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What does “adequate knowledge” of English or French mean when applying for citizenship?

The Citizenship Act requires that new citizens have “an adequate knowledge of one of the official languages of Canada,” which are English and French.

We define “adequate knowledge” as having the equivalent of Level 4 for speaking and listening using the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC). This level means you can, in English or French:

  • take part in short, everyday conversations about common topics;
  • understand simple instructions, questions and directions;
  • use basic grammar, including simple structures and tenses; and
  • show that you know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself.

Learn how we measure your ability to speak and listen in English or French using CLB / NCLC.


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