NAATI’s CLA test enables people to demonstrate their basic oral communication skills in a language other than English, and their ability to support clients, students or stakeholders in a two-way conversation.

The CLA test assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate in a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

The whole test is conducted in the language other than English (LOTE), using pre-recorded materials and is conducted online.

An individual who has passed a CLA test is not qualified to work as an interpreter or translator.

What is the difference between a community language aide and an interpreter?

A community language aide, or bilingual worker, is someone who uses their LOTE in the course of their work to assist customers or clients.

However, being bilingual does not make someone an interpreter. Interpreters have a specific skill set learnt through formal training and experience which enables them to accurately convey oral messages from one language to another.

Community language aides should only provide language assistance when the outcome of the situation has no risk of adverse effects for either the client or the organisation. This might include basic customer service, such as providing directions, making appointments or supporting to fill out a form. They should not convey information that is legally binding or puts either the client or the organisation at risk.

For example, asking a client to sign a consent form may be simple, but the consequences of poor communication are potentially serious, so a professional (NAATI-certified) interpreter should be engaged instead.

What does the test assess?

The CLA test assesses your ability to:

  • convey information accurately and clarify routine points if needed
  • adhere to the procedural norms expected in English language interactions (such as politeness and time-efficiency)
  • follow and understand speech from a native-speaker of a LOTE
  • pronounce language accurately enough that speech is generally intelligible
  • produce language accurately enough that errors do not impede or impair communication.

You need to have a vocabulary range that allows you to explain organisational procedures and related matters with some precision and clarity.

Test results are emailed to the person sitting the test within four weeks.

Preparing for the test

Below is a NAATI guide which provides an overview of the CLA test structure and some practice materials.

We also have a CLA Knowledge Competency Course available through our NAATI Learn platform. This course is designed to increase your understanding of the role played by bilingual workers in the delivery of language services, and to prepare you to sit the CLA test.

Write to our team to be enrolled in the course.

Do I have to be sponsored?

No. Individuals can apply to sit the test without being sponsored by their employer.

Some organisations pay a language allowance to employees who use their LOTE speaker to provide customer service (e.g. some public service departments and agencies), if those employees can demonstrate they have the required language skills. Those organisations may pay for their employees to be tested.

Some other organisations that don’t pay an allowance still pay for their employees to be tested.

How long are the results valid for?

Results are valid for five years from the date of issue.


To apply, you need to register your email in our customer portal, myNAATI. After you have registered, you can make your application from the myNAATI portal.

Make sure you read and understand the following information before applying for your test:

Any questions? Please email