English immersion courses

Our language support courses allow you to improve your English while you take your program’s core courses. You take one of your program’s courses given in English, which is then paired with an English-as-a-second-language course. A language instructor will teach a language course whose activities are linked to the course material in your program so that you improve your language skills in your field of study.

Programs for 2021-2022

In 2021-2022, enrolment in English language support courses will be reserved for first-year students in the following programs and courses:  

Faculty of Arts – Communication (CMN 1148, CMN 1160) 
Faculty of Engineering – Software Engineering, Computer Engineering (ITI 1120, ITI 1121)
Faculty of Health Sciences – Health Sciences (HSS 1101, PSY 1101)
Faculty of Social Sciences – International Development and Globalization, Economics (DVM 1100, ECO 1102, ECO 1104)

Description of the model

Content course (3 hours per week, 3 credits) with one content course professor, a language professor and regular students attending vs. Language support course (1.5 hours per week, 3 credits) with one language professor and language support students

The course in your program, which we call a “content course”, lasts three hours a week and is worth three units. Some of the students in this course are Anglophones and others, like you, seek to improve their English language skills.

The English language support course (ESL 2181), which takes one-and-a-half hours a week, is a course that itself involves assignments and tests. It is also worth three units and can count towards an elective for your program. The small class size (enrolment is limited to 28 students) is helpful not only to the transition to courses taught in English, but also to life at university in general.

These language courses do not increase tuition for full-time students.

ESL 2181 – Receptive Skills. As stated in the name, this course provides students with a good grasp of the information presented in the content course. The exercises help students acquire vocabulary and strengthen grammar, recognize the structure of oral and written texts, extract the main ideas, and better understand the arguments.

Eligibility for language support courses

Language support courses are reserved for students whose level of English fluency is considered “high intermediate” or higher, as determined by an exam administered by the University of Ottawa or a similar language test approved by the University.

Language support courses are not suitable for those who are beginners in English or for those who are highly fluent in it.

Test for English language support courses

This test determines whether your English-language skills are sufficient for you to try taking university-level courses taught in English. The results have no bearing on your request for admission to the University; they only affect whether you are eligible to take English language support courses.

The University pays for the test. Students do not need to pay for it.

Description of the test

This test measures the four language skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). It takes within 90 to 150 minutes.

PART 1 – Listening and reading

(This part of the test is used to assess whether your level of understanding is high enough to take university courses in English.)

  • Three listening passages which consist of a recorded conversation or lecture and multiple-choice questions related to the recording. You will hear the recording twice.
  • Three reading passages which consist of a text which you must read and multiple-choice questions related to the text.
  • One fill-in the-blank activity which consists of a passage in which words have been deleted. You must choose, from the multiple-choice options, the words that best fit the blanks.

Test-takers must allow 90 minutes to write this part of the test, but some may finish more quickly.

PART 2 – Speaking and writing

(This part of the test is used to determine which ESL (English as a Second Language) courses you can enrol in.)

  • Speaking: You will record spoken responses to a variety of questions. To prepare your answers for some of the questions, you will read a text or listen to a recording.
  • Writing: You will type a written response to a topic.

Test-takers must allow 60 minutes for this part of the test, but some may finish more quickly.

Access to the test

To have access to the test, you must:

  • Have an offer of admission from uOttawa.
  • Request access to the test:
    • Open a session in the uoLangTestPortal.
    • Click on "You are a student with a uOttawa student number."
    • Find the Test for English Language Support Courses in the list of tests. Click on the Request Access button.
    • When the pop-up appears, click the Request Access button in the pop-up. Usually, within two or three business days, you will receive an email granting you access to the test.
    • When you have enough time to complete the test (2,5 hours), log back in.
    • Complete the test:
      • You will receive an automatic email confirming your eligibility to English Language Support Courses.
      • Within five to ten  business days, you will receive a list of recommended ESL (English as a Second Language) courses, according to your results.
Understanding your results

If you qualify for English language support courses, you will receive a list of recommended ESL courses tailored to your scores. You can also return to the uoLangTest Portal to view your results.



Results starting with “A”

Your test results indicate that you are eligible for the English language support courses.

Your ESL course recommendations will be available by returning to your uOLangTest account.


Your test results indicate that your comprehension is just below what is required for taking university courses taught in English. This DOES NOT affect your application to the university. Since you only require a slight improvement in comprehension skills, you have a few options:

  1. Retake the test in two months. To prepare, you could do extra work in reading and listening in English.

  1. Participate in an intensive English program and retake the test.

  1. Register for ESL 2512 and ESL 2513, English as a second language courses, in your first semester at the University of Ottawa. You could take the English language support courses in the next term.

For more tips and information, contact immersion@uOttawa.ca.


Your test results indicate that your comprehension is not sufficient for taking university courses taught in English. This DOES NOT affect your application to the university, but you are not admissible to the English language support courses at this time.

While you are not admissible to these courses, you may want to consider taking English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to further develop your skills.

Language tests by other providers

You may qualify for the English language support courses if you have passed an IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, CAEL or Duolingo test and have attained the same minimum standards as those required for admission to a program taught in English.

If you have already included the results of one of these tests with your application for admission to the University, you should have received a list of recommended ESL courses.

Enrolling in English language support courses

Your language test results allow you to enrol in English language support courses. Check the list below to find the content course that corresponds the course sequence for your program of study, and the corresponding language support course.

TIP: To find the equivalent course in English or French, either add or subtract 400: for example, add 400 to ECO 1104 (in English) to get the equivalent course in French (ECO 1504). You can take a course taught in English to meet the prerequisites of a course in French, and vice versa. For example, ECO 1104 qualifies as a prerequisite for ECO 2511 or ECO 2111 (note the difference of 400 between these two course codes). This means that you can switch between courses taught in English or French while still following the course sequence for your program. That’s bilingualism for you!

TIP: You can enrol in ESL 2181 as your sixth course in a given term.

Here is the procedure to enrol in English language support courses:

  1. Check the schedules for your content courses and the English language support course. Plan your other courses around this combination.
  2. Choose the content course you will be taking in English and put it in your cart. Be sure to note the content course section (A00, B00, etc.): not all sections offer the language support course.
  3. Confirm your enrolment in the content course.
  4. Enrol in other courses required for your program.
  5. Once you have finished enrolling in your other courses, select the correct English language support course ESL 2181 for your content course and place it in your cart.
  6. Confirm your enrolment in the English language support course.

English language support courses offered in 2021-2022

Fall Winter
CMN 1148-A00 + ESL 2181-C100 CMN 1160-B00 + ESL 2181-C200
DVM 1100-A99 + ESL 2181-DV10 ECO 1102-E99 + ESL 2181-E100
ECO 1104-B99 + ESL 2181-E200 ITI 1121-C00 + ESL 2181-IT20
HSS 1101-A00 + ESL 2181-HS10 PSY 1101-H00 + ESL 2181-Y100
ITI 1120 -A00 + ESL 2181-IT10  


Submitting assignments or writing exams in English or in French

The University of Ottawa regulation on bilingualism allows you to submit assignments and write your exams in French or in English in almost all courses, except for language courses and a few other exceptions. 

  • In content courses, you will have the choice of submitting assignments or writing exams in English or in French.
  • However, since ESL 2181 is a language course, you will need to submit your assignments in English.

You can also seek help from the Academic Writing Help Centre, regardless of the language.

Qualitative Grades (S/NS)

You can opt to receive qualitative grades (i.e., Satisfactory (S) or Not Satisfactory (NS)) rather than alphanumeric grades in the content course and in the language support course. Qualitative grades do not count towards your average (GPA).

Note: The Faculty of Engineering does not allow for qualitative grading in its courses.

To request a qualitative grade, you must complete the qualitative grade request form and submit it to the Immersion Stream office before the deadline in the University's Important Dates and Deadlines calendar (around the 10th week of class).

Once your request for a qualitative grade has been approved, you will no longer be able to view your letter grade for the course. However, you may ask to remove a qualitative grade IF AND ONLY IF this is beneficial to you in order to renew a scholarship, to maintain your eligibility to the co-operative education program or to the international exchange program.

In the eventuality you would be enrolling in a master’s or professional program that needs all your grades, you may obtain this information upon request at the Immersion Stream office.

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