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Language Standards in Action: The Case of One Framework and Its Impact on Adult ESL


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Title: Language Standards in Action: The Case of One Framework and Its Impact on Adult ESL

Language Standards in Action The Case of One
Framework and Its Impact on Adult ESL
  • Marianne Kayed,
  • Ottawa Catholic School Board
  • Anne Senior,
  • Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks
  • 24 March 2015 TESOL Adult Pre-Conference Day,
  • Toronto, Ontario

Outline of Topics
  1. Framework vs. Standards
  2. Evolution of the CLB
  3. Structure and Examples of CLB Usage in Language
  4. CLB and Other Uses
  5. Supporting TESL Educators
  6. Questions

Getting to Know You and Us
  • Who is familiar with standards/frameworks for
  • Which ones?
  • Who works with adults?
  • Who works with adult immigrants?
  • About us

Standard or a framework
  • A standard something used as a measure, norm,
    or model in comparative evaluations
  • A framework a basic structure underlying a
    system, concept, or text

Why are National Standards important?
By articulating standards for language
proficiency, all stakeholders can now speak a
common language and make informed decisions
regarding settlement, training and employment
opportunities. CLB 2000 A Guide to
Implementation, page 9
Theoretical Requirements of Models
  • Communicative Competence Mastery of Code and
    Usage Standards (Hymes)
  • Most frameworks feature
  • grammatical, sociolinguistic and strategic
    components in Canale and Swain (1979 1980), to
    which the discourse component is added in Canale
  • linguistic, discourse, referential and
    socio-cultural components in Moirand (1982)
  • grammatical, textual, pragmatic (illocutionary
    and sociolinguistic) and strategic components in
    Bachman (Bachman, 1990)
  • grammatical, textual, functional, sociolinguistic
    and strategic components in Bachman and Palmer
    (1996, 2010)

Symphony of Components
  • Language competence and strategic competence
    (Bachman, 1996, 2010) are meta-cognitive
    components which assure performance management

What are the Canadian Language Benchmarks?
  • The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) are a set
    of national standards for adult immigrants and
    prospective immigrants for living and working in
  • CLB are learner-centred, competency-based,
    task-based, and stress community, study and
    work-related communication tasks.
  • Fair, valid, reliable, transparent

  • Prior to 1986, only heads of households were
    eligible for free language training from the
    federal government
  • 1986 - Settlement Language Program (Citizenship
    Immigration Canada - CIC)
  • Lacked consistency
  • Difficult to evaluate effectiveness from a
    governments standpoint

Seeds of a Standard
  • In a 1990 TESL Conference in Canada, a
    recommendation was made to the government to
    create a national standard
  • Between 1992 and 1996, a National Working Group
    oversaw a pan-Canadian consultation with
    TESL/ESL/EFL field
  • 1996 Canadian Language Benchmarks (Working
    Document) to allow for input from
  • CIC committed to maintain integrity relevance
    identify gaps enhance accessibility

Standard for the Millenium
  • 1999 National consultation process with
  • 2000 Version released
  • Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000 ESL for
    Adults (aka CLB 2000)
  • Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000 ESL for
    Literacy Learners

English and French
  • Canada has two official languages English and
  • Challenges to French being used/taught in
    minority settings outside of Quebec is realized
    in policy
  • Creation of Niveaux de compétence linguistique
    canadiens 2006
  • Quebec has its own set of language standards,
    evolved from the CLB 2000

The First Decade CLB 2000
  • Increase in usage, scope and implementation
  • National Consultation 2008
  • Revision of CLB 2000/NCLC 2006 began in 2009
  • Validation of CLB and NCLC (including the
    Theoretical Framework) in 2010
  • Release of revised CLB/NCLC in 2012
  • CLB/NCLC included in changes to federal
    immigration legislation (2014) and citizenship

Adult Language Training in Canada
  • Government-funded programs
  • Federal program (Language Instruction for
    Newcomers to Canada aka LINC (1992))
  • Provincial programs (e.g. Ontario, Quebec)
  • Tuition-based programs
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • School Boards
  • Settlement agencies and Community organizations
  • Some private training providers

Users of CLB/NCLC - Map from consultation
CLB structure
  • Progression is based on 3 factors
  • Progressively more demanding communication tasks
  • Progressively more demanding contexts
  • Progressively higher expectations of
    effectiveness and quality of communicative
  • Describe competency in four skill areas

Theoretical framework behind CLB/NCLC
  • Reflects models of language ability promoted by
    Bachman (1990), Bachman Palmer (1996, 2010) and
    Celce-Murcia et al. (1995). For more information,
    refer to the Introduction section (pp. VI, VII)
    of the CLB/NCLC Common Theoretical Framework.

LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE Organizational Knowledge Grammatical Knowledge
LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE Organizational Knowledge Textual Knowledge STRATEGIC COMPETENCE
LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE Pragmatic Knowledge Functional Knowledge STRATEGIC COMPETENCE
LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE Pragmatic Knowledge Socio-linguistic Knowledge
Communicative competence
  • CLB describe language in terms of communicative
  • Communicative competence enables language users
    to express themselves in spoken and written
    texts, to interact with other speakers and
    writers, and to negotiate with others in a range
    of specified situations and social settings.
  • Learning a language involves developing both
    communicative performance and communicative
  • Communicative competence takes into account
    socio-linguistic competence, pragmatic
    competence, and grammatical competence, etc.
  • Essential to the notion of communicative
    competence are
  • the important role played by the context of
  • the concept that language takes places in a
    setting and occurs for a purpose.
  • that language speakers should be evaluated on
    their ability to use language to accomplish a
    set of tasks, under specifically defined
    performance and situational conditions.

Increased Rigour
  • As a result of a National Consultation in 2012,
    CLB and NCLC were revised and renewed to reflect
    their increasing use in a variety of different
    contexts including high-stakes ones.
  • The new versions are the result of a well
    planned revision process which included the
    development of a common theoretical framework
    based on a communicative competency model.
  • The final stage of the revision/renewal process
    was a comprehensive validation process.

Validation of CLB/NCLC
  • Draft of a common theoretical framework based on
    accurate revision of existing CLB and NCLC
    theoretical frameworks
  • Validation of by independent experts of
  • the theoretical framework
  • the CLB/NCLC content against the framework
  • Concurrent validity study against
  • CEFR
  • ACTFL Guidelines
  • Échelle québécoise
  • Validation of CLB/NCLC content against authentic
    production samples and tasks
  • Final revisions of the CLB/NCLC

  • A practical, fair means to determine language
    proficiency in terms of common human situations
    and behaviour where language is used
  • Describe what a person is capable of
    accomplishing or demonstrating through language
  • Include a variety of components that describe
    adult communication.
  • Levels indicate completion of a CLB or NCLC
  • 12 levels from basic to advanced

Language Assessments
Assessment Purpose CLB Levels
Canadian Language Benchmarks Placement Test (CLBPT) Placement into CLB-based programs CLB 1-8
Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA) Placement into CLB-Based programs Exit testing CLB 1-8
Enhanced Language Training Proficiency Assessment (ELTPA) Placement into bridging programs CLB 8-10
Workplace Language Assessment Placement into bridging programs CLB 8-10
Canadian Language Benchmarks Literacy Assessment (CLB-LA) Placement into ESL literacy programs CLB Literacy
Literacy Placement Tool Placement into ESL/FSL literacy CLB Literacy
Who does the Assessments?
  • CLARS (Common Language Assessment and Referral
    System) joint initiative between federal
    government and province of Ontario
  • Third party assessment
  • One in each community
  • Online learning management system (HARTS/I-CARE)
  • Single point of entry for adult ESL/FSL immigrant
    and newcomer learners

Specialized Assessments
  • Occupation-specific assessments
  • CELBAN (Canadian English Language Benchmarks
    Assessment for Nurses)
  • ECLAB/BELIC (Engineers Canada Language Assessment
  • High Stakes
  • Milestones Test (for CIC)

Benchmarking Competency Exams
  • Competency Exams (initial research)
  • Medical Council of Canadas Evaluation Exam
  • Medical Council of Canadas Qualifying Exams I
    and II
  • Medical Council of Canadas NAC (National
    Assessment Collaboration)

Immigration to Canada
  • CLB/NCLC 7 is required for entry into Canada on a
    Points system for several immigration categories
    (e.g. Express Entry, FSW, CEC, FSTW, PNP) for
    principal applicant and spouse (pre-arrival)
  • FSTW requires a CLB/NCLC 4 or 5

Language Training Programs
  • LINC (Funder CIC)
  • Provincially funded in Ontario (Funder MCIIT)
  • Programs differ by type of immigrant served e.g.
    Ontario permits naturalized citizens to
  • Program supports / resources/professional
  • Curriculum guidelines
  • Portfolios Based Language Assessment (PBLA)
  • Lesson Plans
  • Can Do Statements
  • Training

CLB Supports for ESL practitioners
  • Pre-service TESL Certification requirements (e.g.
    TESL Ontario)
  • In-Service CLB/NCLC Professional Development
  • Conferences (provincial, federal)
  • in-house PD (mandatory)
  • regional events
  • TESL association affiliate events
  • Online (CLB Boot Camp Modules)
  • Much of the training offered through Centre for
    Canadian Language Benchmarks

Professional development/training
  • For assessors and practitioners in person and
  • Revised CLB and Support Kit Training 
  • PBLA
  • Integrating Assessment into the ESL Classroom  
  • Summative Assessment Manual (SAM) for CLB 1-4
  • CLB 5-10 Exit Task Training 
  • Can Do Statements
  • Placement tests

Other Uses
  • Since 2002, the CLB has been used to identify
    language requirements for non-regulated and
    regulated occupations / professions.
  • Benchmarking results in a CLB/NCLC level but also
    an inventory of language competencies in four
    skill areas.
  • Regulatory bodies to identify safe language
    levels for professional practice standards.
  • Immigrants to know what language skills they need
    to have in order to meet professional
  • ESP practitioners can develop curriculum and
    provide appropriate language instruction related
    to their target goal if it is employment.

CLB Levels for Nurses
  • Initial benchmarking study (2002) five
    provinces, multiple stakeholders funders
  • Recognized as 1 of 2 assessments for English
    proficiency of IENs CELBAN and IELTS
  • Two versions
  • CELBAN Institutional version for training programs

Nursing language tasks
CLB/NCLC Levels for OT/PT
  • CLB/NCLC for Occupational Therapists and
    Physiotherapists for the Canadian Alliance of
    Physiotherapy Regulators, the Colleges of
    Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy of Ontario

What did we learn?
Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists
  • 20 sites observations for each profession in
    English and 7 in French (total 54 sites)
  • Variety of practice care settings (hospitals,
    rehabilitation, private clinics, school boards,
    etc.) plus various sub-specialties
  • Competencies in CLB/NCLC matched to the CAASPR
    adaptation of the CanMEDS framework of

CLB/NCLC Levels for Engineers
CLB/NCLC and Citizenship
  • It is legislated that Citizenship applicants must
    demonstrate completion of a CLB/NCLC 4 in
    Speaking and Listening.
  • School Boards are permitted to provide
    certificates attesting to the oral proficiency of
    a learner. This is tracked in the online system
    and based on evidence-based practice.

CLB Core Documents
  • CLB and NCLC
  • Literacy benchmarks
  • CLB Support Document
  • CLB and NCLC Theoretical Framework

Tools for ESL Practitioners
  • Guide to implementation
  • Curriculum Guidelines
  • Lesson plans
  • Can Do statements
  • CLB Boot Camp (revised 2014/15)
  • PBLA Foundations module
  • Various resources on the CCLB website, (e.g. Lesson plans) and

Academic Placement
Questions or comments
  • CCLB contact
  • Ron Lavoie
  • Ottawa Catholic School Board contact
  • Marianne Kayed
  • Email