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

The Citizenship Act requires that citizenship applicants have “an adequate knowledge of one of the official languages of Canada.” Canada’s two official languages are English and French.

We define “adequate knowledge” as having a Level 4 speaking and listening ability. To measure your ability, we use the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC). This level means you can, in English or French:

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

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