Foreign languages in the work of a hostess.

September 10 2016 (updated September 15 2020)
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Hostesses that fluently communicate in a foreign language are invaluable at international events. In most cases English is enough, but the level of competence necessary can vary from job to job. In order to describe the language requirements, you’ll find it useful to refer to the CEFR scale.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international guideline on the base of which language proficiency can be assessed. The scale is divided into 6 levels, gathered into 3 groups:

  • A1 – A2 Basic User
  • B1 – B2 Independent User
  • C1 – C2 Proficient User
group level name description
A A1 beginner Users at this level:

  • can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type;
  • can introduce themselves and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where they live, people they know and things they have;
  • can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2 elementary Users at this level:

  • can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment);
  • can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters;
  • can describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
B B1 intermediate Users at this level:

  • can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc;
  • can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken;
  • can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest;
  • can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
B2 upper intermediate Users at this level:

  • can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization;
  • can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party;
  • can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
C C1 advanced Users at this level:

  • can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognize implicit meaning;
  • can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions;
  • can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes;
  • can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
C2 master of proficiency Users at this level:

  • can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read;
  • can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation;
  • can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

On jobs that don’t require translating, the minimal level of language proficiency is B1 for events in Poland and B2 for events abroad. Liaison interpreting (simultaneous or consecutive methods are better left to professional interpreters) requires at least level C1.

When assembling a team for a multi-language event, some clients of hostess agencies make the mistake of setting a requirement for hostesses to speak several foreign languages fluently. It’s particularly common when it comes to staffing international trade fairs abroad. It’s a form of backup for when a guest doesn’t know the dominant language of the event. It’s far better, however, to employ a few hostesses proficient in different languages, so that they can help each other. Constantly switching between a number of foreign languages can be tiring and confusing for one hostess.

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