Parrot & the ILR Scale
Learn about the ILR language test scale below.
A Government-Approved Standard
It isn’t always easy to talk about language. For example, “fluent” means different things to different people in different situations. For that reason, big organizations like the US government need a way to standardize language skills. That way, they can work better together across different agencies.
To that end, the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) was set up. Specifically, the ILR developed a scale for rating language proficiency, independent of the specific language or types of tasks being performed. As a result, that scale has become the most frequently used standard in the government, commercial, and academic sectors.
Measuring What Matters the Most
We based the Parrot rating scale on the ILR scale, focusing on the sections of the scale that are relevant to the workplace. For example, the highest ILR levels are way more than is needed in all but very few jobs. At the same time, the lowest rungs of the scale are below what would be considered useful on the job.
Because we are focused exclusively on workplace proficiency, we isolate that range for our ILR language test. This saves our raters time and our clients money.
The Full ILR Language Test Scale
The ILR scale runs from 0 to 5, with an additional “plus” rating for each number. For example, someone that exceeds Elementary Proficiency (ILR-1) but does not reach the level of Limited Working Proficiency (ILR-2), would be considered ILR-1+. Parrot certifications can have ratings of ILR-2, ILR-2+, or ILR-3. Any lower rating would not be enough for the typical workplace. Any higher rating is overkill for most job situations. You can learn more about the scale here.
Limited Workplace Proficiency
General Workplace Proficiency
Advanced Professional Proficiency
Functionally Native Proficiency
About Your Parrot Rating
So you’ve received a Parrot certificate with a corresponding rating on the ILR scale. But what does that rating mean in a practical sense?
For most workplace situations, you can infer their value relative to each other. ILR-2 generally represents the typical amount of language skills needed for someone to work a job in a certain language. ILR-3 generally represents superior skills for the workplace, meaning they can consistently perform the most advanced workplace language tasks. ILR 2+ is between those two.
But let’s get more specific. Below, you’ll find a detailed explanation of each rating Parrot uses.
Limited Working Proficiency
Someone with an ILR rating of 2 can manage most common workplace situations in the specified language. They may have difficulty navigating highly specialized topics but manage fine in general scenarios. While language errors may be frequent, those errors typically do not prevent these speakers from being understood. This level is typically considered adequate for most jobs, including retail, customer service, and your average office job.
Limited Workplace Proficiency Plus
For ILR-2+ speakers, errors are much less frequent, mostly happening when the speaker is experiencing unusual pressure or stress. More commonly, observers may find the speaker’s use of language to be atypical rather than wrong. These higher skills enable these speakers to perform well in more communication-heavy areas like Human Resources or Marketing, as well as in specialized interpreting roles.
General Workplace Proficiency
The ILR-3 rated speaker communicates with ease in the specified language, particularly within their area of professional expertise. While some abnormalities may be observed, they don’t make the communication less effective. These speakers are equipped to handle extensive, detailed discussions. They can give lectures, lead meetings, and field questions. These language skills are strong enough for almost any position, including business executives, professors, and lawyers.
Where do you fit?
If you want to know where your language skills fit on Parrot’s ILR language test scale, you won’t have to wait long to find out. Take the test on your computer or smartphone–it only takes 30 minutes–and we’ll send you your triple-verified rating in less than 24 hours.
In some cases, a Parrot client will request a test be built around a specific pass/fail threshold. In those cases, a certificate will not provide a numerical rating, but instead will state whether the candidate passed the test or not. Such ratings are relative to the specific parameters of that test instance and are not considered to make a transferrable claim as to the candidate’s general language skills.
Want to know more?