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Adult ESL (English as a Second Language)

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Teachers here at school, they’re very supportive, they know that English is not your first language so they have a lot of patience with you, they try to help you, especially in settling down in Canada.

Former student of the Adult ESL program

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Our ESL program can help you with:

  • Reading, writing and grammar
  • Speaking, listening and pronunciation 
  • Workplace skills, computer literacy
  • Citizenship preparation
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Test Preparation

Day and night adult classes are available for New Canadians, Landed Immigrants, Refugees, Refugee Claimants, Visa Holders, Visitors and Diplomats. Classes are throughout the city of Ottawa at Ottawa Catholic School Board adult schools and community locations.

Adult ESL Course Schedules, Details and Locations

See our Adult ESL course selections!

Learn more


Please Note: Due to high demand, some courses are at capacity and students may be put onto a waiting list.

Wait List Registration for New Students

For information about course we offer, you can call one of our Adult ESL locations.

Registration locations and contact information:
  • St. Joseph’s Adult School: 330 Lajoie St., (Ottawa East), 613-741-6808
  • St. Patrick’s Adult School: 290 Nepean St., (Downtown), 613-594-5773
  • St. Nicholas Adult HS: 893 Admiral Ave., (West Campus), 613-228-9060

Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)

The Canadian Language Benchmarks Placement Test assesses how well you use English. After completing the test, you will receive an assessment report that gives your Canadian Language Benchmarks levels for listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

The Language Assessment and Referral Centre at the YMCA-YWCA provides immigrants with English or French language assessments for government-funded programs. Their services are offered at no cost.

ESL & LINC Eligibility

Generally, newcomers to Canada are eligible for language training at no cost. Eligibility must be verified when registering for a class.

To register in ESL or LINC programs you must:

  • be an adult, 18 years of age or older (if younger, with proof of high school completion from the country of origin)
  • be able to show proof of Ontario address
  • have your language ability evaluated by a Language Assessment Centre. YMCA’s Language Assessment and Referral Centre (Y-LARC) provides immigrants with English or French language assessments for government-funded programs

English As A Second Language (ESL)

  • Canadian Citizens (those born outside Canada who do not speak English as a first language)
  • Permanent Residents
  • Convention Refugees/Protected Persons
  • Persons in Canada whose applications for Permanent Resident status are being processed in Canada, and who have been informed by a letter from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada of the initial approval of their application subject to an admissibility assessment
  • Refugee Claimants
  • Temporary residents with CUAET
  • Temporary Workers or Students who have obtained initial approval for a concurrent Application for Permanent Residence
  • Foreign Domestic Worker admitted under the Live-In Caregiver program
  • Provincial Nominee (or Dependant) approved through Opportunities Ontario
  • Temporary Foreign Worker (or Dependant) approved through Canadian Experience Class

NOT eligible for the free ESL training

  • Diplomats
  • Visitors
  • International Students

Language Instruction For Newcomers To Canada (LINC)

  • Permanent Residents
  • Government Assisted Refugees (GARs)

NOT eligible for LINC

  • Canadian citizens
  • Refugee claimants
  • Temporary residents (such as foreign students, foreign workers or visitors)

ESL & LINC Assessment

All new learners must have a language assessment completed at the Ottawa Y-Language Assessment and Referral Centre (Y-LARC). Learners may then select the school location of their choice and register in person Please bring proof of status in Canada and proof of Ontario address.

  • Central Location: 308-240 Catherine St. | Tel: 613-238-5462
  • West Location: 1642 Merivale Rd. | Tel: 613-688-2150

Note: Visitors, diplomats and international students can be also assessed at Y-LARC for $150. Please call the school for more information or for help to make an assessment appointment at Y-LARC.

View the following videos for a more detailed explanation:

Material Fees

Material Fees are suspended till further notice.

Please note

  • All courses are subject to availability and enrollment and may have waiting lists. The proposed schedule and locations are subject to change based on funding and other government directions. 
  • Classes will include online components and learners should be prepared to participate in online sessions or complete online assignments.