Canada is an amazing place to study – the education system in Canada is considered one of the best in the world, the cost of education is lower than in the UK and the USA, and Canada has favourable immigration laws that allow students to work while they study and stay in Canada after they finish their education.
The journey to Canada for most international students starts with English language schools which help students adjust to studying in a Canadian environment but also give them the language skills they need to succeed academically.
Language Requirements for Schools in Canada
The language requirements for most universities in Canada (outside the province of Quebec) state that if you have not (i) lived in a country where English is the acknowledged primary language, or (ii) studied at a school full-time for a prescribed number of years where the language of instruction was English, then you need to submit English language scores from a standardized English language testing facility.
Theabove-noted English language requirements and policies are different across the 100 universities in Canada, however, the acceptable English language tests as well as the acceptable corresponding scores can generally be summarized as follows:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 6 – 6.5 overall on the Academic Module
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): iBT 80 – 88 overall
- Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): Overall band of 60 – 70
An issue over which many international students struggle, is having the proper or accredited English language requirements to gain admission to English universities or colleges in Canada. Students often have achieved a high enough grade point average in high school to be accepted, but their English language skills are lacking and require some work.
Fortunately, Canadian universities have identified this challenge and are willing to assist promising and talented students to be able to study at their schools. Accordingly, most universities and colleges in Canada offer English language programs, in addition to the numerous programs offered by private language schools around the country.
Which English Language School Should I Attend?
Deciding on which English language school to attend may seem like a daunting task – a Google search will list hundreds of options and it is often not clear which schools are reputable.
Julie Beeton, a Canadian immigration lawyer and the Managing Director of Beeton & Co, Canadian Immigration and Education Consultants stated, “We have developed a system to help students identify the universities and colleges in Canada that best suit them based on the student’s academic performance, programs of interest and personal preference on various factors including dorms, campus life, and budget. We also can help students match up English as Second Language programs with these schools that allow students to seamlessly transition from their language studies to academic studies.”
English Language Schools at Canadian Universities
Most Canadian universities offer introductory English language programs to assist students who do not meet the English language requirements but who are otherwise accepted to study at the university. For example, the Continuing Studies Department at the University of British Columbia (UBC) has an English Language Institute. Students can either attend this program and then study at a different university (one will need to confirm that the other university accepts certificates from the UBC Language Institute) or attend the Language Institute if a student receives a “conditional admission” to UBC which requires them to complete the English language program before they proceed with their academic studies.
English for Academic Purposes Programs
Canadian universities have recognized that students are keen to start their academic studies, complete their English language studies, and that in doing so, students will also require the proper English vocabulary and skill-set specific to their program of study (for example, they will need to know the technical terms used in engineering, accounting, business, law, or medicine). The University of Waterloo has developed an English for Academic Purpose Program which allows students to complete their English language studies while also taking credited courses from their program of study. English language instructors work closely with students to support language training specific to a student’s academic major or specialty.
Private English as Second Language Programs
There are countless intuitions in Canada and around the globe that offer English language programs. Canadian universities and colleges are very selective about which language courses they accept as evidence that a student has fulfilled their English language requirements. Many universities will require you to take an English language test after completing your English language studies to show that your test scores are now at an acceptable level.
Julie Beeton also stated “At Beeton & Co, we provide students with a thorough review of English language programs and ensure that any classes that a student takes will be accepted by the universities or colleges they wish to study at.”