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COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ESL IN ALBERTA
What ESL options are available to international students studying in Alberta?
ESL options available in Alberta include business English, conversational English, English for academic purposes (EAP), English for the workplace, second-language teacher training programs, integrated programs and programs tailored for individual students. Online, on-campus, summer programs, spring break language camps and full-semester programs are also options.

What is the difference between taking an ESL course and an ESL program?
ESL courses are usually taken as part of a wider academic program in an educational institution--such as a high school, college, or university semester--and have a single focus. ESL programs are usually made up of several courses and involve immersion or near-immersion study of English. However, some schools may use the terms interchangeably.

How long does it take to become proficient in English?
How long it takes to gain English proficiency varies depending on your current skill level, dedication, personal knack and the intensity of your course or program. Becoming proficient in English can take up to a year or longer.

How do I choose between a language school or the language program at a high school, college or university? What is the difference between these two options?
Language schools in Alberta offer only language instruction, and their programs and courses tend to be more focused and intense. High schools, colleges and universities offer ESL courses and programs designed to run parallel to--or prepare you for--your general academic studies.

How many students will there be in an ESL class in Alberta?
Class sizes may vary, but are usually less than twenty students.

Will my ESL program in Alberta help me meet university language standards?
Many ESL programs are specifically geared towards university preparation or language proficiency tests that most universities require. Compare any ESL program's goals with your college's or university's requirements to make sure it meets those standards.

Am I guaranteed to pass the standardized language tests after my ESL course in Alberta?
No course or program can guarantee a pass on any test, but an accredited ESL course or program with qualified teachers will be a great assest to your language test preparation.

What is the difference between the different language tests (CAEL, TOEFL, TOIEC and IELTS)?
All English language tests are aimed at determining your level of English proficiency. The different tests are administered by different authorities and may test slightly different skills. For instance, the CAEL test specifically tests English for academic purposes, whereas the TOEFL test focuses on proficiency needed in daily life. Different schools and universities accept different test scores.

Are there prerequisites for international students studying ESL in Alberta?
Prerequisites depend on the program you apply to. However, there are programs in Alberta at every level, from the newest beginner to more advanced students.

How are ESL programs in Alberta accredited?
There are several independent organizations which oversee the accreditation of ESL schools, programs and courses across Canada. They include Languages Canada, the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), Canadian Language Council/Le Conseil des Langues du Canada (CLC) and the Canadian Association of Private Language Schools (CAPLS). For more details, see our section on Accreditation of ESL Programs in Alberta.

What recognition do Alberta ESL programs have world-wide?
Accredited ESL programs in all provinces of Canada, including Alberta, are recognized for their excellence world-wide.

What advantages do ESL programs in Alberta offer?
English is one of Canada's two official languages, and is spoken by the majority of Alberta residents. Alberta offers study and exploration in a safe, welcoming English-language environment with well-regulated programs.

Will there be someone to take care of me if I have health problems?
Alberta has a publicly funded health-care system, which is administered on the provincial level. You may also wish to purchase extended health-care insurance from a secondary provider.

How are homestay families chosen?
Homestay programs in Alberta screen families that apply to make sure that they have the necessary physical and personal qualities to host an international student. Homestay programs may be independent, or they may be run in affiliation with your school.

If I live at the school, what are the rooms or dormitories like?
Dormitories vary from school to school in Alberta. You are likely to have a roommate or possibly several suitemates, and you may share a bathroom with either your suitemates or with your floor. There is usually a common-room with television and other facilities. Dormitories will always be kept clean and safe for students, and high school dorms have adult supervision.
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