History of CELBAN
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 or additional language. The exam 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. At the time, CELBAN was needed 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, including challenges in gaining recognition of international credentials and the absence of a language proficiency exam that was relevant to communication skills for a nursing context.
Since 2006, CELBAN has been 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 oversaw a team of consultants to evaluate the English language skills required by the nursing profession in Canada. Phase I of the project 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 a prototype 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
. CELBAN was administered by the test designers at Red River College from 2004 to 2014.
In 2014, Touchstone Institute became the national administrator of CELBAN. At that time, a test renewal project was launched 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.