3 of the Best Programs for Learning English in Waterloo Region

For newcomers to take advantage of all the academic or professional opportunities in Waterloo Region, not to mention to enjoy the excitement this dynamic community can offer, language is the key. Learning English may sound like a daunting task, but the good news is that no matter what your plans are for your future life in Canada, there is definitely a language program that serves your needs right here.

esl courses in canada
Image source: Toronto Public Library

In this post, you will find a list of local English programs for adults categorized based on three language needs, including community-based programs, English for college/university education, and English for internationally trained professionals, and how they may help you to achieve your goals.

Option 1 – Community-based Programs

Community-based language training programs are where you can learn basic English skills when you are settling down in Canada, such as getting around the town, banking, shopping, job searching and so on. Besides learning the language, you also meet other newcomers which can ease the culture shock you may be experiencing.

One popular English program for newcomers is the free LINC program, short for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada. It is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Some centers have free child-care service while you attend classes.

Every adult that is at least 18 years old in your family can take LINC classes if they also qualify with the following two criteria: 

  • Be a permanent resident of Canada, or Convention Refugee, or be a person in Canada whose application for Permanent Resident status is being processed in Canada and who has been informed by a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada of the initial approval of your application;
  • Take a language assessment test at a Language Assessment Centre to find out which level is right for you.

Another community-based program is called ESL, short for English as a Second Language. It is an affordable English training program that is open to newcomers, citizens and visitors. There is a small annual fee for materials and visitors to Canada can also register with a higher rate.

In the following chart you may find the three educational institutes that offer community-based English programs in Waterloo Region:

Centres Sites and Contact Information Programs and Classes
Conestoga – LINC, run by Conestoga College


519-748-5220 ext. 3751


150 Main Street, 1st Floor

Tel: 519-740-8797

  • LINC classes
  • Literacy to CLB 8
  • Morning and afternoon classes.
  • Childminding available on Kitchener and Cambridge campuses

800 King Street West, 3rd Floor Tel: 519-886-3300


145 Lincoln Road, 2nd Floor

Tel: 519-886-6749

St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres, run by Waterloo Catholic District School Board


E-mail: stlouis@wcdsb.ca


St. Benedict Campus

50 Saginaw Parkway

Phone: 519-745-1201

  • ESL classes
  • Childminding available

1. St. Mary campus:

77 Young Street

Phone: 519-745-1201

2. St. Francis campus

154 Gatewood Road

Phone: 519-745-1201

  • LINC and ESL
  • Literacy to CLB 8
  • Morning, afternoon and evening classes
  • Childminding available

Emmanuel United Church

22 Bridgeport Road, West

Phone: 519-745-1201

  • ESL classes
  • Morning and afternoon classes
English at First LINC Program

Phone: 519-571-0360

Email: care@englishatfirst.com


First United Church

16 William St W, Waterloo

  • LINC
  • Literacy to CLB 4
  • Morning and afternoon classes
  • Childminding available

The first step to get into a LINC program is to get assessed at language centers. According to their CLB levels, they will be placed at different levels, from CLB Literacy to CLB 7/8. If you’re tested as CLB 9 and above, congratulations! Your English is quite advanced and you may find other English programs below fit your specific educational or career goals better.

Option 2 – EAP – English for Academic Purpose

EAP programs are to prepare international students and newcomers for their academic success in a Canadian college and university, including language skills that are related to the academic activities from doing research, writing essays and reports, giving presentations, listening to lectures and even participating group work effectively. If you have taken IELTS or TOEFL tests but haven’t met the language criteria of your dream college/university programs, an EAP program may help you to proceed. 

Different fees may apply depending on whether you are an international student or a permanent resident. However, before choosing an EAP program to work on your English, you had better decide which college/university program that you are going to pursue and find out what specific language requirements are of that particular program so that you know which EAP program works the best for your goal.

Programs and Contact Information Admission and Qualifications Levels and Courses Graduation
Conestoga Language Institute at Conestoga College

Phone: 519-748-5220 ext. 3751

Unless you can offer valid IELTS or TOEFL scores, you will take a placement test and be placed at one of the 4 levels according to the test results. 4 Levels, each 15 weeks long. Courses include Writing Communication, Listening&Speaking, Reading Comprehension and Pronunciation. Students who complete this program meet the English requirements for most post-secondary diploma programs at Conestoga College.
Renison English Language Institute at

University of Waterloo


Phone: 519-884-4404 ext. 28692

Online application available

International students who are interested in studying in an undergraduate or graduate program at University of Waterloo and need to meet the language requirements. 4 levels, each 14 weeks long. Courses include Academic Skills, Oral Skills and Writing Skills Students who successfully complete the program with an overall average of 75% satisfy the University of Waterloo’s English Language Requirement for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Option 3 – OSLT – Occupation-specific Language Training

If you are already a trained professional in your country and looking for programs to improve your workplace communication skills in Canada so that you can quickly match your professional knowledge and skills with the requirements of the Canadian job market, OSLT may be your best option.

This programming is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Canada to bridge the language gap that internationally-trained professionals may often have to face when they move to Canada. This FREE training program is geared to your occupation and provides practical exercises based on actual workplace communications tasks, career-planning assistance and opportunities to connect with local employers, industries and resources. Currently in Waterloo Region there are five courses offered through Conestoga College:

Occupations Eligibility Location Graduation
Workplace Communication Skills for Health Care Professionals
  • Training or experience in related fields
  • An intermediate level of English (Canadian Language Benchmarks 6-8)
  • Landed immigrants, permanent residents or convention refugees to Canada


Phone: 519-886-3300

Email: oslt@conestogac.on.ca

Doon campus (Kitchener) Successful completion of the program is acknowledged through a letter from the participating colleges
Workplace Communication Skills for ECE Providers Doon campus (Kitchener)
Workplace Communication Skills for Accounting Waterloo campus
Workplace Communication Skills for Technology Waterloo campus
Workplace Communication Skills for Interprofessional Health Care Providers Doon campus (Kitchener)

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