Languages are a must-have skill to adapt to life in Canada. The Government of Canada offers language assessment and instruction classes (in English and French) for newcomers in Canada to help them smoothly transition into Canadian life. 

The language assessment helps in mapping your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level. Its format is similar to any of the language tests taken at the time of visa application (IELTS, CELPIP, TEF, etc.), takes 1.5 to 4 hours to complete, and its results are valid for 1 year.

Here are 2 key reasons why you would need the CLB score during your initial months in Canada: 

  • If you intend to register for any of the free (government-funded) courses or bridging programs provided by settlement agencies.
  • If you want to improve your skills or learn English/French and wish to register for free language classes. 

Where can you go to get your language skills assessed? 

  • Before you land in Canada, you can visit the CLB website to take a sample test online. Note that those results are not official and are for your information only.
  • Post landing, you can visit any of the settlement agencies closer to where you live and they will help you schedule a date/time to take the test. YMCA is one of the agencies that offer the assessment and is very popular with a lot of newcomers for the services they offer. 

What happens next?

Once you complete the assessment, your CLB scores are automatically linked to your PR card. 

  • If your goal was to register for a course or bridging program, you can then simply provide your PR card details and they will be able to view and record your score. 
  • If you intended to learn English or French, depending on your end goal: to simply learn a new language, better your communication, or take up any occupation-specific training, potential courses will be recommended, and next steps will be advised to you. 

The Canadian government funds various language courses to help newcomers. 

The key programs are titled:

More details about the programs can be found on the Government of Canada website

Language training programs are conducted by the settlement agency’s partner organizations. The French programs are always in high-demand and often, there’s a waitlist to be accepted in one of the courses. So it’s better to apply earlier than when you intend to start the course. 

Taking a language class can not only help build your confidence and communication skills but it can also be a great way to network and build connections—which is so crucial to finding the right career opportunity in Canada. It serves as an excellent forum to meet people of varied nationalities, build sensitivity and respect towards different cultures, and connect with individuals with whom you organically share a common area of interest!