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The Canadian Government Bilingual Test

The Canadian Government Bilingual Test

The Second Language Evaluation (SLE) Test & Canada Bilingual Certification

Achieving qualifying Second Language Evaluation (SLE) results on the Government of Canada’s language test is a critical component for those seeking a bilingual imperative position.

This post explores:

  • What is Canada’s Second Language Evaluation (SLE)
  • The three different English & French Language Tests
  • Second Language Evaluation Results
  • Resources you will need to prepare

What is the Canadian Government's SLE Test? 3 phases

What is the SLE Test?

The English and French bilingual test is known as the SLE, which is an assessment developed and overseen by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Canada and used to fill bilingual imperative and bilingual non-imperative positions within the federal government.

SLE testing is designed to quantify a candidate’s proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking in French and English. The exams are administered to government workers and crown cooperation employees to ensure compliance with Canada’s official language laws.

The SLE is comprised of three separate evaluations, each assessing a different component of communication:

These three tests vary in length, format, and time limits.

Bilingual imperative roles require candidates to possess specific SLE results to be hired. Non-imperative roles allow two years for an employee to obtain qualifying second language evaluation results.

Test of Reading Comprehension

The SLE reading test assesses a candidate’s ability to read and understand work-related written texts, such as emails, memos, and reports.

The test takes 45-90 minutes and features 25-60 multiple-choice questions depending on how the test is administered.

Learn more about the English & French Reading Test Here

Test of Written Expression

The SLE writing test assesses someone’s knowledge of grammar and vocabulary as well as other skills needed to write effectively in French or English.

The test takes 45-90 minutes and features 30-65 multiple-choice questions depending on how the test is administered.

Find LRDG’s complete guide to the Written Expression Test here.

Oral Language Assessment

The SLE oral test is an interview-style exam administered remotely by a certified language assessor. The test gauges a candidate’s ability to speak and understand French or English.

The oral test takes 20-40 minutes and features open-ended questions about work-related scenarios in order for the assessor to review the candidate’s fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

LRDG has the most comprehensive guide for the Oral Language Assessment. Find it Here.

PSC SLE Results

On all three of the public service language tests, candidates can receive a letter grade indicating their proficiency in French or English. These levels include:

  • Level A – Beginner
  • Level B – Intermediate
  • Level C – Advanced.

Each result is combined into a three-letter linguistic profile (CCC, CBC, BBB, etc.) and used to determine if a candidate meets the specific bilingual proficiency requirements for a government position.

“BBB” or “CBC” in Canada means that a candidate has earned intermediate results in each evaluation. For example:

Reading Writing Oral Interaction


“BBB / BBB” or “CBC / CBC” means that a candidate must possess the same language proficiency profile in their first and second languages. For example:


Reading Writing Oral Interaction
English C B C
French C B C


Federal employees who have compliant SLE results for their respective job descriptions can earn the Canadian bilingual bonus.

PSC SLE test results are typically valid for up to five years before they expire and need to be renewed.

SLE Test Prep & Tutoring with LRDG

LRDG gives government workers and job candidates a flexible and efficient solution to preparing for SLE tests and achieving target levels on the first attempt.

We blend online one-on-one and group tutoring, self-study, and our comprehensive online learning portal to accommodate the modern learner and generate results. We’ve helped 50,000 successful learners since 2002 and maintain an industry-leading 90% test success rate.

Book a Call

What is the Canadian Government's SLE Test?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the second language test in Canada?

The Canadian Government’s official French-English bilingual evaluation is the Second Language Evaluation (SLE) test. This is a three-part proficiency exam that public-sector employees must pass to demonstrate their abilities to read, write, and speak in Canada’s two official languages.

How do I get bilingual certification in Canada?

Government workers and job candidates can receive bilingual certification by taking Canada’s Second Language Evaluation (SLE) — a three-part assessment that tests someone’s ability to read, write and have verbal conversations in French and English.

Why Does Canada Require the SLE?

As a result of Canada’s official language laws, Canadians have a right to be served by their government and crown corporations in either English or French. The SLE ensures public service agencies can find and staff positions with qualified bilingual candidates.