English as a Second Language

When international students wish to study English, they could not find a more ideal location than Canada. Whether you wish to study for a month-long general English course, or are continuing your postgraduate studies, Canada is the perfect place to study for your English Proficiency Test, on the path to continuing your international education. Linda Paton, Cambridge/TOEFL Advisor at Canadian Cascadia International College tells us why...

Browsing through the pages of this site, you will see any number of institutions offering preparation for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), TOEIC (the Test of English for International Communication), and the Cambridge Certificate Exams - managed and distributed through the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). In addition to this, some centers in Canada now offer testing for the IELTS - the International English Language Testing System, administered jointly by UCLES, the British Council and IDP Education Australia. Additionally, the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and the GRE are now available at certain TOEFL test centers. For business students, a few schools offer preparation courses and testing for the complete range of ESL/EFL preparation courses and tests currently required worldwide.

My first advice to students is to determine which exam you need to prepare for, and how much time you have to do this. While not all schools offer preparation courses for all tests, the choice is extensive. For exams such as the IELTS, which is rapidly becoming the alternative choice to the TOEFL for many universities and students, there are three test locations in Canada - two in Vancouver, B.C. and one in Kitchener, Ontario.
The TOEFL, produced by the Educational Testing Services in Princeton, New Jersey is take by approximately one million people every year, and is the most commonly taken English test in the world (excepting only the College English Test taken by 2 million people annually in China). In July 1998 this test became available on computer in most countries (with the exclusion of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan), took on the name CBT (Computer Based Test), and introduced a number of changes to its original format, including the now compulsory written essay.

If you are planning to take this test in Canada, there are a number of testing centers in each major city. The basic cost is US$100, with an additional 7% for federal taxes. Depending on the test center and the time of year, you usually need to phone up to four weeks beforehand to book your exam time. You can pay by credit card, send for a voucher through ETS, or go directly to the test center with a certified cheque to book a test time.

If your goal is a TOEFL preparation course, contact several schools before making a choice: find out what type of TOEFL program is offered, and how many students are in the TOEFL class. Don't be afraid to ask the school exactly what their TOEFL curriculum or program consists of. Because the CBT is quite different from its paper format, anyone planning to take the test should get a copy of both the TOEFL CBT Bulletin and the TOEFL Sampler - a CD ROM that is the official and only existing material similar to the new computer exam. Both are available directly from the ETS, or at schools where TOEFL preparation courses are offered.

The most significant and interesting option to the TOEFL Computer Based Test in Canada is the IELTS, which is now accepted by most Canadian universities and many institutions in the United States as an indication of English proficiency for non-native speakers. In addition, it is the standard English proficiency test for medical doctors who are not native speakers and wish to practice in the United Kingdom, as well as a requirement for non-native speakers of English intending to immigrate to New Zealand. Two forms are available - one for academic English and one for general English - so it is important to determine beforehand which of these you require.

Presently, there are three IELTS testing centers in Canada: Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario, and Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia in British Columbia. Testing takes place once a month, and results are available 10 working days from the time of testing, which is a bonus if you have deadlines to meet. You can register for the test up to 3 days beforehand and the cost is US$125.00 (or $180.90 Canadian). The test itself encompasses a wide range of skills, including a personal interview that focuses particularly on individual communication skills. Trained examiners conduct both the personal interview (which is taped) and mark the two written compositions.

A truly ideal destination for the English language learner, western Canada offers more than a tranquil haven in which to prepare for exams and tests.
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