Did you know that more than 50 countries speak English as one of their official languages?
That means there are lots of options for English learners who want to travel and improve their language skills.
Maybe you are one of those learners looking for an English immersion experience. Maybe you have already considered studying in famous destinations like New York City or London.
But have you thought about Canada yet?
If not, now is the time!
Canada just might be the perfect choice for learning English. There is so much to love about this beautiful and welcoming country, and there are tons of English education programs available. Once you are there, you might never want to leave!
Canada is not all lumberjacks, maple syrup and winter. Here is how and why you should learn English in Canada.
Why Should You Learn English in Canada?
Obviously, you want to learn English, so it is important that locals in your destination speak the language.
Lucky for you, Canada has two official languages: English and French. However, the English-speaking population outnumbers the French-speaking one by a wide margin, with English being an official language in 12 out of 13 of Canada’s provinces. That means that whether you decide to go to British Columbia on the west coast, visit Canada’s economic center of Ontario or settle near the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, you will get loads of English practice.
Plus, a lot of Canadians are capable of speaking both English and French! Even in Québec, Canada’s official French-only province, people can hold some sort of conversation in English. So, you will find opportunities to practise your English almost anywhere you go in the country.
Where Can You Learn ESL in Canada?
All across Canada, you will find that significant efforts are made to help children, adults, newcomers and foreign students alike master English. Most cities, big and small, will have English courses for beginner students to advanced speakers of all ages!
Major cities in Canada have a wide variety of English schools to cater to every language need.
In cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, foreign students can learn English at top Canadian universities and colleges. In addition, international language schools and local Canadian schools all pride themselves on offering the highest quality of instruction with the most experienced and dedicated teachers. There really are a lot of choices! We will explore several of these options later in this post.
How Much Does It Cost to Study English in Canada?
With Canada being an economically-advanced country, it can be a little pricey (expensive) to study English there.
According to EduCanada, the typical cost of attending a language school in Canada is between $3,446 and $4,083 Canadian dollars. These types of programs take place in major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, and they do not take into account (include) the cost of accommodation, food and transportation.
For example, staying in a hotel in a major Canadian city can cost around $100 Canadian dollars per night, and some estimates say that food can cost around $38 Canadian dollars per day if you eat only at restaurants.
Obviously, staying in a major city like those mentioned above will also cost more when it comes to finding a place to stay and food to eat. You might find cheaper options in smaller cities or in rural locations that allow you to learn English while surrounded by Canadian nature!
Furthermore, if it is too expensive to rent a place on your own or stay in a hotel the entire time, a better option might be a homestay where you stay with a real Canadian family. Some homestays can be found for as little as $280 Canadian dollars per week, but make sure to research these options thoroughly to see if they are reputable.
What Is It Like to Live in Canada?
You may have heard the stereotype that “Canadians are nice.” Well, it may be based on the truth.
Canadians pride themselves on being friendly, polite and ready to help others. This is a very important thing to consider if you are looking for a place to learn English.
Why? Because the time you spend abroad will not be all about studying in class. You will go out after school to explore the city you are in and interact with others in English. Friendly Canadian locals will be happy to help you practice your English. It will make a positive difference in your experience!
Further, Canada prides itself on multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is roughly defined as the support and acceptance of many distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society. Guess what? Multiculturalism is an official policy in Canada! Not only is it a law but it is also a source of pride for Canadians. It is something we all strive for every day.
The Canadian population is quite diverse, which is especially apparent (noticeable) in big cities. No matter where you come from to learn English in Canada, no matter what your religion, gender, the style of clothes you wear or the accent you speak with, Canada’s aim is to make you feel welcomed, accepted and respected. Overall, Canadians want you to feel comfortable and at ease! And that is because…
Canada is an amazing country with lots to explore.
Of course, you are in it not only for the language but also for the adventure! You will find that traveling around Canada is like exploring a whole different world. So much to do, so much to see!
Canada offers some of the most diverse landscapes in the world. Between the crystal-clear lakes, snow-covered mountains, the Northern Lights, whale sightings, urban landscapes, wonderful museums, amazing restaurants with cuisines from around the world… Canada is beautiful in so many different ways. You should really come see for yourself.
What Are the Requirements to Study ESL in Canada?
Good news: If you plan on coming to Canada to learn English for six months or less, you do not need a study permit!
This means less paperwork in preparation for your trip and more research time to choose the Canadian language school that is right for you.
Remember that if you stay longer, you will need a study permit.
Even without a study visa, you may still require a short-term visitor visa to study English in Canada, but that is okay. Getting any visa for any country is a hassle (a difficult thing to do), but it should be relatively pain-free when you apply as a foreign student wishing to take a short English course.
Better yet, Canada offers Working Holiday options for eligible foreign visitors.
If you are an advanced speaker of English, you may be eligible to participate in International Experience Canada. It would allow you to come to Canada for a “Working Holiday” to further your English learning while working.
Strictly speaking, this is not an English-learning option, but rather an opportunity to practice your English, travel and live in Canada—all while earning income. Your eligibility depends on your home country and your age. Check your eligibility for International Experience Canada.
How Can You Get Started?
Planning your trip to Canada to study English is simple and can be done in three easy steps!
Step number one: Choose where you want to study in Canada. This is important! Canada is the second biggest country in the world. Because it is so vast, its different regions offer different vibes and types of people. This gives you so much freedom to design your own English-learning trip according to your preferences and desires.
- You could go to Vancouver and study English close to the ocean and the mountains, then take weekend ski trips to Whistler…
- You could visit Toronto in the summer to take intensive English classes, then explore one of the most vibrant cities in the country…
- You could travel to Nova Scotia and be amazed by its natural beauty while practicing English with the friendliest locals!
Your imagination is the limit!
Step number two: Choose what type of study program you would like to complete. Do you want to take a weekly class? Do you want to attend English classes at a university? Do you want an immersion experience? When you have worked out the details, use a directory to find what programs are offered in your Canadian location of choice.
Step number three: Get together all your documentation to study in Canada legally.
As mentioned above, you may need a study visa if you want to study for longer than six months or a visitor visa even if your program is six months or less. To start, check if your home country is exempt from the Canadian visa process.
If not, leave a bit of extra time before your trip to apply for a visa. Do this after you select your school so that the school will be able to issue documents confirming your enrollment. In addition to your confirmation letter, you will need to prove that you have sufficient funds for studying and living in Canada, that you are in good health and that you do not have a criminal record in your home country.
Gathering all of this information will make the visa application significantly easier. Do not be stressed; learning English is a very common (and respected) reason for visa applications!
The Ultimate Guide to Learning English in Canada
Are you convinced that Canada is the perfect destination to learn English yet? If so, here are some great language schools in Canada to consider!
International English Schools
Study Abroad International (IPSA)
Study Abroad International has you covered if you are looking for a wide variety of programs and locations.
You will find courses in general English, business English, medical English and much more. If you are preparing for exams such as the TOEFL or IELTS, you can take dedicated test preparation classes. There are even fun summer camps teaching “junior English” for kids and teens!
Study Abroad International has the most Canadian locations of the schools on this list.
Canadian locations: Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.
Global Village is a trusted name with campuses across Canada. Each of its Canadian locations has class schedules packed with lessons for all levels.
Global Village offers general English, IELTS preparation and English for academic purposes, among other courses.
There are also fun activities for students after class. Imagine staying on a ranch while studying English in Victoria, taking yoga lessons after your morning class in Calgary or playing hockey in Toronto!
Canadian locations: Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.
ILAC is proudly Canadian! It is a reputable English language school with locations in Toronto and Vancouver. It offers General English, TOEFL and IELTS preparation, as well as unique Power English and University Pathway programs.
Power English adds a cultural component to English language learning with courses on communication, Canadian culture and everyday English usage. The University Pathway courses support students who want to pursue undergraduate studies at a Canadian school.
ILAC has partnerships with 70 Canadian colleges and universities and will help Pathway students apply (without needing the IELTS and TOEFL exams!).
You can choose to live at a homestay through ILAC to boost your English immersion, and you can also participate in social events organized by the school to meet new people and further practice the language.
Canadian locations: Toronto and Vancouver.
SSLC is an educational organization that provides targeted English as a second language (ESL) programs, from Medical English to communication for job-seeking flight attendants, alongside their general ESL for Adults course.
There are two teaching structures for the general course. You can either take one “combined” course that focuses on all the primary language skills together (grammar, reading, writing, listening and speaking) or you can take the “focused” course where there is a specific class for each of those skills.
SSLC also offers a number of programs for young kids, teens and families.
Canadian locations: Toronto, Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.
Language Studies International
LSI offers English studies all over the world, and Canada is no exception! This school particularly prides itself on its small classes and interactive teaching environment.
You can choose courses in general English, English for work and business and more. LSI also offers unique English “experiences,” including everything from a club for adult students to English with tennis or hiking.
Canadian locations: Toronto and Vancouver.
GEOS Languages Plus
GEOS offers full- and part-time English programs and classes in six Canadian cities. If you are looking to study somewhere outside of Toronto or Vancouver, GEOS is a great choice!
Standard, intensive and super-intensive English courses are offered through GEOS. There is also private tutoring and TOEFL and IELTS preparation. GEOS organizes after-class activities for their students daily, which means that you can practice your new language skills right away!
Canadian locations: Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver.
ILSC Language Schools
ILSC has 26 years of experience in English education, with more than a hundred programs to choose from.
They offer three school locations in Canada, including a campus in beautiful Montreal. If you fall in love with Canada during your stay, ILSC will help you enter one of the Canadian colleges it has partnered with—no TOEFL or IELTS score needed!
Canadian locations: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
Additional English Language Schools in Canada (by City)
Step by Step Proficiency, Ottawa
This school is located in gorgeous downtown Ottawa. It offers general and specialized English courses. One of its most unique options is the dedicated pronunciation program, which will provide an in-depth exploration of English accents and intonation. This will help you understand native speakers better and perfect your own speech.
Access English, Toronto
This is a private language school that would be a great choice for anyone looking to study at an English-speaking university in the future, especially in business and medicine programs.
For example, while business English is a common course that can be found in many language centers, Access English combines it with case studies, role-playing and even internships. English for Medicine is another unique course designed for those already working in or studying the field of healthcare.
This is a language school focusing exclusively on teaching English and French (no surprise considering its location!).
In particular, its English immersion programs include regular, intensive and super-intensive options. ALI is also a great choice for test preparation, no matter what your individual goals are. TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS and more are covered.
This is a private language school offering both daytime and evening classes, which is great for any students who will be working or volunteering during their stay in Canada.
Equilibrium can teach you specific language competencies, from conversational skills to reading and writing. You will also find exam preparation programs and a unique accent reduction course at this school.
This school delivers a wide range of specialized English programs in Vancouver, including intensive English, accelerated communication and business English. Inlingua prioritizes speed and aims to get you speaking in English from the very first lesson.
It appears that Inlingua may be permanently closed due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, but you can check out EC English as an alternative.
ESL Programs in Canadian Universities
The University of British Columbia
UBC has an English Experience Program in Vancouver, available for foreign students from the beginner to advanced levels. The program is offered in eight-week sessions and focuses on real-world English skills.
The University of Calgary
UCalgary has a wealth of options for foreign students! Whether you want to study for a semester, take an intensive summer/winter course or participate in a language and culture course, UCalgary has something for everyone.
Once you have decided that you want to learn English abroad, be it for a few days or a few months, it is time to research your options. Now you know that Canada is one of the best countries in which to learn English!
It offers the highest-quality instruction in its language schools as well as fantastic travel and sightseeing opportunities.
You might want to pack your bags and come learn English in Canada right away!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.