Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs)

Express Entry

How do the CLB levels work?

There are 12 levels to the Canadian Language Benchmarks. These go from basic (CLB 1) to advanced (CLB 12). These are separated into three stages – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced – with four benchmarks within each stage – Initial, Developing, Adequate, and Fluent. 

Each of the CLBs apply to each of the four areas of language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Detailed descriptions of each level are available on the CLB website. The CLB Online Self-Assessment site has even more detail on examples of each ability, but the best – and really only legitimate – way to tell your level is to take a recognized language test.

So, what’s my CLB level? 

As mentioned earlier, CLB is not a test. If you take a language test such as IELTS, you won’t see your CLBs on the results certificate. You can use the tables below to find your CLBs based on the scores you received on your test. Below are CLB levels for the four language tests used in Canada’s popular Express Entry immigration system.

Note that the levels required in order to be eligible to immigrate through one of the programs managed through the Express Entry system depend on the class you’re applying through (the Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, or Canadian Experiences Classes).

IELTS: CLB Levels

The IELTS General Training is one of the approved language tests for demonstrating English-language proficiency in the Express Entry system. Below are the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the IELTS General Training:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Language Test Equivalencies

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 and above 8 7.5 8.5 7.5
9 7 7 8 7
8 6.5 6.5 7.5 6.5
7 6 6 6 6
6 5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5 4 5 5 5
4 3.5 4 4.5 4

CELPIP: CLB Levels

The CELPIP General is one of the approved language tests for demonstrating English-language proficiency in the Express Entry system. Below are the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the CELPIP General:

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
Language Test Equivalencies

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 and above 10 10 10 10
9 9 9 9 9
8 8 8 8 8
7 7 7 7 7
6 6 6 6 6
5 5 5 5 5
4 4 4 4 4

TEF Canada: CLB Levels

The TEF Canada is one of the approved language tests for demonstrating French-language proficiency in the Express Entry system. Below are the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the TEF Canada:

Test d’évaluation de français pour le Canada (TEF Canada)
Language Test Equivalencies

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 and above 263-277 393-415 316-333 393-415
9 248-262 371-392 298-315 371-392
8 233-247 349-370 280-297 349-370
7 207-232 310-348 249-279 310-348
6 181-206 271-309 217-248 271-309
5 151-180 226-270 181-216 226-270
4 121-150 181-225 145-180 181-225

TCF Canada: CLB Levels

The TCF Canada is one of the approved language tests for demonstrating French-language proficiency in the Express Entry system. Below are the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the TCF Canada:

Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada (TCF Canada)

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 and above 549-699 16-20 549-699 16-20
9 524-548 14-15 523-548 14-15
8 499-523 December 13, 2019 503-522 December 13, 2019
7 453-498 October 11, 2019 458-502 October 11, 2019
6 406-452 July 9, 2019 398-457 July 9, 2019
5 375-405 6 369-397 6
4 342-374 April 5, 2019 331-368 April 5, 2019

So now you know what the CLB is, and how to find it. The next step is to take a language test, if you haven’t done so already. It may seem ridiculous, but even if you reckon you’ll get a 12 in every section, you still need to prove it to the government. They’re just sticklers that way. Find out more about approved language tests for immigrating to Canada.

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