School of Languages

Information, Mission, Underlying Principles & Program Objectives

The ESL program covers five levels of instruction for a total of 35 hours per week for five weeks. The levels are, Beginner, Intermediate levels 1 and 2, Advanced levels 1 and 2. Entrance to the appropriate level will be determined by a placement test after enrolling in the program. Students will be assessed throughout the entire program. Diagnostic, formative and summative assessments will be used to evaluate students’ learning outcomes and to ensure that students are on track with their learning and with the demands of the program.


The ESL program is intended to provide students with the necessary language and communicative skills needed to help students function and be successful in society. Students will work with the ESL teacher to develop language acquisition, gradually build their speaking, pronunciation, listening, reading, and writing skills through sound instructional methods and techniques founded on principles of communicative language ability. Students will be actively engaged in a number of activities that also include language drills, controlled and authentic practice (real-life) activities and situations that provide students with opportunities to test their understanding and progress at every stage of the program. These methods draw on proven language learning theories and approaches such as, communicative approach, constructivism, audiolingual, and task-based methods.

The elements underlying the communicative approach are in line with the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). They include the following elements of communication:

  • Knowledge of Grammar and Text – in order to accurately build sentences and phrases using the right word order and syntax, students need the necessary grammatical knowledge to achieve this. Grammatical knowledge includes vocabulary and pronunciation, syntax and word order, basic speech elements (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, interjections). Textual knowledge includes, the elements that make up textual coherence ad cohesion, and rhetorical organization.
  • Sociolinguistic and functional knowledge – This means having the knowledge and understanding of the different social, professional, formal and informal settings in which communication takes place. Sociolinguistic knowledge also includes knowing and selecting the appropriate language variations, registers, idioms, figurative language, and culturally-sensitive language. Skilled speakers have the functional knowledge needed to interpret and manipulate language in a range of purposes and interactions.
  • Strategic competence – This addresses the metacognitive skill sets that take control of learning, planning, organizing, setting goals, and assessing language use and other cognitive activities.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to use their communicative skills to communicate effectively in a range of social and professional situations. They will gradually build and use the five language skills, speaking, pronunciation, reading, writing, and listening to properly function in society.

Students will acquire an increasingly broad lexical repertoire which they will be able to use, analyze, and contextualize accordingly. The quality and quantify of lexical items and terminology will be commensurate with their ESL level at the end of each course. At the lower levels, students will acquire essential vocabulary, including content and function words, to properly form sentences, and put together grammatical structures to formulate basic communicative language for everyday use. This everyday language ranges from non-demanding to moderately-demanding in context. Higher-level students will acquire a more complex range of vocabulary to meet increasingly demanding linguistic tasks and functions. They will have the ability to correctly identify, distinguish, and contextualize between common and complex homonyms, homographs, and homophones. They will be able to produce college and university-level vocabulary that they will use in higher-thinking activities.

Students will be able to express themselves verbally and in writing using a range of grammatical structures. From foundations to advanced level, students will be able to express themselves using the correct syntactical forms, formulate simple, complex, compound-complex sentences. Additionally, students will acquire the grammatical skills they need to transition their communicative contexts from the simple, concrete, familiar, and predictable, to the more complex, abstract, unfamiliar and unpredictable.

Students will be able to improve their pronunciation through systematic phonemic exercises and drills that target culture-specific pronunciation weaknesses.

From beginner to advanced levels, students will be able to recognize, read, analyze, and categorize a range of texts that range in length and complexity. These include, but are not limited to; labels, instructions, community signage, brochures and flyers, and newspaper.

Students will be able to communicate in writing through a range of grammatical structures that range in complexity. They will also be able to produce written products for different communicative settings of everyday social and professional life.

They will be able to use metacognitive processes to analyze their language, and the language of their interlocutors. They will learn the pragmatic knowledge of English used to convey and understand linguistic macro-functions (persuasion, abstract and logical reasoning), and micro-functions (requests, warnings, statements).

Students will have the ability to produce written and spoken language appropriately and contextually in different sociocultural milieus (includes appropriate register, style, conventions, levels of formality or informality, cultural and socioeconomic awareness).

Students will learn effective study skills and methods, and acquire learning and memory strategies in order to retain and internalize what they have learned. Their increased competence in time management will enable them to make sound study choices and help them to achieve their learning goals.

ESL Levels

Beginner Level / Language Foundations

Equivalent to:

  • Phase 1 / CLB 1-4
  • IELTS levels 1.0-3.5
  • TOEFL level 10-15 (Speaking), 7-12 (Writing)
  • EU level A1-A2
Intermediate Level 1/ Pre-Intermediate

Equivalent to:

  • Phase 2 / CLB 5-6
  • IELTS levels 4.0-5.5
  • TOEFL level 42-71 (Total): 4-17 (Reading), 9-16 (Listening), 16-19 (Speaking), 13-16 (Writing)
  • EU level B1
Intermediate Level 2

Equivalent to:

  • Phase 2 / CLB 7-8
  • IELTS levels 6.0-6.5
  • TOEFL level 72-94 (Total): 18-23 (Reading), 17-21 (Listening), 20-24 (Speaking), 17-23 (Writing)
  • EU Framework Level B2
Advanced Level 1

Equivalent to:

  • Phase 3 / CLB 9-10
  • IELTS levels 7.0-7.5
  • TOEFL level 95-120 (Total): 24-30 (Reading), 22-30 (Listening), 25-30 (Speaking), 24-30 (Writing)
  • EU Framework Level C1
Advanced Level 2

Equivalent to:

  • Phase 3 / CLB 11-12
  • IELTS levels 8.0-9.0
  • EU Framework Level C2


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