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English as a Second Language

There are a range of ESL credit courses that help students develop the knowledge and skills you need to be successful in degree programs at York. Some courses count as General Education courses where you can explore Canadian issues and the English language while further developing English and academic communication skills.

ESL credit courses are taught by faculty who are specialists in English language teaching/learning and Applied Linguistics. ESL faculty are involved in a range of research and projects that include examining ways to make English language teaching and learning more effective.

Please visit the ESL Open Learning Centre where ESL students from any program can book one-on-one or group appointments to help further develop their English language and academic skills.

ESL undergraduate students can also pursue the English Language Studies (ELS) Minor program, which offers ongoing development of language proficiency while preparing its participants for success as graduates of York.

Due to COVID-19, the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics will not be offering in-person classes this semester.

When registering in our courses, you will be presented with the following options: 

  • Online courses. All elements of these courses will be offered online without any fixed meeting time. You can do them at the time of your choosing (Asynchronously).
  • Remote courses. These courses will be delivered in real time via Zoom or other videoconferencing platform at the times indicated in the York Courses website (Synchronously). Some of these courses will have both real-time and non-real-time components. All real-time components will also be recorded and made available to students who could not attend. 


Description: This course has two main objectives. First, it aims at fostering those language skills which students using English as a second language need to succeed academically in the multicultural, English-medium context at York. The course accomplishes this goal primarily through content, rather than explicit language exercises, as is appropriate to learners at the university level. Second, the course aims to promote students' awareness of various aspects of Canadian society through the discussion and analysis of a range of texts exploring themes such as language and communication, culture and identity, and Canada's diverse communities.

Note: This course comprises the English as a second language requirement for incoming English as a second language students.

Course credit exclusions: AP/ESL 1450 6.00.

Cross-listed with AP/HUMA 1220.

Description: This course aims to help students from an ESL background to improve writing and reading skills necessary for academic success in undergraduate degree programs. The interdisciplinary course draws on a range of topics and texts to help students understand and communicate academic content and ideas. Emphasis is placed on strengthening language and critical thinking skills in reading and writing that promote student engagement with a range of texts relevant to academic studies.

Description: This course aims to help students from an ESL background advance their oral communication skills for academic success. The focus is on strategies for interacting in groups and with individuals, as well as presenting formally and informally. The course draws on theories of interaction and practical applications for effective oral communication in a variety of academic, professional and social contexts.

Prerequisites: AP/ESL 1000 6.00 or AP/ESL 1450 6.00. AP/ESL1450 6.00 can also be a corequisite.

Open to: Undergraduate students from an ESL background.

Not open to: Undergraduate students who speak English with native proficiency.

Descriptions: This course provides an introduction to topics in the social sciences for students from an ESL background. The content focusses on social issues and the diversity of human experience while addressing the development of English language communication skills essential for academic success. The approach is interdisciplinary and aims to foster critical thought, broaden perspectives and develop understanding of rhetorical patterns and styles.

Note: This is an approved LA&PS General Education course: Social Science.

Open to: Undergraduate students from ESL backgrounds.

Not open to: Undergraduate students who speak English with native proficiency.

Description: Examines issues critical to Canadian society and culture through texts representing a range of voices and genres - from text to film, official to creative, rooted in Canada to immigrant. Key themes include those of arrival, belonging and the idea of nation. The course also aims to enhance English language and critical thinking skills necessary for academic success in university study.

Note: This course comprises the English as a second language requirement for students with an ESL background.

Course credit exclusions: AP/HUMA 1220 9.00, AP/ESL 1000 9.00 (prior to Fall 2016).

Description: This course provides non-native speakers of English with opportunities to further advance their academic communication skills through a content-based approach. Students engage with multiple genres and texts about issues related to English specifically and languages more broadly. Varieties of English and subtleties of the language are highlighted; nuances from other languages spoken by students in the class inform the discussions and deepen students' understanding of English. This course is intended for those who are beyond their first year of study.

Prerequisites: First language other than English; AP/ESL1000 or AP/ESL 1450, or permission.


Contact the ESL office at with academic and administrative questions.