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komikoza
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Question about verifying the level of English. Non-native, aiming for 'bilingual'.

Good day,

I'd like to ask what are the odds for a non-native English speaker to be verified as a 'bilingual' on Upwork?

I'm a young and green freelancer with a pretty complicated background that I usually avoid mentioning. Trying to stand out as a translatior. I haven't yet taken any tests (I'm talking about IELTS, CPE, TOEFL, not the standard Upwork tests that barely determine anything), but I do want to aim for the 'bilingual' level verification on Upwork.

I don't intend to come out as a smug and overly ambitious fellow who is trying to tell fairy tales. I am genuinely curious about it. My 'fluent' level is verified, but if there's a choice between 'fluent' and 'bilingual', I'd rather go for the latter.

I see top rated RU-EN translators on Upwork with 15 years of experience in translations with their English level set to 'fluent', and it just baffles me. I don't think I've ever seen one with the'bilingual' level of English.


I do communicate with English native speakers a lot (daily), it's been like that for a long time and, originally, wasn't connected to my profession or anything of the sort. At this point, I'm even beginning to forget Russian (my mothertongue).

Eventually it comes down to subjective opinions.  Everyone has a different vision of a 'bilingual' speaker. I'd just like to know if it's possible to verify the 'bilingual' level on Upwork for someone non-native and located in Russia.

And if it is, I'd like some advice as to how to achieve that. I do intend to take the mentioned tests later in the future. It's just that I don't believe they will aid me in this case.

Thanks in advance,
Denis

ACCEPTED SOLUTION


@Denis S wrote:


I perfectly understand your concern about the RU-EN translations. You said it yourself: "unless you truly ARE  bilingual", well, I believe I am. But  'truly' and 'belief' is something subjective, isn't it? That's why I'm seeking various options to confirm it.


 Denis, let me be honest - your English is fabulous for a non-native speaker.  It is not at native level and that's all there is to it.

 


@Denis S wrote:

Do I understand correctly, are you implying that the Duolingo test will be enough to verify the 'bilingual' level?


 Yes, if you pass with high enough marks and only the paid test counts. 

 

View solution in original post

7 REPLIES 7

Denis,

Hope this isn't too off-topic. Language proficiency is settable by the user. You can simply claim bilingual status. From the evidence of your post, it will not be challenged. (Upwork does ask clients to rate language skills; I'm not sure under what circumstances; that is presumably irrelevant to your case.)

Technically, "native or bilingual" is a biographical designation, not subject to testing. However, Upwork's popup description of the markers of that status is pretty good. Whether relevant (to Upwork) tests of those markers exist is something others will probably come along to address.

 

All the best,

Michael

Thank you for the reply, Michael.


I'm aware I can set it on my own, but that's the exact issue!  Anyone can set it to 'bilingual' and, while 'fluent' can be easily verified, I doubt the same can be done about the 'bilingual' level.

The clients are asked to rate the language proficiency of any freelancer once the contract is finished. That's how I got my 'fluent' level verified.  I just feel like it can't go above 'fluent' for a non-native speaker.

I know this is generally not a big deal, but I'm nonetheless curious. I feel like most of the potential clients simply don't trust my level of proficiency and don't even want to address me. In this case, I think the verification mark could help me stand out (I know the chance for a freelancer being interviewed/hired depends on many various aspects, but still).

Regards,
Denis


@Denis S wrote:

Thank you for the reply, Michael.


I'm aware I can set it on my own, but that's the exact issue!  Anyone can set it to 'bilingual' and, while 'fluent' can be easily verified, I doubt the same can be done about the 'bilingual' level.


 Denis, unless you truly ARE bilingual, go with "fluent!"  As a translator you wouldn't translate out of your native language into English, so why set it to "Native or Bilingual?"

(Edited to say: OK, so I see you do translate from your native to your non native language... OK.......... )

 

I lived in the UK for over 20 years and still go with "Fluent" although I possibly could "get away with" setting it to "Native or Bilingual"

 

You can take the $ 50 Duolingo test to get the verified tick. Personally I would forget about it and not translate into your non-native language instead but that's your call.

 

Unless you have lived in an English speaking country and spoken, thought, dreamed, LIVED English 24 / 7 for years, no matter what anyone says, you simply can not be "native/bilingual."

Thank you for the reply, Petra.

I perfectly understand your concern about the RU-EN translations. You said it yourself: "unless you truly ARE  bilingual", well, I believe I am. But  'truly' and 'belief' is something subjective, isn't it? That's why I'm seeking various options to confirm it.

Moreover, I think a native English speaker translating from Russian into English is not always the best option. And I've seen what it can lead to, as you've probably seen the opposite cases.

I live "24/7 English" most of the time as I've been 'americanizing' everything around me. I barely deal with Russian as a language. But it's too complicated to explain and possibly doesn't fill you with determination, and is, all around, a hardly believable story.

Besides, I know people who live the true "24/7 English" lifestyle, but don't learn a thing (for a long time that is!). That's why it is all subjective.

I'm confident in what I do and I don't put anyone's work at risk. I don't touch those RU-EN translations that seem complicated to me (legal field and various technical areas). My main job (off this platform) now is me translating methodological guidelines (for teachers) into UK English for a Russian company that's recently established some schools in Australia. All of my translations are reviewed by the Australian locals on the receiving end and, so far, nobody has voiced any concern about it, and they keep the work flowing in.

 

I know you are probably unable to wrap your mind around this, but I thought I'd share this little story.

Do I understand correctly, are you implying that the Duolingo test will be enough to verify the 'bilingual' level?





@Denis S wrote:


I perfectly understand your concern about the RU-EN translations. You said it yourself: "unless you truly ARE  bilingual", well, I believe I am. But  'truly' and 'belief' is something subjective, isn't it? That's why I'm seeking various options to confirm it.


 Denis, let me be honest - your English is fabulous for a non-native speaker.  It is not at native level and that's all there is to it.

 


@Denis S wrote:

Do I understand correctly, are you implying that the Duolingo test will be enough to verify the 'bilingual' level?


 Yes, if you pass with high enough marks and only the paid test counts. 

 

And I appreciate your honesty!

I definitely won't argue about that. Thank you for the answer!

Sincerely,
Denis

Denis,

I see the foremost concern of anyone in your position as accurately representing your abilities. As I understand your position, the only way to do that is to choose native/bilingual as your proficiency level.

I would not worry about "verification":

  • Presumably your work, like your correspondence here, verifies your proficiency.
  • Though in the guise of a marketing aid, my guess is that Upwork uses client verification more as a policing mechanism than anything else. You would seem to have nothing to fear from it, and
  • I doubt that you have anything to gain from client verification. The likelihood of prospective clients noticing or caring strikes me as low.

I think I have seen discussion of a Duolingo test purporting to verify native/bilingual proficiency. Perhaps someone will come along with details.

 

Best,

Michael

 

edited to add: I see you and Petra have already discussed Duolingo. While Petra's reading of your English proficiency and mine obviously differ, there is a crashingly unidiomatic expression in one of your notes to her that would indeed undermine a claim of native/bilingual status. Presumably it would not, over the long haul, be an isolated instance.

As long as you can find work, and have the buffer of native-English editors, you should be fine regardless of the status you decide on.