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English Verified and change to language proficiency labels

Community Guru
Garnor M Member Since: Oct 29, 2014
1 of 55

Hi everyone,

We’ve had some questions come up in recent weeks regarding language settings. In particular, three main topics have come up. Two are related to the “English Verified” label that appears on some freelancer profiles and one is related to our recent change of the terminology for self-selected language levels, i.e. changing the wording for the option of “Native” to “Masterful.”


See below for responses to your inquiries. Thanks for your patience while we’ve worked to gather this information:


Q. How does a freelancer get an “English Verified” badge on their profile?


A: If you are in a native English speaking country (Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States), then your only option to obtain the “English Verified” badge is to obtain one of the certifications noted below. You can do this by adding the certification under the Certifications area of your profile.


Certifications that qualify for English Verified:

  • Duolingo Proficiency Exam in English
  • Cambridge English: First (FCE)
  • Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
  • Cambridge English: Business Vantage or Higher
  • IELTS - English Proficiency Exam
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)


If you are in a non-native English speaking country you have two ways in which you can obtain this badge:


  • Option one: Submit any of the Certifications noted above. Submitting a certification is the best way to ensure you get the English Verified badge on your profile. If you take this approach (submitting a certification), the “English Verified” badge will not be removed unless you remove the certification from your profile.


  • Option two: For freelancers in non-native English speaking countries (who have self-assessed their English proficiency as “Basic”, “Conversational” or “Fluent”), at the end of a completed contract, clients will be asked how they would, “Rate their English proficiency ( speaking & comprehension).” After receiving several (3 or more) of these ratings, the badge can appear on your profile. This is a more complicated process because the badge will be dependent on a combination of a) the self-selected proficiency level you set in your profile settings and b) several of these ratings. This answers one of the questions we’ve been hearing over the past couple of weeks, i.e. “Can a client affect my English Verified badge.” Technically yes, which is why we recommend pursuing Option one above if having this badge is important to you.

Q. I was “English Verified” and now I’m not, what gives?


A: We had a bug that caused some users to lose this verification on their profiles. This bug should be fixed in the next few days so your verification will return. There is a legitimate circumstance in which the badge can be removed if you are in a non-native English speaking country and you have not uploaded a certification. Specifically, if you received the badge via Option two and you subsequently change your self-assessed proficiency level, we will re-evaluate and might remove the badge. If you don’t change your proficiency level, the badge remains. So again, if this badge is important to you, we recommend uploading a certification.


Q. Why did you change the label for my language settings from “Native” to “Masterful?”


A: We found the “Native” labeling may have discouraged some users with a complete command of the language from selecting this option. We wanted a label that focused on the language proficiency itself, rather than causing any potential confusion as users tied it to country of origin. We apologize for not announcing this change earlier.


We have been reviewing the reaction from all of you here on the forums and evaluating your suggestions. As a result, we will be updating this option to “Native or Bilingual - I have complete command of this language, including breadth of vocabulary, idioms, and colloquialisms.” It will take a couple of weeks for this change to be implemented live on the site. We appreciate the dialogue and suggestions you offered on this and we hope this helps resolve some of the concerns we’ve heard around this change.


Thanks again for your patience as we worked on responding to your questions. 

Community Guru
Irene B Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
2 of 55

Ahm...Garnor....I am a South African with English as my mother tongue .....It is also an official native language in this country...Just saying. (We were the last outpost of the British Empire).

Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
4 of 55

Thank you Upwork for finally listening to us! This change can't come soon enough. I'm tired cringing every time I glance at my Languages section.


I've got the certification, so I'm not affected by this personally, but there is still that problem of non-native English-speaking clients being allowed to assess us on our English proficiency.

Ace Contributor
Phil O Member Since: Oct 19, 2015
5 of 55



Just a quick question, I hope Smiley Happy


What about native English speakers living in a non-native English speaking country? I'm a UK expat living in Italy. I guess taking one of the tests is the simplest way to go Smiley Happy

Lena E Moderator Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
6 of 55

If you are a Native English speaker then you can select Native, it doesn't matter what country you are currently residing in. 

Ace Contributor
Phil O Member Since: Oct 19, 2015
7 of 55

Hi Lena,


Many thanks for the quick reply.


You did write, "If you are in a native English speaking country." 


I guess the proofreader in me was feeling a little devilish Smiley Happy  And, I thought I would just clarify, thanks

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
8 of 55

Phil, actually, taking one of the tests is a very good idea.


Duolongo is very inexpensive, only $20, and you do NOT need to study for it.


Block out an hour of time and you can sign up for it, take the test, and be certified permanently.


As a practical matter, I doubt that most native English-speaking contractors and contractors living in countries widely known to be English-speaking will need such certification. Getting certified probably won't make a difference in your Upwork success.


But if English language use is part of what you offer as a job skill (which would be the case for writers, editors, translators, customer service representatives, etc.), then maybe certification would help you stand out. And if you're a native English speaker living in a non-English-speaking country, maybe you would like to have English language certification appear on your profile.


Here is what certification looks like on my profile:




Ace Contributor
Phil O Member Since: Oct 19, 2015
9 of 55

Cheers for the suggestion Preston. I've never really thought about taking a language course to prove I can write in my native language. Looks like I'll have to switch the language of the page before it will let me choose English, time to practice my Italian Smiley Happy


Sneaky editing going on there Preston Smiley Happy But very useful information, thanks

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 55

re: "I've never really thought about taking a language course to prove I can write in my native language."


Just to be clear:


The Duolingo company offers courses AND language proficiency exams.


These are two DIFFERENT products.


You do not need to take a Duolingo language training course in order to take the English proficiency exam. If you are native language speaker, just take the exam. The exam is designed to identify the language proficiency of speakers, and if you are a native speaker, it will be able to identify you as such and certify your skill level.