The 14th Week

English Courses: ESL

Features of English ESL courses
If the LINC courses are insufficient to achieve your desired level of language (most schools offer studies of LINC to the level of CLB 5-7), then use the schools of English as Second Language (ESL), which offer courses to the level of CLB 8-9 and in some schools to CLB 12.
ESL courses have the following features:
•ESL classes are open to all persons over 18 years, including landed immigrants or refugees,
people, who came to Canada on temporary work or study, those who have applied for refugee status and those who already have Canadian citizenship.
•There is no fee for the study of ESL classes.
•Typically, these classes do not have child care rooms, and they do not compensate for the transportation fare.
•Levels of training in these classes often have a verbal description: Beginner, High Beginner, Low Intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced.
•People without any status, for example, guests or visitors of Canada can study ESL but they have to pay about $6 per hour. In this case, the duration of study shall be not less than two weeks.
•ESL classes are financed from the provincial budget.

How to find an ESL school
School boards located across Ontario provide language training classes. You can take beginner, intermediate and advanced-level classes. To search for a suitable ESL school in Ontario, please visit: There are six options on that site: About the program, Eligibility, Program cost, How to register, Language assessment centres, Other types of language training.
In Toronto, many ESL schools are managed by Toronto District School Board (TDSB). On the site,, you can find a suitable school. Also, Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) offers ESL courses. Its site,, has addresses and phone numbers of schools which teach to the level of CLB 5-9 and more. You can choose the school and attend classes during the day, evening and on weekends. There are also summer schools. Your ethnic centre and agencies serving immigrants will also help you to choose the right school.
In the libraries of Toronto, you'll find booklets with detailed descriptions of the ESL schools in the TDSB and TCDSB systems with their addresses and phone numbers.

Do you need permission to attend ESL school?
If you go to a LINC school, you must bring the appropriate formal referral, for ESL schools you do not need any permission, just come and ask to be enrolled in school. Bring identification and proof of your status and place of residence. Refusal may be made only in case of lack of availability of courses. Since there are a lot of ESL schools, there likely will not be problems with admission. Although these schools have semesters, you can start school at any time.
Before enrolling in school, you will be given a simple test, which will determine your level. However, if you find that you are comfortable at current level, ask for a higher level.

Preparing for the exam for Canadian citizenship
In addition to studies in language learning, ESL courses can prepare you for the exam for citizenship. You will be told about the rules for obtaining citizenship and learn the history, geography and social structure in Canada. Also in these courses, you can learn how to use computers, how to prepare and publish business correspondence in English and prepare for the English exam for admission to college or university. To enroll in university, you usually will be required to pass the TOEFL exam. The level of training for this exam should give you an opportunity to obtain at least 600 points. If you need the IELTS exam, then ESL courses can also help to prepare for this exam.

Preparing for the Canadian job market
A number of schools giving the 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. There is also the opportunity to learn professional terminology in your area of expertise.
Where else you can improve your English
You can also improve your level of language in colleges or universities, where there are also ESL courses, but they charge tuition. In Toronto, for example, George Brown College offers ESL classes with eight weeks time spent at 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 your ethnic newspapers in Toronto, there are ads for private schools and pay rates of language learning.