Known for its academic excellence, affordable programs, welcoming culture and beautiful natural landscape, Canada attracts more than 175,000 international students every year. Those wishing to study English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) may find Canada a particularly inviting destination, as it is an officially bilingual country.
Canada’s history of bilingualism has created openness and interest among Canadians in learning a second language. There are also many new immigrants to the country needing to acquire proficiency in either official language. As a result, international students will discover an excellent selection of Canadian institutions offering English or French language training.
Whether for business, academic or personal reasons, students can pursue ESL or FSL at a Canadian university, college or private language school. There is a diverse range of ESL programs available in Canada, to help students acquire speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, at all levels of proficiency. Business or executive English programs assist students with communication skills for the workplace.
Students considering post-secondary studies at a later stage may be interested in English academic preparation courses that cover vocabulary, writing and other skills for academic study. There are also courses to prepare for language proficiency exams such as the TOEFL.
Most Canadian institutions offering FSL are in the province of Quebec, where French is the mother tongue of about 80% of the population. Nearly 9 million Canadians speak French, 26% of whom live outside of Quebec. FSL students can acquire French conversation, vocabulary, reading and writing skills, whether they are new to the language or wish to improve their proficiency.
Depending on how long students wish to devote to their studies, Canada offers short and long-term ESL and FSL programs, intensive immersions, and language camps or holiday programs, which combine language study with sightseeing and cultural activities. Some schools offer work-study programs for advanced learners to practice their skills in the workplace.
Private language schools provide flexibility in terms of program requirements and intake dates. Public institutions such as universities and colleges may be of particular interest to those wishing to continue on to a diploma, degree or certificate program after upgrading their English skills. Students may be able to combine language studies with credit courses, or receive conditional or guaranteed admittance to their program of study after successful completion of their language program.
With such a range of options, students can select a school based on location, tuition, class size, campus size, start dates, program length, extracurricular activities and student services. Some schools provide on-campus residences or homestays with a Canadian family.
International students may study in Canada for up to six months without a study permit. However, students from some countries will require a temporary resident visa in order to enter Canada.
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