Applying to an ESL (English as a Second Language) program in Canada involves several steps that will vary depending on the specific program and school type you are applying to. For example, ESL programs offered by high schools, colleges, universities, and private language institutions may have different application requirements and processes. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow.

Step 1: Choose a program
Before you apply, you should be sure to thoroughly research ESL programs available in Canada in terms of program focus, length, academic or language level, etc.

Step 2: Know the entry requirements
ESL programs at different school types in Canada may have different entry requirements, such as minimum grade, minimum age (different schools have different age restrictions), reference letters, language proficiency test scores (CAEL, TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS) and other requirements.

Step 3: Know when and where to apply
  • Apply early

  • ESL programs and institutions often have specific application deadlines for international students, while others accept and process applications all year round. Because space in ESL programs is usually limited, applying as early as possible gives you the best chance of getting into the program you want.

  • Apply directly to the program

  • This step may vary widely between programs; the best way to find out about a program's application process is to contact the institution offering the program. Find out whether you need to complete an online application or mail a paper application, and whether official academic transcripts must be sent from your home institution (including certified translations if necessary).
Step 4: Pay your application fees and any other fees
Most schools offering ESL programs in Canada charge an application fee, and some may require all or a part of your yearly tuition (usually a tuition deposit of between $200 and $800 C$) to be paid before issuing a letter of acceptance. Because the letter of acceptance is essential to applying for your Canadian student visa (study permit), this step is very important.

Step 5: Apply for your study permit
Once you have received your letter of acceptance from an ESL program in Canada, you can begin applying for your Canadian student visa (also called a study permit). All international students who will be studying in Canada for more than six months require this permit, which is issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The application process for this permit may take some time. Therefore, it is very important to leave enough time before the beginning of the ESL program to apply for and receive your study permit.