Second Language Certification

The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute offers a language certification test, 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 (FLS 3500 for French as a Second Language and ESL 3100 for English as a Second Language). This self-study course allows students to practice and to perfect their language skills using a variety of resources.

The units associated with ESL 3100 and FL S3500 are recognized as elective units only within the Bachelor of Commerce programs. ESL 3100 is a program requirement for the Bachelor of Arts program with a major in ESL but does not count as program units. FLS 3500 is a program requirement for the Bachelor of Arts program with a major in FLS and the French Immersion Stream but does not count as program units. No other programs recognize these units as elective units.

N.B. To ensure the integrity of tests and scores for distance testing, ESL 3100 will be administered with monitoring software and browser lockdown.

Registration

All full-time or part-time regular students and special students may register. 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 ESL 2122/ESL 2121 or FLS 2522/FLS 2521 or more advanced level ESL or FLS courses at the University. 

Students may register for ESL 3100 or FLS 3500 in uoCampus. However, if it 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 ESL 3100 or FLS 3500 may take the course again. However, they may only register for the course four (4) times.

Registration Fees

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 will be required to pay the usual tuition/incidental fees for a three-unit 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-unit course. 

Opportunities to Prepare for the Final Exam
  • Individual Practice

Students use the preparation website (ES L3100 or FLS 3500) 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 preparation websites (https://esl3100.wordpress.com/ or https://fsl3500.wordpress.com).

  • Additional Speaking Practice

Students seeking opportunities to practice speaking with others may take advantage of OLBI’s Conversation Groups. More information is available at Julien Couture Resource Centre

Important Dates

FALL 2020

Access to the Practice Test – as of September 14, 2020
Deadline to take practice test and receive feedback –November  6, 2020
Final Exam – The exam will be held online between November 23 and 27. Due to the large number of students taking this exam, student will be assigned a day to take the exam between November 23 and 27. This information will be sent by email.

 

WINTER 2021

Access to the Practice Test – as of January 11, 2021
Deadline to take practice test and receive feedback – March 5, 2021
Final Exam (reading/listening/writing components) online - March 27, 2021
Final Exam (speaking component) online over 2 weekends - March 20-21* and March 27-28*

(*) Due to the large number of students taking the exam, students will be assigned a specific time and day for their speaking interview. This information will be sent by email.

Final Exam
Description

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

Due to safety guidelines, the exam will be offered online for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters. The online exam will include all four components (listening, reading, writing, and speaking).

N.B. To ensure the integrity of tests and scores for distance testing, the exam will be administered with monitoring software and browser lockdown.

Description of the four test components

Listening Component

The listening component consists of four to six recorded listening passages which is heard twice. The test questions are all multiple-choice This component includes between 30 and 40 questions and lasts approximately 60-90 minutes.

Reading Component

The reading component has two parts: a reading comprehension section and a Cloze passage. The reading comprehension section consists of four to six reading passages, which may vary in length from approximately 400 to 800 words. This section includes approximately 30 to 40 multiple-choice questions. The cloze passage consists of a passage with blanks where words have been deleted from the text. Students must choose, from multiple-choice options, the word that best fits the blank. The entire Reading Component lasts approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

Writing Component

The Writing Component is a written composition. Students have 50 minutes to write approximately 300 to 400 words on a specified topic of general interest. The topic is presented in such a way so as to elicit a written response relating factual information and providing opinions and/or recommendations about this information.

Speaking Component

The Speaking Component is an oral interview. After an informal conversation with the interviewer, students are given a short reading passage, and are asked to discuss some of the issues raised in the passage. The interview, which is recorded on audio only, lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.

N.B. To ensure the integrity of tests and scores for distance testing, the exam will be administered with monitoring software and browser lockdown.

Schedule

FALL 2020

The exam will be held online between November 23 and 27. Due to the large number of students taking this exam, student will be assigned a day to take the exam between November 23 and 27. This information will be sent by email.

WINTER 2021

Listening, Reading and Writing Components
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Online Location: to be confirmed by email.

Speaking Component
Saturday & Sunday, March 20-21 & March 27-28, 2021
Time and Online Location: to be confirmed by email.

Policies
  1. Re-test Policy: Students may register for the ESL3100/FLS3500 a maximum of 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 components only.
    • Option 1:     A student would like to repeat the writing component 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 component 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 components to improve their marks: this student may request to repeat these two sections of the test at a scheduled test session.
    • Option 4:      A student would like to repeat the listening and/or reading component to improve their mark: this student must repeat the listening, reading and writing components at the next scheduled test. They are not required to repeat the speaking section of the test.

    A survey will be sent to students approximately two weeks prior to the test. Eligible students who do not wish to repeat the entire test must indicate their preference in their response to the survey. Requests received outside of the survey will not be accepted.

  2. Test Dates: The test is offered twice a year. The test is administered once in the fall term and once in the winter term.
  3. 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 scheduled exam for winter session).
  4. Access Services: Students registered with Access Services will complete the writing and reading components at Access Services. These students are exempt from the listening component. The speaking component is administered by two trained evaluators the day after the written test.
  5. Speaking Test: Students will receive access to a survey two weeks before the test giving them the opportunity to provide information about their availability the day of the speaking test.
  6. By completing this test, you are implicitly agreeing to the use of your responses, scores, and demographic data for test validation and research purposes, with the goal of improving the test for future test takers. The test research will be reported in internal documents as well as specialist publications and meetings related to language assessment. Your test information will remain completely confidential: it will never be reported in a way that could identify you.
Results

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 component 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.

 

Certificate
Students, who receive at least a level 2 in each component 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.

 

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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