Career Development and Job Search, Community Resources, Education and Training, Immigrant Integration and Settlement

Improving your English


That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” ~  Doris Lessing

Most immigrants come to Canada under the “skilled worker” visa criteria. They have gone through the IELTS test and they have showed their transcripts and credentials, so the process makes them to believe that finding a professional job will be easy.

The reality is, that professional English is one of the biggest barriers immigrants face, and it shows when potential employers reject them with the feared “no Canadian experience”.

Being able to converse is different from being able to lead meeting, present results to a manager, write a high level report or read complex instructions.

There are many ways you can improve your English:

Formal/paid:

  • Register to university level or college level courses. Look for “English communication”, “Business English”, “Professional English” and/or “Technical English”
  • Take a preparation course to take the Academic IELTS or TOEFL test
  • If your background is in education, you may also need to study courses at university level in “Literature and Composition”

Informal/unpaid or low cost:

  • Take advantage of free resources for immigrants such as ELSA classes and inexpensive classes at local “Continuous Education” centres, high schools, libraries and community centres
  • Get a public library card and take Business English and professional English books, DVDs and CDs. You can also get regular movies and documentaries and watch them for free, learning English at the same time you learn something new or watch a story
  • Join committees at the school church, temple, local recreational centre or volunteer for events, get exposed and practice!
  • Get a mentor whose English is native or very high level and meet with him/her to practice
  • Make friends outside your ethnic community: attend community events and mix with local people

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

 Resources:

University Thomson Rivers (distance/online courses to improve written English and for Educators) (check under “English”: here)

BCIT (look into Professional English Language Development): http://www.bcit.ca/cas/communication/courses.shtml

Douglas College http://www.douglas.bc.ca/programs/english-second-language/foreign-trained-professionals.html

Vancouver Community College http://www.vcc.ca/programs-courses/detail.cfm?div_id=5&prog_id=134

Kwantlen University http://www.kwantlen.ca/calendar/2012-13/courses/elst/index.html

IELTS Preparation courses (ISS of BC Language College) http://www.learnenglish.issbc.org/test_preparation.htm

Library resources (Check on ‘learning Express” link, you will need a library card to access the resources): http://surreylibraries.ca/research/4741.aspx

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