Your language proficiency in English or French is one of the areas by which IRCC assesses your application. Recognizing the importance of communication, IRCC has set a minimum requirement. This is based on the Canadian Language Benchmark or CLB.
For Express Entry programs like the Federal Skilled Worker(FSW) Program and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the minimum score is CLB 7 in English. In French, it is Niveau de Compétence Linguistique Canadien (NCLC) 7.
CLB or NCLC 7 is the passing mark for language proficiency and this score must be gained for all four language skills. These language skills are listening, reading, speaking, and writing.
What CLB 7 And NCLC 7 Indicate
Canadian Language Benchmarks have levels. These are in a spectrum from CLB or NCLC 1 being the lowest to CLB or NCLC 12 being the most advanced. CLB or NCLC 7 is in the middle.
Express Entry programs are for skilled workers. In most cases, skilled workers do not enter Canada to work in academic fields. Hence, CLB 7 does not mean that a person’s French or English language proficiency meets the standards of highly-academic use.
Instead, CLB 7 means that your usage of either French, English, or both is at a level where day-to-day communication is hardly a problem.
This level is what the Canadian Language Benchmark describes as “adequate intermediate proficiency”. This is also true for the Niveau de Compétence Linguistique Canadien (NCLC).
A CLB or NCLC 7 in listening means that you can understand the meaning of spoken words and sentences. More specifically, you can comprehend warnings, appreciation, instructions, and questions.
This level of language proficiency in this language skill also means that you can determine a speaker’s mood when he or she speaks. You can also understand opinions and disapproval.
At a CLB or NCLC 7, you might have difficulty understanding more complex sentences and utterances. This is especially the case for topics or situations that are unfamiliar to you.
CLB 7 or NCLC 7 in speaking shows that you can communicate easily in familiar situations. This level also means that you are capable of expressing a simple opinion, give instructions, and communicate your concerns to another person.
Although grammar at this CLB or NCLC level is sufficient for everyday life, mistakes will still happen. When these mistakes occur, they may cause some difficulty for the listener.
At certain Canadian language benchmarks, there are not many differences in what test-takers show. If you happen to score CLB or NCLC 7, it means that you can understand much of the information presented to you in print. However, your understanding will be limited by your familiarity with the topic or presented situation.
Hence, CLB or NCLC 7 is a sign that you can understand written instructions and many work-related correspondences. Also, this level of language use means that you can determine the main idea of a written passage.
At CLB 7 or NCLC 7, you are capable of writing work-related reports like incident reports and progress reports. Also, you can write descriptions of familiar situations. You can also write on familiar topics with some degree of complexity, especially in grammar.
Errors are still present at this level (as with other Canadian language benchmarks). Language or French usage at this level is often clear but may seem unnatural particularly with idioms and figures of speech.
Language Testing And CLB Equivalents
At the time of writing, IRCC recognizes four language tests as acceptable for immigration to Canada. These tests assess and evaluate your usage of either English or French, the official languages of Canada. Certain scores in each correspond to a certain CLB equivalent.
In other words, the score you might need to get a CLB or NCLC 7 depends on the language test you plan to take.
Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
The CELPIP is an English proficiency test designed to measure “functional English usage”. Being a popular choice among immigrants, the CELPIP has two types- the CELPIP general and CELPIP LS. The former tests all four language skills and the latter tests only listening and speaking.
It has to be kept in mind that the CELPIP LS is mainly for citizenship applications. For Express Entry, the CELPIP general is required.
The scores of the CELPIP test line up perfectly with the Canadian Language Benchmarks. In other words, a CELPIP score of 7 in listening, speaking, writing, and reading is equal to CLB 7.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
The International English Language Testing System or IELTS has been the go-to exam for many immigrants to Canada. This is possibly due to the widespread availability of this language test and the resources for test preparation. Like the CELPIP, the IELTS measures the English language proficiency of test-takers.
As an English language test, the IELTS comes in two forms. These are the IELTS Academic test and IELTS general training test. Either one is acceptable for Canadian immigration.
The equivalence of CLB to IELTS is not similar to that of the CELPIP. For the IELTS, a band score of 6.0 is equal to a CLB level of 7.
Test D’évaluation Du Français (TEF)
The Test d’évaluation du français evaluates fluency in non-francophones (non-native French speakers). It is one of the recognized French proficiency tests for Canadian immigration. It is also a must for immigrating specifically to Quebec and it is also a requirement for French citizenship.
To get an NCLC 7, an applicant would need to get the following scores in the TEF:
- 207 to 232 (reading)
- 310 to 348 (writing)
- 249 to 279 (listening)
- 310 to 348 (speaking)
Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
The Test de Connaissance du Français or TCF is also a French proficiency test recognized and accepted by IRCC. Like the TEF, it also assesses French usage across all language skills. This test is for anyone who wishes to apply under the Express Entry system with French as their first language.
The following TEF scores are equal to a CLB level of 7:
- 453 to 498 (reading)
- 10 to 11 (writing)
- 458 to 502 (listening)
- 10 to 11 (speaking)
CLB or NCLC 7 is an indicator of your ability to use English or French in many situations in daily life. To be eligible for Express Entry programs like the FSW, your score in any of the tests mentioned needs to be equivalent to this level.
Keep in mind that a CLB or NCLC 7 is the minimum requirement. As with any other test, the best score is the highest one you could earn. Hence, it is important to aim for a score that is higher than CLB or NCLC 7.