Understanding the Canadian Language Benchmarks

The Canadian Language Benchmarks framework provides a national standard for describing and measuring language ability in English as a second language for adult newcomers and prospective immigrants. For more information visit language.ca or Canada.ca/immigration.

Understanding the Canadian Language Benchmarks

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Transcript: “Understanding the Canadian Language Benchmarks”

Video length: 7:10 minutes

Text appears: “Understanding the Canadian language benchmarks”

A classroom instructor boils water for her coffee at home, then walks outside to her car.

Text appears: “Some of the people who appear in this video are actors”

Text appears: “A framework for helping newcomers to Canada succeed”

Sue: My name is Sue and I am an English as a second language teacher.

The instructor gets into her car and drives away from her home.

Sue: I teach adults in Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada, or LINC. Some of my colleagues teach French as a second language, which is called Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada, or CLIC.

The instructor teaches to a classroom filled with students.

Text appears: “CLIC - Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada

Sue: My students are a mix of newcomers. Some have just arrived in Canada, while others have been here a bit longer.

The students are listening to the teacher and are giving feedback by nodding their heads.

A woman hands over paper to a receptionist.

Sue: Some need help improving their English to get a job or to prepare for more specific skills training

Students are shown working in a classroom.

Sue: Others want to learn how to navigate everyday interactions like visiting the bank or going to a doctor’s appointment.

A male customer is shown at a bank; the scene quickly fades to a different man getting a check-up by his doctor.

Sue: Developing language skills is very important for settling and integrating into Canadian life. That’s where teachers like me can help.

The instructor shown earlier walks in the hallway at her school. The scene fades to her writing the words “Class Outline“ on a whiteboard. Her students are shown concentrating in their assignments and interacting with her.

Sue: LINC students learn language skills that will help them live, work and thrive in their community. But how they learn is just as important as what they learn. They work through course materials that have been developed using the Canadian Language Benchmarks framework, which we usually call CLB.

Text appears: “CLB – Canadian Language Benchmarks”

Sue: The CLB is a national standard for planning course content for English as a second language instruction. It provides a framework for learning, teaching and assessing adult learners.

The same teacher is giving instructions to her classroom.

Sue: The benchmarks identify levels on the continuum of language ability. There are 12 CLB benchmarks in each of the 4 language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. These benchmarks describe competencies and tasks that demonstrate English language knowledge of immigrants living and working in Canada. They are arranged in 3 stages from “basic” to “intermediate” to “advanced”. Each learner may have a different CLB level for each language skill.

A grid appears, including four rows: “Listening”, “Speaking”, “Reading” and “Writing”. Along the top are three columns: “Stage 1”, “Stage 2” and “Stage 3”. Each stage is split into four columns. Stage 1 shows columns numbered 1-4. Stage 2 shows columns 5-8. Stage 3 shows columns 9-12. A single, colored block appears in each row, indicating a level of competency for each particular skill. The white blocks move from left to right. The word “basic” appears on top of the first stage. The word “intermediate” appear on top of stage 2. The word “advanced” appear on top of stage 3”.

The instructor and the class reappear.

Sue: Evaluating language in a framework like this helps students to be placed in programs at the right level. They can plan their language learning, set their goals and monitor their progress. It also helps teachers easily see where their students are at and how they’re doing, watching their skills improve along a consistent path.

People are shown outside, shopping and taking the bus.

Students are shown happily working in the classroom.

Sue: The course materials are designed to be task-based, offering students real-life, relevant and meaningful activities to help them learn English.

The instructor is shown interacting with students.

Sue: My French colleagues who teach CLIC use course materials that have been developed using the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens, or NCLC, which are similar to the English benchmarks, but based on the French language.

Text appears: « Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens – NCLC » 

Sue: In some ways I’m a student too. I regularly improve my skills by taking training courses to study new materials and practices based on the CLB framework.

The instructor leaves the school and goes back home. She sits down, put on her glasses and write notes.

Sue: I learn how to plan lessons and evaluate language skills in a way that makes sure my students can transition smoothly from my classes to other programs or institutions.

A woman is seen walking in and office and grabbing a coffee.

Sue: I also have access to a wide range of resources that I can order, download, or learn via webinar.

A service provider converses with the instructor online through a webcam. The instructor take notes.

Zhen: Hi, my name is Zhen and I host professional development webinars. LINC instructors from across the country use my webinars to better understand the concepts and structure of the CLB Framework and how to apply it to what they do. The CLB standard provides a national framework for describing and measuring the English language abilities of learners so I show them how to use its structure to prepare lesson plans, adapt materials, teach and assess students consistently.

The instructor continues to take notes based on her conversation with the service provider.

Zhen: For example, if a student's goal is to achieve a minimum CLB4 in listening and speaking skills to apply for citizenship, the “Can do Statements” for this level are a useful reference.

Four icons appear. On the top left is an icon showing two people talking. Below is the title “Speaking” and the subheading “I can ask and answer many simple questions”.

On the top right is an icon showing one person talking and another listening. Below is the title “Listening” and the subheading “I can understand a conversation on a familiar topic when you speak slowly.”

On the bottom left is an icon with an open book. Below is the title “Reading” and the subheading “I can read simple news items.”

On the bottom right is an icon of a pencil and paper. Below this is the title “Writing” and the subheading “I can write a short message”.

Zhen: Or if a student wants to develop more complex language skills as part of a highly skilled profession, the framework provides a common, transparent base for all instructors to assess a student’s language skills and abilities, and tailor training to suit their needs.

A male language instructor leaves an elevator, enters an office, and greets a female student.

Zhen: Gaining a better understanding of the CLB Framework helps language teachers appreciate the role they play in their students’ outcomes. And some instructors may also develop course content.

They enter a boardroom and meet an employer in a boardroom. They begin a conversation as the language instructor types on his laptop.

Kareem: My name is Kareem, and I’m a language teacher who specializes in creating workplace-based language training. I work with employers and their employees to develop and then deliver classes that are specific to a workplace. I’m a first-generation immigrant. My family arrived in Canada when I was 13. When I talk to clients about the CLB, I introduce it as a national framework. And I can speak about its value from 2 perspectives: from the point of view of a newcomer, and from the point of view of a language teacher.

The instructor and student leave the room and have a conversation in a separate room.

Kareem: When my family came here, my brothers and I fell in love with Canada and quickly picked up English in school. But for newcomers, adjusting to a new home and learning a new language can be hard.

The student and the instructor are interacting with one another.

Kareem: Today, I develop workplace language training. The goal is to help people understand each other better at work. I customize the course content and exercises to address areas that may be challenging for some newcomers. Many employees who take these courses are new to Canada and need to improve their language skills so that they can communicate better.

The student is shown working at her computer.

Kareem: Our Canadian values, culture and history are new to them. Things many of us take for granted like learning health and safety rules, or understanding and using work-related vocabulary … newcomers often need help to navigate these tasks and situations.

The instructor takes the elevator to a separate office.

Kareem: Or, they may need to improve their English skills to be able to do more complex tasks at work.

He begins working on his laptop.

Kareem: That’s where my experience with the CLB framework comes full circle. I lean on its structure and guidelines to help me develop workplace training programs. For employers, the goal is to build a strong workforce to compete in today’s economy. But from personal experience, I know that newcomer employees – and society – benefit too.

The scene cuts back to the female instructor in her classroom. Brief scenes of the service provider, male instructor and student appear.

Kareem: Because communities are stronger when everyone is engaged, connected and well-integrated. That’s why the CLBs are so important to newcomers.

The instructors and service provider smile at the camera.

Sue: and to teachers.

Zhen: and to Canada. The CLBs are a framework for success. Because when immigrants succeed, Canada wins.

The scene fades to black.

Text appears: “Canadian Language Benchmarks Framework”, followed by the website URL “Canada.ca/immigration”

Narrator: To get a copy of the CLB framework, go to canada.ca/immigration. Learn more about the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks at language.ca. Or, join the community of practice and download resources when you register at Tutela.ca.

Text appears: “The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks”, followed by the website URL “Language.ca

“Tutela.ca” appears on screen.

The Federal Identity for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada appears, followed by the text Copyright “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2019”

The “Canada” wordmark appears on a black background.

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