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:
- Do a free Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Self-Assessment online. This will give you an idea of your current CLB level.
- Complete an official CLB assessment at one of the following Language Assessment and Referral Centres. This is free to permanent residents and citizens of Canada.
- Edmonton: Language Assessment, Referral & Counselling Centre (LARCC)
- Calgary: Immigrant Language and Vocational Assessment – Referral Centre (ILVARC)
- Lethbridge: Southern Alberta Language Assessment Services (SALAS)
- Medicine Hat: Karen Ziemann Consulting: 1657 31 Street SE 403-527-5062
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
- Visit a Language Assessment and Referral Centre for help finding the best program to meet your needs.
- Go to your local immigrant-serving agency for information about language programs in your area.
- Find programs in:
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 Government of Canada offers free Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) classes.
- Many Community Adult Learning Programs across Alberta offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and other language learning opportunities. Contact these organizations directly for more information.
- ESL drop-in centres offer part-time, drop-in classes:
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.
- back to school
- parenting preschoolers
- social media
- internet tools and guidelines
- cyber bullying
Mental health and community:
- Mental health
- Caring for elderly family members: communicating
- Connecting with the community: volunteering
- Caring for the elderly: new technologies
- Recreation and leisure: Canadian Rockies
- Recreation and leisure: Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
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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