Chances are, if you have looked into immigrating to Canada you have come across the enigmatic acronym, CLB. And based on the title of this article, you have probably guessed it does not stand for Canadians Love Bacon (although we do, we even have our own kind of bacon).
Canadian Language Benchmarks, or CLBs, are a standard used in Canadian immigration applications to describe 12 levels of language ability in Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. They are used in many contexts, including immigration to Canada, and studying in Canada.
The CLBs are not a test themselves – they are ways of describing the results you would get on a language test such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test d’évaluation du français (TEF) test. So there is no such thing as a CLB test, but you can use your language test results to determine your language level according to the CLBs.
Learn more about approved language tests for Canadian immigration.
Why do I need to know my CLB level?
If you are applying to immigrate to Canada, you will almost definitely need to know your CLB level. Candidates who apply for Canadian permanent resident status through any of the programs managed under the Express Entry system need to prove a minimum CLB level depending on the class they are applying through, and can obtain further points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for a CLB level of 5 or higher in their second language. Any accompanying spouse can get even more CRS points for their language level too, and this also needs to be proved with a CLB level.
The CLB may be required in other Canadian immigration programs too: for example, candidates hoping to apply through the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program can also get points under the separate QSW points system for a CLB level of 5 or higher in English.
Knowing your CLB level may also be helpful if you want to study in Canada. The CLB is used as a framework in English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching in Canada, and may be required by your future college or university to show that you are able to understand the course material of your intended study program. Learn more about language tests for future international students.