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 learning resources for students, 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 will be given to students who attend two out of three, or four out of five sessions and complete the exercises. 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.

Fall 2020 Mini-Courses

Dates: November 16 – December 4, 2020

  • 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). 

Registration

Registration opens on October 9, 2020. To register, send your name, college, and year of studies to ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca.

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.

Dates: Fall Reading Week, Monday - Friday, November 9 - 13, 2020

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

Registration

This free course is open only to undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts and Science, St. George campus. Registration is open to students in all years.

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

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.

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 2020-21 academic year.

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 2020-21 academic year.

Dates: This course will be offered in Summer 2021.  

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
  • Check the Directions & Options document for a detailed breakdown of what will be covered in this course

Details about the August - September course will be posted soon.

Dates: Summer 2021

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 OK 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.

Registration details will be announced prior to the Summer 2021 session.

 

Reading eWriting

"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 Fall 2020 as a free, three to six-week program, and you may register for one or both of the sessions. Registration opens on September 8, 2020.

  • Session 1: Starts on September 18, 2020
  • Session 2: Starts on October 9, 2020

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.

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). Fall 2020 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 Fall 2020.

  • Session 1: September 18, 2020 to October 6, 2020
    • Due dates: September 18, September 22, September 25, September 29, October 2, October 6
  • Session 2: October 9, 2020 to October 27, 2020
    • Due dates: October 9, October 13, October 16, October 20, October 23, October 27

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 begins on September 8, 2020. To register, email ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca from your U of T email account. Include the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your college
  • Year of studies (one to four)
  • Which session(s) you prefer
  • Your preferred program: Popular or Scholarly Reading eWriting

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.

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). Fall 2020 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 Fall 2020.

  • Session 1: September 18, 2020 to October 6, 2020
    • Due dates: September 18, September 22, September 25, September 29, October 2, October 6
  • Session 2: October 9, 2020 to October 27, 2020
    • Due dates: October 9, October 13, October 16, October 20, October 23, October 27

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 begins on September 8, 2020. To register, email ell.newcollege@utoronto.ca from your U of T email account. Include the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your college
  • Year of studies (one to four)
  • Which session(s) you prefer: 1 or 2
  • Your preferred program: Popular or Scholarly Reading eWriting

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.

 

Communication Café

The Communication Café will not be offered during Fall 2020.

Undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts & Science can practice speaking and making oral presentations at Communication Café. It is suitable for all levels, and there is no registration and no fee. Students from all University of Toronto colleges are welcome to attend any session. New students may join at any time. 

students study in an 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
  • Grammar Games Café Series

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. 

You may vary the times you attend as well as the locations, and you may attend as many cafés per week as you like. Students from all colleges in the Faculty of Arts & Science are welcome at any session. Light snacks are served at all cafés. Please bring your own drink. New members are welcome at each meeting. Come to one café or come to all!

ELL Peer Mentors assist in Communication Cafés as volunteer small group discussion leaders. (There is always a writing centre instructor present; peer mentors are not teachers). There are15-20 spaces available each year for new peer mentors. Peer Mentors may volunteer for two years if they wish. You do not need to speak English fluently in order to be a Peer Mentor.

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 attended one of the ELL mini-courses. Frequent attendance at the Communication Café is considered an asset. 

Peer mentors can earn a certificate and a Co-Curricular Record (CCR) notation upon successful completion of the program. 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.

The Peer Mentors Program will not be offered during Fall 2020.

View the timeline for Peer Mentors Program

By participating in six or more Communication Cafés within one academic year, you will be recognized on the 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.

 

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.

 

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 just 15 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 YouTube. 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 YouTube 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 on 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 (see links above in the Effective Academic Reading section), as ways to increase your writing skills.

Other Resources

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. https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/eld/online-resources

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 Café, 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.

Instructors who wish to reproduce site materials posted at this ELL site for classroom use or post on a course Blackboard site materials posted at this ELL site may do so. Permission is not required for these uses, but copyright 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

 

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.