Preparing for ESL programs in Canada can take different forms, depending on the program or course you have chosen. ESL programs in Canada are offered by universities, colleges, high schools and independent language schools; therefore, your first step should be to ask your school what they recommend you do to prepare. There are, however, some general things that all international students can do to prepare for any ESL program.

Language Testing
Some programs will require incoming students to take a diagnostic test, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TEOFL), Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL). These tests are used to determine the level of English each student is ready for. The school may require you to take the test in advance, or may administer a diagnostic test themselves. Other schools may have their own placement test, or they may not require one at all. Be sure to check with the specific ESL school or program. Each of these tests has a website, and you can take practice tests online so you will know what to expect. Practice tests are also a great way to practice your language skills.

Personal Preparation
There are a number of things each student can do to prepare personally for studying ESL in Canada.
  • Immerse yourself in as much English as you can. This could mean watching television or movies in English, listening to music in English and, if possible, having conversations with other English-speakers near you.

  • Get familiar with the culture, customs and the details of day to day life in Canada: the more familiar you are with your new environment before you arrive, the less likely you are to suffer from culture-shock.

  • Research the extra-curricular activities offered at the school you plan to attend, or that may be available in the surrounding community. Knowing that your favourite sport or other activity awaits you can help you get excited, or you might discover something totally new.

  • Get in contact with other international students at the school you are applying to or have been accepted by. A school's administration can often put students in touch with current international students who are willing to share their experiences and advice.