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Relating Canadian Language Benchmarks to Essential Skills: A Comparative Framework

Welcome to the online version of Relating Canadian Language Benchmarks to Essential Skills: A Comparative Framework (Version 1). As this is a work in progress, that continues to be validated by use and in research, we would like to hear your feedback on the document. You can do this on the Itsessential Forum. Click here for Forum Instructions on joining the site.

This Comparative Framework has been designed for English as a Second Language (ESL) practitioners who want to incorporate meaningful workplace content and Essential Skills resources into adult second language classrooms and curricula. The document has been organized in the following manner:

  • For each skill, a chart is first presented in order to provide a quick overview of the general relationship between the two scales (Global Descriptors).
  • This initial chart is then followed by a a series of skill tables with examples of tasks and behaviours.

NOTE: This is not a straight-forward alignment, but rather an intersection that reflects the complex and multi-dimensional relationship between two very different underlying scales. Canadian Language Benchmarks levels define learner performance whereas with Essential Skills, complexity levels are based on the task itself. It is not enough to simply consult the alignment tables in the framework in order to make assumptions about ES materials for specific purposes. It reflects an estimate of how both standards/ scales intersect.

Overview of the Comparative Framework

As shown in the table below, the CF presents an alignment of CLB skills with four of the nine Essential Skills.

Canadian Language BenchmarksEssential Skills

Oral Communication


Reading Text



Reading & Writing / Document Use

Document Use

For more information:
Print Page Human Resources and Skills Development in Canada | Ressources humaines et Développement des compétences Canada

Date last updated: April 16, 2009