Canada immigration and English Language

Stories regarding language barriers have become common in Canada.

The newcomer struggling to speak English who, as a result, has grave trouble trying to get a job.

The person who can’t communicate with medical staff during an emergency, making her dire situation more dangerous.

The classes filled with English-as-a-second language students; leading to concerns that teachers aren’t giving much attention to students who need to focus on other things.

The breakdowns in communication during condominium council meetings that have been called to discuss urgent costly repairs, sometimes leading to chaos and suspicion.

Such reports, whether they come from neighbours, health officials, school boards or others, illustrate how the difficulties of communicating across different languages can make it harder to build a sense of security and trust.

The Canadian government is taking heed of such stories. And it’s slowly following the lead of some European and other nations in addressing the language minefield.

Jason Kenney, minister of immigration, has been gradually increasing language-proficiency requirements for some immigrants. The changes will have a far-reaching impact.

Canada – A Magnet For Immigration

Canada is a popular country for immigration. It has a high standard of living, strong infrastructure, a clean environment, strong educational system and cultural diversity. In order to immigrate to Canada one must mean the requirements of one of the immigration categories.

English and French are the two “official languages of Canada”. Consequently, proficiency in French or English is required to immigrate to Canada. To be more specific, those wishing to immigrate to Canada will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the the four basic language skills of: speaking, reading, writing and listening.

How proficient must  these skills be?

Not all immigrants are held to exactly the same standard. They are different categories of immigrants to Canada. Different categories are held to somewhat different standards.

The language skills of applicants for immigration to Canada are placed on the “CLB” (Canadian Language Benchmark). This is very complex.

How are these language skills tested?

Canada immigration uses the results of third party testing agencies.


Canada Immigration will accept the results of either:

IELTS – which is a British test and can be taken all over the world

CELPIP – which is a test designed in Canada and can be taken only in Canada

You may take either the IELTS or the CELPIP.

You should do both:

IELTS practice tests; and

CELPIP practice tests.


Canada immigration will accept the results of:



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