ESL level 1-3: Language Foundations


Classes will be held online only at this time.
For more details, visit Online: ESL. Or email

6.5 or 13 weeks

Location Offered: Nanaimo Campus

Do you want to learn English for communications purposes? Our Language Foundations program offers a skills-based curriculum that can take you from a beginner to an intermediate speaker in just 3 levels.

After successfully completing Language Foundations level 3, you can join our University Preparation program to develop your academic English skills and prepare to study at a Canadian university.

As an ESL student in Language Foundations, you will have access to our learning centre and be able to participate in sociocultural activities organised by the International Education faculty. These support services and activities will improve your fluency in English and help you to speak with increased confidence.

Course Structure

One level of Language Foundations is 13-weeks.
A 13-week level is divided into two 6.5-week courses, each of which covers two skills.
To finish one level of Language Foundations, both courses need to be completed.

Program Details

  • Beginner to intermediate.
  • 20 hours per week of instruction.
  • Start in January, February, April, June, August, October.
  • Small classes, highly qualified, friendly, approachable teachers, and a wide range of learning materials.
  • A minimum grade of C (60%) is required to pass any level of Language Foundations.

Application Deadline

Students are encouraged to apply three months before the start of the program to allow enough time for visa processing.

Students can choose between six start dates per year. The schedules are outlined here.

Students must have basic English skills before entering the English Language Centre (ELC) programs.

The ELC cannot accept students who are at the very beginning level of using English.

Please complete the Basic English Test to see if you are at the correct level for our courses. If you score less than 17 / 20 (85%) on this test, you may not be accepted into the ELC programs.

Students will be given an English language level assessment test when they arrive at Vancouver Island University to confirm their basic English knowledge. If a student does not pass the level assessment test, the student may not be accepted into the program.


Vancouver Island University accepts international students under one of the following conditions:

  • direct applications (online or paper applications);
  • applications through authorized representatives;
  • institution-to-institution exchange programs;
  • sponsorship through inter-governmental agreements;
  • winner of academic competitions or international scholarships.


All students must:

  • be a international visitor or hold student authorization;
  • complete a Vancouver Island University ESL language assessment test (or equivalent)

Please keep in mind that students applying for conditional admission to an undergraduate (or diploma, certificate or trades) program at VIU, or thinking of applying upon completion of ESL programing, will still be required to provide proof of high school graduation and their secondary school transcripts.