Canadian Language Benchmarks for Study and Work - Understanding the language proficiency levels required to work and study in Canada

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Date: 2006

This booklet is available in two versions: one for learners and a version for ESL practitioners (teachers and assessors). It provides an introduction to the Canadian Language Benchmarks and how they relate to language training, post-secondary studies, and employment in Canada.

The booklets also contain mini-posters of CLB 5 - 10. These informational booklets are appropriate for learners at a minimum of CLB level 5 or 6 reading proficiency.

What are the Canadian Language Benchmarks?

The Benchmarks set the national standard. They describe the language that individuals use to complete tasks. Competencies are described over three stages and twelve levels.

  • The CLB allows a learner to speak to a job finder or employment specialist about his or her competencies using a common language of understanding.
  • The CLB gives workplace trainers a foundation to use to customize content in a language that employers understand.
  • The CLB gives instructors clear information about what a learner knows (language competencies) and what they still need to learn.
  • The CLB gives colleges a clear indication of the probable success of a learner prior to registration, and the learner the information needed for planning a successful experience in their academic pathway.

A complete overview can be found on the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks website.

How are they used?

OLAs are useful for ESL practitioners, learners, job analysts, sector councils, unions, employers, career and guidance counsellors, and government. A number of national programs are using the Canadian Language Benchmarks in new and innovative ways to help newcomers find employment in their professional fields.

Bridging Programs In Ontario- these programs specifically target Internationally Educated Professionals (ITP).

The Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN)- CELBAN was developed for internationally educated nurses who need to demonstrate the English proficiency skills required for licensure in Canada.

Occupational Language Analyses (OLA)- An OLA describes language competencies linked to success in one occupation. It outlines the four communication competencies as well as tasks for an occupation.

What do the Canadian Language Benchmarks look like?

Each of the 3 stages looks at 4 proficiency levels in 4 different skill areas. The CLB is built on the following assumptions:

  1. communication tasks are progressively more difficult,
  2. communication content is progressively more demanding,
  3. expectations of how effective the communication is and the quality of the communication increase over levels.