Second Language Certification Course

The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute offers a second language certificate, which gives students an opportunity to have their abilities in English or French formally recognized. This certificate will be a definite asset when entering the job market.

To take the test students must first enrol in an online self-study course which allows them to practice and to perfect their skills in the language.

The course code is FLS3500 for French as a Second Language and ESL3100 for English as a Second Language.

This course is available to all full-time or part-time regular students and to special students. However, it is most appropriate for those who:

  • identify themselves as being at a high-intermediate to advanced level of proficiency in their second language;
  • have completed a number of years in an immersion program or in secondary-level academic second language courses;
  • have completed ESL2122/ESL2121 or FLS2522/FLS2521 or more advanced level ESL or FLS courses at the University. 
Course Description

ESL 3100 and FLS 3500 - Second Language Proficiency: Practice and Assessment

Exercises for refining listening comprehension, reading comprehension, academic writing and oral communication skills at high-intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency. A proficiency profile certificate is issued upon successful completion of a series of tests. This is an independent-learning course.

Course organization

  • Individual Practice 
    Students use the course website (ESL3100 or FLS3500 ) to practice listening, reading, writing and speaking, and to learn more about good test-taking strategies.
  • Practice Test
    Students may take a full practice test online. Students who take the test before the term's eighth week will receive a feedback report which will give them an idea of their level and areas of weakness in writing and speaking. These reports will be available 5 business days after the student takes the test. Information about how to access the test can be found on the course websites ( or
  • Additional Speaking Practice
    Students seeking opportunities to practice speaking with others may take advantage of OLBI’s Conversation Groups. More information is available at under the heading OLBI Mentoring Center.
Course Schedule

Access to the Practice Test – as of January 30, 2017.
Deadline to take practice test and receive feedback – March 5, 2017
Final Exam – Saturday, April 1, 2017 and Sunday, April 2, 2017


Course Websites
Course Registration

Students may register for the course in uoCampus. However, if the course is being added as a sixth course, students must register for this course in person at their faculty, department or at the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute.

Students who have previously received a CTN in this course may take the course again. However, they may only register for the course four (4) times.

Costs and Course Material

For most full-time regular undergraduate students, there are no extra fees for this course. However, this may vary by faculty so students should confirm with their faculty.

Graduate, part-time and special students can register by paying the usual tuition/incidental fees for a three-credit course.

Students on a co-op work term are exempt from the tuition fees for this course, but must pay the incidental fees for a three-credit course.  

Final Exam - Test Schedule

The final exam for this course is a standardized proficiency test.  For this reason the exam is only offered twice a year.

The test is administered over the course of two days. Students must be available on both dates.  

The listening, reading and writing components are administered on the first day and students must allow 4 hours for the exam. Each section of the exam is timed independently.

The speaking test takes place the following day. This test is administered on an individual basis. Individual tests are scheduled between 9 am and 6 pm. Individual interview times and locations will be emailed to each student on the Monday preceding the written test.


Listening, Reading and Writing Test
Saturday, April 1, 2017, from 9 am to 1 pm  
Location: Will be confirmed by email.

Speaking Test
Sunday, April 2, 2017 between 9 am and 6 pm
Location: Will be confirmed by email.

Final Exam - Test Policies
  1. Re-test Policy: Students may register for the course four times. Students who have received at least a level 2 in the listening and reading sections of the exam are permitted to repeat the writing and/or speaking tests only.
  • Option 1:     A student would like to repeat the writing test to improve their mark: this student may request to only repeat this section of the test at a scheduled test session.
  • Option 2:     A student would like to repeat the speaking test to improve their mark: this student may request to only repeat this section of the test at a scheduled test session.
  • Option 3:      A student would like to repeat the writing and speaking test to improve their marks: this student may request to repeat these two tests at a scheduled test session.
  • Option 4:      A student would like to repeat the listening and/or reading test to improve their mark: this student must repeat the listening, reading and writing tests at the next scheduled test. They are not required to repeat the speaking section of the test.

    Eligible students who do not wish to repeat the entire test must submit their request by email ( These requests must be submitted a minimum of 10 business days before the test.
  1. Test Dates: The test is offered only twice a year. The test is administered once in the fall term and once in the winter term.
  2. Deferred Exams: Students who are not able to attend the exam must request a deferred mark from the Faculty of Arts. Students granted a deferred mark must write the test at the next scheduled test session (e.g. a student who received a deferred mark in the fall session would write the test during the schedule exam for winter session).
  3. Access Services: Students registered with Access Services will complete the writing and reading test at Access Services. These students are exempt from the listening test. The speaking test is administered by two trained evaluators the day following the written test.
  4. Speaking Test: Students will receive an email two weeks before the test giving them the opportunity to provide information about their availability the day of the speaking test.
Score Reporting

Final Grade
Students who receive at least a level 2 in each of the four test components will receive a final grade of P (pass).
Students who receive a level 1 in one or more area of the test or who do not write the test will receive a final grade of CTN (continuing).

Student Score Report
Each student will receive an email informing them of the levels they received in each section of the test. The results are sent 6 to 8 weeks following the test.

Students, who receive at least a level 2 in each section of the test, will be mailed an official University of Ottawa Second Language Certificate.  The certificate will indicate the level achieved by the student in each section and includes the abbreviated level descriptions. The certificates are mailed by the Registrar’s Office 12 to 16 weeks following the test.

Abbreviated Level Descriptions

Listening Comprehension (L) and Reading Comprehension (R) Skill Levels

L1, R1

Incomplete global comprehension.

L2, R2

Almost complete global comprehension; Comprehends many explicit details

L3, R3

Complete global comprehension; Comprehends almost all explicit details

L4, R4

Complete global comprehension; Comprehends all explicit and implicit details

Speaking (S) and Writing (W) Skill Levels

S1, W1

Communicates with difficulty

S2, W2

Communicates somewhat effectively, with some imprecision

S3, W3

Communicates effectively, with ease and minor imprecision

S4, W4

Communicates very effectively, with ease and precision

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