Is language the only thing stopping you from relocating to the UK?

February 17, 2017

Just because English is not your first language does not necessarily mean that job opportunities in the UK are beyond your reach. If you are motivated and willing to learn or even just polish your language skills you could find yourself with multiple job opportunities to choose from in the UK.

I deal with many candidates whose language skills range in fluency. Some have good writing skills while others are merely able to converse. Here’s what you need to know about the minimum language skills you need and how you can improve your English language to improve your chances of obtaining a position in the UK.

For most jobs in the UK a B2-C2 level for reading, writing and speaking (sometimes B1) is usually adequate for securing a position. However, this will depend on what type of job you are applying for. A customer interface or sales job will require that you have a higher level of fluency in English. In a more technical job where communication is less vital to the role you’d be in, then basic language skills would be adequate.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare yourself and improve your English before moving to the UK:

  1. Take English lessons where you learn the structure and grammar of the language. There are several reputable language schools in Europe that focus on the business aspects of the language.
  2. Take every opportunity to practice your English language skills. You can do this by watching English TV or listening to English on the radio. Read English books, magazines or newspapers so that you get used to the language in different formats.
  3. Practice speaking the language with friends or family. Have a dinner or evening where everyone may only speak English. This will help you develop your vocabulary and language skills.
  4. Take a holiday in the UK and tour around. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about the local culture and practice your English.
  5. Where possible put yourself forward to work on international projects where English is the primary language for correspondence. This will give you an opportunity to become more familiar with technical English terms relevant to your work.

Finally once you make the move to the UK, make every effort to speak English as much as possible. It’s tempting to slip into speaking your home language with family or friends, but for the first few months at least focus on developing your English language skills. This will not only help you to settle in at work but will also help you to gain a level of confidence and career progression.

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