Language Training

English is the main language used for business, school and everyday life in Alberta. Strong English skills mean you will have a better chance of success.

How good does my English need to be?

The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) are used to assess language skill. Someone at Benchmark 1 has little or no English skills. A person at Benchmark 12 can speak English fluently.

  • In general, you need a CLB 4 for daily living.
  • To work in Alberta, a CLB 5-8 is usually necessary.
  • To study in Alberta, a CLB 6-9 or higher is required to be successful.

Some organizations require other kinds of language assessments. These include the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP ).

How can I improve my English?

Many places in Alberta offer English language training. You can find classes at colleges, universities, immigrant-serving agencies, private businesses, and religious and community organizations. You can study formally or informally, full-time or part-time, in person or online.

Break the Wall provides free resources to help new Canadians communicate better in business and other settings.

Get financial support while you learn English

Language programs offered by the Canadian or Alberta governments are free or cost very little. Other private programs may charge a fee.

Talk to your educational provider or an Alberta Works centre to see whether you qualify for financial support to attend language classes. This support may include child care, transportation, and living allowances. If you need to take a course for a job, you may qualify for a loan from the Immigrant Access Fund.

How to get started

Step 1: Assess your current English language level
  • Do a free CLB Self-Assessment online. This will give you an idea of your current CLB level.
  • Complete an official CLB assessment at a Language Assessment and Referral Centre. This is free to permanent residents and citizens of Canada.
  • There are other assessments (TOEFL, IELTS or CELPIP) that you can take depending on your needs. These may carry a cost.

Step 2: Think about what you need

To find the best program for you, ask yourself these questions.

Why do I want to improve my English?

  • Daily living: To communicate with my family, friends, neighbours and others in the community, and to learn about Canadian culture?
  • Work: To help find a job?
  • Education: For school or university?
  • Immigration: To apply for permanent residence?

When can I study?

  • Can I study full time?
  • If I want to study part time, when can I study? (e.g., daytime, evenings, weekends)
  • Do I want to study in a classroom or online?

What do I need in order to be able to study?

  • Childcare?
  • Financial support?
  • Transportation?
Step 3: Find the best English language program for you

Here are some specific programs you might be interested depending on your needs:

Daily living

Work

  • Alberta Works and Alberta Support Centres can refer you to programs to help you develop the language skills you need for your career (i.e., work-specific language training). They will also tell you if you are eligible for financial support while you study.
  • Some employers and professional organizations provide language training. You can ask your employer if they offer this service.

Education

  • Several post-secondary institutions in Alberta offer English for Academic Purposes courses.
  • If you need help to prepare for TOEFL, CELPIP or IELTS assessments, some post-secondary institutions offer courses to help you. Many Community Adult Learning Programs also offer preparation courses.
  • Children and youth can get language support through their schools.