CLB vs TEF Canada – NCLC Equivalency Table

CLB vs IELTSMargaux is a citizen of Monaco. Despite French being her mother tongue language, she has heard she needs to take a French test to immigrate to Canada. Of course, Canada accepts two French tests; TEF Canada and TCF Canada. Unfortunately, their expectations are confusing to Margaux. They say you need to have such and such CLB/NCLC score. However, the test Margaux is taking is TEF Canada. She wonders what the relationship between TEF Canada test results and CLB levels is. Margaux is looking for an equivalency table that compares CLB vs TEF Canada.

If you intend to immigrate to Canada, you will likely need to take a language test. Canadian immigration authorities currently accept the following tests:

  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program  (Only CELPIP General)
  • IELTS: International English Language Testing System (Only IELTS General)
  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français

The last first two tests show your proficiency in the English language. However, if you intend to prove your French language knowledge, you need to take one of the last two tests: TEF Canada or TCF Canada. This article introduces TEF Canada and its relationship to CLB, also known as NCLC.

Table of contacts

What is TEF Canada?

TEF stands for Test d’évaluation du français. The test evaluates your knowledge and fluency in the French language. TEF’s organization is Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris (CCIP) or Paris Chamber of Commerce.

TEF tests five areas of your language abilities, namely:

  • Reading: compréhension écrite (Reading comprehension)
  • Listening: compréhension orale (Listening comprehension)
  • Writing: expression écrite (Written expression)
  • Speaking: expression orale (Oral expression)
  • Grammar: grammaire (Grammar)

TEF Canada ignores the last area as the immigration authorities expect your mastery in the first four items.

What is CLB or NCLC?

CLB stands for the Canadian Language Benchmark. The government of Canada uses CLB to identify your mastery of the English language. The French language equivalent to CLB is the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC).

The CLB table

CLB offers scores between 1 and 12. The following tables show the meaning of each score (source: canada.ca).

Stage I – Basic Language Ability

Benchmark and
Ability Level
Listening Speaking Reading Writing
CLB 1: Initial
CLB 2: Developing
CLB 3: Adequate
CLB 4: Fluent
Interpreting simple
spoken communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.
Creating simple spoken communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Interpreting simple written communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Creating simple written communication in routine, non-demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.

 

Stage II – Intermediate Language Ability

Benchmark and
Ability Level
Listening Speaking Reading Writing
CLB 5: Initial
CLB 6: Developing
CLB 7: Adequate
CLB 8: Fluent
Interpreting moderately complex spoken communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Creating moderately complex spoken communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Interpreting moderately complex written communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Creating moderately complex written communication in moderately demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.

 

Stage III – Advanced Language Ability

Benchmark and
Ability Level
Listening Speaking Reading Writing
CLB 9: Initial
CLB 10: Developing
CLB 11: Adequate
CLB 12: Fluent
Interpreting complex spoken communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Creating complex spoken communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Interpreting complex written communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas. Creating complex written communication in demanding contexts of language use within the four Competency Areas.

 

CLB (NCLC) vs TEF Canada table

TEF results do not match CLB/NCLC levels directly. Consequently, we need to refer to reliable sources to find their equivalency. I have used Canada.ca to develop the following CLB/TEF table. The first column shows the CLB level. Then, of course, the other four columns show the TEF equivalency for each competency area.

CLB/NCLC Level TEF Reading

(compréhension écrite)

TEF Writing

(expression écrite)

TEF Listening

(compréhension orale)

TEF Speaking

(expression orale)

1 – 3 120<= (A1) 180<= (A1) 144<= (A1) 180<= (A1)
4 121-150 (A2) 181-225 (A2) 145-180 (A2) 181-225 (A2)
5 151-180 (B1) 226-270 (B1) 181-216 (B1) 226-270 (B1)
6 181-206 (B2) 271-309 (B2) 217-248 (B2) 271-309 (B2)
7 207-232 (B2) 310-348 (B2) 249-279 (B2) 310-348 (B2)
8 233-247 (C1) 349-370 (C1) 280-297 (C1) 349-370 (C1)
9 248-262 (C1) 371-392 (C1) 298-315 (C1) 371-392 (C1)
10 263-277 (C2) 393-415 (C2) 316-333 (C2) 393-415 (C2)
11 – 12 278+ (C2) 416+ (C2) 334+ (C2) 416+ (C2)
Maximum Score 300 450 360 450

 

While I have done my best to avoid any mistakes, this table is not the official conversion table. Consult with other sources as well. You may also consider reading the following articles:

TEF A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 versus CLB or NCLC

If you look at the previous table, you see some letters next to the scores. TEF usually uses those letters in their reports as well. However, the letters are unclear as one of them may refer to two or more NCLC or CLB levels. For example, TEF B2 is both CLB 6 and CLB 7. Therefore, for immigration purposes, focus on the actual scores.

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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