What are ESL Classes?

ESL stands for "English as a Second Language." If you need to learn to speak, read, write, understand or just improve your English, you can do so by taking ESL classes. There are different ESL levels you can take, from 1-5, depending on how advanced you are.

I’m a student - Where can I take ESL classes?

Many students in Ontario speak more than one language and have a first language that is not English. You can take ESL classes in elementary, middle, and high school. You can also take ESL classes at your university or college.

When you register for school, you should let them know you want to take ESL classes. If you are going to high school, some school boards have newcomer reception centres. Your ESL level is checked at these centres and they will help you find a school. Find a newcomer reception centre in your area.

What if I'm not a student?

If you are not in school and want to take ESL classes, you can find ESL classes at:

  • Settlement agencies
  • Community Organizations
  • Libraries

You have to be over 17 years old to take these classes.

Before you take ESL classes, you will need to get your English level checked. Some ESL classes will do this for you when you start taking the classes. Others will tell you to go to a Language Assessment Centre. Find a Language Assessment Centre near you.

To find ESL classes in your area, you can ask someone at:

  • A Language Assessment Centre
  • A settlement agency
  • The library
  • The local school board (like the Toronto District School Board)

You can also search for classes on the Ontario Immigration website.

Does my immigration status matter?

No. All newcomers can take ESL classes.

If you are a refugee claimant, you can only study for 15 hours a week. ESL classes count as studying. To get permission to study more, contact the Canada Immigration Call Centre or apply online for a Study Permit.


<p>ESL means <strong>E</strong>nglish as a <strong>S</strong>econd <strong>L</strong>anguage. ESL classes teach people to speak, read, write and understand English. Students can take <strong>ESL Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.</strong>  </p>