CELBAN is a test of language proficiency for internationally educated nurses (IENs) who have completed their nursing education in another country and who speak English as a second language. It was developed in 2004 by the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB) in consultation with members of the nursing community from regulatory bodies, associations, unions, nursing refresher programs as well as IENs. It was designed to ease the nursing shortage in Canada by providing access to the pool of IENs who arrived in Canada but encountered obstacles to obtaining employment, such as:
- Recognition of international credentials
- Relevant assessment of English language skills in a nursing context
CELBAN is recognized as proof of language proficiency by all Canadian nursing regulators.
In 2000, a survey of 50 nursing profession stakeholders by the CCLB indicated a strong need for a specialized English language assessment tool to evaluate the English language communication skills of IENs seeking registration in Canada. As a result, the CCLB embarked on a multi-phase project.
Phase I: Analysis
In 2002, CCLB hired a team of consultants to evaluate the English language skills required by the nursing profession in Canada. This project, called Phase I, involved a needs analysis of nurses’ English language communication requirements within a variety of healthcare organizations. For the first time, a benchmark level was applied to describe the minimum English language communication standards required for nurses in speaking, listening, writing and reading. View the Phase I report.
Phase II: Development
In 2002 – 2003, the development of an English language assessment tool for the nursing profession was undertaken based on the research and benchmark results defined in the Phase I report. The assessment tool was pilot tested in six cities across Canada with nurses, student nurses and non-native speakers of English. This assessment tool is now known as the Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN). View the Phase II report.
Phase III: Implementation
CELBAN was piloted at three assessment sites: Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto with 63 test candidates. A central administrator, national advisory committee (NAC) were established and feedback was gathered from trainees and IENs to refine the materials and processes. View the Phase III report.
Beginning in 2014, Touchstone Institute launched a test renewal project to update CELBAN content and expand the test item bank. Each of the test areas – Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing – were reviewed by language assessment experts and nursing professionals to identify outdated and inaccurate content. Focus groups and pilot tests were organized to develop and pilot new test content, including current themes in nursing and relevant language tasks. The renewal process produced updated test specifications and laid the foundation for an ongoing test maintenance and renewal program.
For more information on the test renewal phase, refer to the CELBAN Facts & Figures, a series of reports on the renewal process.