What Are the English Language Requirements for Studying in Canada?

A good level of proficiency in English is necessary if you plan on studying in Canada at a college or university.  Although there are a good number of English language certificates that can be obtained (TOEFL, CAE, CPE and MELAB, just to mention a few), all educational institutions and the Canadian government accept IELTS.  In fact for immigration purposes, the Canadian government requires IELTS for immigration, even after studying at a Canadian institution.

If you are planning on not taking the IELTS for studying in Canada, it is recommended that you reconsider your decision and take it.  If you have studied under the British Curriculum (GCE) and have received a grade of B or better you might be exempt.  Depending on the school or university where you have previously studied, some institutions in Canada will consider 3 or 4 years of study in an institution where the medium of instruction has been English.  There may be other exemptions, but they are very few for international students who want to study in Canada but are residents of a country where English is not the primary language.

What is the Minimum Band I Can Get?

The below chart gives a picture of what is generally required for IELTS scores for international students who want to study in Canada.  Remember this is the minimum and depending on the program, you might need a higher band such as a 7 or 7.5.  If you are planning on studying Nursing, Engineering or taking Graduate Studies and some Professional programs, etc you may need a Band 7 or higher to meet admission requirements.

The Advantages of Taking the IELTS Exam

  • The obvious – to meet university/college requirements for studying in Canada or other English speaking countries
  • Measure student readiness to study at a post-secondary level
  • Make student aware and prepare them for what it takes to study in an English speaking country such as Canada and in English medium institutions
    • Listening component – Everyone will be speaking English at an academic level – the majority of instructors in Canada will be native English speakers so they will neither repeat nor slow down for your lack of understanding.  There will be no catch-up time.  IELTS prepares you for this.
    • Reading component – During your study period in Canada you will be required to read lots, more books than you ever thought of.  Therefore you need to learn to speed read and still comprehend what you are reading.  IELTS teaches you how.
    • Speaking component – It is not only the instructors in Canada that will speak in English; you too need to speak English.  Many courses are not just lecture and study kinds.  Some will be participatory and if you cannot communicate well enough in English you will end up with poor grades.  IELTS helps you to develop your speaking abilities
    • Writing component – This is where most Pakistani students fail to do well.  Good essay writing with correct grammar is not stressed in all academic disciplines in Pakistan.  You will learn what is required to write a good academic, technical paper when you prepare for the IELTS exam.

Should I Take an IELTS Preparation Classes?

If possible take your preparation for the IELTS exam from a native English speaking instructor.  This is particularly important for the Speaking and Writing components, especially if you are planning on studying in Canada or another English speaking country.

You want to be able to communicate so a native English speaker can understand you, so it is best to learn your spoken English skills from a native speaker so you learn how they pronounce, enunciate and intone in English.  Also, if they understand you, you can rest assured that you will probably do very well in your IELTS speaking component.

The Writing component is also another area where you will want to learn from a native English speaker.  Especially if the instructor has a university background, you will find out what is really required to write an academic paper at an English language medium university.  You will also learn all the subtleties of the languages such as how to use articles, the correct usage of prepositions, etc.  If you are going to study in Canada, it is absolutely necessary to write grammatically correct.  Also you will find that this instructor will coach you to be a better writer rather than leaving you to the self-study method of learning.

Where do you find a Native English Speaking IELTS Instructor?

There are a number of native English speakers living in all of the major cities in Pakistan; some of which are engaged in English language training.  In Lahore you can contact Alberta Rose Education Centre (there may be others in the city).  The instructor knows what it takes to study in Canada.  She is a two-degree holder and is an accomplished IELTS instructor.  To properly prepare for the exam you should look at a minimum of 30 hours of class time as there is a lot to cover; this is especially true if you want a good band.

2 thoughts on “What Are the English Language Requirements for Studying in Canada?

    1. Helen Khan Post author

      There are conditions where TOEFL or IELTS is not required for university or college entrance. For example, if you have studied under the Cambridge system and taken O or A levels then you may well be exempt from taking the two mentioned exams. Also if you have studied at a recognised university in Pakistan where all your course work was done in English medium, then again you might be exempt. In this case you would have to get a letter from the university stating that English is the medium of instruction. Having said that, most students do require some exam to gauge their ability to study in an English speaking country. For example, many may hear their lectures in English, but cannot write well, so it is to the benefit of the student to prepare and take either TOEFL or IELTS. The Canadian government requires IELTS for anyone whose mother tongue is not English, even if they have studied in Canada, and they are seeking permanent residency. I hope that answers your question.


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