About the test

The Oral Language Assessment assesses your ability to communicate orally in your second official language (French or English). A language assessor certified by the Public Service Commission administers the test, which includes questions about work-related situations. If you are not currently employed, you may be asked about studies or volunteer activities.

Format

The test is administered remotely over the internet using a web conference tool (MS Teams) and lasts 20 to 40 minutes including pre-test instructions. The assessor will begin by confirming your identity using MS Teams’ video function and then transition to audio only for the rest of the test.

You do not need to be in a government office to take this test; however, you should make arrangements to be alone in a calm environment where you will not be disturbed for the duration of the test.

Structure of the test

  • Your assessor will guide you throughout the test. No special preparation is required. Answer the questions to the best of your ability.
  • Your assessor will ask you questions designed to allow you to demonstrate which proficiency levels you meet.
  • The test gets increasingly difficult:
    • it starts with simple questions about your work or other familiar activities; your answers allow the assessor to determine whether you demonstrate A-level skills
    • the test then progresses to questions designed to allow you to demonstrate B-level and then C-level skills, as defined by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages
  • The assessor uses your responses to assess your ability to communicate clearly in your second official language. They will determine which questions to ask and when they have enough information to evaluate your performance. As a result, they may redirect you before you feel that you have said all that you could say on a particular topic.
  • Things that will not affect your rating:
    • losing your train of thought when speaking; if this happens to you, let the assessor know and they will help you get back on track
    • not knowing the answer to a question, or feeling that a topic is sensitive for personal or confidential reasons; if this is the case, let the assessor know, and they will move on to another topic or question
    • taking a brief pause to think about what you would like to say before answering questions (this should not interrupt the flow of communication)
    • making mistakes
      • don’t be overly worried about making mistakes
      • if you can’t think of a certain word, use a simple substitute to explain the meaning
      • if you’re aware that you’re making mistakes and would feel better if you corrected them, go ahead and do so, but remember that frequent corrections may disrupt the flow of the communication
  • The test assesses your ability to serve Canadians in your second official language (English or French) on the job. As a result:
    • you must complete the test honestly, by yourself, without help from other people or other resources
    • there may be serious consequences if cheating or fraud of any kind is suspected
    • the manager who ordered the test may choose to reassess you at any point before or after appointing you to a position

Taking notes

  • Using a pen or pencil and notepad, you may take notes during the test as a memory aid or to organize your thoughts.
  • Your notes should be limited to jotting down ideas or key words to ensure that the flow of communication is not disrupted.
  • Due to the protected nature of the test, you must destroy your notes after the test.

Protecting test integrity

The content of the test is copyright and protected. Do not discuss the content of the test with others. Treat this information confidentially so that all candidates can be assessed fairly and accurately. Make sure that you carefully read the Privacy notice statement and Terms of use and understand them before you take the test.

Second official language oral proficiency levels and evaluation

The criteria for oral proficiency are defined by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

Your final result is a global evaluation of your performance on language tasks in a variety of work-related contexts, with the appropriate level of accuracy. The level you receive is based on your sustained performance throughout the test. Based on that performance, you can get:

  • level A, B or C
  • an X (your performance does not meet the minimum requirements for level A)
  • an E (your performance indicates that you can be expected to maintain proficiency at the C level indefinitely and you will receive an indefinite exemption from further testing).
Level A Level B Level C

Understands most speech that deals with concrete and routine topics and is delivered slowly and clearly in standard speech

Understands the main points of clear standard speech that deals with concrete, work-related topics and is delivered at normal speed

Understands linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed

A person speaking at this level can:

  • make themselves understood in short contributions, even though pauses and false starts are very evident
  • talk about everyday aspects of routine activities
  • handle a simple question-and-answer exchange

A person speaking at this level can:

  • give a simple description of a concrete topic
  • explain main points comprehensibly
  • compare and discuss alternatives when complications arise
  • speak with some spontaneity, although pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident in longer stretches

A person speaking at this level can:

  • give clear, detailed descriptions of complex topics
  • summarize a discussion
  • express and sustain opinions
  • respond to complex and hypothetical questions

A person speaking at this level:

  • has sufficient basic vocabulary and grammatical structures to conduct routine transactions involving familiar situations and topics
  • uses structures and vocabulary borrowed from another language which can interfere with the clarity of the message
  • has a pronunciation that requires close attention from the listener, but there are no long stretches that are unclear

A person speaking at this level:

  • has sufficient vocabulary and a variety of simple grammatical structures to handle concrete, non-routine situations and topics and can link a series of simple elements into a connected sequence when giving a factual description
  • may be miscommunicating in some areas, but most stretches are clear
  • has a pronunciation that is generally clear enough to be understood, despite an evident accent from another language
  • will, at times, be asked by the listener to repeat or clarify

A person speaking at this level:

  • has a fairly natural and even delivery, with occasional hesitations, but most hesitations are for ideas
  • has a broad range of vocabulary and structures when talking about complex and abstract topics, with a relatively high degree of control
  • makes errors, but these rarely lead to misunderstanding
  • has a pronunciation that is clear, even if an accent from another language is noticeable
  • has occasional mispronunciations but they rarely interfere with communication

Test result

The test centre will send your result to the contact person in the department or agency that requested your test within 5 business days of your test date. The contact person should communicate the result to you soon after. If you don’t receive your results when expected, please follow up with the contact person. The result sheet is the only feedback currently available.
This result is valid:

  • for 5 years
  • for an indefinite period of time, for persons who remain in the same position, provided that the linguistic profile of the position is not raised above the person's skill level while they are in the position

If you take the test, and the result is valid, your new result will replace any previous oral test results recorded by the Public Service Commission.
Please note that the manager may reassess a candidate at any time prior to or after making an appointment should there be concerns about an employee’s proficiency level and/or to respect departmental policies on updating expired test results.

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