php_value upload_max_filesize 64M php_value post_max_size 128M php_value memory_limit 256M php_value max_execution_time 300 php_value max_input_time 300

ESL Classes in the GTA

Learning to live, work and study in a new language is among the most overwhelming parts of moving to a new country—especially as an adult learner. But it does not have to be all flash cards, textbooks and endless study sessions. The city of Toronto is full of English as a Second Language (ESL) schools, resources and people dedicated to helping you realize your language goals. And finding the right fit can be different between struggling in isolation and starting to feel at home in your new community.

Whether you are looking to meet the language requirements of a particular academic or professional institution, achieve more points in your Express Entry application, or simply want to become more comfortable in your everyday interactions, there is an ESL program for you.

Here are some of general ESL opportunities to help you hone in on your language learning needs, and get you on your way to feeling at home in your new country.


Public Group Classes

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB), with the financial support of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Ontario, provides a wide variety of group ESL classes to approximately 20,000 adult learners every year. It services learners at all levels with a wide range of educational backgrounds and is FREE for all newly established Canadian residents, Temporary Foreign Workers, Refugee claimants and those currently in the process of applying for Permanent Resident status.

The TDSB offers a wide range of courses focused on improving your Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level, preparing you for standardized testing (TOEFL, IELTS, advanced academic), as well as basic conversation, writing and reading practice. For more information, check out the TDSB website.

Free basic language classes are also funded through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program (LINC). To be eligible for LINC, you must be either an established Permanent Resident or Convention Refugee. Canadian citizens, refugee claimants and temporary residents are not eligible. For more information—or to find a LINC service near you—visit their website.


Private Group Classes

Publically funded group classes are certainly cost effective. However, if your English is already beyond a basic level, you may find that a private institution has more options to better suit your educational and career goals. In addition to introductory classes and exam preparation, many private institutions, such as Hansa Language Centre or the English School of Canada (ESC), provide a wide range of courses directed towards highly specialized fields such as business, law, health care and higher level academics. Each institution tends to have a specific program of focus, however, so it is important for ESL learners to fully research potential institutions prior to registration.

Many also offer 12 week intensive study programs for international students looking to improve their language skills prior to starting their post-secondary studies. These programs often coordinate room and board with local families and organize social and site-seeing activities for their students.

As part of their services at Puzzle International Solutions Inc. (Puzzle Canada), Danielle Sayed and Carla Silveira work with international English as a Second Language and Post-Secondary students (mostly from Brazil) to find the language schools and resources that best meet their needs. For more information regarding their services, check out their website or email them at


Private One-on-One Tutoring

For those nervous learning a second language in a group, or simply looking for more focused one-on-one attention, a private tutor may be for you. Many private ESL institutions offer special one-on-one tutoring in addition to group classes. However, there are also a lot of self-employed CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching to Adults) and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certified tutors out there eager to help you reach your language learning goals. Online classified sites, such as Kijiji or Craigslist are the most effective ways to begin your search.

Kirsten Watson is one such Toronto-based private tutor. CELTA certified, with a Bachelors in Linguistics and Japanese Language, Kirsten focuses on adult learners who are “self-motivated to learn English in a way that makes more sense to them.” For Kirsten, a relaxed conversational one-on-one environment gives her a better sense of a student’s true needs and abilities, allowing her to respond more effectively with personalized lessons and resources. Such an approach can be quite casual, however, so it’s important that both student and tutor are comfortable with each other before proceeding. As a result: her first lesson is always free.

Looking for more information on ESL options in Toronto? Leave us a comment or send us an email at


© 2016. Kaila Simoneau for Loretta Murphy Translations. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Comment