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Navigating Canada’s French Language Test: A Beginner’s Guide

Navigating Canada’s French Language Test: A Beginner’s Guide

Canada’s Second Language Evaluation (SLE) for French and English can be overwhelming. For beginners, navigating the process, finding out where to begin, and even how to prepare can be an undertaking in and of itself.

This beginner’s guide will help cover all the SLE basics, including:

  • What is Canada’s SLE, and why it is important
  • How to take the SLE and schedule evaluations
  • What resources do you need to ensure success

The Second Language Evaluation: Why It Exists, And Its Importance

The SLE is designed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Canada to empower government agencies and crown corporations to staff bilingual positions with professionals who can serve citizens equally in Canada’s official languages — French and English.

LRDG_The French Language Beginner’s Guide: Prepare with LRDG

The SLE French Language Tests

Public sector workers in bilingual positions are vetted for French and English proficiency during the hiring process. These employees must maintain their results over time, can be re-evaluated as needed, and may need to achieve higher results when seeking a promotion or new role.

The PSC SLE tests a candidate’s ability to read, write, and speak in their second language. It consists of three tests, primarily administered online and during a video conference.

Test of Reading Comprehension — The SLE reading test measures candidates’ ability to understand and interpret work-related texts in their second language, such as emails, memos, and reports.

Find LRDG’s complete Reading Comprehension test here.

Test of Written Expression — The writing portion of SLE testing assesses a candidate’s ability to engage in written communication. This requires correct answers concerning grammar and vocabulary.

Read LRDG’s full Written Expression test guide here.

Oral Language Assessment — During the SLE French oral exam, candidates meet in a video conference with a certified language assessor, where they will engage in a conversation. The candidate’s responses are analyzed to determine their oral proficiency and accuracy.

Get an in-depth walkthrough and practice questions for the Oral Language Assessment here.

Second Language Evaluation Results

SLE test results are assigned to three proficiency levels. These include:

Level A — Beginner
Level B — Intermediate
Level C — Advanced

Candidates may also be assigned an “X” for an SLE exam, indicating they did not meet the minimum score to earn Level A.

Candidates using supervised SLE test formats have the opportunity to be assigned an “E” when their score is high enough above the score range for Level C. An “E” exempts candidates from future and does not expire.

Learn more about renewing SLE results levels and exemptions here

Specialized positions involving writing, translation and teaching may require a Code P.

A candidate’s Government of Canada French levels are recorded and combined into a three-letter linguistic profile. For example, an individual who achieves Level B results in all three tests will have a BBB profile.

SLE test results must match or exceed the required levels. Each test level result is valid for five years.

Learn more about SLE language profiles here.

How to Take the French SLE

A hiring manager at the agency or corporation where a candidate applies will coordinate and schedule testing. Candidates should communicate with a hiring team to discuss scheduling and requirements.

Most SLE tests are taken online. PSC professionals administer the French oral test during a video conference call. In-person accommodations can be requested for specific circumstances.

In some cases, other testing accommodations also exist.

Read LRDG’s complete SLE test administration here.

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Practice Tests, Test Questions & Resources

Canada’s SLE French testing has many moving parts. The good news is, great, free information is available online to help you better understand the process and what to expect.

For all official information, it is best to reference the PSC’s Official Second Language Evaluation Page.

Candidates should also consider following the LRDG Blog!

SLE French Practice Tests

Practice tests are a great way to self-assess and familiarize yourself with testing formats and questions.

Online Self-Assessment Tests
The Public Service Commission offers the following self-assessment tests online:

PDF Self-Assessment Booklets are also available.

Test Preparation
The Government of Canada also provides SLE learning and preparation materials. Reviewing the following publication material in both French and English can be beneficial to understand testing format and see example questions.

Note: Due to updated tests and standards, these publications may include obsolete formats and styles.

SLE Test Preparation

There are several options for beginners to seek help in preparing for the SLE, including:

  • Enrolling in classroom or online-based language courses,
  • Hiring a private tutor,
  • Subscribing with an e-Learning service.

Each of these options contributes different variations of benefits, but they may also include drawbacks depending on availability, costs and effectiveness. Ultimately, the best service is what works best for each learner.

Traditional French Courses
Advantages Disadvantages
Personal Interactions Rigid Schedules
Structure Commuting
Social Learning Limited Personal Attention


Online SLE French Training




Self-Discipline Required

Personalized Learning

Less Direct Interaction

Access to Resources

Technology Dependence


Variable Quality


Ready to Conquer the SLE With Confidence? LRDG is here to Guide You Every Step of the Way.

Achieving success in the Second Language Evaluation (SLE) is pivotal for those seeking bilingual positions within the Canadian government. At LRDG, we understand the stakes and are committed to equipping you with the tools you need to excel. With over 20 years of experience, our tailored tutoring programs have helped more than 50,000 public servants achieve their language certification goals​​​​.

Why choose LRDG? Our approach combines personalized tutoring, an expansive online learning portal, and the flexibility to fit your busy schedule. Whether you need to start from the basics or are brushing up for a recertification, our programs cater to all levels of proficiency, ensuring you’re prepared to not just pass but to excel​​​​!

Don’t let language barriers hold you back from advancing your career. Join the thousands who have succeeded with LRDG and take advantage of our industry-leading 90% test success rate. Ready to start your journey to fluency? Schedule a call today to discover how LRDG can help you achieve your bilingual goals.