English Language Learning

ELL supports all U of T undergraduates enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science whose first language is not English (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 (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, ELL011H1, Intensive Academic English, open to students in all colleges. Participate each term in a 7-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.


    ELL011H1F Intensive Academic English, August 20-29, 2018

    Open to students in years 1-4 in all colleges (Faculty of Arts & Science undergraduates at the St. George campus only). No credit and no grades are given in ELL011H1F. This course cost is $200 and this fee is non-refundable.

    Register for this course on ACORN along with your Fall 2018 courses. `

    This is a non-credit course (it will not count toward your degree credits), and no grades are given, so it is not counted in your GPA. However, your transcript will note that you attended the course. Students who complete the course will earn a Certificate of Completion.

    Should you run into any course load problems during registration for this course, contact your Registrar, who will be able to resolve them for you. 

    This course is designed for undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts and Science whose first language is not English (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.

    Join us, and become more fluent in academic English!

    ELL offers a series of 1.5 hour workshops (Communication Cafés) in the first 7 weeks of each term.  We also offer a 3-week writing activity online (Reading eWriting) in the first 6 weeks of each term. Students can improve their abilities in academic reading and writing, critical thinking, group discussion, and oral presentation. There is no fee for these activities. 

    You may choose which activities you’d like to attend, and you may attend as many or as few of the sessions as you wish.  To gain maximum benefit, try coming to a weekly on-site Communication Café (offered five days a week, at different times, and at five colleges for convenience) for seven weeks and doing Reading eWriting online. We think you’ll want to come back for more!

    Communication Café

    Speaking and oral presentation practice, suitable for all levels.  No registration and no fee —just come! 

    The Communication Café will meet next from September 10, 2018 - October 29, 2018

    Fall 2018 Communication Cafe schedule

    More information

    Our activities help students whose first language is not English to feel confident expressing their ideas orally. Vocabulary building and development of critical thinking are emphasized. Topics may include:
    • Canadian literature, history, and politics
    • persuasive presentations, interviews, and debates
    • scientific discoveries
    • business ethics and personalities
    • vocabulary games and dramatic role-play
    • art and photography

    Café workshops will give you practice in speaking at length, arguing a point, and participating in group discussions. Our cross-cultural atmosphere is very welcoming. Native speakers of English may also participate, and many students returning to university after an absence find our activities helpful. New members are welcome at each meeting. Come to one café, or come to all!


    Attend regularly to earn a Certificate of Participation, which will be noted on your Co-Curricular Record.  To earn the certificate, students must attend a minimum of 6 café sessions over one or more terms.  You may attend more than one session per week.  You may also attend cafés at any location, or change the location where you attend at any time.  We have different instructors and different peer mentors at each location, so come and meet us all!  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 a series of 6 emails which you write to a writing centre instructor, in response to a reading of your choice. The goal is to strengthen the speed and ease with which you read, reason, and write. This method is an effective way to build reading strategies and vocabulary. Since there is no grade/penalty, the method enhances your ability to develop ideas more rapidly without feeling "blocked." Try it and see!

    Reading eWriting will be offered in Fall 2018 as a free, 3-week program. Session #1 starts on September 14, 2018, and Session #2 starts on October 5, 2018. 

    Registration opens on September 6, 2018.

    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.

    You may also join our Facebook group "ELL at the University of Toronto."


    Leora Freedman is the Coordinator of the ELL Program and Associate Professor in the Teaching Stream.  She 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 literature and rhetoric, professional communication, and academic reading and writing.  Her current projects include expanding embedded support for multilingual students in undergraduate courses at the University of Toronto.  She is also serving on an international task force to study the role of reading in students’ experience of higher education.  Leora is a novelist and short-story writer; her most recent novel was a finalist for the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Award in the US.

     Paola Bohórquez is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the ELL Program. She holds a PhD from York University in Social and Political Thought and has taught many college and university courses in academic and professional writing, rhetoric, composition and applied linguistics.  Paola’s dissertation, which was nominated for a Social and Political Thought Dissertation Award, was titled Living Between Languages: Linguistic Exile and Self-Translation.  Recently, she was the course director for the New College One Program, "Travelling Words: Language and Diversity."  Paola’s current scholarly work focuses on innovative methods for teaching academic English to multilingual students.

    You can contact the ELL instructors at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.


    The English Language Learning Program is funded by the Faculty of Arts and Science. Begun at New College in 2008, the program has expanded to support students in all 7 colleges. We also gratefully acknowledge the help of Dr. Elaine Khoo of the English Language Development (ELD) program at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, on whose innovative model the ELL program is based. The ELD website contains many useful resources for language learning.

    Show your support for ELL and join our Facebook Group “ELL at the University of Toronto:".