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A Welcome Change for the BC Real Estate Industry

Council Updates Language Proficiency Requirements for New Licence Applicants


July 21, 2017, Vancouver BC —  Beginning this fall, new licensing course students and those licensing students who have not already satisfied the language proficiency requirements must meet a more comprehensive standard of English proficiency required by the Real Estate Council of BC. Applicants must demonstrate their competence at reading, writing, speaking and listening in English by achieving a level 7 on the four components of the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program – General (CELPIP) test. This change to the Council’s English Language Proficiency Requirement will come into effect on September 1, 2017.

Language proficiency is an essential skill for real estate practitioners. A real estate licensee’s ability to communicate verbally and in writing with consumers and other licensees is critical for the delivery of competent services. Many British Columbians speak languages other than English as their first language, and may choose to work with a real estate licensee with whom they can communicate in the language of their choice. However, real estate contracts and standard forms in British Columbia are in English. As part of the Council’s mandate to protect the public interest, it requires all students to demonstrate proficiency in English before they register for a licensing examination.

The final report of the Independent Advisory Group on  Conduct and Practices in the Real Estate Industry in British Columbia recommended that the Council review its language proficiency requirements. The Council consulted with industry stakeholders and with its partners in education on the language proficiency standards required for competent practice in real estate. 

The review identified the level at which real estate licensees must be able to communicate verbally with others in workplace situations, to understand spoken English, and to interpret and respond to written English materials. The CELPIP test measures competency in each of these areas. It is one of the tests designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent resident status in Canada and Canadian citizenship, and is used by other regulatory bodies in Canada to measure competency in English. 

Licensing students who have graduated from a recognized university degree program at an accredited university, college or technical institute at which English is the primary language of instruction, or who already hold a real estate licence in another Canadian jurisdiction and have satisfied the language requirement in that jurisdiction are eligible for exemption from the requirement to complete the CELPIP test. The Real Estate Division of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia will continue to administer the Council’s language requirement policy, ensuring that licensing students satisfy the requirement before registering for a licensing examination.

The changes to the Council’s English Language Proficiency Requirement are part of a series of initiatives to help to ensure that BC consumers receive real estate services from licensed professionals with the skills necessary to conduct their practice safely and effectively.

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