English Language Learning

ELL supports all U of T undergraduates enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science whose first language is not English (ESL or multilingual students), as well as native speakers seeking to improve their English language skills.



    English Language Learning

    ELL supports all U of T undergraduates enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science whose first language is not English (ESL or multilingual students), as well as native speakers seeking to improve their English language skills. Whether you are

    • a new international student
    • a student who has lived and studied in Canada for a number of years
    • a student whose environment outside of school is not primarily in English
    • or a native-speaker student who finds formal, academic English challenging

    --ELL can help you! Take an 8-day non-credit summer course, ELL010H1, Intensive Academic English, open to students in all colleges. Participate each term in a 5-week series of communication workshops (Communication Café) and a 3-week writing activity online (Reading eWriting).

    ELL takes a holistic approach, encouraging students to immerse themselves in English to improve reading, writing, speaking, critical thinking, and listening skills. All of these skills are interconnected, so improving all of them together can lead to faster progress in learning. Our course and workshops give students strategies for improving their language skills now and in the years to come.

    ELL has a friendly atmosphere and welcomes students of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of English.

    Read the A&S news article about the ELL program.

    ELL010H1F Intensive Academic English, August 24-September 2, 2015


    Open to students in all colleges (Faculty of Arts & Science undergraduates at the St. George campus only). No credit and no grades are given in ELL010H1F.

    Register on ROSI along with your Fall 2015 courses. The academic fee of $200 will be waived if you complete the course. 

    Priority in registration is given to students in Year 1. If you are a Year 1 student, you can enrol for this course starting July 30, 2015. Some spaces are reserved for Year 2 (enrolment starts July 23) and Year 3 (July 20).

    Note that on August 7, any remaining spaces in ELL010H1F will be made available to all students in years 1, 2, and 3. Year 4 students may register on August 7 if space remains. If you find that the course is full, please put your name on the wait list, as spaces may become available. It is best to leave us a phone number where you can be contacted.

    This course is designed for undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts and Science whose first language is not English (ESL or multilingual students), as well as native speakers seeking to improve their English language skills. The course provides 24 hours of classroom instruction and group activities, 3 hours each day, plus an individual conference at the end of the course to discuss your writing. Our instructors know the university curriculum and the ways to improve your performance in it.

    You will also meet other students and learn about the language support services available to you at U of T. Course details here.

    To contact the ELL coordinator, write to: ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

    Focusing on your language skills can lead to improvements in your course work!

    ELL offers a series of 1.5 hour workshops in the first 5 weeks of each term as well as a 3-week writing activity online. Students can improve their skills in reading, writing, critical thinking, and group discussion. There is no fee for these activities. You do not have to attend all sessions, or participate in both on-site and online work. However, you will gain maximum benefit by coming to a weekly on-site Cafe (offered at 4 different times and at 4 colleges for convenience) for 5 weeks and doing the writing activity online. Our approach is holistic, immersing students in a stimulating interactive learning environment in which many language skills are exercised simultaneously.


    Communication Cafe

    Meet with others to develop language skills!

    The Communication Cafe will meet next from January 5 - February 6, 2015.

    Winter 2015 Communication Cafe schedule

    More information

     Our activities focus on helping students whose first language is not English to feel confident expressing their ideas orally. Vocabulary expansion and development of critical thinking are emphasized. Past topics include:
    • world painting and photography
    • Canadian literature, history and politics
    • persuasive presentations, interviews, and debates
    • science and business ethics
    • vocabulary games and dramatic role-play

    Cafe workshops provide practice in pronunciation, arguing a point, and participating in group discussions. Our cross-cultural atmosphere is very welcoming, and all student experiences are valued. Native speakers of English may also participate, and many students returning to university after an absence find our activities helpful. New members are welcomed at each meeting. Come to one cafe, or come to all!


    Attend regularly and earn a Certificate of Participation, which will be noted on the new Co-Curricular Record.  To earn the certificate, students must attend a minimum of 6 cafe sessions over one or more terms.  You may attend more than one activity per week, at more than one location.  The certificate recognizes the following:

    • contributions to student life (e.g., welcoming new participants, fostering positive interactions among students, etc.)
    • qualities of good leadership (e.g. problem-solving and encouraging others, using creativity and humor, etc.)
    • improvement of language skills over the term or year


    Reading eWriting

    "Meet" with an ELL instructor online to work on your academic reading and writing!


    Reading eWriting is an email exchange with a writing centre instructor. The goal is to strengthen the speed and ease with which you read, reason, and write. The method is an effective way to build reading strategies and vocabulary. Since there is no grade/penalty, this method enhances your ability to develop ideas more rapidly without feeling "blocked." Try it and see!

    Reading eWriting will be offered in Winter 2015 as a free, 3-week program. Session #1 starts on January 9, 2015, and Session #2 starts on January 30, 2015. Registration starts November 17, 2014!

    More information.

    Join the ELL Distribution list

    To get current information on ELL programming and events, subscribe to our distribution list. To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail message to listserv@listserv.utoronto.ca. In the BODY of the message type a command of the form: subscribe ELL-L firstname lastname (You can use either upper or lower case.) You will receive a reply asking for confirmation.


    Leora Freedman has been the Coordinator of the ELL Project since 2008. She has worked intensively with U of T students in many disciplines and programs as an instructor in the New College, University College, and Health Sciences Writing Centres. She presently facilitates workshops for U of T faculty and teaching assistants to enable them to address the needs of multilingual students more effectively. For many years she lived in Israel and taught in the Department of English as a Foreign Language at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Leora Freedman holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing from the University of Arizona and has taught many college and university courses in English, professional communication, and academic writing.

    You can contact the ELL coordinator, Leora Freedman, at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.


    The English Language Learning Program is funded by Curriculum Renewal Initiative Grants from the Faculty of Arts and Science. Begun at New College in 2008, the program has expanded to support students across the Faculty of Arts and Science. The FAS Coordinator of Writing Support, Woodsworth College, and St. Michael's College have been key collaborators with New College in the development and expansion of the program.

    We gratefully acknowledge the help of Dr. Elaine Khoo of the English Language Development (ELD) program at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, on whose innovative programming this pilot project is based. The ELD website contains many useful resources for language learning.

    Show your support for ELL and like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/englishlanguagelearning.uoft