Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages

Table of Content

Introduction

These qualification standards apply to positions requiring the use of both official languages – English and French. They define the levels of proficiency for each of the three language skills:

  • Written Comprehension in the Second Official Language
  • Written Expression in the Second Official Language
  • Oral Proficiency in the Second Official Language

There are two types of language qualifications for bilingual positions:

  • General second official language qualifications – A, B, or C
  • Specific language qualifications requiring Code P

Official language qualifications are identified objectively and are relevant to the duties and responsibilities of the position as it relates to communications with and services to the public and language of work.

The web-based tool, Determining the Linguistic Profile of Bilingual Positions, is available to help managers establish the linguistic profile of positions. A printable final report presents the profile and the functions associated with a particular position.

Application

These standards apply to all institutions subject to Schedules I and IV of the Financial Administration Act.

Related Requirements

Institutions also apply the following requirements:

General Second Official Languages Qualifications

Second official language qualifications and proficiency levels are identified objectively and are relevant to the duties and responsibilities of the position as it relates to communications with and services to the public and language of work.

Tests used to assess proficiency levels for general second language qualifications – A, B, or C – in written comprehension, written expression and oral proficiency are prescribed by the Public Service Commission.

These tests and standards apply to all occupational groups.

There are three levels of proficiency for general second official language qualifications:

  • A (lowest)
  • B
  • C (highest)

They are cumulative:

Level A B C
Can accomplish:

Tasks at level A

Tasks at level A
Tasks at level B
Tasks at level A
Tasks at level B
Tasks at level C

When a skill is not required, a dash ("-") is used in the linguistic profile instead of a proficiency level.

There are also two additional possible language test results: X and E.

Individuals obtaining an X are demonstrating that their performance does not meet the minimum requirements for Level A for this ability.

Individuals obtaining an E are exempted indefinitely from further language testing for this ability. It is granted to persons whose second language test performance indicates that they can be expected to maintain their second language proficiency at Level C indefinitely.

An exemption is not a proficiency level and is not listed in the linguistic profile of bilingual positions.

Written Comprehension in the Second Official Language, Proficiency Level A

Standard Description

Level A is the minimum level of second language ability in written comprehension for positions that require comprehension of texts on topics of limited scope.

A person reading at this level can:

  • fully understand very simple texts;
  • grasp the main idea of texts about familiar topics; and
  • read and understand elementary points of information such as dates, numbers, or names from relatively more complex texts to perform routine job-related tasks.

A person at this level would not be expected to read and understand detailed information.

Examples

A person at this level can read:

  • internal communications
  • letters
  • email messages
  • routine forms (e.g., requisitions, invoices)
  • very simple texts

In order to:

  • file
  • distribute
  • pick out specific units of information (e.g., dates, numbers, names)
  • process routine requests (e.g., requisitions, work orders, invoices)
  • fully understand very simple texts
  • understand the general idea regarding familiar, work-related topics
  • carry out routine, simple actions (e.g., understand photocopying instructions, order office supplies, read a meeting agenda)

Written Comprehension in the Second Official Language, Proficiency Level B

Standard Description

Level B is the minimum level of second language ability in written comprehension for positions that require comprehension of most descriptive or factual material on work-related topics.

A person reading at this level can:

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

A person at this level will have difficulty reading texts using complex grammar and less common vocabulary.

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the activities of level A and can also read work-related:

  • reference materials
  • reports
  • articles
  • notices

In order to:

  • extract information or specific details required for the job
  • understand the general idea of the content
  • verify that the content is factually correct when the text was prepared by others

Written Comprehension in the Second Official Language, Proficiency Level C

Standard Description

Level C is the level of second language ability in written comprehension for positions that require comprehension of texts dealing with a wide variety of work-related topics.

A person reading at this level can:

  • understand most complex details, inferences and fine points of meaning; and
  • have a good comprehension of specialized or less familiar material.

A person at this level may miss some seldom-used expressions and have some difficulty with very complex grammatical structures.

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the activities at levels A and B and can also read work-related:

  • policy papers
  • research papers
  • technical reports
  • books
  • complex contracts or specifications
  • legislation or regulations

In order to:

  • ensure completeness and accuracy
  • extract details for action or interpretation
  • review for meaning and tone when it was prepared by others
  • obtain an in-depth understanding of the content
  • assess implications
  • provide comments
  • make recommendations

Written Expression in the Second Official Language, Proficiency Level A

Standard Description

Level A is the minimum level of second language ability in written expression for positions that require writing simple units of information in the second language.

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 at this level is expected to make errors of grammar, vocabulary and spelling. These errors are acceptable as long as the message is understandable.

Examples

A person at this level can write:

  • isolated words
  • simple phrases
  • simple messages
  • lists (e.g., items, names, activities)
  • titles or subject headings
  • brief notes

In order to:

  • fill out a form or report related to one’s duties
  • note simple point-form messages
  • complete an index or table of contents
  • request and provide simple information
  • use templates in familiar situations

Written Expression in the Second Official Language, Proficiency Level B

Standard Description

Level B is the minimum level of second language ability in written expression for positions that require writing short descriptive or factual texts in the second language.

A person writing at this level can:

  • deal with explicit information on work-related topics since they have sufficient mastery of grammar and vocabulary.

A person at this level will communicate the basic information, but the text will require some corrections in grammar and vocabulary as well as revision for style.

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the activities of level A and can also write work-related:

  • short, routine messages
  • short texts
  • short descriptions
  • brief comments
  • simple, factual correspondence or directives

In order to:

  • adapt templates by adding a few words or slightly modifying the content
  • request or provide information, explanations or instructions
  • explain or request that action be taken
  • formulate observations
  • present conclusions
  • summarize a text or meeting in point or note form

Written Expression in the Second Official Language, Proficiency Level C

Standard Description

Level C is the level of second language ability in written expression for positions that require writing explanations or descriptions in a variety of informal and formal work-related situations.

A person writing at this level can:

  • write texts where ideas are developed and presented in a coherent manner.

A person at this level will use vocabulary, grammar and spelling that are generally appropriate and require few corrections. A person at this level can also modify or correct texts to improve meaning, tone, clarity and conciseness

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the activities at levels A and B and can also write work-related:

  • correspondence
  • briefing notes
  • memoranda
  • reports
  • recommendations
  • research papers
  • comprehensive summaries
  • detailed presentations

In order to:

  • provide or request detailed facts and reasons
  • provide information or comment on contentious issues

Oral Proficiency in the Second Official Language - Level A

Standard Description

Level A is the minimum level of second language ability in oral proficiency for positions that require simple and repetitive use of the second language in routine work situations.

A person speaking at this level can:

  • ask and answer simple questions;
  • give simple instructions;
  • give uncomplicated directions relating to routine work situations.

Persons at this level make many errors and has deficiencies in grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency, which may interfere with the clarity of the message. Since they may have problems understanding speech spoken at a normal rate, repetitions by others may be required for them to understand what is being said.

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the following activities:

  • ask and answer simple questions about names, addresses, dates, times or numbers
  • make requests to colleagues or other employees and respond to such requests about simple and uncomplicated matters
  • give and follow simple directions and instructions
  • provide short, repetitive answers or information
  • exchange common courtesies (e.g., thank you, you’re welcome, have a nice day)

Oral Proficiency in the Second Official Language - Level B

Standard Description

Level B is the minimum level of second language oral proficiency for positions that require departure from routine use of the second language.

A person speaking at this level can:

  • sustain a conversation on concrete topics;
  • report on actions taken;
  • give straightforward instructions to employees;
  • provide factual descriptions and explanations.

A person at this level may have deficiencies in grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency that do not seriously interfere with communication.

A person at this level would have a limited ability to deal with situations involving hypothetical ideas.

A person at this level should not be expected to cope with situations that are sensitive or that require the understanding or expression of subtle or abstract ideas.

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the activities of level A and can also:

  • give and follow straightforward instructions or explanations about how work is to be done, what information is needed and what steps or alternatives are to be followed
  • give factual accounts of actions taken or events that have occurred
  • handle requests for routine information from other employees or members of the public, either by telephone or in face-to-face conversations (e.g., about such things as services, publications, or staffing actions)
  • take part in departmental or interdepartmental meetings regarding factual, concrete and non-routine topics, and/or informal meetings or work sessions
  • deliver presentations on concrete topics, and answer factual follow-up questions
  • answer the telephone, understand simple requests, redirect calls as appropriate, and/or explain to others how to complete a form

Oral Proficiency in the Second Official Language - Level C

Standard Description

Level C is the level of second language oral proficiency for positions that require handling sensitive situations where the understanding and expression of subtle, abstract, or complicated ideas are required or where unfamiliar work-related topics must be dealt with.

A person speaking at this level can:

  • support opinions; and
  • understand and express hypothetical and conditional ideas.

A person at this level will not have the ease and fluency of a native speaker and may have deficiencies in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. These deficiencies rarely interfere with communication.

Examples

A person at this level can carry out the activities at levels A and B and can also:

  • give and understand explanations and descriptions involving complicated details, hypothetical questions, or complex and abstract ideas
  • give and understand detailed accounts of events, actions taken, or procedures to be followed
  • discuss or explain policies, procedures, regulations, programs and services relating to an area of work
  • deal with situations requiring persuasion/negotiation and complex arguments, and/or the seamless exchange of ideas in both official languages
  • deliver presentations on complex topics, and answer follow-up questions and/or conduct training sessions
  • counsel and give advice to employees or clients on sensitive or complex issues
  • participate as a member of a selection board, interview board, or assessment team as an integral part of the job functions

Technical or Specialized Language Skills – Code P

General

  • Code P is for bilingual positions requiring the use of technical or specialized official language skills.
  • These skills are normally acquired through specialized training or experience.
  • Code P is not necessarily a second official language requirement. For example:
    • If a position requires the editing of texts written in French, Code P would be required for reading and writing in French, and therefore it would be:
      • a first language requirement for candidates whose first official language is French; and
      • a second language requirement for candidates whose first official language is English.
  • There are five categories of technical or specialized language skills:
    1. Dictatyping and dictation
    2. Professional writing
    3. Editing
    4. Translation and interpretation
    5. Teaching and testing
  • The table below lists specific and detailed technical or specialized language skills for each category.
  • To satisfy the requirements of the Qualification Standards, code P is restricted to these or similar skills.
  • The specific skill or proficiency itself should be identified as “Essential Qualifications” on the Statement of Merit Criteria.

Linguistic Profile

  • A "P" in the linguistic profile indicates which language (English and/or French) and which language abilities (written comprehension, written expression and/or oral proficiency) require the technical or specialized language skills.
  • Code P supersedes any general second official language qualification and is used instead of levels A, B, or C for that particular ability.

Imperative Staffing

  • The Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order specifies that, regardless of their first official language, all candidates must satisfy all qualifications designated by code P in order to be qualified for a position. Imperative staffing is therefore required for any qualifications designated by code P.

Language Training

Imperative staffing requires applicants to meet the position’s linguistic requirements. Language training is not offered following an imperative staffing action.

Evaluation of Language Skills

  • The Second Language Evaluation (SLE) tests prescribed by the Public Service Commission are not used to evaluate skills requiring the use of code P.
  • Institutions and managers are responsible for identifying and developing the necessary evaluation tools for code P.
  • The P result is not transferable from one position to another.

Table: Specific technical or specialized language skills and corresponding use of code P in the linguistic profile

How to use the table:

  1. identify the category
  2. identify the specific technical or specialized language skill
  3. identify the ability requiring code P
  4. determine in which language the code P skill is required

1. Dictatyping and Dictation

A typing qualification alone, without proofreading, does not require code P. Proofreading includes reading and correcting errors of all types, including errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation (however, merely proofreading one’s own typing work to ensure accurate copy is not sufficient to warrant the use of a grammar, spelling and punctuation qualification and the resultant use of the code P).

Specific skill Reading in English Writing in English Oral proficiency in English Reading in French Writing in French Oral proficiency in French
Typing text from a recording
both English and French P P P P P P
in English P P P      
in French       P P P
Taking dictation in using shorthand by machine
both English and French P P P P P P
in English P P P      
in French       P P P
Proofreading typed texts and correcting errors
in both English and French P P   P P  
in English P P        
in French       P P  
Typing documents and proofreading them
in both English and French P P   P P  
in English P P        
in French       P P  

2. Professional Writing

Specific skill Reading in English Writing in English Oral proficiency in English Reading in French Writing in French Oral proficiency in French
Writing articles, brochures, speeches, press releases, and other documents on technical or specialized topics
both English and French P P   P P  
in English P P        
in French       P P  
Revising and rewriting scientific and technical documents in terms of their literary presentation
both English and French P P   P P  
in English P P        
in French       P P  

3. Editing

Specific skill Reading in English Writing in English Oral proficiency in English Reading in French Writing in French Oral proficiency in French
Providing an editing service for technical or specialized texts, documents and publications
both English and French P P   P P  
in English P P        
in French       P P  
Ensuring the linguistic quality of technical or specialized texts, documents and publications
both English and French P P   P P  
in English P P        
in French       P P  

4. Translation and Interpretation

Specific skill Reading in English Writing in English Oral proficiency in English Reading in French Writing in French Oral proficiency in French
Translating selected texts
from both English to French and French to English P P   P P  
from English to French P     P P  
from French to English P P   P    
Checking the translation of texts to ensure that the linguistic quality corresponds to that of the originals
from both English to French and French to English P P   P P  
from English to French P     P P  
from French to English P P   P    
Reviewing bulletins, circulars, manuals and other documents prepared in both official languages to ensure equivalency
  P P   P P  
Conducting research in terminology and/or linguistics to determine the equivalency and correct usage of terms in both official languages
  P P   P P  
Simultaneously interpreting with no documents being read aloud
from both English to French and French to English     P     P
from English to French           P
from French to English     P      
Simultaneously interpreting with documents being read aloud
from both English to French and French to English P   P P   P
from English to French P         P
from French to English     P P    

5. Teaching and Testing

Specific skill Reading in English Writing in English Oral proficiency in English Reading in French Writing in French Oral proficiency in French
Teaching
both English and French as a second language P P P P P P
English as a second language P P P      
French as a second language       P P P
Providing pedagogical services to teachers and students
in both English and French P P P P P P
in English P P P      
in French       P P P
Designing and developing a program to teach
both English and French as a second language P P P P P P
English as a second language P P P      
French as a second language       P P P
Designing, developing, and scoring second language tests
in both English and French P P P P P P
in English P P P      
in French       P P P
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