English as a Second Language Department

Complete Your ESL With Direct Entry to University - Don't Delay Your Future! 

Study English at a university recognized for teaching excellence


The English as a Second Language Department at Vancouver Island University offers academic ESL programs for students intending to continue to university, and short-term summer and winter programs for students who want to improve their English and experience Canadian culture.


ESL Programs

diagram explaining VIU's ELC programs


  • 13-weeks (two 6.5-week courses)
  • Upper beginner to intermediate
  • 20 hours per week of instruction
  • Six start dates throughout the year
  • 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

Learn more about Language Foundations 1-3

  • 13-weeks
  • 20 hours per week of instruction.
  • Six start dates throughout the year.
  • Small classes, highly qualified, friendly, approachable teachers, and a wide range of learning materials.
  • Students in University Preparation 5 may be eligible to take one academic credit course.
  • Graduates from University Preparation 5 can enter Vancouver Island University degree, diploma and certificate programs directly (as long as academic pre-requisites met).
  • A minimum grade of C (60%) is required to pass any of the University Preparation levels.

Learn more about University Preparation 4-5

  • 13-weeks
  • Three start dates per year: January, May, September
  • 20 hours per week supplemented by individual and group tutorials
  • Small classes: average class size 15-16, maximum 20
  • Full access to University facilities including cafeteria, gymnasium, library, bookstore, health clinic and computer labs
  • Access to full-time International Student Advisory Services and Department of Student Services
  • Experienced professionals, trained in the most up to date teaching methods

Learn more about Graduate Preparation

  • 120 hour course including a 20 hour supervised practicum
  • Two intakes per year: September and January
  • Supervised practicum completed in VIU’s English as a Second Language classes
  • Students complete their practicum weekdays between 8am and 4pm.

Learn more about TESL

  • 3-weeks or 4-weeks
  • 4 start dates – July, August, mid-January or February
  • 3 levels of English instruction – developing, intermediate, or advanced
  • 20 hours of English language instruction per week
  • Integrated skills development in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
  • Small classes with highly qualified, friendly, and approachable teachers
  • Includes language labs and a wide variety of learning materials
  • Includes social and cultural activities and group day trips
  • Optional regional tours to explore Canada’s west coast
  • Farewell social and certificate of completion

Learn more about English Language & Culture Programs

Why Choose Us?

Why should I study English at Vancouver Island University? 


  • Six start dates per year: January, February, April, June, August, October

      ESL Semester Dates 

      Tuition, Fees and Expenses

  • Guaranteed entry to Vancouver Island University upon successful completion (Level 5 for undergraduate programs and Grad Prep for graduate programs.)
  • Transfer ESL courses across many public institutions in British Columbia
  • 13-week courses:

   6.5-weeks - Listening & Speaking
   6.5-weeks - Reading & Writing

  • TESL certificate for teachers
  • 3-week and 4-week summer and winter camps
  • Small class sizes
  • Access to the facilities and experiences available on the university campus
  • Access to housing, counselling and immigration advising
  • Fully accredited by Languages Canada
  • Special blend of a caring and nurturing education
  • Day and weekend road trips to discover Vancouver Island's vibrant communities, local cultural events and attractions
  • An environment that balances academic accomplishments with social and relationship skills

University Credits

Students who have successfully completed the highest level of the University Preparation stream (University Preparation 5) with a minimum grade of “C”, and who are entering Vancouver Island University undergraduate programs, will be given 3 academic credits. These credits recognize the skill development in reaching an advanced level in a second language. These credits may be used for any non-specified elective towards certificate, diploma, and degree programs at VIU.

Learning Support

To help you achieve your goals, the English as a Second Language Department offers Learning Support to all ESL students in their Learning Centre.

Every top athlete has a coach to help them improve their game or increase their performance. Language learning is no different. There are ways to become a better learner and get the powerful results you are looking for while studying English. 

Learning Support includes:

Andre (Andy) Montenegro, Brazil

This university has an excellent reputation in Canada. Their MBA program is accredited by ACBSP, which reinforces its seriousness. Also, there is an option that you can add some classes to obtain a dual degree. And the program price matches my budget. I believe that the teachers’ support and availability have been the most important part of my ESL studies at VIU. To be honest, if you need support, there will always be someone to help you. And my advice for new students joining VIU? Remember that you are living in another culture, and you are interacting with people from all over the world. Thus, always be open-minded and respectful. It will prevent you from being biased or worse. Of course, you need to be focused on your studies, but try your best to enjoy your stay as much as you can. Vancouver Island is a beautiful region, and there are many activities to do. (Grad Prep, MBA)

Jason Doan, Vietnam

Grad Prep is not simply an ESL course. It prepared me with academic language skills, such as writing in APA style and skimming readings, and that helped with every assignment and group project in my MBA program. I believe this course is very useful and necessary for international students who want to pursue higher level studies in Canada. (Grad Prep + MBA)

Sachiko Ishibashi

Sachiko Ishibashi, Japan

My experiences in the ESL program and Bachelor of Tourism Management in VIU have been fascinating. The ESL program was the hardest but a valuable experience which helped me to succeed in my academic studies. For Tourism, each instructor was very knowledgeable and skillful with a passion in their specialized field. Every minute in all my classes was remarkable. (Academic Preparation and Bachelor of Tourism Management)


Constanza Eganz, Chile

I chose to study at VIU because their courses have a direct link with the professional world and the labour market. My advice to new students is to follow the rhythm of the ESL classes, perform the assigned tasks and take advantage of the tools that the Learning Centre offers. (University Preparation)


Saeed Tehrani, Iran

I chose to study at VIU because the city is quiet and so beautiful. The people are super friendly and they treated me warmly. I would encourage students to think of their ESL studies as an opportunity. Studying ESL at VIU has prepared me for my academic course. (Grad Prep + MBA)