What is the CLES certification?

Introduction to the CLES certificate

The CLES is a higher education language skills test, run under the auspices of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The CLES allows candidates to test their level in 10 modern languages, including French as a foreign language. Plurilingualism is at the heart of the CLES approach, which seeks to enhance foreign language skill acquisition.

The CLES covers the following skills: reading, listening, writing and speaking.  One special feature includes an assessment of spoken interaction, a vital professional skill for those certified.

CLES reliability

The CLES is a state certification accredited by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, based on the European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) language skills. It is a reliable certification that attests the candidate's real language proficiency, a key element that distinguishes the CLES from other language diplomas and certifications.

The CLES takes an action-based approach and assesses candidates on their ability to use language in real-life situations, including professional activities.

CLES language levels

CLES proficiency tests are designed for candidates ranging from beginners to native speakers.  Based on the Council of Europe's CEFR language levels, the CLES certifies 3 levels: B1, B2 and C1.

See our page on language levels to learn more about how these levels are tested. The CLES is suitable for both beginners and native speakers.

Why accept students who have the CLES certificate?

  • Candidates who have passed the CLES certification have excellent language skills. The CLES certifies a real level in language and you can be sure that candidates have a good command of the language.
  • The CLES is a recognised certification, run by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. It is a founding member of the Network of University Language Testers in Europe (NULTE) and is used by many European universities.
  • The CLES has a strong scientific basis and is governed by researchers and language specialists who ensure its reliability and international scope.
  • The CLES is accessible to all at an affordable price. Many students cannot afford a high-priced certification. CLES centres are present in most French universities.

Recognition of the CLES proficiency test

As a founding member of the Network of University Language Testers in Europe (NULTE) and based on CEFR language levels, the CLES is recognised across Europe and internationally.

The CLES National Coordination team maintains regular contact with industry to ensure that the CLES is endorsed by employers and human resources personnel.
Published on  March 13, 2023
Updated on July 7, 2023