Students of VIU's ESL in Canada program in class

English as a Second Language (ESL)

  • Credential 
  • Location Offered 

Your journey to conversing, reading, learning and sharing your ideas at a high academic level with fellow English speakers starts here.

This English Language School program at VIU sets up students for academic success at Canadian post-secondary institutions. The English as Second Language (ESL) program is delivered by highly trained ESL school instructors in small class sizes that focus on inclusion and community. 

Upon completion of Academic preparation level 5, students are eligible to bypass further English testing and are offered direct entry into any Vancouver Island University program.

The ESL Program

The VIU English Language Centre (ELC) is committed to providing to community and international students quality ESL education, including both language and culture, and to fostering a student-centered environment that honours the diversity of students and teachers.

The ELC provides a wide range of ESL levels and support services to meet the needs of students whose first language is not English, and who have various goals for the acquisition of competence in English.

All programs provide small classes, highly qualified, friendly, approachable teachers, and a wide range of learning materials. Classes are held 20 or 24 hours per week; students can get additional assistance in the Learning Centre.

Program Outline

Academic Preparation

VIU's English as a Second Language Academic Preparation program consists of 5 levels (13 weeks each).

In Academic Preparation Level 1 students will study an integrated curriculum of all language skills so that they are able to use the language to express their ideas and opinions about familiar topics in speaking and writing.

Academic Preparation Level 2 integrates the four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students will actively practice all aspects of English and focus on developing academic English and their communication skills.

In Academic Preparation Level 3, 4, and 5 there is a focus on academic reading, writing, and an introduction to literature. A passing grade in Academic Preparation Level 5 will allow students direct entry to VIU academic programs without further English testing.

  • ESLA 010 - (Academic Preparation Level 1)
  • ESLA 020 - (Academic Preparation Level 2)
  • ESLA 030 - (Academic Preparation Level 3)
  • ESLA 040 - (Academic Preparation Level 4)
  • ESLA 050 - (Academic Preparation Level 5)

Start and End Dates for ESL program

  • September to December
  • January to April
  • April to August

Start and End Dates for Accelerated program

  • September to October
  • October to December
  • January to February
  • February to April
  • April to June
  • June to August


Students are able to take sessions of either 6.5 or 13 weeks in VIU's English as a Second Language Communications program.

In Communications Level 2 students will learn about Canadian life through interactive activities, short readings, field trips and conversations. In this class, they will learn and use useful expressions and vocabulary related to their lives in Canada. They will use all language skills with an emphasis on developing oral communication skills.

In Communications Level 3 students will study all language skills, with a special focus on oral/aural skills. Students will develop their listening and speaking skills both in and out of the classroom through interactive activities.


VIU's English as a Second Language Access program consists of one level (7 and 14 weeks).

Start and End Dates for Communications and Access

  • September to October/December
  • October to December
  • January to February/April
  • February to April
  • April to June/August
  • June to August
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Admission Requirements

All students must:

  • be a citizen, landed immigrant, or hold a valid visitor or student authorization;
  • complete a Vancouver Island University ESL language assessment test.


Please email admission officers at regarding the status of applications. 
Contact 250-740-6273 or 250-740-6318 for further information about ESL programs.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Student, Edwin Song

Edwin Song

“The learning is very practical and efficient at VIU – my teachers got right to the point and taught me what I needed to know to be able to write and reference papers. We were learning things that we were literally using the next day, and that you would use over and over again in academic programs. They also made the lessons fun, which is really important when you’re learning a language. They organized lots of activities to keep you interested in learning English. It was very interactive.”

Edwin studied at VIU in the English as a Second Language Program