what is clb

Canadian Language Benchmarks – Things You Should Know A to Z

CLB, known as the Canadian Language Benchmarks is an assessment that tests your reading and writing abilities for English. There are up to 12 levels involved.

If you are an immigrant, then this language skillset will give you a competitive edge over the rest of the applicants wishing to learn English, study, or work in Canada. Each language has its set benchmarks that determine how well you fare in the said languages.

There are three stages which include language ability. This is the first stage, (1 to 4). Then, there is the intermediate language ability which is the benchmark, 5 to 8. The third level covers your prowess in the advanced language.

What is ESL in CLB?

ESL stands for English as a Second Language, in short, it can be described as your mastery of English or French language across the said 12 levels, from starters, intermediary to advanced, among adult learners.

In Canada, this skill is there to ensure that applicants learn and have the requisite skills to use in their daily lives in the country including securing employment or pursuing studies.

Therefore, before you even enroll in this program, you need to comprehend the meaning of your CLB level before taking a LINC or ESL class, enroll in a bridge training program, scout for employment, or undertake tertiary education in the country.
CLB is not or is for:

Not for

CLB is not a description for a spec of discrete skills and knowledge that inspire communicative competence like certain grammatical structures, vocabulary items, elements of punctuation, cultural conventions, or micro-functions. It is in any way not to be used for purposes of:

  • Curriculum
  • Assessment
  • Certain instructional methods

CLB is for:

  • A bunch of descriptive statements that determine the successive levels of your language ability
  • Your communicative competency and performance tasks that learners can demonstrate
  • Language application which includes skills and competence
  • Language framework reference for teaching, learning, assessing adult ESL, and even programming in the country
  • The national standard for planning language instructions for a wide range of contexts

Importance of CLB

CLB, in Canada, is important as it is used to teach as well as test the mastery of your English, and French learning in adults. You need impressive scores especially if you intend to study in a university or college or work in Canada.

What are The Approved Language Tests in Canada?

In Canada, adults are subjected to two language tests. These will prove your mastery of the English language and proficiency, both in talking and writing. You will also be subjected to two tests that will determine your prowess in both English and French.

It also applies to adults seeking to migrate to Quebec, given that this province also has its options to test your proficiency in the English and French languages. When submitting your immigration application, your language score may be needed 2 years before the test date.

You would need to retake the test in case you took it more than two years before your immigration application. They require your new results in your application.

Frequently Asked Questions About CLB

What is Express Entry?

This is one of the biggest online immigration system gateways to Canada. A person applying through Express Entry benefits from one of the three programs which include Federal Skilled Trade.

Programs, Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Canadian Express Class. The moment you submit your online profile for immigration, the Refugee and Canadian Citizenship (IRCC) will inform you of your best-suited program.

They will then place you into a pool for Express Entry and then rank you per the Comprehensive Ranking System Score (CRS).

Your Comprehensive Ranking Score is based on the following factors:

  • Factors like having a sibling in Canada
  • Mastery of English, and French language, or both
  • Your level of education

If you meet these scores or better still surpass them, you will be eligible to apply for the ITA hence you will be invited to apply.

Despite the immigration language program you choose, there are set requirements that each applicant must meet when applying.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the program, you might want to sift through before you proceed to apply.

What Score is Required for Express Entry?

The Federal Skilled Worker program states that to be eligible for Express entry you need to have scored a minimum CLB 7. You must have scored at a bare minimum of 6.0 on the International English language Testing System (IELTS).

The IELTS will test the English levels for foreign nationals when applying for work, immigration, or studying in Canada.

The following designated testing organization will let you know of your CLB:

  • IELTS, (International English Language Testing System)
  • TCF Canada, (Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada)
  • CELPIP, (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program)
  • TEF Canada, (Test d’évaluation de français pour le Canada)

Minimum CLB scores for Express Entry

  • FSWP (Federal Skilled Worker Program)-CLB 7 or higher
  • FSTP (Federal Skilled Trade Program)-For speaking and listening, score CLB5, For higher reading and writing, CLB 4
  • CEC (Canadian Experience Class)-For NOC higher than CLB 7or CLB 5 or higher if you have NOC B

How long does it take for my ITA once I have surpassed my CRS cut-off score?

Your invitation to apply for ITA can take at most 24 hours to appear in your IRCC account. You will only have 60 days to complete your ITA application.

Therefore, its good to first start collecting your documents and have them in one place before you can start the application process.

What does it take to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

The following are the set requirements to be deemed eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program:

  • You should have a high school diploma
  • Attained at least the minimum language proficiency level
  • You must have at least one year of continuous work and experience for the last 10 years
  • Have scored at least an equivalent of CLB 7 in the primary languages (English and French abilities)
  • A minimum score of CLB 5 in all abilities in your secondary language(s), (English or French)
  • Scored at least 67 points in the eligibility grid
  • Have enough savings to support you and your loved ones if approved


In case you are thinking of improving your CLB scores, that is a great move. I500 hours of full-time study is all it takes.

These hours can significantly improve your Canadian language benchmarks and play a significant role in ensuring you secure employment, study, and even in your daily dealings in the country.

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