The following descriptions elaborate on what the 12 Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs) mean in terms of language ability for speaking, reading, writing and listening.

 

CLB 1: Initial Basic

Speaking

The speaker struggles to communicate even the most basic words and ideas, even when faced with one familiar listener. If strongly supported by gestures, clues and guidance, he or she may be able to speak isolated basic words related to immediate needs. With very little or no control over basic grammar structures and tenses, he or she may revert to a mother tongue.

Reading

The reader has very limited ability, struggling to recognise most words. He or she can recognize most letters, numbers, a small number of short words and very short, simple phrases related to everyday objects and immediate needs, but has almost no ability to decode unknown words, read connected discourse, or guess the meaning of unknown words. There is a heavy reliance on graphics and other visual clues when interpreting meaning.

Writing

The writer is limited to writing letters, numbers, single familiar words, and short familiar phrases in very short passages with frequent errors in spelling, punctuation and capitalization conventions. With highly limited vocabulary and little to no knowledge of language structures, he or she experiences tremendous difficulty communicating even the most simple facts or ideas.

Listening

The listener can understand a very limited number of simple words and short phrases covering basic concepts when spoken to slowly and clearly. He or she is likely to have to rely on repetition and/or accompanying gestures, such as hand movement or images.

 

CLB 2: Developing Basic

Speaking

The speaker converses in short phrases and basic words, with very little evidence of connected discourse. He or she relies on gestures, guidance and prompts from a supportive and familiar listener. There is very limited control over basic grammar, tenses and language structure. Speech rate is slow, with frequent pauses and hesitations.

Reading

The reader can locate key words and simple details and may be able to get the gist of short phrases and sentences based on familiar words and phrases. He or she has limited knowledge of sound-symbol relationships and spelling conventions in English, with very limited ability to decode unknown words, read connected discourse or guess the meaning of unknown words. Visual clues such as images and graphics may be required, along with a bilingual dictionary, in order for the reader to comprehend meaning.

Writing

The writer finds it difficult to communicate simple facts and ideas, with little knowledge of word order and word forms. He or she can communicate basic personal identification information, words, simple phrases, as well as a few simple sentences about highly familiar information related to immediate needs, but is limited to common words and phrases.

Listening

The listener can understand a limited number of simple words and short phrases and sentences related to immediate personal needs when spoken to slowly and clearly. Visual clues may be necessary in order for the listener to understand.

 

CLB 3: Adequate Basic

Speaking

The speaker can communicate basic information using simple sentences about immediate needs and personal experiences. He or she is likely to require visual clues or prompts, but may be able to form sentences with evidence of connected discourse and knowledge of tenses and grammar structures. Speech is often broken and pronunciation may be difficult.

Reading

The reader can understand short, simple texts related to familiar, routine everyday topics of personal relevance when the text is short, clearly organized, and supported by visual clues. He or she gets the gist of text based on familiar words and phrases, understands some simple connected discourse, has limited ability to guess or decode the meaning of unknown, unfamiliar words.

Writing

The writer has a developing understanding of simple language structures and everyday vocabulary, and can use these tools to construct simple sentences about familiar information related to personal experience and everyday situations. However, he or she has difficulty communicating simple messages, with word order and word forms interfering with comprehensibility.

Listening

The listener can understand simple key words, formulaic phrases and some short sentences covering familiar topics when spoken to slowly and clearly in non-demanding contexts. He or she may need some assistance, such as repetition, paraphrasing, translation, or visual clues.

 

CLB 4: Fluent Basic

Speaking

The speaker is able to communicate basic information about common everyday activities, experiences, wants and needs in informal, non-demanding contexts. He or she can speak in short sentences, with evidence of continued discourse, but is likely to experience difficulties with grammar, vocabulary, tenses and grammar structures.

Reading

The reader understands the overall meaning of short, non-demanding texts by identifying purpose, main ideas, some specific details and links between paragraphs, though he or she still relies on a bilingual dictionary and may rely on graphics and other visual clues. Comprehension is also based on a developing knowledge of basic grammar and some initial understanding of a limited range of complex sentences and structures.

Writing

The writer can construct short, simple texts about personal experience and familiar topics or situations related to daily life and experience when the message is grammatically and lexically simple. Sentences are constructed with a single clause, with a developing understanding of spelling, punctuation and capitalization.

Listening

The listener can understand simple communication covering familiar topics when spoken to one-on-one or within a small group. The listener is aided when speech is delivered at a slow-to-normal rate, possibly supported by visual or contextual clues. Initial comprehension of more complex sentences and recognition of common idioms may be possible.

 

CLB 5: Initial Intermediate

Speaking

The speaker can begin to maintain conversation in small groups, with clear evidence of connected discourse and adequate fluency when in familiar contexts. He or she possesses a range of common everyday vocabulary, which may include a limited number of idioms that help him or her to present concrete information about needs and familiar topics of personal relevance.

Reading

The reader may still require a bilingual dictionary to interpret meaning, but is likely to be able to understand predictable, practical texts without recourse to one, as long as the text is concrete, factual and descriptive. He or she can identify purpose, main ideas, important details, links between paragraphs, styles and registers, but often rereads and needs clarification.

Writing

The writer has good control of simple structures, but has difficulty with complex structures. When the topic is familiar and the passage is short, he or she can construct simple to moderately complex descriptions, narrations, and communications about familiar, concrete topics related to daily life and experience, with adequate use of connective words, vocabulary and phrases.

Listening

The listener can understand and respond to moderately complex communication in both formal and informal settings. He or she can differentiate between overall meanings and implied meanings based on an increased understanding of complex sentences and structures. He or she may be able to comprehend on the phone when topics are familiar and pronunciation is clear.

 

CLB 6: Developing Intermediate

Speaking

The speaker can communicate in some more formal contexts, as well as during straightforward phone conversations. Speech is reasonably fluent, with some hesitations and grammatical errors. He or she possesses a range of everyday vocabulary, which may include some idioms and a few common cultural references, and can adapt speech to reflect some degrees of formality appropriate to the group.

Reading

The reader can understand some moderately complex texts in predictable, practical situations, both formal an informal, while occasionally supported by visuals and a concise, unilingual dictionary. Comprehension is based on a developing understanding of complex sentences and structures, though he or she may require visual clues and re-reading of text.

Writing

The writer can form an adequate paragraph structure with a main idea and some supporting details, use of connective words and phrases, and adequate control of spelling, punctuation and format. Despite having a degree of control over structure, spelling, punctuation and format, he or she may use some awkward-sounding phrases and word combinations and use language that is sometimes not appropriate for the intended audience.

Listening

The listener can understand moderately complex conversation, including some abstract concepts and ideas related to life experience. He or she can comprehend better when speech is delivered at a slow-to-normal rate and pronounced clearly. Recognition of different registers and understanding of an increasing number of idiomatic phrases is typical of this level of ability.

 

CLB 7: Adequate Intermediate

Speaking

The speaker adapts his or her style and register to different audiences and situations, with an expanding range of concrete and idiomatic language, which may include some common cultural references. He or she can communicate with some confidence in many daily routine social, educational, and work situations, and present concrete and some abstract information on an expanding range of familiar topics.

Reading

The reader can recognize purpose, main ideas, specific details and many implied meanings, while using a unilingual dictionary to confirm and refine interpretation of unknown terms. He or she can understand factual, descriptive or argumentative language with opinions, explicit and implied meanings, concrete, abstract or specialized vocabulary, and some idioms.

Writing

The writer can construct passages that are moderate in length, with a number of short, coherent paragraphs that clearly express the main ideas and adequate supporting details. The text contains an introduction, development of ideas and conclusion, using a range of vocabulary. Wording may still borrow syntax and structures from his or her mother tongue, which may seem unnatural or cumbersome.

Listening

The listener can understand and respond to moderately complex conversation in formal and informal settings, while comprehending an increasing range of abstract ideas and concepts relating to general knowledge and life experience. He or she may still experience difficulty following conversations on the phone or with multiple participants, particularly when the delivery is faster than normal. He or she may recognise a range of registers, styles, idioms, and meanings.

 

CLB 8: Fluent Intermediate

Speaking

The speaker communicates with clear evidence of connected discourse, even in unfamiliar groups and some more formal, moderately demanding contexts. He or she uses an expanded range of concrete, abstract and idiomatic language, which may include some common cultural references. Only minor grammar or vocabulary difficulties may impede conversation.

Reading

The reader can identify mood, attitude and register, while finding, integrating, and contrasting a wide variety of information. He or she may use a unilingual dictionary to confirm and refine interpretation of unknown terms, but often guesses the meaning of unknown terms, phrases and idioms from the context and overall meaning of the text.

Writing

The writer can construct clear, moderately complex texts on familiar concrete and some abstract topics within predictable, practical and relevant formal and informal contexts. He or she is able to communicate moderately complex messages using an expanded and appropriate range of natural idiomatic language, cultural references and figures of speech.

Listening

The listener can understand moderately complex communication in formal and informal settings, including abstract concepts and ideas related to general knowledge, life experience and specialized situations. He or she can maintain conversation for longer lengths of time and in more demanding contexts, but may struggle when faced with faster colloquial or idiomatic conversations.

 

CLB 9: Initial Advanced

Speaking

The speaker can communicate with confidence in challenging situations and present information about complex, abstract and general topics. He or she has smooth control over grammar, structure and tenses, and Adjusts speech style and register to a wide range of different audiences and situations. Vocabulary and pronunciation rarely impede communication.

Reading

The reader has initial advanced ability, understanding an adequate range of complex texts in some unpredictable contexts and on some unfamiliar topics. The text may be demanding, lengthy, dense and linguistically complex, often with idiomatic and figurative language. He or she uses knowledge of complex grammar and syntax to interpret nuances in texts, but can find difficulty when trying to interpret low-frequency idioms, cultural references and figures of speech.

Writing

The writer can write prose on abstract and unfamiliar topics that may require research, up to about 1,500 words, with adequate organization of ideas and development of topic. Though some errors in grammar, word combinations and word choices still occur, he or she has a good range of concrete, abstract and idiomatic language suited to context and purpose, which may include some genre-specific expressions and cultural references.

Listening

The listener can understand a range of concrete, abstract and technical language and use knowledge of complex grammar and syntax to interpret meaning. He or she can maintain conversation for lengthy periods and in group scenarios, but may struggle to recognize the nuances in different styles, registers, language varieties, verbal humour, low-frequency idioms, and cultural references.

 

CLB 10: Developing Advanced

Speaking

The speaker communicates fluently across an increasing range of demanding contexts, with an expanding range of concrete, abstract and idiomatic language suited to context and purpose, which may include figures of speech and cultural references. He or she can communicate with peers and authority figures, one-on-one or in groups of all sizes. Grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation very rarely impede fluency.

Reading

The reader can identifies the purpose, main ideas and supporting details of a text, while interpreting the author's intent, mood, attitude and point of view. He or she may have a dictionary available, but can usually understand the meaning of linguistically complex text.

Writing

The writer can construct complex formal and informal texts for a broadening range of purposes and tasks in mostly routine but demanding situations, up to about 3,000 words. Main ideas are clearly conveyed and well supported with nuance and attention to detail. Errors in grammar, word combinations and word choices are seldom.

Listening

The listener can understand an expanding range of complex, detailed formal and informal communication on most general interest topics and topics relating to his or her personal or professional life. He or she uses knowledge of complex grammar and syntax to interpret meaning, but may have difficulty interpreting colloquial humour, idiomatic phrases and cultural references, especially when the speaker is delivering speech quickly.

 

CLB 11: Adequate Advanced

Speaking

The speaker has advanced ability, communicating comfortably in demanding or challenging non-routine work, educational and social situations, and presenting information about complex, abstract, general and specialized topics. He or she speaks in a connected, coherent fashion and adapts language, style and register to suit a wide range of different contexts, audiences, genres and purposes.

Reading

The reader can understand an expanded range of complex multipurpose texts in most unpredictable contexts and on unfamiliar topics, even when the text is extremely lengthy and dense with sophisticated reasoning, implicit subtleties, highly idiomatic and figurative language and socio-cultural references. With full knowledge of styles, registers and language varieties, he or she can identify the author's purpose, main ideas, intent, mood, attitude and point of view, line of reasoning and structure.

Writing

The writer can construct text on any length demanded by the purpose, task and genre, with coherent synthesis of extensive complex information from multiple sources. He or she writes with confidence and control of a broad range of complex and diverse structures, where main ideas are clearly conveyed and well supported with finer details.

Listening

The listener has advanced understanding of complex, detailed formal and informal communication on a broad variety of topics related to unfamiliar, abstract, conceptual or technical matters. He or she has only occasional difficulty interpreting verbal humour, low-frequency idioms, irony, sarcasm, cultural references and figurative, symbolic and idiomatic language.

 

CLB 12: Fluent Advanced

Speaking

The speaker has excellent control over a wide variety of complex grammar structures, with expansive vocabulary and a wide range of concrete, abstract and idiomatic language, including figures of speech, idiomatic phrases and cultural references. He or she can present information about complex, abstract, general and specialized topics in formal and group settings.

Reading

The reader has fluent advanced ability, understanding complex unfamiliar multipurpose texts in a broad variety of styles and formats across a range of situations and contexts that are demanding and unpredictable. He or she can interpret idiomatic and figurative language, colloquialisms and cultural references from demanding, unpredictable texts that contain abstract, conceptual or specialized vocabulary.

Writing

The writer possesses an excellent range of concrete, abstract and idiomatic language used appropriately, accurately and flexibly, including genre-specific expressions and cultural references. He or she effectively proofreads, revises and edits all aspects of texts and is able to communicate complex messages in a clear, effective, and stylistically polished fashion that is fit for publication or public distribution.

Listening

The listener has a deep understanding of all language styles and registers, with little or no difficulty interpreting verbal humour, low-frequency idioms, irony, sarcasm, cultural references and figurative, symbolic language. He or she can infer meaning from unstated information and can comprehend a wide range of vocabulary, both general and colloquial.

Tools and Resources

Latest News

  • Saskatchewan invites 251 international entrepreneurs

    The Government of Saskatchewan has conducted its first draw of 2018 for its Provincial Nominee Program's Entrepreneur Stream.

  • Manitoba's Express Entry Pathway issues its first invitations

    Manitoba has invited a total of 291 skilled workers to apply for a provincial nomination in its first draw of 2018, including 155 Express Entry candidates.