For Volunteers Working with Refugees

IRCC Welcome to Canada Video

This Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) video, Your First Two Weeks in Canada, is dubbed in Arabic and will help your learners get some information about living in Canada. Click on the image below to open the video.



Introduction to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)

The CLB are national standards of English as a second language for adult immigrants. They are not a test nor a curriculum, but many tools and resources have been developed around them.

There are 12 benchmarks divided into three stages for four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. They describe what a learner can do at each of the benchmarks, for example, a learner at CLB 1 in speaking should be able to communicate very basic information using a few, common words usually in response to simple questions. At CLB 12, a learner is at an extremely high level and will not need any help at all. A learner is not usually the same benchmark in each of the four skills. The CLB level means that the learner has completed most of the descriptors for that benchmark.

Here is a link to the document. You can print and use it freely. You may find the introduction page XVII will help you how to understand how to use the document. Click on the image below to view the document.



Here are some of the many tools to help you use the CLB:

CLB Boot Camp

The CLB Boot Camp is a free online 10-hour self-study module that will help you understand what the benchmarks are and how you can use them.

It can be accessed as follows:

  • Go to
  • Create a user account
  • Click “login” at the top right corner of the page
  • Enter your username/password which you created for your account and click “login”
  • On the home page, click “CLB Bootcamp”
  • The course homepage will appear. You will receive a welcome notice and be automatically enrolled in this course.


CAN DO statements

An easy tool that you can use are the CAN DO statements.

The Can Do statements will help you discuss with the learner what he or she can do and what needs to be learned.

They are good resources to:

  • help the learner understand what they have already accomplished
  • help you discuss goals and progress with the learner

You can download and print these for free. Click on the image below to view the various levels in the 4 different skills.



CLB Support Kit

The CLB Support Kit provides lots of information on using the CLB with learners. The kit includes checklists, templates, lesson ideas and exemplars of tasks at the different benchmarks. A really useful part of the kit is the video, audio and writing examples of learners at CLB 1-12. The kit provides reasons for why the learner is at that benchmark. A free downloadable copy of this resource and exemplars can be found at




You may suspect that the learner has literacy needs. You can use the CLB: ESL for ALL (Adult Literacy Learners) to help you plan some learning activities. This document contains the literacy benchmarks which connect the CLB. A free downloadable copy is available by clicking on the image below.



Literacy Support Kit

To further help you with literacy needs, we developped a support kit for the literacy benchmarks which has a lot of teaching tools as well as many needs assessment forms. A free downloadable copy is available by clicking on the image below.


How to use the literacy benchmarks as well as the literacy support kit

We have 2 free online courses on literacy, they will greatly help you in getting more knowledge on using the literacy benchmarks and show you the different tools at your disposal within the benchmark document as well as the support kit that was developped to go with it. Please note that our courses are for language trainers, not language learners.

It can be accessed as follows:

  • Go to
  • Create a user account
  • Click “login” at the top right corner of the page
  • Enter your username/password which you created for your account and click “login”
  • On the home page, click “CLB Literacy Training Courses”
  • Then a list of courses will show:
    • An Orientation to ESL for ALL
    • CLB: ESL for ALL Support Kit Training
    • Meeting the Needs of ESL Literacy Learners: Needs Assessment, Goal-setting and Learning Reflections (Note: This is a narrated slideshow. After downloading and opening it in PowerPoint, select Slideshow in the View menu to play the slideshow with audio.)
    • Meeting the Needs of ESL Literacy Learners: Focus on Task (Note: This is a narrated slideshow. After downloading and opening it in PowerPoint, select Slideshow in the View menu to play the slideshow with audio.)
  • Click on the course you want and begin.


Literacy Placement Tool

You can also use the Literacy Placement Tools (1 and 2) to help you find out about your learner’s language levels as it is an appropriate tool to assess reading, writing and numeracy competencies.

The LPT – Volume 1 tasks are designed for ESL literacy learner who may:

  • be speakers of a language that lacks a written code,
  • have had very little education in their own countries,
  • have gone to school sporadically or
  • have come from a country with a non-Roman alphabet.

The LPT - Volume 2 tasks are designed for adult ESL learners whose profiles include:

  • having little education in their own countries;
  • requiring re-skilling due to injury or job displacement;
  • suffering from learning disabilities which affect the pace and progress of acquiring reading, writing and numeracy competencies; and
  • newcomers whose goals include preparing to enter the Canadian workforce.


Lesson plans

A selection of lesson plans are available for learners at levels CLB 1–8. These lessons are organized by theme, topic and CLB level and outline ideas for activities and tasks to help learners develop CLB competencies in all four skills. They can be found here.

Alternatively, you can also find “Language Learning for Health” lesson plans that cover a series of 8 healthy eating topics, each adapted to three levels of language competency – CLB1; CLB 2-3 and CLB 4-5 wich were developed by Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). These lesson plans can be used by anyone interested to incorporate public health content into language instruction. They are free for use and can be downloaded on the OLIP website under Knowledge Base / Toolkits:


Online self-assessment

You can help your learner assess his or her language level though an online self-assessment that will provide the benchmark stage that the learner is in.


Various Types of Assessment

Learners may be assessed by qualified assessors using:

  • Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment (CLBA)
  • Canadian Language Benchmarks Placement Test (CLBPT)
  • Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment for Literacy Learners (CLBA-LL)
  • Literacy Placement Tools 1 and 2 (LPT 1 and LPT 2)
  • Enhanced Language Training Placement Assessment (ELTPA)
  • Workplace Language Assessment (WLA)

Here is a document explaining the assessments National Assessment Framework.

If you want to help your learner understand their CLBPT results please see: Understanding your Canadian Language Benchmarks Placement Test (CLBPT) Assessment Report.


Assessment Centres

All learners, including literacy learners can be assessed at an assessment centre with a CLB assessment test.


Working in Canada

Are your learners preparing to work in Canada? Here are some tools to help them:

  • Can Do statements for employment
  • Work Ready is a collection of tools, checklists, case-studies, tips and practice exercises
  • Another great resource is which links CLB and essential skills. It includes lots of lesson plans.


Additional resources

For information related to provincial and territorial sites and programs and FREE access to more ESL/FSL resources, please visit:

Federal and provincial governments:

Tutela is a repository of tools and resources:


Programs/services by province:

Federal Government

Across Canada- for families


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia


Prince Edward Island




Questions and Answers

Q. Can anyone use the Canadian Language Benchmarks?

A. Yes, if the standards are used to support the assessment or training of adult immigrants to Canada.


Q. How can I get trained on using the Canadian Language Benchmarks?

We suggest you start by completing Boot Camp at Many TESL training programs offer training on CLB or contact CCLB to learn about more courses.


Q. How do I know what level my learner is?

A. The best way is to have the learner assessed using a CLB assessment. To find an assessment centre, click here. Your learner can also take the online self-assessment. We also encourage you to discuss needs and progress with your learner using the CanDo statements. If your learner has literacy needs you can use the LPT 1 and 2.


Q. Can I expect my learner to be the same CLB in all four skills?

Most learners have a jagged profile – meaning they are stronger in some skills than others.


Q. What tools will be most helpful for me as I work with my learner?

Remember CLB is not a curriculum. There are some curriculi on that you can refer to. The CCLB’s Support Kit and other resources are available on


Q. Where can I get additional help or information?

A. Contact [email protected] for additional information or help.