What is ELSA?
ELSA stands for English Language Services for Adults. The ELSA program provides basic and intermediate level English training for adult newcomers to Canada. ELSA is government-funded and is free to students.
You will learn English to help you with all your communication needs. You will learn about Canadian laws, health care, society, job market, and many things that are important for life in Canada. At the highest ELSA levels you can prepare for further studies in English or raise your English level to qualify for training for employment. To work in Canada in your field or occupation, you may need to learn more English after the ELSA class ends.
You must be a newcomer to Canada, 17 years old or older, and approved for permanent residence. Canadian citizens and Refugee Claimants cannot take ELSA classes within Greater Vancouver, but they can take ELSA classes outside these areas. You must have at least one of the following documents:
People who do not have a Permanent Resident Card (PRC), or Record of Landing (IMM1000), or Study Permit must apply for a Study Permit at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). After your assessment and referral, go to the school and get a confirmation of registration and take it to the CIC Office to apply for a study permit.
ELSA goes from level 1 (Low Beginner) to level 5 (high intermediate). There is also a pre-beginner level (literacy). After you apply for ELSA, you will be given an appointment for an English assessment (test). The assessment office will decide your level. At levels 4 and 5, there are general ELSA classes and labour market preparation classes (Labour Market Focussed ELSA) available: the assessment office can give you a brochure that explains these special classes.
There are ELSA classes in more than 30 different schools in Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and other parts of British Columbia. You can find a list of schools at www.elsanet.org under “Find ELSA Schools in BC.” The Assessment office will refer you to a school. Some students may be able to choose their school.
Classes can be in the morning, afternoon and evening. Full-time classes are 25 hours a week. Part-time classes are 9 to 15 hours a week.
The maximum hours of study will depend on your level when you start. Your school will explain how long you can study in ELSA.
Your school will tell you about the attendance rules. Students are expected to attend all or almost all of their classes, and to attend on time. Do not apply for ELSA if you cannot attend on all the days when the class meets.
Some ELSA classes have free child care for pre-school age children. There are not very many spaces. Most ELSA students have to make their own child care arrangements.
There is a provincial child care subsidy to help families pay for child care. Go to an immigrant settlement agency in your area to find out if you are eligible for child care subsidy.
HOW TO APPLY
Write, telephone, fax or go to one of these offices to get an application form.
For people living in Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, South Delta, Burnaby or New Westminster, apply to:
Western ESL Services
For people living in Surrey, North Delta, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge or the Fraser Valley, apply to:
Surrey Language Assessment Centre
People living in other areas may apply directly at the school in that area which offers ELSA classes (see elsanet.org for a map of schools).
Send or bring the completed application form and a photocopy of your immigration document (see ELIGIBILITY). If you are using your Permanent Resident Card, photocopy both sides.
The name on your application must be the same as the name on your immigration document.
When you come to the office for your assessment, bring your original immigration document (not a photocopy).
Apply when you are ready to start studying. Do not apply if you are going to travel, go to hospital or have a baby in a few months.
You will get a letter telling you the time and place for your assessment test. You must have this assessment test before you can go to ELSA classes.
Most schools start new students at the beginning of the month. Students may be placed on a waiting list (usually not more than 2 or 3 months).
You should tell your school you are on EI. Do not apply to study before going to your Service Canada Centre to ask if you can continue to receive EI benefits while attending ELSA classes.
There are many other English classes at all levels. School boards, colleges, community centres, immigrant agencies, and private schools have classes. You may have to pay for these classes.
Go to www.elsanet.org and click “Other ESL Courses & Employment Programs” for a list of all ESL courses in BC. To apply, go directly to the school where you want to study. The assessment office cannot help you to find other English classes.