Many customers ask us if they can come to Canada without knowing English well or if they can learn it here after moving to Canada. In this article, Immigration Canada Pro in cooperation with Songbird English Academy, prepared a clear answer to the question of why is it important to improve your English if you want to immigrate, work or study in Canada?
English for Canada: Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs
English is one of Canada’s two official languages (French is it’s second). The Comprehensive Ranking System, which ranks Express Entry candidates, allocates almost one-third of all possible points required to get an invitation to apply for permanent residence for English.
For instance, a maximum score for English that the main applicant can get in Express Entry is 32 points for each skill for married candidates (128 points total) and 34 points for each skill for single applicants (136 points total)! In addition, candidates with a high level of English can be allocated a maximum of 100 points for transferability factors such as a combination of English at a CLB level 9 with a post-secondary degree or a combination of English at a CLB level 9 with 3 years of foreign work experience.
Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) system
Canada assesses knowledge of English in the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) system. The CLB is the national standard used to describe language ability from basic to advanced. CLB standards are used for the assessment of four language skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. They are organized on a 12-point scale for English as a Second Language (ESL) Proficiency:
- Stage I: Basic Proficiency (Levels 1-4);
- Stage II: Intermediate Proficiency (Levels 5-8);
- Stage III: Advanced Proficiency (Levels 9-12).
Express Entry’s Language Thresholds
There are several important thresholds an Express Entry candidate must be aware of. In order to register in the system, a candidate for the Federal Skilled Workers Program must reach CLB level 7. This means you need to score CELPIP grade 7 or IELTS 6.0 for all four skills. Candidates for the Federal Skilled Trades Program must reach CLB level 5 in speaking and listening, and CLB level 4 in writing and reading, which means CELPIP grade 5 and 4 respectively or IELTS 5.0 for speaking and listening, and 3.5 for reading and 4.0 for writing.
Achieve maximum points for English
In order to get maximum transferability points, you must score CLB level 9, which reflects effective English proficiency in work and community contexts. This threshold is equal to CELPIP grade 9 for all four skills or IELTS 8.0 for listening and 7.0 for the three other skills. If you require the maximum points for Express Entry, you must get CLB 10. This will require CELPIP grade 10 for all four skills or IELTS 8.0 for reading, 8.5 for listening and 7.5 for writing and speaking.
If you are applying for Express Entry and need to achieve a high score on your CELPIP or IELTS Test, we are here to help!
Songbird English’s CELPIP and IELTS test preparation lessons are designed to focus on your successful communication in the four English skills and make sure you are well-equipped to reach the language level you require for your application.
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English for Canada: International Students
English is the language of instruction in the majority of Canadian Post-Secondary Education Institutions. International students can study at Universities and Colleges. The difference between them is quite straightforward. While universities are more academic and scholarly in nature and offer a variety of degrees from bachelor to doctorate, most colleges in Canada are aimed at more practical skills that are in demand in the Canadian labour market. Most college programs are one-, two- or three-years programs. Some colleges also offer bachelor’s degrees. In addition, you can also find multiple post-graduate certificate programs for those who already possess academic degrees, but wish to improve specific skills or change their professional career.
What Academic English Tests are acceptable in Canada?
Students at Canadian Universities and Colleges listen to lectures, participate in class discussions, give presentations and write essays and reports.
If English is not your first language or if you’ve been educated in a language other than English, you are required to submit documents demonstrating you meet English language competency requirements.
All prospective international students must show proof they meet a minimum level of English before they are admitted. This can be achieved in several ways, most commonly by:
- Taking a test of English language proficiency that evaluates your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills, such as IELTS, TOEFL, CAEL, Duolingo English Test; or,
- Completing an English for Academic Purposes program at the higher education institution you will attend.
Tests of English Proficiency for Canadian Colleges/Universities
IELTS-Academic and TOEFL internet-based test (iBT) are two of the most widely accepted proficiency tests for higher education studies in Canada.
Canadian Universities and Colleges typically require a minimum IELTS Test Band score of 6.5 overall with no single score below 6.0 or TOEFL iBT score between 80 to 90 overall.
It’s important to note test takers must achieve minimum scores on each part of the examination. Results are only valid if they are from a single sitting of the test (i.e. you cannot combine scores of different skills from multiple test sittings). Make sure to check with each university/college on its English language admission standard, as these are different from college to college.
Songbird English specializes in English for Academic Purposes and IELTS and TOEFL test preparation. We will help you choose the right test for your needs and prepare you for success on exam day.
Get the high test band score you need to succeed and achieve your higher education goals in Canada!
Immigration Pathways for graduates
International students who have completed their programs of study may apply to stay in Canada upon graduation. To do so, you need to obtain a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). This work permit allows foreign graduates to work for any employer in Canada. In turn, PGWP gives you an opportunity to obtain Canadian work experience which you can convert into additional points in Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Program! Concluding that, a study in Canada may become your pathway to permanent residence in Canada.
English for Canada: Foreign Workers
Although there is no mandatory requirement by the Government of Canada to submit language test results when you apply for a work permit, the chance for refusal is much higher if you apply without language test results. For instance, one of the requirements of the Immigration Department is to submit proof that you meet the requirements of the job being offered. As for professional training, applicants submit their education credentials. To show the required work experience, candidates include reference letters from previous jobs. At the same time, in order to understand your tasks and to communicate with employers and customers, foreign workers must also demonstrate the level of English for his/her position. That is why we recommend all foreign workers wishing to get a work permit in Canada to take IELTS General or CELPIP to prove you are proficient enough in English to handle their work.
English for Tradespeople
Most Skilled Trades in Canada do not require a high knowledge of English to be able to perform your duties. At the same time, you still have to be able to understand what you are told and be able to express yourself in the work environment. It is always good to strengthen your application for a work permit with an English language test result, showing at least the CLB level 4 or 5. Even though this level is advanced compared to elementary, it can satisfy the officer assessing your application and improves the chances for a positive decision.
Immigration Pathways for foreign workers
Foreign workers who have at least 9-12 months of Canadian work experience may qualify for becoming a permanent resident in Canada through the Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Program. For instance, if your work permit is an LMIA-supported employer-specific work permit, you will get additional 50 points and 35 points (40 points if you are single) for one year of Canadian work experience in Express Entry. Work in Canada may become your pathway to permanent residence in Canada.