Second Language Evaluation (SLE)

Prepare for the SLE About the components About the levels PSC website

About the Test and its Components

The SLE is made of three parts, each of which may be taken separately.

For more information, consult the Public Service Commission's website. Or, to find out more about training and preparing for the SLE, click here.

Levels of the SLE

There are three levels of competency assessed by the SLE: A, B, and C (C being the most advanced). Additionally, "X" may be designated for a candidate whose competency falls below A-level (obtaining a score of 0-19 in the written portion or 0-17 in the reading portion). "E" may be designated if an  exemption from further testing is granted because performance contains no major weaknesses (obtaining a score of 52-55 in the written portion or 45-50 in the reading portion); such candidates can handle most situations in the second official language with excellent control of the language and a high degree of ease.

Skill Level A Level B Level C
Oral Understands most speech that deals with concrete and routine topics and is delivered slowly and clearly in standard speech Understands the main points of clear standard speech that deals with concrete, work-related topics and is delivered at normal speed Understands linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed
A person speaking at this level can:
  • make themselves understood in short contributions, even though pauses and false starts are very evident
  • talk about everyday aspects of routine activities
  • handle a simple question-and-answer exchange
A person speaking at this level can:
  • give a simple description of a concrete topic
  • explain main points comprehensibly
  • compare and discuss alternatives when complications arise
  • speak with some spontaneity, although pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident in longer stretches
A person speaking at this level can:
  • give clear, detailed descriptions of complex topics
  • summarize a discussion
  • express and sustain opinions
  • respond to complex and hypothetical questions
A person speaking at this level:
  • has sufficient basic vocabulary and grammatical structures to conduct routine transactions involving familiar situations and topics
  • uses structures and vocabulary borrowed from another language which can interfere with the clarity of the message
  • has a pronunciation that requires close attention from the listener, but there are no long stretches that are unclear
A person speaking at this level:
  • has sufficient vocabulary and a variety of simple grammatical 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
  • may be miscommunicating in some areas, but most stretches are clear
  • has a pronunciation that is generally clear enough to be understood, despite an evident accent from another language
  • will, at times, be asked by the listener to repeat or clarify
A person speaking at this level:
  • 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
  • has a pronunciation that is clear, even if an accent from another language is noticeable
  • has occasional mispronunciations but they rarely interfere with communication
Written Ability to write very limited units of information Ability to write short descriptive or factual texts Ability to write explanations or descriptions in a variety of informal and formal work-related situations
A person writing at this level can: write isolated words, phrases, simple statements or questions on very familiar topics using words of time, place or person. A person writing at this level can write with sufficient mastery of grammar and vocabulary to deal with explicit information on work-related topics A person writing at this level can write texts in which the ideas are developed and presented in a coherent manner in which vocabulary, grammar and spelling are generally appropriate and require few corrections
Score: 20 to 30 Score: 31 to 42 Score: 43 to 51
Reading Requires comprehension of texts on topics of limited scope Requires comprehension of most descriptive or factual material on work-related topics Requires comprehension of texts dealing with a wide variety of work-related topics

A person reading at this level can:

  • understand simple texts with elementary information
  • grasp the main idea of texts on familiar topics

A person reading at this level can:

  • grasp the main idea of most work-related texts
  • identify specific details
  • distinguish between main and subsidiary ideas

A person reading at this level can:

  • understand most complex details, inferences and fine points of meaning
  • demonstrate good comprehension of specialized or less familiar material
Score: 17 to 27 Score: 28 to 37 Score: 38 to 44

Prepare for the SLE

The Alliance Française has years of expertise in preparing candidates for the SLE exam. Find out more.