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

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 an affordable English language training program funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.  St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres is the largest English language class provider in Waterloo Region & surrounding area open to newcomers, visitors and citizens who have been here both a short time or a long time.  All students are 18 years of age and older and English is not their first language.

BENEFITS of taking English classes at St. Louis…. Better English! Better 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
  • Convention Refugee or
  • Permanent Resident or
  • Landed Immigrant or
  • CANADIAN CITIZEN who was a newcomer to Canada at some point in your life and English is not your first language
  • Visitor to Canada
  • at ANY Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level

Once enrolled in any ESL class (morning, afternoon, evening or Saturday), students are expected to attend classes regularly.

How do I know my English is good?

English Language Assessments are done at the YMCA.  Please call 519-579-9622 to make an appointment.  They will find an English Language class at the language level you are at.  If you are a VISITOR TO CANADA, make an appointment for a language assessment through St. Louis by calling 519-745-1201 and tell switchboard you “would like to take ESL as a Visitor”.

Canadian Language Benchmarks – What do they mean?

The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) is used in Canada to teach and test language learning for adults.  It is important to understand the CLB 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.  Take Citizenship preparation classes. Or you can consider taking a specialized English Language class in Home Day Care.

Level 5  and 6: 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. Or take a different ESL class that will help you improve your soft skills, or customer service skills. Once you have completed level 6, you may continue to improve your reading, writing skills or prepare for the TOEFL/ IELTS tests or a specialized English language class to develop and discover Pathways to PSW and Home Health Care, but not quite ready to take the Personal Support Worker (PSW) Training.  Keep going to level 7!  Or you can take the St. Louis Culinary Arts Training, or Hairstylist and Barber Training

Level 7+: At this level you can begin to take other classes at St. Louis, including working toward earning Secondary School Credits, or developing employment skills with Personal Support Worker Training.

English Language Classes through the ESL program offer the following classes:

  • Literacy
  • CLB 1 to CLB 7+
  • Listening and Speaking
  • Reading and Writing
  • Pronunciation
  • Computer classes
  • ESL for Seniors
  • TOEFL / IELTS  Preparation
  • Summer English classes

PLUS Pathways Programs to Employment, Home Child Care, Customer Service

Open to all students!  Visitors welcome! 

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 interviews, speaking with your doctor to name a few.

Reading: You will be able to understand written texts like application forms, emails and bank statements.

Writing: You will be able to write in English to help you complete job applications, fill out forms at the bank, write a letter to your children’s teacher and much more.

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. 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.

Class Start and End Times by Location:

Morning Classes

Monday to Thursday,   8:45 am – 11:45 am
St. Louis – St. Benedict Campus

Monday to Friday,   8:45 am – 11:45 am
St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus
St. Louis – St. Francis Campus
St. Louis – Emmanuel Campus

Monday to Friday,  9:15am – 11:45 am
Centreville-Chicopee Community Centre

Saturday, 9:00am – 12:oo pm
St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus

Saturday, 9:30am – 12:oo pm
Resurrection Catholic Secondary School

Afternoon Classes

Monday to Friday,  12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus
St. Louis – St. Francis Campus
St. Louis – Emmanuel Campus

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm ~ Classes for Seniors ONLY
David Durward Centre, Cambridge

Evening Classes

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus

Monday and Wednesday, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
St. Louis – St. Benedict Campus


One-time annual Materials Fee: $10

Visitors Fees:
  • Assessment: $60
  • Materials Fee: $40
  • Hourly Rate:  $5 until Dec 16, 2016

(*Visitor Fee will change to $7/hour effective January 9, 2017)

Attention Visitors wanting to take ESL classes: Please call an ESL office 519-745-1201 to book a language assessment. Please bring passport or VISA.

While ESL students attend class, your pre-school age child may be purchase a spot in our licensed child care centre.  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 subsidy for) child care in our licensed child care; Spots for Tots. <– click here for details.

Step 1: Contact the YMCA Language Assessment Centre – 519-579-9622 (Kitchener) / 519-621-1621 (Cambridge).  They will book an appointment and tell you what documents to bring. (Visitors to Canada, contact St. Louis at 519-745-1201 directly)

Step 2: Have your English language skills assessed for FREE. They will tell you what your CLB benchmark numbers are and find an English class that’s right for you.

Step 3: Register at the location suggested by the YMCA.  If a St. Louis location is suggested, register at the location listed on the assessment paper print-out.

Registration Dates/Locations

Once you have completed your Language Assessment and have been assigned an ESL class level and location, please register in- person at that St. Louis location, right away.

Bring your

  • Personal documents as identification
  • Completed language assessment from the YMCA. If you had a language assessment in the last year, while living in a different community in Ontario, please bring that completed language assessment. If you have not had an initial assessment or have moved from another province, please call the YMCA to make an appointment first at 519-579-9622.

ESL Classes are offered NOW until August 10, 2017

Office Hours to Register (by location):

St. Louis – St. Mary’s Campus, 77 Young Street, Kitchener

  • Go to office, Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 12:30pm
  • Go to office, Monday and Wednesday, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
  • No office hours Tuesday evening or Saturday morning


St. Louis – St. Francis Campus, 154 Gatewood Rd., Kitchener

  • Go to office, Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 12:30pm


St. Louis – Emmanuel Campus, 22 Bridgeport Rd W., Waterloo

  • come to class any day, bring assessment, then go to office to register on Tuesday and Friday only, 11:30am-12:45pm


St. Louis – St. Benedict Campus, 50 Saginaw Parkway, Cambridge

  • come to class to register, bring assessment


David Durward Centre, 62 Dickson St., Cambridge (FOR SENIORS ONLY)


Centreville-Chicopee Community Centre, 141 Morgan Avenue, Kitchener

  • come to class to register, bring assessment


Resurrection Catholic Secondary School, 455 University Ave W., Kitchener

  • come to Saturday morning class to register, bring assessment ~ please do not try to register at the high school during the school day.


VISITOR to Canada?

**Visitors need an assessment before coming to class, so please visit any St. Louis Campus during office hours to arrange a language assessment and discuss terms of enrolment.  Visitor Assessment Fee = $60. Additional materials and instructional fees apply. Please bring passport or Visa and payment.

If you are a Visitor to Canada, the assessment process and fees are a bit different for you.

Step 1:   Call St. Louis 519-745-1201 to make an assessment appointment to determine you English Language levels.  Do NOT go to the YMCA Assessment Centre.

Step 2:  Bring all VISA information and Passport with you to your assessment appointment along with $60 assessment fee

Step 3: Make payment arrangements as discussed at registration.

  • Materials Fee: $40
  • Hourly Rate:  $5 until Dec 16, 2016
  • *Visitor Fee will change to $7/hour effective January 9, 2017

Step 4: Attend class you were assigned to based on your language level

At minimum, English Language instructors at St. Louis have their Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Ontario qualifications and many have worked in the field and at St. Louis for 10 years plus.  Our ESL teachers  use everyday tasks and real-world examples to help refugees, permanent residents, landed immigrants… (and citizens too) develop their English, while settling, integrating and discovering Canadian culture.

For more information:

Call: 519-745-1201

Email: stlouis@wcdsb.ca

To Register, visit:  ANY St. Louis Campus or follow the instructions mentioned earlier.  Registration is ongoing.


St. Louis is working very hard this month to reduce waiting lists for morning classes by looking at other community sites.  Thank you for your patience.

ESL classes are funded by:




To book an appointment, please call:

Kitchener Office

Cambridge Office