Alta Language Services
Arabic, Dutch, English, French, General, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tests
March 10, 2013
Price $60 for oral exam or written exam; $30 for reading exam
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I do not profess to be an expert in testing services. After a Google search, I chose Alta Language Services for my own testing needs because it is efficient and inexpensive.
Alta Language Services, according to its website, is “a leader in language testing for government agencies and businesses nationwide” that “develops and administers thousands of language tests each year.” It is the official language-testing provider for the city of Los Angeles as well as the state of Arizona.
Alta offers testing in more than 90 languages. Over a period of years, I have done both oral and written tests with them in several languages.
When I first started, the written tests were 30 minutes, but have since increased to an hour. The oral exams are shorter, and all of mine have been conducted over the telephone by native speakers who asked me a series of questions (20-something for Spanish, for instance) to elicit conversation so they could judge my competence.
I have found the testers pleasant and professional. However, my scores, though in the ball park of what I might have expected, sometimes seemed a little random. Self-assessment is a dicey game, but as an example, in Italian I managed to score—after having studied that language only three months in my entire life—as high as I did in German, and higher than I did in either Spanish and French. Those other three languages had all previously received years of my attention.
If you work for an organization that wants to test its employees, and if the skills really matter for how you allocate the employees workwise, I would perhaps consider more expensive and exhaustive tests than the ones I took with Alta. I do see that the company offers customized testing, and if I gain experience with other testing organizations in the future, I will add more suggestions to this directory of resources.
Alta Language Services
3355 Lenox Road, Suite 510
Atlanta, GA 30326