Appropriate Uses of the Canadian Language Benchmarks Guidelines and Assessment Tools
A) Purpose of the CLB and NCLC
The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) are the national standards for describing, measuring and recognizing the second language proficiency of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants for living and working in Canada.
The Benchmarks provide a national framework of reference for the development of language learning programs, curricula and materials relevant to the needs of adult newcomers to Canada during the process of settlement and integration.
Therefore, the Benchmarks and the assessment tools that have been designed to accompany them are intended as tools to aid in settlement and successful integration of adults who have immigrated to Canada.
B) Intended and Alternative Uses of the CLB
Because the Benchmarks have proven to be a useful tool for assessment and curriculum design, they are being used with a wide variety of student populations in addition to adult immigrants in Canada. In some cases, adult immigrant learners and learners from one or more other populations may be studying English or French within the same programs and classrooms. In other cases, the Benchmarks are being applied in classrooms that are serving no adult immigrant learners. These other populations include but may not be limited to international college and high school students who may or may not be intending to immigrate; overseas learners of English or French for work-related purposes; children and young teens who may be immigrants and/or children of immigrants; employment preparation program participants, Aboriginal Canadian learners of English or French as a second language or skills development; other adult Canadian-born learners who are learning an official language other than their first language; and in the case of the Literacy Benchmarks, Adult Basic Education students who may be native speakers of the locally dominant official language.
The Benchmarks assessment tools were originally intended for use only in Canada, but they are now being used outside of Canada to set the levels of language proficiency required to obtain points for those seeking entry to Canada under the Skilled Worker Class of Immigrants.
For curriculum planning purposes, such alternative uses may be appropriate and encouraged as long as the planner understands that the Benchmarks can serve only as a guideline and that due consideration must be given to the developmental and linguistic needs of the learners. However, use of the assessment tools is not appropriate unless validated for use with that population.
Benchmarks assessment tools have been validated only in the adult immigrant context and should not be used for other purposes until appropriate research has been carried out for the purpose of validating them in the alternative context or adapting them so that they better fit the needs of other specific target populations. Persons considering alternative uses for the Benchmarks assessment tools should consult the Benchmarks testing policy for more information.
Statement prepared by the Appropriate Uses Committee of the CCLB Board and approved by the Executive Council of the CCLB Board.