Learning the Language
6. What level of English do I need to work in Canada?
According Canadian authorities, at CLB 1-3, you can perform such jobs as a cleaner, a dishwasher, a kitchen helper, or a baker. At CLB 4, you may get a job as a child care assistant, home care worker (working with the elderly) or a hospital cleaner. CLB 5 is enough to work as an industrial, electrical and construction trade worker and CLB 7 allows you to work as an engineer, doctor, dentist, and architect.
If you immigrated to Canada through Family Sponsorship, Refugee, and Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations, you need to find out language requirements according to your occupation and immediately start learning or improving English to reach the required level.
7. What level of English is necessary to enter a college or university?
To study in Canada, Canadian colleges and universities usually indicate what level of language is sufficient for admission to a particular program. If you graduated from high school in Canada, having studied for four years from the 9th to 12th grades, your level of language is considered sufficient. Also if you graduated from a program conducted in English at a foreign educational institution, your language skills will be considered sufficient without examination. Many institutions accept the results of the IELTS exam, although some universities require that you take the TOEFL exam. Your scores should be within 573-597 for the written exam, or 230-247 if you complete the computer-based test. Information about the examination and registration for the TOEFL is available on the website https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/register/.
8. What opportunities do newcomers have for learning English in Canada?
Fortunately, in Canada, immigrants have a lot of opportunities to improve their language skills. The LINC program offers free courses usually to the level of CLB 5-7 but there are also free courses in English as Second Language (ESL) where you can raise up your level to CLB 8-9. A number of schools providing ESL courses also prepare students for employment: you can learn about the job market, get help to prepare a resume and get ready for an interview. By studying hard in LINC or ESL school for the first year you can improve your language skills in all four levels.
Further, using the Enhanced English Training Program (CLB 10-12), you can begin to explore professional terminology. These programs exist for professions such as information technology (IT), engineering and administrative positions, as well as in the fields of medicine, finance, trade and marketing.
You can also improve your level of language in colleges or universities, but they charge tuition. In Toronto, for example, George Brown College offers eight-week classes for each CLB level. The highest level is CLB 9. The cost of this eight-week course for those who have landed immigrant status or citizenship is $535 and for those who do not have the specified status, it is four times more. The University of Toronto (U of T) offers a twelve-week English language course to prepare for university entrance which costs about $5,000. In ethnic community newspapers in Toronto, there are ads for private schools which provide pay rates for language learning.
9. What does LINC mean?
If you received landed immigrant or refugee status and need only basic English, it is best to apply to the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC). This free program financed by the federal government is available for landed immigrants and refugees. The LINC program has part-time and full-time classes for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) levels 1 to 7 which are taught by city school teachers, as well as by staff of colleges and universities. Most likely, the LINC program will be your first step in learning English after arriving in Canada. To find addresses of LINC centers go to https://settlement.org/ontario/education/english-as-a-second-language-esl/linc-program/. After visiting the assessment centre and evaluating your English level, you will be directed to an appropriate school. Often, these schools will provide compensation for your public transportation expenses and offer free day care for children during class time. There are also summer schools. You need approximately three months of dedicated study to raise your English skills to the next level.
Before selecting your courses, you should find the appropriate school address and determine if it is far from your home and whether or not you will get reimbursed for transportation. If you have pre-school children, determine whether there is a nursery in your language school. Find out whether the timetable is consistent with the hours of your job, if you already have one. You can choose a school with full-time or part-time schedules and even find a teacher who knows your native language. There are classes that are offered in the evening and on weekends; some schools are open during the summer. Sometimes you have to wait until there are vacancies in the chosen school.
10. What does ESL mean?
If you do not qualify for LINC classes, there are English as a Second Language (ESL) classes available in your community. This is also a free program which is financed by provincial or territorial governments. ESL classes are available for people who come to Canada as temporary workers or international students, for people who only applied for Landed Immigrant or Refugee status, for Canadian citizens and even visitors (for a small fee). To search for a suitable ESL school in Ontario please visit: https://settlement.org/ontario/education/english-as-a-second-language-esl/esl-for-adults/. Before writing courses you will take a small test and after determining your level of English you will be offered the appropriate class. The ESL schools can raise the level of English to CLB 8-9 and in some schools to CLB 12. These schools usually do not compensate your public transportation expenses and do not offer free day care for children during study time. Sometimes you have to wait until there are vacancies in the chosen school.
11. What does ELT mean?
The program "Enhanced Language Training” started almost 10 years ago. For this program, financing was undertaken by the government. The main goal of this program is to help immigrants with different occupations find a job by studying the professional language in the area of their occupation. Simultaneously with the study of professional English language, these immigrants learn about the most effective methods of finding employment which are generally accepted in Canada. These courses teach professional terminology, the language spoken in offices and organizations, resume writing and how to pass the interview. Programs are designed for people with the status of landed immigrant and refugee but in cases of a shortage of students, others can be taken too. Therefore, we recommend contacting in person or by phone the organization you are interested to get more information. To participate in the Enhanced English Language Programs, there is a required level of English at CLB 6-7, with submission of documents confirming this level. In some places you have to pass an English test. More information on the Enhanced Language Training program, as well as addresses and phone numbers of organizations offering courses in this program can be found at the webpage https://settlement.org/ontario/education/english-as-a-second-language-esl/esl-for-adults/what-is-enhanced-language-training-elt/.
(To be continued)