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. 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 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 ten-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-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 in the sections 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.

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 524 (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

Upcoming dates: September 5, 2019 – November 29, 2019

Communication café provides the opportunity to practice speaking and oral presentations. It is suitable for all levels. 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. (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
  • 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

Thursday, September 5, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D

Topic A: Toronto’s Many Faces – Cultural Communities (group activity and presentations)
Friday, September 6, 2019
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic B: Language-Boosting Board Games (new games and old favourites)
Monday, September 9, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic C: A Fish with an Oxygen Tank? Critical Analysis of Images
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge

Topic D: Dear/Hello Professor

Emailing Professors and TAs (analysis of scenarios)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room

Topic E: Help! A Phone Call in English

Strategies and practice

Thursday, September 12, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic F: Humorous Team Debates About Life in Canada
Friday, September 13, 2019
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic G: The Ultimate English Pronunciation Challenge (humorous poem used around the world)
Monday, September 16, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic H: Lab Girl: Memoir of a Scientist (group read-aloud and discussion)
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic I: What Makes Harry Potter Sell? (group read-aloud and discussion)
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic J: Philosophizing About Life: Plato’s Cave (group activity and presentations)
Thursday, September 19, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic B: Language-Boosting Board Games (new games and old favourites)
Friday, September 20, 2019
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic C: A Fish with an Oxygen Tank? Critical Analysis of Images
Monday, September 23, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place

Topic D: Dear/Hello Professor

Emailing Professors and TAs (analysis of scenarios)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge

Topic E: Help! A Phone Call in English

Strategies and practice

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic F: Humorous Team Debates About Life in Canada
Thursday, September 26, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic G: The Ultimate English Pronunciation Challenge (humorous poem used around the world)
Friday, September 27, 2019
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240
Topic H: Lab Girl: Memoir of a Scientist (group read-aloud and discussion)
Monday, September 30, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic I: What Makes Harry Potter Sell? (group read-aloud and discussion)
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic J: Philosophizing About Life: Plato’s Cave (group activity and presentations)
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic C: A Fish with an Oxygen Tank? Critical Analysis of Images
Thursday, October 3, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
40 Willcocks Street,
Room WI 2007D
Topic D: Dear/Hello Professor Emailing Professors and TAs (analysis of scenarios)
Friday, October 4, 2019
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle,
Room UC 240

Topic E: Help! A Phone Call in English

Strategies and practice

Monday, October 7, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place,
Topic F: Humorous Team Debates About Life in Canada
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic G: The Ultimate English Pronunciation Challenge (humorous poem used around the world)
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic H: Lab Girl: Memoir of a Scientist (group read-aloud and discussion)
Monday, October 14, 2019
Thanksgiving holiday
No Café
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic B: Language-Boosting Board Games (new games and old favourites)
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room
Topic I: What Makes Harry Potter Sell? (group read-aloud and discussion)
Monday, October 21, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic J: Philosophizing About Life: Plato’s Cave (group activity and presentations)
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Goldring Student Centre,
150 Charles St W,
Wymilwood Lounge
Topic A: Toronto’s Many Faces – Cultural Communities (group activity and presentations)
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
4:30-6:00 pm
Innis Residence (IS),
111 St.George Street,
Events Room

Topic D: Dear/Hello Professor

Emailing Professors and TAs (analysis of scenarios)

Monday, October 28, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
St. Hilda’s College (HI),
Rigby Room,
44 Devonshire Place
Topic A: Toronto’s Many Faces – Cultural Communities (group activity and presentations)

 

ELL will offer a new Grammar Games Café series from November 11 - 29, 2019.These special cafes 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 and how they mean? In this Café, we’ll play with sentence-puzzles and discover some secrets of how to make 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 variety 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 with us 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
5:00-6:30 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
3:00-4:30 pm
King’s College Circle (UC),
UC 240
Topic L: What Does Star Wars Have to do with Grammar?
Monday, November 18, 2019
5:00-6:30 pm
81 St. Mary Street,
Brennan Hall (BR),
1st floor Study Space
Topic M: The Art of Picturing Sentences
Friday, November 22, 2019
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle (UC),
UC 240
Topic K: It’s Not the Thought that Counts: Sentence as Form
November 25, 2019
5:00-6:30 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
3:00-4:30 pm
15 King’s College Circle (UC),
UC 240
Topic M: The Art of Picturing Sentences

 

ELL Peer Mentors assist in the Communication Cafés as volunteer small group discussion leaders. (There is always a writing centre instructor present as well; 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 to continue. You do not need to speak English extremely well in order to be a Peer Mentor.

  • Applications open in Fall 2019.
  • Application deadline is October 15, 2019

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. Good 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 is a series of six emails which you write to a writing centre instructor, in response 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 method is an effective way to build reading strategies and vocabulary. Since there is no grade/penalty, the method enhances your ability to develop ideas more rapidly without feeling "blocked." Try it and see!

Reading eWriting will be offered in Fall 2019 as a free, three to six week program and you may register for one or both the sessions. Registration opens on August 26, 2019.

  • Session 1: Starts on September 13, 2019
  • Session 2: Starts on October 4, 2019

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 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 Fall 2019 sessions are listed below. Note that there is no fee for this program.

What will I read?

There are three choices for 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 be sending 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, 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 Fall 2019.

  • Session 1: Starts on September 13, 2019
  • Session 2 starts on October 4, 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 August 26, 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

Fall 2019 Dates

Session 1

  • Start date: September 13, 2019
  • End date: October 1, 2019
  • Due dates for writings:
    • September 13, 20, 27 by 11:30 p.m.
    •  September 17, 24, and October 1 by 11:30 p.m.

Session 2

  • Start date: October 4, 2019
  • End date: October 22, 2019
  • Due dates for writings:
    • October 4, 11, 18 by 11:30 p.m.
    • October 8, 15, 22 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