with customers not only in English will position you ahead of your competitors. Including languages on a resume also shows you’re a fast learner, which is a valuable soft skill.

How to list languages on a resume? 

The best way to describe your language skills is by using a language proficiency scale. It's a framework used to grade language levels. The language proficiency scale is based on language accuracy and fluency. 

To describe your language skills, you need to choose one of the following frameworks:

  • Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR)

  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) 

  • American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) 

You should always include language skill levels on your resume. That way, your recruiter will be able to understand whether you're a novice or a near-native speaker. Also, use the near-native level if your language skill is almost as good as a native speaker. It might help you pass the ATS resume scan for an offer open for native speakers.

How do you describe levels of language proficiency on a resume?

The five levels of language proficiency depend on the framework you choose to describe them. 

Here are the three most popular language proficiency scales to choose from:

  • Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR):

    • 0 (Novice, Novice Mid)

    • 0+, 1 (Novice High, Intermediate Low)

    • 1+ (Intermediate Mid)

    • 2 (Intermediate High, Advanced Low)

    • 2+ (Advanced Mid)

    • 3, 3+ (Advanced High)

    • 4, 4+ (Superior)

    • 5 (Distinguished)

  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):

    • A1 (Novice High, Intermediate Low)

    • A2 (Intermediate Mid)

    • B1 (Intermediate High, Advanced Low)

    • B2 (Advanced Mid)

    • C1 (Advanced High)

    • C2 (Superior)

  • American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL):

    • Novice, Novice Mid

    • Novice High, Intermediate Low

    • Intermediate Mid

    • Intermediate High, Advanced Low

    • Advanced Mid

    • Advanced High

    • Superior

    • Distinguished

Those levels should be placed directly next to the language listed in the language resume section. Remember to stick to one scale when listing multiple languages.

Where to put languages on a resume? 

To properly list languages on a resume, you need to create a separate resume section dedicated only to them. That way, your recruiter won’t miss them. The language section should be placed after the resume header, experience section, education section, and skills section. However, if languages are required for this particular job, mentioning them in the resume profile is a great idea.

What are examples of language skills?

The four language skills are: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Mastering those skills allows you to express yourself correctly and fully understand what others communicate. Listing your language skills on a resume is a great way of proving you’ve got great communication skills.

How to determine your language proficiency level for a resume?

To find your level of language proficiency, you can pick one of the language proficiency scales and self-assess your skill level. However, the better way to do it is to take an exam testing your language proficiency.

There are many exams available online. You can also take it at some language schools. Choosing the test that instead of self-assessment will grant you an official language certification. 

Should I include language certificates on a resume?

Including certifications on your resume is always a plus. Language certificates help recruiters dispel any doubts regarding the languages you listed. Adding an extra certificate section to your resume can also be a good idea if you have multiple certificates worth mentioning and limited space.

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Christian Eilers, CPRW
Christian is a career expert and Certified Professional Resume Writer. His guides cover every aspect of the career spectrum, from job hunting and acing interviews to settling in on the first days of a new career. With Christian's guidance, job seekers can navigate the job market with confidence and make the most of their career opportunities. Linkedin

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