ESL – English as a second language

English as a second language (ESL) is a term used for non-native English speakers learning English in a country where English is commonly spoken. The way English learners are instructed depends on their level of English proficiency and the programs provided in their school or district. English as a language has great reach and influence; it is taught all over the world. In English-speaking countries, English language teaching has evolved in two broad directions: instruction for people who intend to live in countries where English dominates and instruction for those who do not.
Ontario secondary schools are home to students who speak more than 100 different languages, including several Aboriginal languages, many African, Asian, and European languages.

The curriculum in English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development for Grades 9 to 12 has been developed to ensure that English language learners have the maximum opportunity to become proficient in English and achieve the high levels of literacy that are expected of all Ontario students. The ESL and ELD curriculum is based on the belief that broad proficiency in English is essential to students’ success in both their social and academic lives, and to their ability to take their place in society as responsible and productive citizens.

The curriculum is designed to provide English language learners with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve these goals. Its aim is to help students become successful English language learners who can:

  • use English to communicate effectively in a variety of social settings
  • use English to achieve academically in all subject areas
  • take charge of their own learning, independently and in groups
  • select and use effective learning strategies
  • integrate confidently into mainstream courses
  • use English effectively to advocate for themselves in all areas of their lives
  • make a successful transition to their chosen postsecondary destination (work, apprenticeship, college, university)
  • function effectively in a society increasingly committed to the use of information technology
  • use critical-literacy and critical-thinking skills to interpret the world around them
  • participate fully in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of their communities and of Canada.