Local Language Support for Immigrants

Permanent Residents (PR) of Canada qualify for free language support provided by a Service Provider Organization (SPO) funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Your local organization may also be able to provide language support to naturalized citizens, and those applying for PR. These services will vary from community to community so it’s best to check with your local service provider. (For general information on Taxpayer-funded language classes, see Chapter 7 of the Welcome to Canada guidebook)

In Whistler and Pemberton, there are a number of options for immigrants wishing to improve their English language skills.

Welcome Centre

The Whistler and Pemberton Welcome Centres run small groups and offer one-to-one tutoring for qualified newcomers and immigrants up to good intermediate level.

The Whistler Community Learning Program runs an ESL group for high intermediate and above. It also provides (where available) tutor-support for higher level ESL and general literacy skills. This program also supports residents of Pemberton.

These programs do not provide any language assessment that can be used for citizenship applications.

To qualify for these free ESL services, you must be:

  • a permanent resident of Canada
  • a naturalized citizen
  • accepted on the Provincial Nominee Program
  • hold a full work visa (not working holiday visa)
  • a caregiver
  • aged 18+

English language groups in Whistler

  • Conversation circle – Monday morning (10 – 11.30 am) in the Community Room at the Whistler Public Library. Conversation practice, while you learn about Canada and Canadian culture. Free childcare my be offered.
  • Conversation circle – Wednesday evening (6 – 7.30pm) in the Community Room (2nd floor conference room) of the Whistler Health Centre. Conversation and pronunciation practice. Build your accuracy and fluency in English.
  • General English group – Monday evenings (7 – 8.30pm) at the Whistler Public Library. Higher level reading, writing, listening and speaking. If you want to broaden your vocabulary, have the opportunity to discuss more complex topics in English, improve your listening and reading skills – then this could be the group for you. Some group class work mixed with individual work with tutors one-to-one.

English language groups in Pemberton

  • Conversation circle – Wednesday morning (10.15 – 11.45 am) at Sea to Sky Community Services, Program House, Aster Street, Pemberton. Upper intermediate conversation, pronunciation. Read/listen/watch, and discuss current affairs and news topics.

For more information about these programs, contact:

ISS of BC

ISSofBC is based in Squamish and offers classes two days a week though the LINC ESL program, for intermediate through high intermediate (Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) 4 to 8). They also offer an on-line (distance) LINC course for intermediate to high intermediate (CLB levels 4 to 8) for which you must complete 9 hours a week.

The following classes are available;

  • CLB 4/5/6, Tuesday and Thursday 9:15am-12:15pm
  • CLB 7/8, Tuesday and Thursday 9:15am-12:15pm
  • CLB 4/5/6, Tuesday and Thursday 6:30pm-9:30pm
  • CLB 7/8, Tuesday and Thursday 6:30pm-9:30pm

Classes run all year EXCEPT for a two month break in July and August

The Online English course has two classes:

  • English levels 4-6
  • English levels 7-8

Further details are available at ISS of BC. The online course runs all year EXCEPT for a two month break in July and August.

The online course has a total of 18 places available across both levels. If all places are filled, and your assessment qualifies you, then you will be placed on a waitlist till a place becomes available.

Both of these programs require students to take an assessment before being placed into an appropriate class. You can book an assessment in Squamish at any time. ISS of BC regularly carries out assessments in Whistler (usually at Training Innovations in Function Junction). Watch the Welcome Centre blog and Facebook for details of times and days. For more information, to book an assessment, to find out about assessments in Whistler and/or to check your eligibility, contact:

Tara Ramsey

The LINC courses also provide a language (CLB) assessment when you complete the course. This assessment can be used when applying for citizenship (for information on language requirements for citizenship click here).