2011… And… The Wind kind of Shifted in Ottawa!…

Four months went by and I did not write one single post on my blog!… I would have loved to… yet I was way too busy and I did not want to write about just anything for the only sake of writing something.

Last year, especially starting around June, it seemed that no one could achieve a C at the TOP (Test of Oral Proficiency) in French. It was actually quite depressing for me because I knew that most of my trainees were strong enough to get this level. A couple of them even took the test up to three times with no other results than a mere B… To some extent, I had started to believe that there was a conspiracy in Ottawa, where the headquarters for SLE testing are located. Why only in Ottawa? Simply because people tested over the phone with examiners based in Montreal  – or in person with assessors from various Departments such as CRA, Health, etc. – were still getting their C when they deserved it!…

I admit that I was angry most of the time and, when I left for Jamaica in Mid-December, it was long due because I was totally drained… and, for a while, I  even thought of giving up and retiring!… Yet I felt that I could not let down people who really needed help so that they would have a chance at those stupid tests! This process is excruciating and they need all the support they can get in order to get through this ordeal. And… I thought of all these people who are not living in Ottawa and cannot find resources… they would have been left on their own… Finally I decided that I had still enough energy and courage to fight this absurd system. Therefore I rolled up my sleeves and dived into 2011 with the ferocity of a lioness!… Sometimes I truly believe that only someone like me is crazy enough to do this… well, I guess I am a true believer and I refuse to give up on people who need my support and expertise.

Then something happened… something unexpected… something I would call a miracle! Now, 50% of the candidates to the TOP  who go to Slater are tested over the phone with examiners from Montreal… of course, my students who were evaluated this way got their C with no problems…  consequently, there was nothing to throw me off my chair… It is when my students tested face-to-face started to get their C one after the other that I realized that the pattern had been finally broken!… Actually none of them who were seeking a C failed!… Not even a single one!!! They all passed!… I would say that, since the beginning of January, I had about 20 trainees who needed a C and all of them obtained it!… Incredible!!!

How did that happen?… Well… it is known that our government keeps statistics of everything… therefore, I suspect that the ones on the success of bilingualism within the PSC showed a high rate of failure… without mentioning that many positions require CBC, BBC and CCC… if assessors fail most of the candidates, how can they staff?… In my opinion (and I might be wrong), the examiners have been “demanded” to be more realistic with their evaluation at level C… in other words, to assess people according to the criterias of the level: highly functional in the second language… and not bilingual! E is the level that people get when they are fluent!… Among my students who got their C, I had several who were bilingual and should have obtained an exemption… But hey! Let’s not be too greedy here… it is already an exploit that they got a C… Last year, I had a couple of them who were bilingual in my book and they only got a B!… Apparently, the wind shifted at Slater and it is kind of a relief… it is a test to assess people’s abilities in their second language… not a trial where they feel as if they were tortured by some tormenters…

On a sad note though, our “urban legend” did not budge… this examiner is still giving B to the ones who are at the level C… and giving an A to the ones who are at the level B… Two weeks ago, one of my students had the misfortune of being evaluated by this individual… she got out of there traumatized! Not only this jaded assessor is unfair but is also arrogant, cynical and sarcastic…  Who needs to sit down with such a jerk for 45 minutes when they are already under stress and pressure?… I have to say that I am tempted to reveal this person’s name, but I will not do it today… perhaps later… All I have to say for now is that no one should do this job more than two or three years, after that they tend to become bias and some of them are at risk of abusing the power they have… think of it for a second… individuals who fail to get the level they need at the TOP are eliminated from hiring processes and sometimes demoted… I think there should be at least two assessors in the room, the way it is done during job interviews… otherwise these people’s fate rests in the hands of one single person!!! A responsibility I would not want because I think I would have a hard time to sleep at night…

But… overall, there has been some improvement and there is hope for the future in the SLE testing department. It will be interesting to see if this positive trend will continue…


«Même sans espoir, la lutte est encore un espoir»

Romain Rolland



This entry was posted in languages, second language evaluation, second language testing tools, second language training and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Sylvie
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I was doing research on the net about whether it is that important to have a certain structure when doing for the test of if spontaneous answers are more important. What do you think?
    Your web site is really interesting and I’m really curious now. What is the name of your school?
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    nice blog. tnx

  3. Schnicken
    Posted May 14, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the great information on this blog. I have already done my comprehension and written. They emailed me for my oral this past week.

    Does this mean I attained the level required on the two previous tests? I can’t seem to get a straight answer. 🙂


    • Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Yes it does! Otherwise you would have been eliminated from the hiring process!!!

      Good luck! 😉

  4. Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    What a fabulous blog and the posts you have here. I would like to know and visit your School once it’s opened. Is that email you gave functional so I can send inquiries?

    Thank you

    • Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink


      We have a “virtual school”, all training is done in virtual classrooms therefore we don’t have a “physical school” that someone can visit. And…why the email on this blog would not be functional? 😉

  5. Schnicken
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Hello everyone,

    Further to my comment and question above, I’d just like to let everyone know that I did not attain the level in my reading testing, however I missed the C level by one point and I ran out of time during the test (7 questions); so if I attained the C level in my oral interaction they will be re-administering the reading test.

    They went ahead and booked the oral because I was so close.

  6. Schnicken
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you! I attained my CCC. Thanks for your help, I have mentioned your services and website to others.

    • Posted July 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Congratulations! 😉

    • Caty
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      I’m about to write to write the public service canada test;and I need the CCC on language proficiency. I will write the test in english. Please can you tell me how did you prepare for the test.


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