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 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

Take one of our new mini-courses, open to students in all colleges. Participate each term in a 10-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 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. 


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 Reading Week, November 6, 2019 to November 8, 2019 from 10 am – 1 pm 
  • Location: WI 523 (Wilson Hall, New College, 20 Willcocks Street entrance)
  • 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 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

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

  • This course will be offered again in Summer 2020. Details will be posted here in January 2020.
  • 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

Upcoming dates: January 6, 2020 – March 20, 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. 

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
  • And new this year, 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!

Time and Location

Topic

Monday, January 6, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic A: “Canadianisms” Game: Peculiar Expressions Canadians use
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic B: Language-Boosting Board Games
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic C: The History of Abstract Photography (discussion)
Thursday, January 9, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic D: Help! A Party in English (strategies and practice)
Friday, January 10, 2020
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic E: Intercultural Communication Theory (discussion)
Monday, January 13, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic F: Role Plays—Experiences of Multilingual Students
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge

Topic G: Vocabulary Bee and other group word games

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic H: Yes! You Can Write a Poem in English!
Thursday, January 16, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic I:  Scientific Scandals (reading strategies) 
Friday, January 17, 2020
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic J: What is Existentialism?  (a taste of philosophy)
Monday, January 20, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic B: Language-Boosting Board Games
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic C: The History of Abstract Photography (discussion)
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic D: Help! A Party in English (strategies and practice)
Thursday, January 23, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic E: Intercultural Communication Theory (discussion)
Friday, January 24, 2020
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic F: Role Plays—Experiences of Multilingual Students
Monday, January 27, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic G: Vocabulary Bee and other group word games
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic H: Yes! You Can Write a Poem in English!
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic I: Scientific Scandals (reading strategies) 
Thursday, January 30, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic J: What is Existentialism?  (a taste of philosophy)
Friday, January 31, 2020
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic A: “Canadianisms” Game: Peculiar Expressions Canadians use
Monday, February 3, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic C: The History of Abstract Photography (discussion)
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic D: Help! A Party in English (strategies and practice)
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic E: Intercultural Communication Theory (discussion)
Thursday, February 6, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic F: Role Plays—Experiences of Multilingual Students
Friday, February 7, 2020
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic G: Vocabulary Bee and other group word games
Monday, February 10, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic H: Yes! You Can Write a Poem in English!
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic I: Scientific Scandals (reading strategies) 
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic J: What is Existentialism?  (a taste of philosophy)
Reading Week – No Cafes  
Monday, February 24, 2020
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic D:  Help! A Party in English (strategies and practice)
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic A: “Canadianisms” Game: Peculiar Expressions Canadians use
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic B: Language-Boosting Board Games

ELL will offer a new Grammar Games Café series from November 11 - 29, 2019. These special cafés can also count toward your CCR!

Session 1 (Topic K) - It’s not the thought that counts: Sentence as form

Did you know that small changes in how you put words together in sentences make a big difference in what they mean? In this Café, we’ll play with sentence-puzzles and discover some secrets for making your sentences come alive and glow.

Session 2 (Topic L) - What does Star Wars have to do with grammar?

Fans of the Star Wars epic series recognize Yoda for the strange kind of English he speaks. Come and learn about Yoda’s fascinating use of language and what it can teach you about English sentence construction, for “much to learn, you still have, my young Padawan!” (Master Yoda to Count Dooku).

Session 3 (Topic M) - The art of picturing sentences

Linguaphiles (or lovers of language) know that sentences can be drawn, like constellations in the sky. Explore the fascinating art of sentence diagramming and learn a thing or two about how sentences make sense and how to make sense of sentences.

Time and Location

Topic

Monday, November 11, 2019
5-6:30 pm
81 St. Mary Street,
Brennan Hall (BR),
1st floor Study Space
Topic K: It’s Not the Thought that Counts: Sentence as Form
Friday, November 15, 2019
3-4:30 pm
King’s College Circle (UC),
UC 240
Topic L: What Does Star Wars Have to do with Grammar?
Monday, November 18, 2019
5-6:30 pm
81 St. Mary Street,
Brennan Hall (BR),
1st floor Study Space
Topic M: The Art of Picturing Sentences
Friday, November 22, 2019
3-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle (UC),
UC 240
Topic K: It’s Not the Thought that Counts: Sentence as Form
November 25, 2019
5-6:30 pm
81 St. Mary Street,
Brennan Hall (BR),
1st floor Study Space
Topic L: What Does Star Wars Have to do with Grammar?
Friday, November 29, 2019
3-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle (UC),
UC 240
Topic M: The Art of Picturing Sentences

 

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.

  • Applications open in September 2020

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.

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.


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, related to your course reading or a reading of your choice. 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 2020 as a free, three to six week program, and you may register for one or both the sessions. Registration opens on November 29, 2019.

  • Session 1: Starts on January 10, 2020
  • Session 2: Starts on January 31, 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.

What is Reading eWriting?

Reading eWriting consists of 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 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 three weeks (for a total of six hours total). Winter 2020 session dates are listed below. Note that there is no fee for this program.

What will I read?

There are three choices of reading material:

  1. Course material - Use Reading eWriting to stay on track with your course reading. The more you read, the better you’ll understand the lectures. The more often you practice writing about course material, the easier it will be to write papers.
  2. Your choice of material - Go to Arts & Letters Daily for links to a variety of popular articles. In addition, here is a list of popular Canadian literature.
  3. Our choice of material - We will send you a link to an interesting article prior to each due date, along with some questions to get you thinking and writing.

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, click on link to the Directions and Options page below.

What kind of feedback will my writing centre 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.

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 2020.

  • Session 1: Starts on January 10, 2020
  • Session 2: Starts on January 31, 2020

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. 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.

How do I register for Reading eWriting?

To register, send us an email on or after November 29, 2019 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

Winter 2020 Dates

Session 1

  • January 10, 2020 to January 28, 2020
  • Due dates: January 10th, January 14th, January 17th, January 21st, January 24th, January 28th

Session 2

  • January 31, 2020 to February 25, 2020
  • Due dates: January 31st, February 4th, February 7th, February 11th, February 14th, February 25th

Contact your instructor regarding brief extensions to due dates if necessary. These 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 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.

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 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.


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.

 

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 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