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Linguistic Profile


Definitions
Determination of the linguistic profile
Description of second official language proficiency levels
Examples of linguistic profiles


Introduction

The linguistic profile summarizes English and French language qualifications for each of three linguistic skills: reading, writing, and oral interaction. It may include two types of qualifications: general second official language proficiency qualifications and specific language or language-related qualifications in either the first or second official language (designated by code “P”).

Definitions

Bilingual positionA position with at least one function requiring a knowledge and use of both official languages.
1st official languageThe official language with which an employee has a primary personal identification (that is, the official language in with a person is generally more proficient) Do not mistake with mother tongue which is the first official language learned at home in childhood and still understood by the individual at the time of the census.
Linguistic profileA description of the language requirements of a bilingual position and the proficiency level required in the second language for each of the skills: reading, writing, and oral interaction.
Imperative StaffingThe requirement that the person about to be appointed meet the language requirements of the position at the time of appointment.
Services to the publicInternal and external services that are to be provided to the public (also referred to as the general public). The public is any person, group of persons (professional associations or others) or organization or company (other than a Crown corporation) in Canada or abroad, any representative of another level of government, communicating with or receiving a service from the Corporation, excluding employees of federal institutions when carrying out their duties.
Central servicesInternal services within the Corporation that are necessary for employees to carry out their job-related responsibilities (for example, legal, financial, or administrative services, human resources, evaluation, verification, library, etc.)
Personal servicesInternal services of the Corporation provided to employees as individuals or for personal purposes (for example, health related services, career development, pay and benefits, counseling services, etc.)

Determination of the linguistic profile

Minimum requirements of positions

As a general rule, positions providing service to the public, dealing with central services or supervision, human resources or labor relations must be identified at least at the B level in each skill. However, for positions of Administrative Support or Operational nature, level A may be used if justified by the duties and responsibilities of the position.

General Second Official Language Qualifications

As with any other qualification, second official language qualifications must be relevant to the duties and responsibilities of the position. However, unlike most other qualifications, tests used to assess each of the general second language skills (reading, writing and oral interaction) are prescribed by the Corporation’s language test supplier, and standards of general proficiency (A, B and C) are defined for each skill.

Standards of general proficiency are defined for each skill according to the tasks that employees are required to accomplish in their second official language. The levels are ordered from A (lowest) to C (highest), and are cumulative: an employee functioning at level B can accomplish tasks at levels A and B, and an employee functioning at level C can accomplish tasks at all three levels. When a skill (or skills) is not required, a dash (“—”) is used in the linguistic profile instead of a proficiency level.

Description of second official language proficiency levels

Descriptions of proficiency levels in reading, writing, and oral interaction are provided here.

READING

Level A is the minimum level of second language ability in reading that should be identified for positions that require the comprehension of texts on topics of limited scope. A person reading at this level can fully understand very simple texts and grasp the main idea of texts about familiar topics. In addition, elementary points of information such as dates, numbers, or names can be read and understood from relatively more complex texts in order to perform routine job-related tasks. A person at this level would not be expected to read and understand detailed information. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level A of reading are as follows:

  • looking over letters, memos, or forms in order to file or distribute them;
  • scanning various texts to pick out specific elements of information (e.g., dates, numbers, names);
  • reading forms such as requisitions, work orders and invoices in order to process them; and,
  • scanning listings, indexes, or computer printouts in order to compile information or note changes.

Level B is the minimum level of second language ability in reading that should be identified for positions that require comprehension of most descriptive or factual material on work-related subjects. A person reading at this level can grasp the main idea of most work-related texts, locate specific details and distinguish main from subsidiary ideas. However, reading texts using complex grammar and less common vocabulary would cause difficulty. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level B of reading are as follows:

  • reading reference materials to extract information required for the job;
  • reading reports, articles or other documents to get a general idea of the content or to extract specific details required for the job;
  • reading memos, notices or information bulletins on work-related matters;
  • reading incoming correspondence to select or take note of items requiring action; and,
  • reading documentation, reports or other work prepared by employees to verify that the content is correct and complete.

Level C is the minimum level of second language ability in reading that should be identified for positions requiring the comprehension of texts dealing with a wide variety of work-related topics. At this level most complex details, inferences and fine points of meaning are understood. Specialized or less familiar material can also be read with good comprehension. Some seldom-used expressions may be missed, however, and there may be some difficulty with very complex grammatical structures. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level C of reading are as follows:

  • reading policy papers, research or technical reports, correspondence or other documents in order to assess implications, provide comments or make recommendations;
  • skimming books, articles and reports in order to have an overview of the content;
  • reviewing correspondence or other texts prepared by an employee for meaning and tone;
  • reviewing contracts or specifications for completeness and accuracy; and
  • reading in depth such documents as files or regulations in order to extract details for action or interpretation.

WRITING

Level A is the minimum level of second language ability in writing that should be identified for positions that require writing very limited units of information in the second language. A person at this level may write isolated words, phrases, simple statements or questions on very familiar topics using words of time, place or person. Errors of grammar, vocabulary and spelling are to be expected and tolerated as long as the message is understandable. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level A of writing are as follows:

  • filling out a form or report related to one’s duties by supplying appropriate words or phrases or writing a few comments;
  • noting brief messages in a telegraphic style;
  • listing a series of items or activities in an index or table of contents;
  • writing titles, headings or filing cards in familiar work situations;
  • writing brief notes giving simple information; and,
  • using model or form letters to deal with routine situations by filling in words or slightly adapting content.

Level B is the minimum level of second language ability in writing that should be identified for positions that involve writing short descriptive or factual texts in the second language. A person writing at this level has sufficient mastery of grammar and vocabulary to deal with explicit information on work-related topics. While the basic information is communicated, the writing will require some corrections in grammar and vocabulary as well as revision for style. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level B of writing are as follows:

  • preparing short, routine administrative correspondence to request or give information, explanations or instructions;
  • writing brief reports to explain or request that action be taken on work related matters;
  • writing a e-mail or using a terminal to communicate within a particular system;
  • filling in forms where brief written descriptions and comments are required;
  • formulating observations or presenting conclusions summarizing a text or a meeting in point or note form;
  • preparing a simple factual information bulletin or directive; and,
  • adapting texts such as model letters by adding a few words or slightly modifying the content.

Level C is the minimum level of second language ability in writing that should be identified for positions that require a person to write explanations or descriptions in a variety of informal and formal work-related situations. At this level, a person can write texts in which the ideas are developed and presented in a coherent manner. The style of presentation and use of vocabulary, grammar and spelling are generally appropriate and require few corrections. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level C of writing are as follows:

  • writing correspondence or other texts in which detailed facts and reasons must be requested or given;
  • drafting short reports, recommendations, information bulletins, research papers or summaries on particular work-related topics;
  • preparing a summary of a meeting or document; and,
  • making limited modifications or corrections to correspondence or other texts for meaning or tone.

ORAL INTERACTION

Level A is the minimum level of second language ability in oral interaction that should be identified for positions that require simple and repetitive use of the language in routine work situations. A person at this level can ask and answer simple questions and give simple instructions or uncomplicated directions relating to routine work situations. However, communication may be difficult because a person speaking at this level makes many errors and has deficiencies in grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency. The person at this level may have problems in understanding speech spoken at a normal rate and repetitions may be required to understand what is being said. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level A of oral interaction are as follows:

  • asking and answering simple questions from colleagues or other employees about names, addresses, dates, times or numbers;
  • making requests to colleagues or other employees and responding to such requests about simple and uncomplicated matters concerning supplies, files, equipment, documents or letters;
  • giving and following simple directions about the location of people, places or things; and,
  • giving and following instructions on uncomplicated matters about which work to do or whom to see.

Level B is the minimum level of second language ability in oral interaction that should be identified for positions that involve departure from routine or repetitive use of the second language. A person at this level can sustain a conversation on concrete topics, report on actions taken, give straightforward instructions to employees, and provide factual descriptions and explanations. While many errors and deficiencies in grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency may occur, these do not seriously interfere with communication. However, 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. The ability to deal with situations involving hypothetical ideas and the use of persuasion is also limited. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level B of oral interaction are as follows:

  • handling requests for routine information from other employees or members of the public (either by telephone or in face-to-face conversations) about such things as services, publications or competitions;
  • participating in informal meetings or work sessions dealing with such matters as the assignment of work, stops to be followed, priorities or deadlines;
  • giving factual accounts to colleagues or investigators of actions taken or events that have occurred; and,
  • giving and following instructions or explanations about how work is to be done, what information is needed and what stops or alternatives are to be followed.

Level C is the minimum level of second language ability in oral interaction that should be identified for positions which require handling sensitive situations where the understanding and expression of subtle, abstract, or complicated ideas is required or where unfamiliar work-related topics must be dealt with. A person at this level can support opinions or understand and express hypothetical and conditional ideas. However, the ease and fluency of a native speaker is not required or expected. There may be errors and deficiencies in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary but such errors rarely interfere with communication. Examples of some tasks which can be performed at level C of oral interaction are as follows:

  • giving and understanding explanations and descriptions which may involve complicated details, hypothetical questions or complex and abstract ideas;
  • giving and understanding detailed accounts of events, actions taken, or procedures to be followed;
  • discussing or explaining policies, procedures, regulations, programs and services relating to an area of work;
  • participating effectively in discussions which involve the rapid exchange of ideas;
  • supporting opinions, defending a point of view, or justifying actions in meetings or discussions with employees, colleagues or superiors;
  • counseling and giving advice to employees or clients on sensitive or complex issues;
  • participating in selection boards;
  • making presentations, giving training courses or defending appeals; and,
  • dealing with situations which require quick and accurate use of both languages in rapid succession (such as those faced by a receptionist in a busy office).

Qualifications requiring code P

Code P is used in the linguistic profile for two types of specific language qualifications. These are language-related skills normally acquired through specialized training (including dictatyping; dictation using shorthand; proofreading texts; writing, revising, and/or editing texts; translation; and interpretation) and specialized or expert proficiency in one or both official languages (for example, as used in teaching English or French).

A “P” in the linguistic profile indicates which language (English and/or French) and which general language skills (reading, writing, and/or oral interaction) are used in performing the specific skill or proficiency.

While code P is used only to indicate qualifications for bilingual positions, it may or may not: refer to a second language requirement. If, for example, a job requirement is to provide an editing service for texts written in French, code P would be specified for reading and writing skills in French. Code P would then represent 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.

When used, a code P supersedes any general second official language qualification. It is thus used instead of any general proficiency level (A, B, or C) that might otherwise have been specified in the profile.

Examples of linguistic profiles

Example 1. Position: Manager

Linguistic profile:

LanguageFrenchEnglish
SkillReadingWritingOralReadingWritingOral
LevelCBCCBC

Official language requirements

Reading – As Manager, the incumbent must read correspondence to answer very detailed, specialized, and complex inquiries. The correspondence may be written in English or French and, in reading and reviewing it, the incumbent must be able to grasp the overall message and specific details being expressed.

Writing – The incumbent must prepare letters and reports to provide precise factual information for the Division and the rest of the Management team. Texts must be written in English or French depending on the language of the addressee, or in both languages. Texts produced may require corrections, since the incumbent will revise documents prepared by members of the Division.

Oral Interaction – The incumbent must be able to participate in a conversation with his staff members and the rest of the management team in French or English, depending on the addressee, by using a precise vocabulary that will convey the exact meaning. The delivery must be fluent and the pronunciation must not interfere with the message. The incumbent must possess the ability to quickly interpret accurately the meaning of the information. The incumbent must also answer telephone calls received. Calls may come from employees of the section, other managers, private or government organizations, and may be conducted either in English or French depending on the caller.

Example 2. Position: Secretary

Linguistic profile:

LanguageFrenchEnglish
SkillReadingWritingOralReadingWritingOral
LevelPPBPPB

Official language requirements

Reading – As a secretary, the incumbent must type relatively complex letters and reports prepared by officers in the division to be signed by the supervisor. Typed texts must be reread to ensure that they are free of spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. Texts may be written in English or French.

Writing – The incumbent must correct spelling, grammar and punctuation in letters and reports prepared by officers in the division to be signed by the supervisor. Texts written in English or French must be corrected.

Oral Interaction – The incumbent must receive telephone calls for the supervisor and make appointments and travel arrangements. Calls may come from the public, private or government organizations, or employees of the division and may be made in English or French depending on the caller. Exchanges are usually brief, but the incumbent must be able to carry on a conversation and give concrete and factual explanations.

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