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Study English

Ways to improve your English

Waterloo offers English courses for many levels and for many kinds of students. Please check out the programs below.

Thinking about studying at the University of Waterloo, but worried about your English Language test scores? Here’s some good news.

Waterloo is now offering Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) that could allow you to study at Waterloo while improving your English.

How does it work? If you're admissible to the program you’ve applied to, but your TOEFL, IELTS, or other English language test score isn’t quite high enough, Waterloo can give you a conditional offer of admission. Once you've successfully completed BASE, you'll move into full-time studies at Waterloo.

In BASE, you'll spend either 4 or 8 months living in residence at Waterloo, depending on your program’s requirements and your English Language test scores. You'll work on your English skills while taking a university course, so you can get started on earning your Waterloo degree right away.

Learn more:

English for Success (EFS) – a summer intensive program

Renison University College – one of the colleges affiliated with the University of Waterloo – is located on Waterloo's main campus. Small class sizes, approachable academic advisors and professors, and a friendly environment combine to create new friendships and a strong support system.

Every June, July and August, students from around the world take part in Renison's intensive one-month English as a second language program, English for Success. Check out other Summer English Programs that are available through Renison.

For more information, contact the coordinator of English for Success at 519-884-4404, ext. 28639 or email

English for Academic Success (EFAS)

Small class sizes, personalized instruction, and preparation for standardized tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Written English (TWE) are just some of the features of the English for Academic Success program offered at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo.

English for Academic Success (EFAS) offers intensive English classes for prospective students whose first language is not English. It is designed to meet the needs of students pursuing studies at universities where English is the primary language of instruction and research.

Successful completion of the advanced (400) level of the EFAS program satisfies the University of Waterloo's English language requirement for undergraduate students.

The English for Academic Success programs are offered in the fall, winter, and spring.

For more information, contact the coordinator of English for Academic Success at 519-884-4404, ext. 28639 or email

English as a second language (ESL) credit courses 

Renison University College offers ESL credit courses in the fall, winter and spring/summer terms for undergraduate and graduate University of Waterloo students for whom English is a second language.

Certain undergraduate ESL credit courses are sufficient ELPE replacement courses.

Graduate ESL credit courses are offered at no additional fees to graduate students at Waterloo.

Visit the ESL credit course website for more information.

Math/English language for academic studies (ELAS)

The Faculty of Mathematics offers a language enrichment program, English Language for Academic Studies, in conjunction with Conestoga College's General Arts and Science Language Option.

The program is designed for first-year undergraduate mathematics students who fit the following description:

  • Your first language is not English
  • Your English language skills are below the standard required for admission to the Faculty of Mathematics
  • You have a strong background in mathematics
  • You meet all our other admission criteria and are interested in studying in the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo

Contact the International Recruitment and Admissions Co-ordinator – Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo, André Jardin, 519-888-4567, ext. 36835, or the Mathematics/ELAS Co-ordinator, Judy Reidt, 519-888-4567, ext. 33246, Fax: 519-886-2958.

English language support for current University of Waterloo students 

The University of Waterloo offers many opportunities to help you improve your English.

If you have found the program you would like to apply to and would like to strengthen your English skills once you arrive on campus, the International Student Experience can refer you to several programs available on campus. By taking advantage of these programs, you can improve your conversation and writing skills and make your stay at the University of Waterloo more comfortable and enjoyable. Visit the Student Success Office located in South Campus Hall on the second floor to contact advisors in the International Student Experience unit.

English Conversation Circles

English Conversation Circles are offered each term, fall, winter, and spring for 8 weeks - 1 hour each week. The classes focus on improving conversation skills and learning about Canadian culture. Register with the International Student Experience team inside the Student Success Office during the first month of each term.

English Conversation Partners

English Conversation Partners offers individual help with your English conversation skills. You can sign up to have a University of Waterloo student help you improve your skills. Registered University of Waterloo international students are eligible to apply at the International Student Experience website.

Writing Centre at University of Waterloo 

If you are a registered University of Waterloo undergraduate student, you will be required to take the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE). If you have problems with the ELPE, the Writing Centre is the place to go. At the Writing Centre, professional English tutors are assigned to help you improve your writing skills. Located in South Campus Hall on the second floor within the Student Success Office.

For more information, contact the Writing Centre at 519-888-4567, ext. 32329. Graduate Students should contact Janne Janke 519-888-4567, ext. 37566.