Nowadays English sits firmly on lingua francathrone,
although it does not mean we will be able to communicate in this
language everywhere. Using English in work may be a standard in some
parts of the earth, yet in others frowns are directed upon those that
cannot speak in the national language of the country they came to.
Most internship offers usually explicitly precise what the requirements concerning linguistic skills are. In
Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Sweden or Norway but also in
Danes, Turkey or Holland one usually can easily communicate with
co-workers in English. Many students also choose Asian countries such as
Japan or Taiwan, whose languages are exotic to say the least, yet the
interns have no problem doing their work.
On the other hand if you are planning on going for an internship to France, Italy, Spain or Portugal you usually have to know the appropriate language well enough to communicate (even offers of internships are usually posted in the local language http://bit.ly/1eCHeFz, http://bit.ly/KfEhK7).
In Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic or Slovakia the language used
in work may be both English and local. Of course, everything depends on a
specific company. It may turn out that company from the USA requires
you to know Chinese, or that we can communicate freely using English in
the Spanish company.
Some companies may require your foreign language skills to be on a certain level.
Most often it is at least B1 level. As far as papers concerning
language skills are concerned, any finished courses, gained diplomas and
certificates will be considered additional feats. Your competences may
be also acknowledged by attestations and opinions from your teachers.
Sometimes companies want to check language skills of the candidates
themselves by – for example – organizing interviews on Skype (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1CT5wr0I1c).
First step of verification is an analysis of application papers which,
in case of offers from abroad, must be written in a foreign language.
If we want to gather our experience in a company located in a – for example – small, Italian city, we should consider whether will we be able to deal with our day-to-day life outside the work if we don't know Italian. The
company may be ready for an English speaking intern, but we will also
have to deal with our landowner, neighbors and shopkeepers.
We can treat it as a challenge and charge onward, or start learning
Italian before we leave. We can also – for example – find somebody that
lives where we are going on the internet. Such a person – speaking
languages you know – could help you acclimatise. It is well worth
thinking about things like these, so that you could derive as much as
possible from your experiences – both within and outside of the work.