Case Study: Language Testing for Hiring Bilingual Employees

The Problem

Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU), with locations throughout rapidly growing Idaho, is experiencing a time of growth and expansion. Today, Idaho Central has of $4 billion in assets and serves the needs of more than 360,000 members within all Idaho counties. ICCU wants to better serve the residents of Idaho by using bilingual representatives. 

The issue was that their screening process for bilingual language proficiency was time-consuming, less accurate, and too expensive. Using human language raters resulted in a degree of unreliability as the ratings often varied from person to person. Due to the difficultly and lack of consistency, ICCU found it difficult to attract talent that fit their needs. 

The Solution

Emmersion Learning and ICCU immediately went to work implementing the TrueNorth Speaking Assessment. TrueNorth is an adaptive, automated, speaking assessment that returns immediate and reliable results. Unlike many other language assessment services that rely on human rating, TrueNorth utilizes AI and machine learning to remove the ambiguity and bias behind human ratings. Additionally, ICCU could pre-screen potential candidates as part of the interview process. 

The flexibility of the TrueNorth Test is not only that it aligns with world standards (CEFR, TOEFL, IELTS) it also can be customized to provide organizational based scoring. That is, using current employees as a benchmark, TrueNorth can provide a custom calibration that provides unique results specific to the needs of each organization. This is exactly what we did with ICCU. We provided a standardized score; and also, a calibrated skills-benchmark specific to ICCU. 

The Result

Upon implementation of the software, ICCU noticed an immediate improvement. By removing the need for human raters, their application screenings were faster, more affordable, and more scalable. Dr. Burdis also shared, “We were able to cut their price by a half to a quarter of what they were currently spending.” Not only were they saving money, but the results from the tests were highly accurate. Additionally, the TrueNorth Speaking Test for Spanish helped ICCU implement a more fair and consistent screening process for its applicants.

We have saved a lot of time and money using the TrueNorth Spanish-speaking test to screen our applicants, instead of having to call and conduct an evaluation with each one.

Ben Davidson – ICCU


Since the introduction and use of the TrueNorth Speaking Test for Spanish, ICCU and Emmersion Learning have continued to work together on additional projects. For example, Emmersion Learning has consulted with ICCU in the creation and execution of a custom, more advanced second-stage language test for its employees. Though initially Emmersion Learning was more focused on creating these tests for academic purposes, they have since widened their gaze to businesses and individuals. Their hope is to make the process of language testing easier, and by doing so, continue to close the global communication gap, and increase understanding across cultures.

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