Students of VIU's ESL in Canada program in class

English as a Second Language (ESL)

  • Credential 

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 English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

The VIU English as Second Language (ESL) Program 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 ESL Program 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 hours per week; students can get additional assistance in the Learning Centre.

English Language Centre Programs 

VIU's English Language Programs consist of 5 levels (14 weeks each). Every level is divided into two courses of 7 weeks and students must successfully complete both courses before moving to the next level: 

1. Listening and Speaking
2. Reading and Writing

Language Foundations Level 1 to 3 helps students to develop their English language fluency and accuracy skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

In University Preparation Level 4 and 5 there is a focus on academic reading, writing, and an introduction to literature. A passing grade in University Preparation Level 5 will allow students direct entry to VIU academic programs without further English testing. Three academic elective credits for prior learning will also be awarded to VIU students who complete University Preparation Level 5. 

  • ESLF 011 - (Language Foundations 1: Reading and Writing)
  • ESLF 012 - (Language Foundations 1: Listening and Speaking)
  • ESLF 021 - (Language Foundations 2: Reading and Writing)
  • ESLF 022 - (Language Foundations 2: Listening and Speaking)
  • ESLF 031 - (Language Foundations 3: Reading and Writing)
  • ESLF 032 - (Language Foundations 3: Listening and Speaking)
  • ESLU 041 - (Language Foundations 4: Reading and Writing)
  • ESLU 042 - (Language Foundations 4: Listening and Speaking)
  • ESLU 051 - (Language Foundations 5: Reading and Writing)
  • ESLU 052 - (Language Foundations 5: Listening and Speaking)

Start and End Dates for ESL programs

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


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 250.740.6318 for further information about ESL programs.

Further information on this program can be found on the Department website.

Previous versions of this program can be found in the Program Archive.

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