English Language Learning

English Language Learning (ELL) supports all U of T undergraduates enrolled in the Faculty of Arts & Science whose first language is not English (multilingual students), as well as native speakers seeking to improve their English language ability. Our mini-courses and other activities are designed and taught by U of T professors, and they are free. Whether you are a:

  • New international student
  • Student who has lived and studied in Canada for a number of years
  • Student whose environment outside of school is not primarily in English
  •  Native-speaking student who finds formal, academic English challenging

Take one of our new mini-courses, open to students in all colleges. Participate each term in a seven-week series of communication workshops (Communication Café) and a three to six week writing activity online (Reading eWriting). There are no fees for these activities.

ELL takes a holistic approach – encouraging students to immerse themselves in English to improve their reading, writing, speaking, critical thinking, and listening. All of these language areas are interconnected, so improving all of them together can lead to faster progress in learning. ELL has a friendly atmosphere and welcomes students of all ages, backgrounds and levels of English. 


English Language Learning Mini-Course

  • Free and Non-Credit

Mini-courses take place over a short period of time, usually three or five days. They are free and open to all undergraduates in years one to four in the Faculty of Arts & Science. There is no academic credit for these courses. Course details and registration instructions are available in the sections below. 

Co-curricular Record (CCR) notations will be given to students who attend two out of three sessions and complete the exercises. All work is done during the course meeting; there is no homework or grade. This course will not affect your GPA. Please register only if you are reasonably sure you will participate. 

To contact the course instructors, write to: ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

  • Fall 2019 registration dates coming soon
  • Taught by Professor Paola Bohorquez

In this course, you’ll explore your rich multilingual journeys and experiences through the perspective of place. How do the places you live in, journey through, and leave behind shape your languages? How do you use language to make place for yourself and others? How do you navigate university spaces as a multilingual student?

In this three-day course, you will learn how to:

  • Identify the advantages you have in knowing more than one language
  • Explore your own unique relationship to the languages you know
  • Create a cool digital map artifact related to your multilingual journey
  • Write more effectively, considering context, purpose, and audience
  • Channel your multilingual abilities into university learning and workplace practice
  • August 26 – 30, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Location: WI 523 (Wilson Hall, New College, 20 Willcocks Street entrance)
  • Taught by Professor Leora Freedman

In this five-day course, you will be introduced to some of the varieties of Canadian culture through reading stories, memoirs, plays and poetry. The course will also include analysis of video material related to authors of varying cultural backgrounds in Canada.

We will read the literature as a collaborative group in class, with time allotted for vocabulary building and questions. You’ll engage in short writing exercises to practice paraphrasing, summarizing, quoting and critical thinking. Small group discussions will make it easy for you to practice explaining your ideas.

To register, send your name, college, and year of studies to ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca


Communication Café

Speaking and oral presentation practice, suitable for all levels. No registration and no fee – just come! Students from all University of Toronto colleges are welcome to attend any session. New students may join at any time. (Faculty of Arts & Science undergraduates only.)

ELL classroom

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 six 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
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Topic F: Canadian Food at Home: analysis of recipes

Jan.7: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic A: Heroes of Greek Mythology: group storytelling

Jan.8: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic I: www.ScienceDaily.com: NEW TOPICS in current scientific research

Jan.9: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

Topic D: Canadian Food in Restaurants: menus and role-play

Jan.10: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

119 St. George St. Room 27

 

Topic E: Language-related board games cafe

Jan.11: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Wilson Hall WI2008 40 Willcocks St. Willcocks & Spadina

Topic H: A Brimful of Asha: East Indian-Canadian play; read-aloud and discussion

Jan.14: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic F: Canadian Food at Home: analysis of recipes

Jan.15: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic A: Heroes of Greek Mythology: group storytelling

Jan.16: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

Topic B: Art of the Great Depression: analysis of paintings and photography

Jan.17: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

119 St. George St. Room 27

Topic G: Humorous Resumes: laugh while learning how to make a resume

Jan.18: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Wilson Hall WI2008 40 Willcocks St. Willcocks & Spadina

Topic D: Canadian Food in Restaurants: menus and roleplay

Jan.21: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic G: Humorous Resumes: laugh while learning how to make a resume

Jan.22: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic B: Art of the Great Depression: analysis of paintings and photography

Jan.23: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

Topic I: www.ScienceDaily.com: NEW TOPICS in current scientific research

Jan.24: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

119 St. George St. Room 27

Topic C: Canadian News Broadcast III: current hot topics in Canada

Jan.25: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Wilson Hall WI2008 40 Willcocks St. Willcocks & Spadina

 

Topic I: www.ScienceDaily.com: NEW TOPICS in current scientific research

Jan.28: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic C: Canadian News Broadcast III: current hot topics in Canada

Jan.29: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic D: Canadian Food in Restaurants: menus and roleplay

Jan.30: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

Topic G: Humorous Resumes: laugh while learning how to make a resume

Jan.31: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

119 St. George St. Room 27

Topic B: Art of the Great Depression: analysis of paintings and photography

Feb.1: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Wilson Hall WI2008 40 Willcocks St. Willcocks & Spadina

Topic A: Heroes of Greek Mythology: group storytelling

Feb.4: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic I: www.ScienceDaily.com: NEW TOPICS in current scientific research

Feb.5: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic E: Language-related board games cafe

Feb.6: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

Topic F: Canadian Food at Home: analysis of recipes

Feb.7: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

119 St. George St. Room 27

Topic H: A Brimful of Asha: East IndianCanadian play; read-aloud and discussion

Feb.8: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Wilson Hall WI2008 40 Willcocks St. Willcocks & Spadina

Topic G: Humorous Resumes: laugh while learning how to make a resume

Feb.11: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic H: A Brimful of Asha: East Indian-Canadian play; read-aloud and discussion

Feb.12: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic C: Canadian News Broadcast III: current hot topics in Canada

Feb.13: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

[Please note that the Café will break for Reading Week. Check out ELL’s new, free Reading Week mini-course!]  

Topic E: Language-related board games cafe

Feb.25: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

St. Hilda’s College (HI) Rigby Room 44 Devonshire Place

Topic D: Canadian Food in Restaurants: menus and role-play

Feb.26: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Goldring Student Centre 150 Charles St W Wymilwood Lounge

Topic F: Canadian Food at Home: analysis of recipes

Feb.27: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Innis Residence (IS) 111 St.George Street Events Room

   

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 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!

The cafés take place for the first seven weeks of each term. During each of the seven weeks, students have a choice of times, locations, and topics. This activity is free.

No registration is necessary; please just drop in. You may vary the times you attend as well as the locations, and you may attend as many cafés per week as you like. New members may join at any time. Students from all colleges in the Faculty of Arts & Science are welcome at any session. It is OK to arrive a bit late or leave early if your class schedule conflicts with a café. Light snacks are served at all cafes. Please bring your own drink. Please see the link on our home page for a full description of the program. ELL Peer Mentors assist in the Communication Cafés as volunteer group discussion leaders. (There is always a writing centre instructor present as well). There are approximately 15 spaces available each year for new peer mentors. Peer Mentors may volunteer for two years if they wish to continue. You do not need to speak English extremely well in order to be a Peer Mentor.

The ELL Peer Mentors Program will welcome applications again in October 2019. Watch this website for further details. Note that ELL Peer Mentors must be involved in learning additional languages, whether English or another language. Applicants must also have attended the Communication Café at least three times or completed one of the ELL mini-courses. Good attendance at the Communication Café is considered an asset. Peer mentors can earn a certificate and a CCR notation upon successful completion of the program.

Please see the link on our home page for a full description of the program. ELL Peer Mentors assist in the Communication Cafés as volunteer group discussion leaders. (There is always a writing centre instructor present as well). There are approximately 15 spaces available each year for new peer mentors. Peer Mentors may volunteer for two years if they wish to continue. You do not need to speak English extremely well in order to be a Peer Mentor.

The ELL Peer Mentors Program will welcome applications again in October 2019.  Watch this website for further details.  Note that ELL Peer Mentors must be involved in learning additional languages, whether English or another language.  Applicants must also have attended the Communication Café at least three times or completed one of the ELL mini-courses. Good attendance at the Communication Café is considered an asset.  Peer mentors can earn a certificate and a CCR notation upon successful completion of the program.

Attend regularly to earn a Certificate of Participation, which will be noted on your Co-Curricular Record at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. To earn the certificate, students must attend a minimum of six 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!

Any cafés you attended last academic year will count toward the Communication Café Certificate this year.

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 Winter 2019 as a free, three to six week program. Session #1 starts on January 11, 2019, and Session #2 starts on February 1, 2019.  You may register for one or both sessions. 

Registration opens on November 12, 2019.

What is Reading eWriting?

Reading eWriting is a series of six 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 rapidly without feeling “blocked.” Try it and see!

If you register for Reading eWriting, you’ll be spending two hours per week on this activity, for a total of three weeks (six hours total commitment). The dates of the Winter 2019 sessions are listed below. Note that there is no fee for this program.

What will I read?

If you wish, you may choose your own reading material. Go to Arts & Letters Daily, for links to a variety of popular articles. In addition, here is a list of popular Canadian literature.

There is also a list of links to online publications posted on this page below.

*NEW* As additional help, we will be sending you a link to an interesting article prior to each due date, along with some questions to get you thinking and writing!

Alternatively, you may read your course material, which is a great way to stay motivated and to read for your classes in greater depth.

What will I write?

There are currently six options for Reading eWriting. These options range from summarizing to close reading of a passage. You may do all 6 options, repeat options, or select any combination of them. For more detail, read the Directions and Options page posted at the link below.

What kinds of feedback will my writing centre instructor give me?

Your instructor will respond to your concepts and reasoning, and will also give you advice on language use. You are encouraged to let your instructor know which aspects of reading and writing you want to work on.

For full details about exactly how this program works, see the Reading eWriting Directions and Options handout posted at the link on this page.

Reading eWriting will be offered next as a free, three week program in Winter 2019. Session #1 starts on January 11, 2019, and Session #2 starts on February 1, 2019. To participate, you must be a currently registered U of T undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts & Science. You must also use your UTORemail address for this activity. Students may register for more than one session, space permitting. If the program is full when you try to register, you will be given priority in registration for upcoming sessions.

How do I register for Reading eWriting?

To register, send us an email on or after November 12, 2018 from your U of T email account. Include your full name, the name of your college, and your year of studies (one to four). Send this information to ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca. Specify which session(s) you prefer. You may register for Reading eWriting even if you've done it before. This activity is FREE for all Faculty of Arts & Science undergraduates. Please register only if you are reasonably sure you will participate.

Reading eWriting Directions and Options

Reading eWriting - List of Links

Winter 2019 Dates

Session #1:

  • Start date: Friday, January 11, 2019
  • End date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
  • Due dates for writings: Fridays, January 11, 18, 25, by 11:30 p.m.
  • Tuesdays, January 15, 22, 29, by 11:30 p.m.

Session #2:

  • Start date: Friday, February 1, 2019
  • End date: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
  • Due dates for writings: Fridays, February 1, 8, 15, by 11:30 p.m.
  • Tuesdays, February 5, 12, 26, by 11:30 p.m.

Contact your instructor regarding brief extensions to due dates if necessary. The due dates are meant to keep you on track, but they are flexible.

Questions? Write to ELL at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca


Join our Facebook groups to receive updates!

Go to Facebook and search:

  • ELL at the University of Toronto
  • English Language Learning Student Association (ELLSA)

Follow us on Twitter@ELL_program

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."

Instructors

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 as a foreign language, English literature and rhetoric, and professional/ technical communication.  She is currently a member of an international research group studying the role of reading in students’ experience of higher education.  Her chapter based on teaching at U of T recently appeared in What is College Reading? (Horning, Gollnitz, & Haller, eds). 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.

Acknowledgements

The English Language Learning Program is funded by the Faculty of Arts & 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.


Resources for Students

If English is an additional language for you, it's important that you continue to advance your knowledge of the language while you are taking your courses. To some extent this happens naturally while you are immersed in English at U of T, but there are specific actions you can take to speed and enhance this process. Likewise, even if English is your first language, you can benefit from using these techniques to become more proficient in language use.

Reading Online

Becoming as effective a reader as possible is at the heart of success for any university student. Your goal should be to read in English each day and to keep up with the reading for your courses, even if you read some materials more closely than others. You can also take advantage of the Reading eWriting - List of Links to find interesting, relevant online reading material. If you have even fifteen minutes to spare, try going to Arts & Letters Daily. You'll find a large collection of links to topical articles in good publications. Reading articles in the media helps to build vocabulary and gives you a sense of the English-language culture surrounding you. This in turn makes it easier to understand course material and to find conversation topics in common with English-speakers.

Effective Academic Reading

Reading strategically can help you to advance your knowledge of English vocabulary and to absorb typical patterns of argument in academic reading material. This in turn will help you to benefit more fully from your course work and to write more effectively. The following collection of handouts is designed to introduce you to some strategies for critical reading.

Effective Listening

Do you need more listening practice? Try watching movies in English (with the subtitles turned off) or watch videos on You Tube. Don't feel you're wasting your time on popular culture; it has much to teach you about English usage and the patterns of thought that underlie much of what you read and hear at the university. Popular culture is also entertaining, so it motivates you to spend additional hours immersed in English. Try watching a movie or You Tube video on a subject of interest and writing down or typing what you think you're hearing. Discuss what you've watched in English with friends or acquaintances at the university. The following PDF file has further tips for listening practice:

Strengthening Listening Comprehension

Effective Writing

In this section, you'll find advice about writing which is relevant for students in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. In particular, the handout on "Essay Structure" is aimed at students who want clarification about some of the frequently seen elements of a university-level essay. You can also try using the "Guide for Revision" as a method for rethinking your paper after you've written a draft. Remember that the requirements for writing assignments vary, so read carefully any instructions given by your professor or TA. Try to start your assignments early, so you can write a draft and then put it aside for a while. Many people are not initially aware of how much thinking time goes into a good paper. Use strategies like active reading and summarizing (detailed at the links above, in the Effective Academic Reading section), as ways to increase your skill in writing on the material prior to writing a graded paper.

 

The Writing at U of T website contains a wealth of information on aspects of academic writing, including quoting, paraphrasing, and using research sources.

The college Writing Centres provide individualized instruction to undergraduate students who are writing papers in all subjects. To find your college writing centre, go to: 

The Health Sciences Writing Centre's Comprehensive Guide, by Dr. Dena Taylor, contains a variety of information on science writing as well as a page listing common transitional words. The handouts on verb use are also recommended for science students. http://www.hswriting.ca

The ELD site at UTSC has many useful resources for learning vocabulary, improving writing, and enhancing research skills. http://ctl.utsc.utoronto.ca/eld/online

The OWL at Purdue explains many aspects of English grammar.http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/

The OWL also contains information about writing resumes and cover letters.http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/6/23/

U of T's Academic Success Centre offers workshops on time management, coping with stress as a university student, and more. http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/asc

U of T's Centre for International Experience provides an English Communication Program, with sessions on pronunciation, general conversation, and more. http://cie.utoronto.ca/

If you are not a U of T student and you are looking for language instruction, you may want to look into the English Language Program at U of T's School for Continuing Studies. (These courses are also open to enrolled U of T students). https://learn.utoronto.ca/english-language-program

If you are a U of T graduate student, the English Language and Writing Support program is available to you through the School for Graduate Studies. (This program is for graduate students only).http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/informationfor/students/english

The ELL Program's activities, including the Communication Cafe, Reading eWriting, and ELL010H1F, Intensive Academic English, are open only to currently enrolled undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts & Science on the St. George campus, University of Toronto.

Instructors who wish to reproduce for classroom use or post on a course Blackboard site materials posted at this ELL site may do so, and permission is not required for these uses. Copyrights must remain on all materials. Aside from brief quotations, none of these materials may be republished on the Internet or in any digital or print form, anywhere in the world, without the author's permission. Please contact ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca