English as a Second Language (ESL)
Credit courses in English as a Second Language
The Department of Education offers a sequence of two intensive 6-credit courses in ESL for academic purposes to non-native speakers of English who are accepted by Concordia University but who must upgrade their reading and writing skills.
Two 3-credit courses in ESL listening and speaking are also available for students whose mother tongue is not English and who would like to improve their oral communication skills.
If English is not your mother tongue and you wish to take a Credit ESL course, you are required to take a placement test.
Intensive two-course sequence in English for academic purposes:
ESL 202 – Developing Academic English Language Skills (6 credits)
This course helps non-native-speaking students develop the language skills necessary for academic work through an integrated program of grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. The coursework will enable students to build a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures and apply them to essential university tasks such as paraphrasing, expository writing, and processing academic texts.
Prerequisite: Placement by the Concordia Comprehensive ESL Placement Test (ConCEPT).
ESL 204 – Refining Academic English Language Skills (6 credits)
This course helps non-native-speaking students strengthen their English language skills and apply them to high-level academic tasks such as critical reading, synthesizing, and integrated writing assignments. Attention will be paid to analyzing patterns in written English and making appropriate language choices as well as identifying, integrating, and referencing appropriate academic source material.
Prerequisite: ESL 202 or Placement by the Concordia Comprehensive ESL Placement Test (ConCEPT).
Oral Communication Courses:
ESL 205 – Academic Oral Communication I (3 credits)
This course helps students develop the oral skills necessary for speaking and listening in an English-speaking academic environment. The focus of the course is the improvement of students' overall pronunciation skills, including native-like production of English speech at the level of individual sounds, words, and sentences, as well as the development the listening skills necessary for effective oral communication. This course includes a multimedia language lab component.
Prerequisite: Permission of department (please contact Nina Padden, ESL Coordinator, at (514) 848-2424 x2453).
ESL 206 - Academic Oral Communication II (3 credits)
This course helps students achieve greater intelligibility and fluency by practicing oral communication skills in meaningful discourse, as part of communicative activities and public speaking assignments. Emphasis is placed on the learning of speech phenomena at the discourse level such as production of native-like stress, rhythm, intonation, and speaking rate.
Prerequisite: ESL 205 or permission of department (please contact Nina Padden, ESL Coordinator, at (514) 848-2424 x2453).
Who may take credit ESL courses?
Any student admitted to Concordia (as a full-time, part-time or visiting student) whose first language is not English, and whose language proficiency or placement test score indicates that the student would benefit from credit ESL courses, may register. You must have a Concordia student identification number.
What are credit ESL courses?
ESL courses are courses in English as a Second Language. The core credit-level ESL courses offered at Concordia are designed to help students whose first language is not English improve their reading and writing skills for academic purposes.
How do I know which credit ESL course to take?
Before you can register for an ESL course at Concordia University, you must first take an ESL placement test. The results of the placement test determine which credit ESL course, if any, you will be permitted to take.
NOTE: Taking the placement test does not guarantee you a place in a credit level ESL course. First, you must meet the minimum score required for placement in a course, and second, registration capacity in ESL courses is limited, so there must be space available at the time you register. You must have an appointment to write the placement test.
I was required to take ESL 207, ESL 208, and ESL 209, but these courses are no longer offered. What can I do?
The three-course sequence of ESL 207, 208 and 209 has been phased out and replaced by the new two-course sequence of ESL 202 and ESL 204. To find out which course(s) you need to take in the new course sequence in order to meet your ESL requirements, please email the ESL Coordinator: Nina.Padden@concordia.ca
Are there any other kinds of ESL courses available at Concordia?
Students whose language proficiency scores are below the level required for admission to Concordia, or those not interested in gaining university credits, may wish to contact Concordia Continuing Education (CCE), where non-credit ESL courses are available. CCE is located at 1600 Saint Catherine Street West, 1st floor, or telephone (514) 848-3600.
How do I get an appointment to write the ESL Placement Test?
To request an appointment, you may:
- Login to MyConcordia Portal, "My Student Centre", and click on "Event Web Registration" in the "Personal Information" section. Then click "Register for Events", select "ConCEPT Test", and select from the list of available dates.
- Visit the ESL Program Assistant (1610 Saint-Catherine Street W., Room FG-5.142)
When should I do the placement test?
Seating is limited, so it is best to book your appointment as early as possible. Once a test is fully booked, you will not be able to get an appointment unless there is a cancellation. Furthermore, test results normally take 5 business days to process, so you should plan to do your test at least two weeks before your registration start date. ESL courses fill up, and late in the registration period it is often difficult to find an available place in a course.
When will the ESL Placement Test be offered in the coming months?
All ConCEPT testing is held on the Sir George Williams Campus of the university. You will be given the exact room location when you make your appointment.
Testing sessions are offered throughout the year. The current list of available dates can be accessed via "My Student Centre" (in the "Event Web Registration" section) on the MyConcordia Portal. Note that only exams with seats available will appear on the list. New sessions are added as necessary so check the Portal regularly for the latest session information.
Students who wish to take Credit ESL courses in the coming term are advised to complete the ConCEPT as early as possible. ESL courses fill quickly, and students are responsible for attending class from the first day of term. Late placement does not guarantee a seat in a course and does not exempt students from the attendance policy.
Does it cost anything to write the ESL Placement Test?
Yes. There is a test administration fee of $20.00 which must be paid in advance either online or in person at the Birks Student Service Centre.
What should I take with me when I go to write the ESL Placement Test?
When you go to the test, you MUST have the following things with you, or you will NOT be permitted to write the test:
- Proof of payment (Test Fee is $20.00 payable in advance. Fee cannot be paid at test site.) Test fee must be paid in person at the Birk's Student Service Centre, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West, room LB-185. You may pay by debit card (Interac), or money order. Cash and personal cheques are NOT accepted.
- Identification which has your name, date of birth and photo on it. Acceptable identification is a valid Concordia student ID card (not a Continuing Education ID card), passport, citizenship card, permanent resident card, health insurance card or driver's permit.
- Your netname and password for the MyConcordia Portal.
How long does it take to complete the test?
The ConCEPT take approximately two and one half hours to complete. Test results are communicated to students by e-mail no later than 5 working days after the test date. Results do not appear on transcripts and are not stored on the Portal.
How and when do I get the results of the ESL Placement Test?
Results are available through the MyConcordia Portal five (5) business days after the test date.
Can the ESL Placement Test exempt me from required Credit ESL courses?
If your offer of admission states that you are required to take ESL 202 and ESL 204 on the basis of your TOEFL or other language proficiency score, you should take the ESL Placement Test to confirm your level. Placement test results can exempt you from one or both courses; however, you can only take the placement test before you begin Credit ESL courses in your first semester, and you may not repeat the test. New students who arrive after the start of term because of study permit problems should take the ConCEPT as soon as possible upon arrival and begin required ESL courses no later than their second term.
What happens if I fail the ESL Placement Test?
Admission offers are not affected for students who are accepted but fail the placement test. However, students who earn low scores should consult with the ESL Coordinator to discuss opportunities to improve their language skills.
How many times can I take the placement test?
The test is normally taken only once. If you were accepted on the basis of a TOEFL (or other language proficiency score) with Credit ESL course deficiencies, you are required to complete your Credit ESL courses in your first academic year. You must take the placement test before beginning these courses. Once you begin ESL courses, you may not take the placement test again to exempt yourself from the next level.
I'm an independent student. Can I take the ESL Placement Test?
Since Credit ESL courses are normally reserved for students accepted in degree programs with Credit ESL requirements, you should contact the ESL Coordinator to determine whether you are eligible. Independent students who are visiting students through CREPUQ, students in the Senior Non-Credit Program, or Concordia graduate students/staff taking optional courses may write the placement test; international students who have not yet attained the minimum language proficiency score necessary for admission may not take the placement test.
Where can I get additional information about the ESL Placement Test?
Contact Nina Padden (ESL Coordinator), in the Department of Education. Telephone: 514-848-2424 extension 2453; e-mail Nina.Padden@concordia.ca.
Who should take the ConCEPT?
- Newly admitted undergraduate students who have been assigned ESL 202 (Developing Academic English Skills) and ESL 204 (Refining Academic English Skills) as program deficiencies based on their language proficiency scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or others)
- Undergraduate, graduate, and visiting students without ESL requirements who wish to take Credit ESL on an elective basis
The ConCEPT does not allow prospective students to meet the Language Proficiency Requirement for admission (see website), nor is it available to students who have not yet established minimum proficiency.
The ConCEPT is a theme-based test drawing on lecture and reading material characteristic of first-year undergraduate courses in terms of linguistic difficulty. The test is taken in a computer lab on Concordia's downtown campus and is delivered on the Moodle platform.
The ConCEPT consists of the following tasks:
Listening and Speaking
- listen to a 5-minute academic lecture and answer a short series of multiple choice questions
- listen to the lecture a second time and take notes on paper provided
- record an oral summary of the lecture (using notes)
- record a short series of sentences as well as an extended text in a read-aloud task
- complete words in an academic text passage on the test theme
- rewrite a series of sentences using a given key word
Reading and Writing
- read two academic texts on the test theme and answer a short series of multiple choice questions
- take notes on the two texts using paper provided
- write a text of approximately 300-400 words on a subject prompt related to the readings (using notes)
The ConCEPT takes approximately two and one half hours to complete. Placement recommendations are posted on the MyConcordia Portal five (5) business days after the test.
Preparation for the test: Students with confirmed appointments for the ConCEPT will be directed to a practice test accessible on Moodle. The purpose of the practice test is to familiarize students with the computer interface and task types they will work with on their test date. This is the only recommended preparation activity; no books or banks of practice tests are provided.