DAOD 5039-8, Canadian Armed Forces Second Official Language Certification Testing

1. Introduction

Date of Issue: 2012-07-25

Date of last Modification: 2015-12-21

Application: This DAOD is an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF members).


  • CFAO 9-21, Canadian Forces Language Training, Qualifications and Testing – Official Languages, paragraphs 34 to 44 and 46 to 49
  • CANFORGEN 104/04, Second Language (SL) Certification for Canadian Forces (CF) Members
  • CANFORGEN 127/05, CF Second Language Evaluation (SLE) – Test Results Converted to Exemptions (E) in October 1995
  • CANFORGEN 072/12, CF Members Access to Second Official Language (SOL) Certification Testing

Approval Authority: Chief of Military Personnel (CMP)

Enquiries: Director Official Languages (DOL)

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2. Definitions

official language (langue officielle)

The English or French language. (Defence Terminology Bank record number 43159)

second official language (seconde langue officielle)

The official language in which a CF member is generally less proficient. (Defence Terminology Bank record number 1345)

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3. Abbreviations

Abbreviation Complete Word or Phrase
CDA Canadian Defence Academy
CDS Chief of the Defence Staff
CO commanding officer
COL coordinator of official languages
DGMC Director General Military Careers
HRMS Human Resources Management System
L1 advisor level one advisor
CF Mil Pers Instr Canadian Forces Military Personnel Instruction
MOU memorandum of understanding
MPRR Member Personnel Record Résumé
MSLTP Military Second Language Training Programme
OLA Official Languages Act
OUTCAN out-of-Canada
PSC Public Service Commission
Reg F Regular Force
Res F Reserve Force
SLE Second Language Evaluation
SOL second official language
SOLET Second Official Language Education and Training

4. Overview


4.1 The CAF is subject to the application of the OLA, and participates in various activities and operations for which a capability in both English and French is expected and required.

4.2 To meet statutory obligations and operational commitments, the CAF requires linguistically qualified CAF members.

4.3 To ensure the accurate and uniform evaluation of the SOL capability of CAF members, their SOL proficiency level must be assessed using certification testing.

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5. Certification Testing


5.1 The PSC SLE is the only SOL certification testing instrument currently accredited and used by the CAF to assess the SOL proficiency level of CAF members.

5.2 The SLE is the property of the PSC, and CAF access is authorized under MOUs negotiated with the PSC. The MOU terms for use of the SLE must be strictly followed and respected by the CAF and all CAF-contracted third parties.

Skills Tested

5.3 The SLE is comprised of three tests as set out in the following table:

The test of … evaluates a CAF member's …
reading comprehension ability to understand text written in their SOL.
written expression writing ability, i.e. the knowledge of grammar, structure, usage and other aspects of written expression necessary to perform writing tasks dealing with work-related situations in their SOL.
oral proficiency ability to both speak in their SOL and understand others speaking in that language.

Proficiency Levels

5.4 Certification testing assesses three general levels of proficiency:

  • A (elementary);
  • B (intermediate); and
  • C (advanced).

5.5 The qualification standards describing A, B and C for each skill are set out in the Treasury Board Qualification Standards, Section 3: Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

SOL Profile

5.6 The SOL profile is a compound code composed of three characters, one for each skill:

  1. the first character refers to the reading skill;
  2. the second character refers to the writing skill; and
  3. the third character refers to the oral proficiency skill.

5.7 As each skill or test is independent of the others, test results or linguistic requirements can be different for each of the skills. For example, the SOL profile “CAA” indicates the attainment of, or requirement for, an advanced proficiency level in reading, and an elementary level in writing and oral proficiency.

5.8 The characters used in SOL profiles are:

  1. A, B and C, representing levels of proficiency;
  2. X, indicating that the performance of a CAF member on the test did not meet the minimum requirements of level A for the particular skill;
  3. dash “ – ”, indicating that a CAF member has not been tested, or need not be, for this particular skill; and
  4. E, indicating that the performance of a CAF member on the test is such that the CAF member can be expected to maintain indefinitely their proficiency at level C. The CAF member is therefore exempted from further testing for this skill. Thus, although the E exemption rating is not a proficiency level in itself, it is considered to represent a proficiency level as it represents the attainment of a permanent capability at level C.

Periods of Validity

5.9 The SLE test results of CAF members are valid for the following periods:

  1. 5 years for levels A, B or C; and
  2. indefinitely for the E exemption rating.

5.10 The latest SLE test result supersedes any existing result, even in cases where the previous result was superior to the new one, or was still valid.

5.11 The validity periods do not apply to the SOL profile, but rather to each of the SLE test results (A, B, C or E). As each of the three skills may be tested on a different date, the validity period of each may be different.

Note – CAF members who attained an E for “exemption” prior to October 1995 were not tested by the PSC. Accordingly, this E is only valid within the CAF for as long as the person remains a CAF member and is not retested. If a CAF member is retested, paragraph 5.10 will apply.

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6. Administration

Testing Eligibility Criteria

6.1 CAF members are eligible for SLE testing as set out in the following table:

Component A CAF member is eligible for SLE if …
Reg F
  • the CAF member has never been tested with the SLE, and a request is made by the CO or career manager, in consultation with the local COL;
  • their SLE results have expired;
  • their SLE results will expire:
    • within 12 months; or
    • during their posting outside of Canada or participation in an operation outside of Canada, or immediately after their return to Canada. In such a case, testing of the CAF member must occur prior to their departure from Canada;
  • attending an MSLTP course that leads to certification, if referred by the CAF language training delivery establishment; or
  • their SOL ability has improved due to a significant learning event, e.g. formal training, or formal or informal immersion, such as everyday contact with the SOL environment or speakers.

Note – A CAF member must contact their local COL to have the significance of an event validated by a staff officer responsible for language training at a CAF language training delivery establishment.

Res F
  • applying for a CAF position that has a SOL proficiency requirement, if referred by the selection committee as part of the competitive staffing and manning process;
  • already holding such a position but has SLE results that have expired or will expire within 12 months;
  • attending an MSLTP course that leads to certification and the CAF member is referred by the CAF language training delivery establishment; or
  • identified by their chain of command, career manager or branch advisor, for reasons tied to military employment structure specifications or succession planning requirements.
Note – The condition requiring CAF members to have a valid result of A on both the reading and writing tests as a prerequisite for oral proficiency testing is no longer in effect.

Testing Eligibility Restrictions

6.2 Certification testing is normally provided only within Canada. However, a CAF member posted, attached posted or on temporary duty to an OUTCAN established position, i.e. not participating in an operation, may be tested at that location if it is set up to do so in accordance with PSC policies.

6.3 A CAF member who has obtained an X for a particular skill must not be retested for that skill unless the request is justified, e.g. following SOLET or a significant learning event.


6.4 The first point of contact for a CAF member to request SLE is their local COL.

6.5 In the case of a CAF member on an MSLTP course leading to SLE, registration must be done by the CAF language training delivery establishment.

Request for Review

6.6 A CAF member who believes that their performance on an SLE test was unfairly assessed or negatively affected by unfavourable testing conditions, and who can provide supporting evidence or statements to that effect, may request a review. The request must be submitted in writing to the CAF member’s local COL or testing coordinator within ten working days of the day on which the test results were received by the CAF member.

Reporting and Recording of Test Results

6.7 The certified SOL test results and profiles of a CAF member must be reported, recorded within the CDA results database and HRMS, and updated throughout the career of the CAF member.

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7. Consequences

Consequences of Non-Compliance

7.1 Non-compliance with this DAOD may have consequences for the CAF as an institution, and CAF members as individuals. Suspected non-compliance may be investigated. The nature and severity of the consequences resulting from actual non-compliance will be commensurate with the circumstances of the non-compliance. Consequences of non-compliance may include one or more of the following:

  1. the ordering of the completion of appropriate learning, training or professional development;
  2. the entering of observations in individual performance appraisals;
  3. increased reporting and performance monitoring;
  4. the withdrawal of any authority provided under this DAOD to a DND employee or CAF member;
  5. e. the reporting of suspected offences to responsible law enforcement agencies;
  6. the liability of Her Majesty in right of Canada;
  7. the application of specific consequences as set out in applicable laws, codes of conduct, and DND and CAF policies and instructions; and
  8. other administrative or disciplinary action, or both.

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8. Responsibilities

Responsibility Table

8.1 The following table identifies the responsibilities associated with this DAOD:

The … is or are responsible for …
DGMC and career managers
  • requesting and coordinating SOL certification testing with the COL, as required; and
  • notifying selection boards of the latest SLE test results of CAF members if not yet entered in the HRMS.
  • developing and promulgating SOL certification policy, instructions and overall guidance, specifications and related documents;
  • setting the validity period for SLE test results held by CAF members;
  • monitoring to ensure compliance with this DAOD;
  • monitoring the definition, development and maintenance of SOL certification testing service standards;
  • conducting verification and providing analysis regarding SLE policy effectiveness; and
  • ensuring external reviews of DOL and CDA performance under this DAOD by requesting periodic audits by the Assistant Deputy Minister (Review Services).
  • managing access to the SOL certification testing of CAF members;
  • coordinating the administration and delivery of SOL certification testing by the PSC;
  • negotiating SLE MOUs with the PSC;
  • acting as the technical authority for SLE MOUs between the CAF and the PSC;
  • monitoring to ensure all testing coordinators are trained and certified in accordance with the PSC policy;
  • defining, developing and maintaining SOL certification testing service standards;
  • ensuring SLE test results are transmitted to testing coordinators or COLs;
  • ensuring that reporting and recording procedures are in place and functioning;
  • maintaining the database of all SLE test results;
  • recovering costs incurred for missed appointments from the CAF member’s unit;
  • monitoring and reporting to the DOL on SOL certification testing activities and issues; and
  • assisting in resolving persistent issues related to the posting of SLE results in the HRMS and the MPRR of CAF members.
L1 advisor and command COLs, and staff officers responsible for language training at the CDA and at CAF language training delivery establishments
  • interpreting policies and acting as a liaison between the DOL and other COLs, managers and COs;
  • coordinating and responding to SOL certification testing complaints and reporting trends to the CDA as appropriate;
  • reporting to the CDA any security breaches in relation to test materials;
  • identifying the needs for SOL certification testing of CAF members within their organizations;
  • coordinating SOL certification testing services in an effective and efficient manner in accordance with the service standards in MOUs established by the CDA;
  • reporting to the CDA, as required, on SOL certification testing for CAF members within their organizations;
  • ensuring SLE results are maintained and kept up-to-date for CAF members within their organizations; and
  • administering and monitoring the administration of the PSC SLE tests of reading comprehension and written expression, as required, using PSC-certified testing administrators.
  • supporting the SOL testing policy and its outcomes;
  • requesting SOL certification testing in accordance with this DAOD;
  • providing justifications and validation for no-shows or last minute cancellations of CAF members under their command; and
  • paying no-show and cancellation fees if CAF members under their command miss testing appointments.
testing coordinators at units and COLs with testing coordinator functions
  • ensuring that:
    • testing eligibility criteria and restrictions are respected;
    • registration and procedures for the review are followed;
    • SLE requests are forwarded as required in a timely manner;
    • security measures for test materials are strictly observed; and
    • the PSC tests of reading comprehension and written expression are administered in accordance with policies and directives;
  • requesting PSC SLE oral proficiency tests as required;
  • communicating test dates, locations and results to CAF members, with test results being provided by paper or printable electronic format;
  • assisting CAF members if test results do not appear in the HRMS and the MPRR accurately and in a timely manner; and
  • reporting directly to their L1 advisor COL or command COL any security breaches in relation to the security and protection of protected test materials.
CAF members
  • maintaining SOL skills throughout their career;
  • complying with the SLE testing eligibility criteria and procedures set out in section 6;
  • requesting SOL certification testing through their chain of command;
  • reporting for testing at the appointed date, time and place once registered;
  • seeking retesting:
    • within the 12 months prior to the end of the validity period of their SLE results; and
    • prior to their departure from Canada on a posting or to participate in operations, if their SLE results are due to expire prior to their return to Canada or immediately after their return;
  • verifying, and ensuring the accurate entry of SLE results in the HRMS within 60 days of testing, and seeking assistance from their testing coordinator or COL to resolve issues if required; and
  • keeping a copy of documents notifying them of their SLE results.

9. References

Acts, Regulations, Central Agency Policies and Policy DAOD

Other References

  • DAOD 5031-2, Individual Training and Education Strategic Framework
  • DAOD 5031-9, Course Reporting and Certificates
  • DAOD 5039-7, Second Official Language Education and Training for CF Members
  • DAOD 5070-1, Military Employment Structure Framework
  • A-P9-050-000/PT-Z01, Canadian Forces Individual Training & Education System – Manual of Individual Training and Education, Volume 1(1), Supplement – CFITES Glossary
  • VCDS letter dated 27 August 2010, VCDS Directive – Out-of-Canada (OUTCAN) Governance and Command and Control
  • Extended Jurisdiction Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of National Defence (As Represented by the Canadian Defence Academy) and the Public Service Commission (As Represented by The Staffing and Assessment Services Branch), 2011-2014 (available in paper copy only)
  • Memorandum of Understanding Regarding On-line Testing Facility (OLTF) and Test Result Search Tool (TRST) between the Department of National Defence (Military) and the Public Service Commission, 2011-2014 (available in paper copy only)

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