This course is designed for public servants or
people interested in completing the French as a Second Language Oral and
Written Proficiency Test. We offer course preparation to
succeed at level A, B, C or Superior. We prepare candidates to pass this test with an assessor. The test is administered
by telephone or face-to-face and lasts 20 to 40 minutes. It is
comprised of four parts, which are described below.
Part 1: Questions and answers about work or other familiar activities
- You will answer some brief questions about your work or other
familiar activities (e.g., studies or volunteer activities, if
you are not currently employed) for which short, factual answers
will be expected.
- Duration: two to six minutes.
Part 2: Listening and speaking in response to short messages
- The assessor will play two short voicemail messages (10 to
15 seconds each) and two short work-related conversations (30
to 35 seconds each).
- After listening to each recording twice, you will be asked
to identify the reason for the call, what needs to be done or
what help is being offered.
- Duration: approximately seven minutes.
Part 3: Talk with follow-up questions
- The assessor will propose three topics for the talk.
- You will choose one topic; then you will have a minute and
a half to prepare for your talk.
- Your talk should last two to three minutes.
- After your talk, you will be asked to answer some follow-up
- Duration: 10 to 12 minutes.
Part 4: Listening and speaking in response to a longer conversation
- The assessor will play a two-minute recording of a work conversation
between two people at a meeting.
- After listening to the recording twice, you will be asked to
provide a brief summary of its content and then answer related
- Duration: 11 to 13 minutes.
The degree of difficulty of the Second Language Evaluation (SLE) - Test of Oral Proficiency (TOP) gradually increases
as the test progresses. The assessor will inform you of the different
phases of the test. Based on the degree of proficiency that you
demonstrate during the test, the assessor will decide whether you
will take two, three or all four parts. The assessor uses a computer
to select questions, play the recordings and record the test.
You must arrive 15 minutes before your test is scheduled to start
in order to complete administrative forms.
The content of the SLE - TOP is protected. It
is very important to respect the confidentiality of this test.
Please do not discuss the content of the test with others.
The assessor uses your responses to assess your ability to communicate
clearly in your second official language. It is not uncommon for
people to lose their train of thought at times when speaking, even
in their first language. This can also happen when people become
nervous or anxious. If this should happen to you during the test,
you may want to mention it to the assessor. He or she will help
you get back on track and will not consider this in determining
In addition, if at any time during the test you do not know the
answer to a question, or if a topic is sensitive for personal or
confidential reasons, be sure to inform the assessor and he or
she will move on to another topic or question. This will also not
affect your rating.
It is the assessor's role to guide you through the test so that
he or she will have the necessary sample to appropriately evaluate
your oral communication skills in your second official language.
To do this, he or she may occasionally redirect you before you
feel that you have said all that you could say on a particular
The test is recorded to provide a record of the test for administrative
purposes. All the information on the recording of the test is confidential
and is protected under the Privacy Act.
The SLE - TOP evaluates your ability to communicate orally in
your second official language in work-related situations. Assessors
receive extensive training in administering the test and assessing
both the language tasks that you can accomplish and the clarity
with which you communicate. They will also try to help you feel
at ease during the test.
Your final result is a global evaluation of
your ability to perform language tasks in a variety of work-related
contexts with the appropriate level of accuracy. The language tasks
and the degree of accuracy required become more demanding from
Level A to Level C. Based on your test performance, you will obtain
Level A, B or C, or receive an exemption from further testing in
oral proficiency. Exemption from further testing is granted to
C-level candidates who do not demonstrate any major weaknesses.
If your performance does not meet the minimum requirements for
Level A, you will receive an X.
Assessors use the global criteria below when assigning language
SLE - TOP Global Oral Proficiency Criteria
Can understand linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related
topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed. Can give
clear, detailed descriptions of complex topics and can summarize
a discussion. Can express and sustain opinions and can respond
to complex and hypothetical questions. Has a fairly natural and
even delivery, with occasional hesitations, but most hesitations
are for ideas. Has a broad range of vocabulary and structures when
talking about complex and abstract topics, with a relatively high
degree of control. Makes errors, but these rarely lead to misunderstanding.
Pronunciation is clear, even if an accent from another language
is noticeable. Occasional mispronunciations occur, but they rarely
interfere with communication.
Can understand the main points of clear standard speech that deals
with concrete, work-related topics and is delivered at normal speed.
Can give a simple description of a concrete topic, can explain
main points comprehensibly and can compare and discuss alternatives
when complications arise. Can speak with some spontaneity, although
pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident
in longer stretches. Has sufficient vocabulary and a variety of
simple structures to handle concrete, non-routine situations and
topics and can link a series of simple elements into a connected
sequence when giving a factual description. There may be miscommunication
in some areas, but most stretches are clear. Pronunciation is generally
clear enough to be understood, despite an evident accent from another
language. Listeners will, at times, need to ask for repetition
Can understand most speech that deals with concrete and routine
topics and is delivered slowly and clearly in standard speech.
Can make self understood in short contributions, even though pauses
and false starts are very evident. Can talk about everyday aspects
of routine activities and can handle a simple question-and-answer
exchange. Has sufficient basic vocabulary and grammatical structures
to conduct routine transactions involving familiar situations and
topics. Structures and vocabulary borrowed from another language
can interfere with the clarity of the message. Pronunciation requires
close attention from the listener, but there are no long stretches
that are unclear.
X: Performance does not meet the minimum requirements
for Level A.
Exemption: Exemption from further testing because
performance contains no major weaknesses. Can handle most situations
in the second official language with excellent control of the language
and a high degree of ease.
We recommend that you take notes during the test, using the pens,
pencils and notepad supplied in the testing room.
The assessor or the responsible officer will collect and shred
your notes after the testing session. However, the assessor will
not use your notes taken during the test to rate your performance.
Test results and feedback
The test centre will send your results to the contact person in
the organization that requested your test within 5 working
days. The contact person should communicate the result
to you soon after. Should you not receive your results when expected,
please follow up with the contact person.
You will receive written feedback on your test performance.
- Bring one piece of identification with photo and signature,
and have your Personal Record Identifier (PRI) available if you
are a federal government employee.
- If you need test accommodations because of a disability, please
notify the responsible officer in the organization that requested
- If you should feel indisposed before or during the test, tell
the assessor or the officer in charge. Otherwise, you must accept
the test result and the retest restrictions.
Tips / helpful hints
- Try to communicate in your second official language as much
as possible before taking the test. You can listen to the radio,
watch television or speak in your second official language with
your colleagues and friends.
- Arrive on time and start speaking your second official language
as soon as you meet the assessor. This will help you adjust more
quickly to the testing session.
- We recommend that you take notes during the test.
- Do not be overly worried about making mistakes. If
you cannot think of a certain word, use a simple substitute to
explain the meaning. If you are aware that you are making mistakes
and would feel better if you corrected them, go ahead and do
so. However, remember that frequent corrections may disrupt the
flow of the communication.
- Consult the Questions
and Answers in the SLE section of the Public
Service Commission Web site.