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English is the main language used for business, school and everyday life in Alberta. Strong English skills give you a better chance of success.

Many places in Alberta offer English language training. These include:

  • colleges or universities
  • immigrant-serving agencies
  • private businesses
  • religious and community organizations

You can study formally or informally, full-time or part-time, in person or online.

Language programs offered by the Canadian or Alberta governments are free or cost very little. Other private programs may charge a fee.

Talk to your school or an Alberta Supports Centre to see whether you qualify for financial support to attend language classes. This support may include child care, transportation, and living allowances. If you need to take a course for a job, you may qualify for a loan from the Windmill Microlending.

Assess your English skills

The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) are used to assess language skill in Canada. Someone at Benchmark 1 has little or no English skills. A person at Benchmark 12 can speak English fluently.

In general, you need a CLB 4 for daily living.

CLB 5 to 8 is usually needed to work in Alberta.

CLB 6 to 9 or higher is needed to study in Alberta.

To find out your CLB level:

Some organizations require other kinds of language assessments. These may cost money and include:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

Find an English language program

Here are some specific programs you might be interested in depending on your needs:

The following programs provide support that may be particularly helpful for daily living, work, or education.

Helpful for daily living


The Immigrant Education Society (TIES)
1723 40 Street SE
Calgary, AB  T2A 7Y3


Cultural Connection Institute – The Learning Exchange
4th floor, 10621 100 Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5J 0B3


Taber & District Adult Learning Association
ESL Drop-In Centre
5317 50 Street
Taber, AB

Helpful for work

Alberta Support Centres can refer you to programs to help you develop the language skills you need for your career, such as work-specific language training. They will also tell you if you are eligible for financial support while you study.

Some employers and professional organizations provide language training. You can ask your employer if they offer this service.

Helpful for education

Several post-secondary institutions in Alberta offer
English for Academic Purposes courses.

If you need help to prepare for TOEFL, CELPIP or IELTS assessments, some post-secondary institutions offer courses to help you. Many Community Adult Learning Programs also offer preparation courses.

Children and youth can get language support through their schools.

Language learning resources

Free resources are available to help new Canadians learn English and communicate better.

Learn English with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

The CBC has free English lessons that use news stories and interviews to help you learn. They are recorded at a slower speed to help you understand.

Lessons on life in Alberta

Learn English while preparing for life in Alberta. Lessons are arranged by topic.

For parents:

Financial advice:

Mental health and community:

Communicate to succeed

Listen to short interviews with immigrant business leaders on how communication helped them succeed. Start with the listening activities, then check your progress.

English in the workplace

Learn English in a workplace setting. Lessons are video-based and include topics such as:

  • making requests
  • giving feedback
  • asking for support and giving advice

Recognize cultural communication differences

Something’s Up is a fun video series that helps you understand differences between cultures in language use, body language and use of time. These recordings will help you develop the tools to succeed. Topics include: the hockey pool, meeting deadlines and working safely.


For any questions about living and working in Alberta, use our contact form.

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