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 skills. Our mini-courses and other activities are designed and taught by U of T professors, and they are free:

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

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

You can also explore our FAQs, learn more about our instructors and don't forget to connect with us to receive updates. 

English Language Learning Mini-Courses

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 undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts & Science. There is no academic credit for these courses. Course details and registration instructions are available below.

Co-curricular Record (CCR) notations for on-site or synchronous online courses will be given to students who attend all but one day and complete the exercises. For asynchronous online courses, full attendance and writing completion are required for the CCR. The CCR produces an official record that highlights your experiences and skills developed in opportunities beyond the classroom. This can be useful for future academic and workplace applications.

Course instructors can be contacted at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

Winter 2022 Mini-Courses

This course will be offered next in Winter 2022. Registration opens on Monday, November 29, 2021.

In a small class, students will learn the composition principles and delivery techniques that make oral presentations most effective. Students will take part in dynamic improvisational activities, experiment with appropriate visual aids and compose and deliver mini presentations.

Join us to practice and learn how to:

  • Get over anxiety and enjoy public speaking
  • Speak with appropriate, dynamic expression
  • Use Design Thinking to target a presentation to its audience
  • Structure a speech into a unified whole
  • Design effective visual aids

Registration

To register, complete the registration form for one of the following sections:

Section 1: Zoom for 3 weeks, possible in-person meetings for 3 weeks

This section will meet on Thursdays from 3 pm – 4:30 pm ET. We will meet on Zoom for the first three weeks due to the new public health restrictions. Then we will try to meet in person on the U of T campus for the last three weeks. If that is not possible, the last three weeks will also be on Zoom.

Dates: January 13, January 20, January 27, February 3, February 10, February 17, 2022
Time: 3 pm – 4:30 pm ET
To register:

Register for Section 1 (Thursdays)

Section 2: Zoom 

This section will meet on Fridays on Zoom. 

Dates: January 14, January 21, January 28, February 4, February 11, February 18, 2022
Time: 1 pm – 2:30 pm ET

Register for Section 2 (Fridays) 

More Details

This course will take place in person or synchronously on Zoom for 1.5 hours per week, for six weeks. All course work will be done within our 1.5 hour sessions. There will be no take-home assignments, though there may be an occasional short video to watch before class. There will also be optional opportunities to connect with the instructor and other students between classes (not required). The course is free and non-credit. It will not affect your GPA. 

During each meeting of this course, super-short instructor-led lessons will introduce students to principles and practices that they will then immediately apply in structured, small-group activities. Students will practice different kinds of group mini presentations in each session.

One of the first goals of our work together will be to build an atmosphere that is friendly and encouraging. The overall course objective is to boost your confidence in speaking. You do not need to speak English extremely well to take this course. 

Requirements for CCR validation: Attendance at 5/6 class sessions and full participation in class activities.

Dates: The Communication Café Intensive will be held over Winter 2022 Reading Week, February 22 – 25, 2022. Registration details will be posted in late Fall 2021. 

The Communication Café helps students whose first language is not English feel confident expressing their ideas orally, with an emphasis on building vocabulary and developing rapid critical thinking skills. In this welcoming, cross-cultural atmosphere, you'll: 
•    Gain skills for communicating with professors, teaching assistants and other students
•    Learn how to make small talk and handle phone calls
•    Speak spontaneously in a small, friendly group
•    Discover the secrets of English grammar

More Details

The Communication Café Intensive will be held synchronously on Zoom and is open to all Faculty of Arts & Science undergraduate students. Choose from among 15 dynamic sessions. You may register for as many of the Cafés as you wish. A CCR validation will be given to students who attend a minimum of six Cafés. There is no fee. 

Dates: Professional Writing will be offered again from March 7 – 25, 2022. Registration details will be posted in late Fall 2021. 

  • Learn how culture interacts with professional writing
  • Write 3 real-world documents that present a positive image
  • Improve the clarity and persuasiveness of your writing with feedback from ELL Writing Instructors

This course is entirely asynchronous (you do not have to login at a particular time). Total time commitment: 6 hours (2 hours per week). 

More Details

This new mini course will consist of several “mini talks” on professional writing as well as 3 real-world writing tasks (a personal statement; a networking email or job application letter; and a resume). Participants will get detailed feedback on their writing from ELL Writing Instructors.

The course will begin with an examination of how culture impacts the way we present ourselves in writing. Students will be encouraged to consider the approaches they may bring to professional writing from the various languages and cultures that form their identity, and to think through how they can best present themselves. 

We will also discuss issues of honesty in professional writing and will look at how to be authentic while maintaining a positive image. We’ll look at how to make the most of the experience you have—even if it isn’t a lot—and how to translate university experiences into evidence of workplace skills.

Our ELL Writing Instructors will give you feedback on your formatting, organization, word choice, level of detail, and grammar/sentence structure, as well as on the overall persuasiveness of your approach.

This course is free and non-credit. It is open only to undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts and Science, St. George campus.

Other Mini-Courses

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 a 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

This course will not be offered during the Fall 2021 or Winter 2022 terms. 

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.

This course will not be offered during the Fall 2021 or Winter 2022 terms. 

Future dates for this course will be announced later in the 2021-22 academic year.

In this free five-day intensive online course, you will work on reading and writing using popular articles. You will receive valuable feedback on your work and learn how to improve your reading and writing skills. 

  • Write online every day for one week, in response to high-quality popular articles.
  • Get feedback from ELL Writing Instructors on your ideas, style, vocabulary and grammar.
  • Learn useful strategies for reading, summarizing and more.

More Details

What will I read for the Popular Reading eWriting Intensive?
We will send you an interesting, high-quality popular article each day of the intensive.  

What will I write for Popular Reading eWriting?
Each day, you will write about 300 words in response to prompts based on the article for that day’s reading. The prompts are designed to help you practice the following:

  • Identifying an author’s main points
  • Expanding vocabulary and background knowledge
  • Evaluating an author’s argument
  • Using critical thinking to develop your ideas
  • Writing clearly and concisely

How much time should I spend on Popular Reading eWriting?

  • Read for 45 minutes (minimum)
  • Write for 45 minutes (minimum)
  • Write a total of about 300 words

How should I format my emails to my instructor?

  • Use your U of T email
  • See the introductory email from your instructor to find out whether attachments are okay or not
  • Label your subject line with the # of the writing, for example, Reading eWriting #1
  • Greet your instructor (Hello, Instructor). End with your name (Thanks, Your Student)
  • In your first email, introduce yourself and tell your instructor what you want to work on
  • In your first email, also give your instructor your UTOR ID for the CCR validation

CCR notations: Students must complete all five writings to receive the CCR notation. If you have any questions, please contact your instructor or ELL at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

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

Future dates for this course will be announced later in the 2021-22 academic year. 

For over a decade, this course has been the most popular English Language Learning course and has made a difference in the student experience at U of T.

  • Expand your vocabulary and learn strategies for scholarly reading
  • Get professional feedback on your writing, critical thinking and speaking
  • Meet friends who communicate with you in English

More Details

Intensive Academic English is suitable for students in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. The goal of the course is to give students the encouragement and knowledge they need to keep reaching for the highest levels of academic English. Like all ELL Program activities, this course is designed for students who know more than one language, but students who know only English will also find the course useful.

The Intensive Academic English course is asynchronous. This means that you do not have to go online at a certain time. Each day, we will have helpful interactive lectures, engaging digital activities and group discussions with other students and instructors. You can participate at a time that is convenient for you. The assignments are due at midnight each day and are accepted until noon the following day. There is no credit for this course, and there are no grades. This course will not affect your GPA.

Our instructors are specialists in teaching language and writing. In ELL, you will be learning from professors and writing instructors who are based at various colleges and writing centres in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Future dates for this course will be announced later in the 2021-22 academic year.

In this free five-day intensive online course, you will work on reading and writing using scholarly articles on a variety of unique topics. You will receive valuable feedback on your work and learn how to improve your reading and writing skills.

  • Write online every day for one week, in response to interesting scholarly articles
  • Get feedback from ELL Writing Instructors on your ideas, style, vocabulary, and grammar
  • Learn useful strategies for reading, analyzing, and more

More Details

What will I read for the Scholarly Reading eWriting Intensive?You will receive an interesting scholarly article on a fun topic each day of the intensive, along with some prompts to get you thinking and writing. 

What will I write for Scholarly Reading eWriting?

Each day, you will write one of the following five short assignments (300 words each).

  1. A reflection on your use of reading strategies
  2. A summary of the section you read
  3. An active reading response
  4. An account of your close reading
  5. An argument or analysis based on the reading

How much time should I spend on Scholarly Reading eWriting?

  • Read for 45 minutes (minimum)
  • Write for 45 minutes (minimum)
  • Write a total of about 300 words

How should I format my emails to my instructor?

  • Use your U of T email
  • See the introductory email from your instructor to find out whether attachments are okay or not
  • Label your subject line with the # of the writing, for example, Reading eWriting #1
  • Greet your instructor (Hello, Instructor). End with your name (Thanks, Your Student)
  • In your first email, introduce yourself and tell your instructor what you want to work on
  • In your first email, also give your instructor your UTOR ID for the CCR validation

CCR notations: Students must complete all five writings to receive the CCR notation. If you have any questions, please contact your instructor or ELL at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

Reading eWriting

students study in an ELL classroom

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

Reading eWriting offers you the opportunity to write a series of six emails to a writing centre instructor. The goal is to strengthen the speed and ease with which you read, reason, and write. This 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 2022 as a free, three to six-week program, and you may register for one or both of the sessions. Reading eWriting is online and asynchronous. 

Registration opens on November 29, 2021

Students who complete all six writings will receive a validation on their Co-Curricular Record (CCR). The CCR produces an official record that highlights your experiences and skills developed in opportunities beyond the classroom. This can be useful for future academic and workplace applications.

Note that our reading material is different for each session of Reading eWriting throughout the academic year, as well as for each of the summer intensives. You may participate in as many sessions as you like, space permitting. Separate CCR validations are given for each session during the academic year as well as for each summer intensive.

There are two types of Reading eWriting programs: Popular and Scholarly. Read the sections below to learn about each program. For each session in which you register, you may choose either Popular or Scholarly Reading eWriting for that full session.

What is Popular Reading eWriting?

Popular Reading eWriting consists of a series of six emails which you write to an ELL writing centre instructor. The goal is to strengthen the speed and ease with which you read, reason, and write. This 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 Popular Reading eWriting, you’ll be spending two hours per week on this activity, for three weeks (for a total of six hours). Winter 2022 session dates are listed below. There is no fee for this program.

What will I read for Popular Reading eWriting?

You will be sent links to high-quality, popular articles before each due date, along with a list of key vocabulary.

What will I write for Popular Reading eWriting?

In addition to popular articles, you will also receive some prompts to get you thinking and writing. You may decide to write in response to one or both prompts.

What kind of feedback will my ELL writing instructor give me?

Your instructor will respond to your concepts and reasoning and 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.

Dates and Registration

Popular Reading eWriting will be offered next as a free, three-week program in Winter 2022. Reading eWriting is online and asynchronous.

  • Session 1: January 14, 2022 to February 1, 2022 
    • Due dates: January 14, January 18, January 21, January 25, January 28, February 1
  • Session 2: February 4, 2022 to March 1, 2022
    • Due dates: February 4, February 8, February 11, February 15, February 18, March 1

Note that you may arrange extensions for religious holidays or other reasons by contacting your instructor.

To participate, you must be a currently registered U of T undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts & Science. You must use your U of T email address for this activity. You 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.

Registration for both sessions begins on November 29, 2021. To register, complete the registration form for Session 1 or Session 2 (or both).  Once you have submitted the registration form, you will receive a confirmation and further information from ELL within 72 hours.

You may register for either type of Reading eWriting even if you've done it before. Please register only if you are reasonably sure you will participate.

If you have questions, contact ELL at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca

What is Scholarly Reading eWriting?

Scholarly Reading eWriting consists of a series of six emails which you write to an ELL writing centre instructor. The goal is to strengthen the speed and ease with which you read your course material, reason, and write in response to it. This is an effective way to build course reading strategies and disciplinary 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 Scholarly Reading eWriting, you’ll be spending two hours per week on this activity, for three weeks (for a total of six hours). Winter 2022 dates are listed below. There is no fee for this program.

What will I read for Scholarly Reading eWriting?
For each assignment, you’ll choose material from the assigned reading for one of your courses. You may choose reading that is difficult for you, or you may choose easier material. Ideally, choose a course reading that interests you, so you’ll be motivated to write about it. You may use the same reading for more than one of the writing assignments if you wish.

If you are not taking courses with much assigned reading, we will be happy to send you an interesting scholarly article to work with. Just let us know! 

What will I write for Scholarly Reading eWriting?

You will write the following six short assignments (about 300 words each).  Directions will be shared for each writing before the due date.

  1. A reflection on your use of reading strategies
  2. A summary of the section you read
  3. An active reading response
  4. An account of your close reading
  5. An argument or analysis based on the reading
  6. A revision of one of the first five writings

What kind of feedback will my ELL writing instructor give me?

Your instructor will respond to your concepts and reasoning and 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.

Dates and Registration

Scholarly Reading eWriting will be offered next as a free, three-week program in Winter 2022. Reading eWriting is online and asynchronous.

  • Session 1: January 14, 2022 to February 1, 2022
    • Due dates: January 14, January 18, January 21, January 25, January 28, February 1
  • Session 2: February 4, 2022 to March 1, 2022
    • Due dates: February 4, February 8, February 11, February 15, February 18, March 1

Note that you may arrange extensions for religious holidays or other reasons by contacting your instructor.

To participate, you must be a currently registered U of T undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts & Science. You must use your U of T email address for this activity. You 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.

Registration for both sessions begins on November 29, 2021. To register, complete the registration form for Session 1 or Session 2 (or both). Once you have submitted the registration form, you will receive a confirmation and further information from ELL within 72 hours.

You may register for either type of Reading eWriting even if you've done it before. Please register only if you are reasonably sure you will participate.

Questions? Email ELL at ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

Student Testimonial 

"As a student who speaks English as a second language, the English Language Learning mini-course guided me to practice and develop my reading and writing skills in first-year university and was also an excellent opportunity to meet new friends. Later, the Scholarly Reading eWriting course helped a great deal because it taught me how to find the thesis in my readings. I plan to repeat this helpful course." — Sonie, Art History

Connect with us

Facebook

In order to join our Facebook groups and receive updates, go to Facebook and search:

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

Twitter

Follow us on Twitter: @ELL_program

ELL Distribution List

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

Instructors

Leora Freedman

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

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 seven 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about ELL

No. ELL is non-credit and will not affect your GPA.

No. ELL has no connection to your academic record. ELL is co-curricular. You are entitled to a Co-Curricular Record (CCR) validation upon completing our courses, but the validation is not mandatory. Most students do want the validation, but if you prefer that ELL not appear on your CCR, let us know.

Yes. However, please let us know if your plans have changed and you will not attend, or if you need to withdraw. We often have long waitlists.

For all mini courses, you’ll need to do all the required written or oral work. For courses that meet synchronously online, you’ll need to attend all but one session. Our on-campus course options are paused for now, but they do allow you to miss one day’s attendance and still receive the CCR validation.

For the Communication Café Intensive, participation in 6 full sessions is required for the CCR.

Yes. You will receive a CCR validation for each session in which you participate and complete the writing.

Maybe. If you feel you’d benefit from practice and feedback in scholarly reading, academic writing, and academic speaking/presentation, you will likely find some of our programming useful. Feel free to register, participate in a session, and see if we are a good match for you. If not, you don’t need to stay. (Most people who ask this question end up staying, by the way).

Don’t worry. You probably won’t feel embarrassed in ELL activities. We have a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. There are no grades, and there’s no competition. Our activities are designed for students working at different levels.

Yes. We try either to use materials that will be helpful for students in any discipline, and/or to vary materials for students in these three major areas. Our Scholarly Reading eWriting program can also be customized to your courses, in that you may base the writing practice on readings from your own program.