Who are we?

The CLES proviency test

The Higher Education Language Skills Certification (CLES) is a state certification in languages founded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The certification scheme was created in 2000 is run in fifty accredited higher education institutions, open to candidates from inside and outside universities.

The CLES profiency tests are available in 10 languages and assess a candidate’s language skills (B1, B2 and C1) in line with the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The tests assess listening, reading, writing, speaking and speaking interaction skills.

The National Coordination team

You are on the CLES National Coordination website (NC CLES). Its mission is to ensure the smooth running of the CLES certification.

The CLES National Coordination team includes a director, an executive committee and an administrative team.

Currently, the CLES National Coordination  administration team is located at the University of Grenoble Alpes, which supports the CLES National Coordination team in fulfilling its missions which include three main areas.
  • Political aspects are dealt with the Strategic Orientation committee and the Steering committee
  • Scientific aspects are overseen by the Scientific Committee. All lecturers and university professors who are members of the CLES network also contribute to develop related research
  • Everyday operations are managed by the administrative team recruited by Grenoble Alpes University

CLES history

2000 :
  • Creation of the CLES certification

2001 :
  • Experimental phase to define the format of the CLES examinations.

2004 :
  • First experimental sessions in French universities

2005 :
  • End of the experimental phase and creation of the CLES National Coordination

2010 :
  • First meeting of the CLES Scientific Committee

2013 :
  • CLES National Coordination office set up in Grenoble Alpes University

2016 :
  • CLES tests open to life-long education and secondary school pupils

2018 :
  • Founding of the NULTE network (CLES being a founding member)

2020 :
  • CLES tests available in ten different languages : Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

2021 :
  • CLES registered in "France Compéetences" a national accreditation body run by the Ministry of Labour (CLES certificates are offcicially accredited by the Ministry of Labour for companies)

2022 :
  • Launch of a Computer-assisted CLES project

2023 :
  • Redesigning of the CLES website

CLES values

3 values guide the CLES strategic orientation and decision making processes.


All languages are important. CLES is a member of the Observatory of Plurilingualism which states that education systems must offer plurilingual education. CLES adheres to this approach by offering proficiency tests in 10 different languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.


The CLES promotes quality.   The supervisors of the CLES have a duty to demonstrate quality as is the case for the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. To this end the CLES has an international scientific committee. The accreditation of CLES centres and assessors is managed nationally to include regular checks. Accordingly centres must be granted permission from the Ministry to be accredited and officiate the CLES certification.


Fairness is a core value to CLES which is a public service qualification. Accordingly the certification must be accessible to all (candidates in initial and continuing education;  candidates with or without grants; candidates with disabilities). The CLES teams strive to work towards fairness on a daily basis, as demonstrated by the recent launching of the CLES computer-assisted project.
Published on  March 13, 2023
Updated on July 10, 2023