Whether you’re already in Canada and you need to upgrade your language skills for work or school, or whether you’re abroad and want to come to the country for an intensive English Language course, Canada has a wide range of ESL courses available for you to choose from. From high-end business-oriented programs to free community options, there’s an ESL course that will fit your needs. It’s just a matter of finding the right one for your particular situation. Let’s dive down and see what choices are out there for you.

 

Private Language Institutes

These institutes generally offer ESL courses that are shorter in terms of the length of the course but are intensive with a lot of hours of instruction per week. The cost is often over $500 for a 2-week basic course but can vary depending on the option you choose. Because the courses generally last for a range of 2 to 24 weeks, you often don’t have to get a study visa as your visitor visa generally allows you to stay in Canada for up to 6 months at a time. And if you’re already living in Canada, the short but intensive schedules fit in nicely with your other work, school, or family responsibilities.

Please note that some private institutes do offer ESL courses that last from 24 to over 40 weeks which means in those cases you will need a student visa if you are coming from abroad. As well, most private institutes may charge administrative and other fees so please check with the institution you wish to attend before putting together a budget.

Here’s 6 of the top private language ESL institutes in Canada:

 

Oxford International Education

Located in Toronto, this institute is certified by the British Council, NAFSA (the association of international educators), CAPLS (Languages Canada), as well as other international associations. It has a wide range of facilities available in the school, including:

  • 16 classrooms
  • 30 public workstations
  • Computer Lab
  • Library
  • Free after-class access to learning software
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Printer and Photocopier
  • Lounge, vending machines, microwave
  • Wheelchair access and special access washrooms

Course fees range from around $300 for a 1-week course to $3000 for a 12-week course. Students must purchase course material at a cost of about $75 per course. No previous level of English is required but you will be assessed and offered a course that corresponds to your level of English. The institute is located at:

#220-111 Peter St. 
Toronto ON
M5V 2H1 
1 – 416 – 542-1626

[email protected]

In Vancouver, the institute is located at:

Oxford International/Eurocentres Vancouver
#250-815 West Hastings St.
Vancouver, BC
V6C 1B4
1 – 604 – 688-7942

[email protected]

 

Quest Language Studies

This school is located in the heart of downtown Toronto on Yonge Street a short walk from the TTC College St. Station. It offers small class sizes (around 10 students) and a wide range of facilities at their institute:

  • Computer lab
  • Printer and Photocopier
  • Library
  • After-class access to free software
  • Movie room (and movie rentals)
  • Games room and Lounge
  • Cafeteria & drinks & vending machines
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Billiards and table tennis & football
  • Facilities for disabled students
  • 22 classrooms
  • 50 public workstations

Course materials cost $100 per course and Course Fees range from around $250 for a 1-week course to around $3200 for a 12-week course. No advance level of English is required but you can be assessed to see what your level of English is currently. The school is located at:

433 Yonge Street
Toronto ON
M5B 1T3 
1 – 416 – 962-2272

[email protected]

 

Access International English Language Centre

The school is located in the Yorkville district on Yonge Street, just north of Bloor. It offers smaller-sized classes of around 10 students per class and offers specialized English courses for business and medicine. It is located at a central point of downtown Toronto next to several subway stations with shops, restaurants, bars, museums, galleries etc. just a short walk away. It is close to University of Toronto’s downtown campus as well. It offers the following:

  • Computer lab
  • Library
  • Photocopies
  • Microwave and Cafeteria
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Facilities for disabled students
  • 8 classrooms
  • 20 public workstations

Course fees range from around $800 for a 1-week intensive course to $5000 for a 12-week intensive course, to up to around $9500 for a 24-week intensive course. Fees for general courses range from around $650 for 1-week courses to $3600 for 12-week courses to up to around $7000 for 24-week courses.

The school is located at:

730 Yonge Street
Suite 203
Toronto ON
M4Y 2B7
1 – 416 – 935-0457

[email protected]

 

Language Studies International

This language school is located in beautiful Vancouver, in an office building in the downtown section of the city. Their facilities include:

  • Computer lab
  • Library
  • Free after-class access to software
  • Printer & photocopier
  • Lounge, Fridge, Terrace Garden
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free Coffee
  • Video game console
  • 14 classrooms
  • 9 public workstations

Course materials cost $75 per course. Course fees range from around $400 for a 1-week intensive course to around $7400 for a 24-week intensive course. For standard courses the fees range from over $300 for a 1-week course to around $3500 for a 12-week course up to about $6400 for a 24-week course. The school is located at:

2nd floor, 806 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2W5
1 – 604 – 683-7654

[email protected]

 

International Language Academy of Canada

Our second Vancouver-based language school is a highly rated private institute with a boutique campus near the city’s Main Transportation Station. It offers a wide range of courses like most private language institutes and a number of facilities including:

  • Computer lab
  • Microwave
  • Lounge & Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Wheelchair accessible facilities
  • 70 classrooms
  • 20 Public workstations

The course material generally costs $60 per subject or course. Course fees for general intensive English courses are from under $300 for 1-week courses to around $3300 for 12-week courses and up to $5700 for 22-week courses. Additionally, there are 33-week and 44-week courses with fees at $8300 and $10700 respectively. Please note that these last two examples (33-week and 44-week) run over the 6-month limit for a visitor visa so if you live abroad you will have to apply for a student visa in order to take them.

The address is:

119 W. Pender
Unit 100
Vancouver BC
V6E 2R1 
1 – 604 – 484-6660
[email protected]

 

OHC English

This Calgary-based ESL institute is the local branch of Oxford House and is located in downtown Calgary. It offers a range of facilities for its students to use:

  • Computer lab
  • Library
  • Kitchen microwave and fridge
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Terrace/Balcony
  • Wheelchair access
  • 7 classrooms
  • 8 public workstations

Their general English-plus courses have fees ranging from $330 for 1-week courses to under $3700 for 12-week courses to up to under $6700 for 24-week courses. They also have a 36-week course for under $9700. Remember that any course over 24 weeks will require you to apply for a student visa.

The General English courses are a little cheaper with fees from $295 for 1 week up to $8550 for a 36-week course.  Course materials range from $55 for shorter courses up to $185 for courses that run over 30 weeks. The school is located at:

1212 1st Street SE
Unit 116
Calgary AB
T2G 2H8
1-403-223-0033

 

Bouchereau Lingua International

This Montreal-based ESL institute is located in Old Montreal, a delightful part of the city located near the harbour on the St. Lawrence river with cafes and restaurants and cultural events the year round. The facilities available include:

  • Computer lab
  • Lounge
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Balcony/Terrace
  • Wheelchair access

Their course material cost $50 per course and the course fees for their intensive English programs run from $380 for a 1-week course up to $8200 for a 24-week course. A 12-week course costs around $4200 and a 32-week course costs around $10,600. The general English courses cost just over $300 for a 1-week course; just under $3500 for a 12-week course; under $6900 for a 24-week course; and about $9000 for a 32-week course.

 

Public Institutes/Colleges/Universities

As well as specialized private ESL schools you can take English as a second language courses at certain public institutions in Canada. For example, in Ontario, many colleges offer ESL courses as a way to ensure that international students can upgrade their language skills in order to get the most out of the rest of the courses. In order to take an ESL course at an Ontario college you must:

  • Have an OSSD (Ontario Secondary School Diploma) or it’s equivalent
  • Undergo an assessment (usually by taking an English-language test like TOEFL or IELTS) in order to assign you a level of English ability.
  • Some of the more advanced ESL courses may require you to complete a beginner’s English course beforehand.

Here are 2 examples of Ontario college ESL programs:

 

George Brown College

George Brown College by Jeff Hitchcock from Seattle, WA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

by Jeff Hitchcock / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

General Arts & Sciences – English for Academic Purposes (R105)

  • 3 semesters in length (well over 6 months)
  • Certificate credential
  • Post-secondary level
  • Tuition fees: $1881 per semester for permanent residents, Canadian citizens and refugees
  • Tuition fees: $2,835 per semester for international students
  • Location: St. James campus in Toronto.

 

Sheridan College

Sheridan College by ^ Missi ^ from Mississauga, Canada [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

by ^Missi^ / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

General Arts & Science (English Language Studies – ESL)

  • 1 academic year in length (8 months)
  • Certificate credential
  • Post-secondary level
  • Tuition fees: $3,942 for full year (2 semesters) for permanent residents, Canadian citizens, and refugees
  • Tuition fees: $6881 for full year (2 semesters) for international students
  • Location: Mississauga campus.

 

UBC’s English Language Institute

UBC by D'Arcy Norman. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

by D'Arcy Norman / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

A public post-secondary school in BC that provides English language courses is the University of British Columbia’s (or UBC’s) English Language Institute or ELI, which was founded in 1969 and has been providing English language education to international students for 50 years. UBC’s ELI has a nice selection of courses that are somewhat shorter than those offered by colleges in Ontario for example. Here’s an overview of the courses offered at the ELI:

English Program Level Type Duration
English for academic purposes 3 levels – intermediate to advanced Full-time
Tuition: $7100
16 weeks
UBC Vancouver English experience program All levels Full-time
Tuition: $3550
8 weeks
Short Programs
English for the Global Citizen Elementary to Advanced Full-time
Tuition: $2650
3 or 4 weeks
Business English Intermediate to Advanced Full-time
Tuition: $1950
3 weeks
Explore English Program
(for Canadian & international students)
Elementary to Advanced Full-time
Tuition: $3300
5 weeks

The English Language Institute (ELI) is located at:

2121 West Mall
Vancouver BC
V6T 1Z4
1-604-822-1555

Go here to leave a message on their contact page.

 

Community & Free ESL Courses

Finally, you can find free English Language courses at various locations.

 

Student Volunteers at Toronto CELTA:

This is a teacher training program that needs students for trainee English teachers. The requirements are:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Agree to attend classes for a minimum of 4 weeks
  • Agree to come to class on time
  • Pay a registration fee of $20 for each course you attend.

You can register by contacting Toronto CELTA at [email protected] or 1-416-488-2200.

 

Toronto District School Board:

TDSB Offers general language training. Located at:

6464 Yonge Street
Toronto ON
M4W 2G6
1-416-395-8309
 

Canadian Centre for Language & Cultural Studies:

They offer general language training. Located at:

635 Markham Street
2nd floor
Toronto ON
M6G 2M1
1-416-588-3900

Go here for additional information on community and other programs that offer free English courses.

 

As you can see there is a wide range of options with plenty that we didn’t have space or time to list, though we did show you the best ones in Canada’s largest cities. Find an option that suits both your budget and your existing English ability. Then you can begin moving to more advanced levels as you stack your courses on top of each other to build up your English language abilities and give that little boost to eleven to both your job and academic needs.


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