English as a Second Language (ESL)

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Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Online ESL classes

Just Arrived? Been here a long time? Professionally Trained?

Learn, improve, perfect your English to:

  • Open up work and professional opportunities
  • Broaden education choices
  • Strengthen community connections

English Language classes or English as a Second Language (ESL) is a FREE English language training program at St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres and is funded by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. For over 38 years, St. Louis ESL has been a trusted, competent language service provider to newcomers and citizens within Waterloo Region & surrounding area.

All students are 18 years of age and older and English is not their first language.

BENEFITS of taking English classes at St. Louis

English for School, Work, LIFE!

Students quickly develop strong English language communication skills and learn everything they need to know to live, work and learn in Canada.

All ESL and LINC English Language classes teach the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing using Portfolio Based Language Assessment.

To qualify to attend ESL classes at St. Louis, you must be:

  • an adult age 18 years and older
  • living in Ontario, Canada
  • Convention Refugee or
  • Permanent Resident or
  • Landed Immigrant or
  • Refugee Claimant or
  • CANADIAN CITIZEN not born in Canada and English is not your first language
  • at ANY Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level

How do I know my English is good?

English Language Assessments are done at the YMCA.

Contact the YMCA Language Assessment Centre to determine if you are eligible for a free language assessment

YMCA of Three Rivers Assessment Centre

Kitchener Office
519-579-9622

Cambridge Office
519-621-1621

Email: intake@ytr.ymca.ca

You may qualify for acceptance into a St. Louis ESL remote learning class, if you have had a language assessment in the last two years by:

  • the YMCA of Three Rivers
  • an in-class assessment by your ESL or LINC teacher
  • or have been placed on a waiting list

The YMCA can confirm which English Language class you are eligible for and which language level you are at.


Canadian Language Benchmarks – What do they mean?

The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs) are used in Canada to teach and test language learning for adults.  It is important to understand the CLBs if planning to go to English class, train, look for work or study at a College or University.  The benchmarks describe tasks that people can do in listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Literacy and Level 1: Welcome to English School! We will help you start to learn English.

Level 2 and 3: You will develop and have an adequate knowledge of simple spoken and written communication to function in the community like shopping, going to the doctor and speaking to your children’s teacher.

Level 4: You know enough English, now, that you could begin to apply for Canadian Citizenship.

Level 5: Your English should be good enough to get and keep a job and gain some Canadian work experience.  Don’t stop learning English. Continue in your ESL classes and keep moving forward to the next CLB level. Continuing to learn English will improve your soft skills, pronunciation, computer or customer service skills.

Level 6: Once you have completed level 6, you may continue to improve your reading, writing skills or you can apply to take the St. Louis other classes at St. Louis, including working toward earning Secondary School Credits, Hairstylist and Barber Training or consider a pathway toward PSW by taking an English for Work PSW online class that starts again in September 2024 (CLB 5,5,5,5 or higher required)

Level 7+: At this level, you will be encouraged to apply College, IELTS testing or for the St. Louis Personal Support Worker  Certificate Training

English Language Classes through the ESL program offer the following in person and online classes:

  • Literacy
  • CLB 1 to CLB 7+
  • Listening and Speaking
  • Reading and Writing
  • Pronunciation

Open to all students!

What will I learn?

Listening: You will be able to understand spoken English in a variety of situations including going to the doctor, shopping or visiting your children’s school.

Speaking: You will develop your English language vocabulary and be able to speak to others in increasingly complex ways and in a variety of situations including job interviews, speaking with your doctor to name a few.

Reading: You will be able to understand written texts like application forms, instructions, personal and professional emails and bank statements or more advanced academic reading and workplace relevant examples

Writing: You will be able to write in English to help you complete job applications, fill out forms and prepare documents, craft business emails, write a letter to your children’s teacher as well as prepare for academic writing, essays and reports.

What is Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA)?

Portfolio Based Language Assessment is a standard in-class assessment process that instructors use in all St. Louis ESL and LINC classes in Canada as a way to measure your language abilities. Each student receives a Language Companion binder to collect and show what they can do in listening, speaking, reading and writing in English. Task-based learning will help you achieve this. Your portfolio is reviewed by your instructor and used to help inform your progress results.

ESL is offered at multiple locations at various times through St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres.
Please find below the class dates, times and locations that these programs are offered.

All ESL classes run NOW until June 15, 2024.

Summer ESL classes are available in July

2023-2024 Class Start and End Times by Location: 


M o r n i n g  C l a s s e s - in person


Monday to Thursday, 8:45am – 11:45am / Friday, 10:00am – 11:45am:
St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus, Kitchener
St. Louis – St. Francis Campus, Kitchener


A f t e r n o o n  C l a s s e s   - in person


Monday to Thursday,  12:30pm – 3:00pm / Friday, 12:30pm – 2:00pm:

St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus, Kitchener
St. Louis – St. Francis Campus, Kitchener


E v e n i n g  C l a s s e s  - in person


Tuesday and Wednesday,  6:30-8:30pm

St. Louis – Kitchener Main Campus, Kitchener


O n l i n e  C l a s s e s   


Monday to Thursday, 8:45am – 11:45am / Friday, 10:00am – 11:45am and/or

Monday to Thursday,  12:30pm – 3:00pm / Friday, 12:30pm – 2:00pm:

St. Louis - ONLINE - limited morning and afternoon options

ESL classes are FREE to those with status in Canada.   

St. Louis is accepting ESL students who have had a language assessment in the LAST 2 YEARS, at the Assessment Centre or in any LINC or ESL class.

St. Louis ESL  program does not provide free child care.

ESL students who attend class at St. Mary's, may be purchase a spot or apply for subsidy in our welcoming licensed child care centre at St. Louis Kitchener Main Campus. Child care is open for pre-school age children only.  Note licensed child care is not open in Summer.

While you are learning English, your child will:

  • learn through play
  • interact with other children
  • develop skills and language appropriate for their ages

Warm and caring staff strive to provide fun and educational activities to support children’s settlement in Canada. The best possible atmosphere for children’s development and learning is created by establishing relationships between staff and families built on mutual respect. While ESL adult parents are learning or improving their English language skills, their pre-school children are as well… Everyone is learning English and growing in so many ways!

To register, you may purchase (or apply for Child Care Subsidy ) for child care in our l