English Language Supports for the CPA Program: Key Resources for Success

As a globally recognized accounting designation, the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) program is highly sought after by professionals looking to advance their careers in Canada. However, for non-native English speakers, the language proficiency required to successfully complete the program can pose a significant challenge. In this article, we will explore the various English language supports available to help non-native speakers succeed in the CPA program. From language resources to professional writing skills, we will provide you with valuable information to help you achieve your goals in the world of accounting.

Language Proficiency

CPA Canada uses language benchmarking to determine the English proficiency recommended for the CPA certification program.  The CPA Atlantic School of Business language recommendations for participation in CPA education programs mirror the benchmarks set out by CPA Canada.

In Canada, English language skills are evaluated according to the Canadian English Language Benchmark (CLB) which gauges the level of English proficiency on a scale of 1-12. To enter, successfully participate in, and complete the CPA certification program, a minimum level of CLB 8 is recommended. If you have not had an official assessment of your English language skills and would like to determine your CLB benchmark, there are proficiency exams you can explore.

The Government of Canada website provides information regarding the types of proficiency exams available. The CELPIP and the IELTS exams are the main exams used for immigration, residency, and admission to post-secondary education. 

Before deciding to spend money on an official test, you can visit these free resources to test your writing, listening, and reading skills:

Language Resources

In your communities, you can also take advantage of the public library, post-secondary, and provincial government resources. Each Atlantic province provides EAL learners with a variety of EAL-building opportunities to assist them in becoming more confident in their English abilities.

For resources in your region, please review our dedicated page for English Language Support.

Other Supports

Speed Reading

When you were learning to read, saying the words, numbers, and symbols in your mind as you read them may have helped you. However, if you are enrolled in CPA Education programs and courses, you want your eyes to track the words you read quickly. The faster you read and understand what you’ve read, the faster you move through course materials.

There are plenty of free resources available online to test your reading skills for speed and comprehension. By taking these tests, you will also see how much you’ve understood from what you read. Here are some online websites to test your reading speed:

  • Readingsoft.com  to test reading speed and comprehension. It is important to note that screen reading is approximately 25 percent slower than paper reading.
  • Readspeeder.com  course for faster reading and improved comprehension

Building Vocabulary

It can be a challenge to read in a language other than your first language. However, it can become easier if you prepare in advance. The larger your vocabulary – especially specific to your chosen profession – the more comfortable you will feel when navigating through your modules and exams.

The following resources provide vocabulary related to accounting:


How fast and accurate is your typing? Developing a wide range of vocabulary combined with increased reading and comprehension speeds can help with typing accurately. 

Typing with accuracy involves having a high level of hand-eye coordination. When under pressure, motor muscle movements become slower or more erratic. This feeling is amplified if you are used to working with a non-English keyboard and suddenly switch to an English keyboard.

You will benefit by practising typing your responses quickly, especially under exam-like conditions. Learn the placement of the alphanumeric symbols on your English keyboard so you feel comfortable using them effortlessly.

Resources to test your typing speed:

  • Test your current typing speed and accuracy using an English keyboard. You can also complete key drills, lessons, and complete typing tests to gauge the improvement of your typing abilities.  Visit typingstudy.com
  • You will find quick and efficient typing drills that provide a measure of your speed and accuracy according to the time taken to complete them. Explore different levels of typing to improve your speed and coordination.  Visit typing.com
  • Practice typing consonant and vowel combinations that appear in the English Language. Build your typing speed and track your progress through a stats generator. Visit keybr.com

The CPA Canada Learning eBook: Enabling Competencies

The CPA Canada Learning eBook Enabling Competencies section includes learning resources to help candidates apply the CPA Way methodical approach to addressing professional problems and approaching CPA PEP studies and examinations using professional writing skills. The CPA Canada Learning eBooks are in the CPA PEP version of the online research platform Knotia

For detailed information on professional writing skills, please review our dedicated page for English Language Support.

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