The University of Ottawa's immersion courses are a proven method of language development for students who want to enrich their written and oral communication skills in English in an academic setting.

English immersion courses

How does it work? You take one of your program’s courses (given in English) that is paired with an weekly 90-minute English-as-a-second-language course. Each language course uses the specific vocabulary and concepts related to the program course it supports in order to develop your English skills in a way that are directly related to your studies. This authentic and meaningful approach to literacy development improves language skills and academic performance, aiding in your transition to university studies.

The language course gives you credit (3 academic units) and greater confidence in an academic environment.

Description of the model

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 language 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 as an elective course 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 helps improve comprehension of the information presented in the content course. The exercises help you acquire specialized vocabulary and strengthen some elements of grammar, recognize the structure of speech and written texts to extract the main ideas and better understand the content course.

Eligibility for immersion courses

Immersion 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.

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

Test for English immersion courses

This 2-hour 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 admission or registration to the University; they only affect whether you are eligible to take English immersion courses.

There is no cost to students to take the test.

Language tests by other providers

You may qualify for the English immersion 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 immersion courses

Check the list below to find the content course that corresponds the course sequence for your program of study and its corresponding language 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. 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 -- without extra cost -- but this requires our office's intervention.

Here is the procedure to enrol in English Immersion Courses:

  1. Check the schedules for your content courses and the English Immersion 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 select the correct content course section (A00, B00, etc.) as not all sections offer the immersion 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 immersion course ESL 2181 for your content course and place it in your cart.
  6. Confirm your enrolment in the English immersion course or request help from our office.

English immersion courses offered in 2023-2024

Faculty Fall 2023 Winter 2024
Arts CMN 1148-A00 + ESL 2181-B00 (Thursday, 11:30-12:50) CMN 1160-B00 or -C00 + ESL 2181-E00 (Wed, 10:00-11:20)
Engineering ITI 1120 (all sections) + ESL 2181-D00 (Wednesday, 1:00-2:20) ITI 1121 (all sections) + ESL 2181-G00 (Mon, 11:30-12:50)
Social Sciences

ECO 1104 (all sections) + ESL 2181-C00 (Wednesday, 1:00-2:20)

ECO 1102 (all sections) + ESL 2181-F00 (Thurs, 4:00-5:20)

Telfer, Management

ADM 1300 (all sections) + ESL 2181-A00 (Monday, 2:30-3:50)

ECO 1104 (all sections) + ESL 2181-C00 (Wednesday, 1:00-2:20)

ADM 2381-M00 + ESL 3181-C00 (Tues, 10:00-11:20)

ECO 1102 (all sections) + ESL 2181-F00 (Thurs, 4:00-5:20)


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.

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 course. Qualitative grades do not count towards your average (GPA).

Note: The faculties of Engineering, Science and the Telfer School of Management do not allow qualitative grades for their students.

To request a qualitative grade, you must complete the qualitative grade request form (PDF, 502KB) 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.

Contact us

Immersion stream

Hamelin Hall
70 Laurier Ave East, Room 130
Ottawa ON, K1N 6N5

[email protected]