If you are interested in learning English in Canada, we have put together a country summary of what you can expect when you study at an English language school:


International students who choose to study English in Canada will find a diverse group of people. Today’s Canadian population is multicultural, with approximately two-fifths having an origin other than British, French or First Nations. In recognizing this multiculturalism, the federal government of Canada has developed multiculturalism policies, formalized in The Multiculturalism Act to “promote the understanding and creativity that arise from the interaction between individuals and communities of different origins.”

Though most Canadians were born in Canada and came from the original founding peoples, over the past 200 years, many newcomers have helped to create the country’s way of life. Many ethnic and religious groups live and work in peace as proud Canadians. Many of the international citizens are from European and Asian countries. Canada views immigrants as a valued part of a multicultural society.

Aboriginal peoples are those whose family lived in Canada before the arrival of European explorers, pioneers and settlers (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis). French Canadians are the descendants of French settlers (Acadians, Quebecers). Most English Canadians are descendants of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish settlers.


Canada has two official languages: English and French. All official federal government services, publications and documents can be found in both languages. Though both languages are recognized as the official language, English is spoken more in the home (67.1%) than French (21.5%). Because of Canada’s cultural diversity, other languages besides English and French are also spoken, including Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic.

The Landscape

Capital City



Although Canada is often associated with cold weather and snow, in reality its climate is as diverse as its landscape. Daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35 degrees Celsius or higher, while lows of -25 degrees Celsius are not uncommon in the winter. Because Canada generally has four seasons, temperatures are more moderate between summer and winter, making spring and fall.

International students who are worried about the harsh winters of Canada will be grateful for the heated houses, cars and public transportation systems, along with the installed walkways to and from buildings in schools.


Canada is the world’s second largest country in total area, and makes up 41 percent of North America’s area. It’s 9,970,610 square kilometers encompasses six time zones. Canada has coastlines on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic ocean, holding the largest coastline of any country. Because of its size, Canada’s terrain is vast and diverse. Boreal forests can be found throughout the country, ice can be found in northern Arctic regions and in the Rocky Mountains, and Canadian Prairies can be found in the southwest.

In almost every part of Canada, international students will find lakes and rivers. Canada has more than 2 million lakes covering 7 percent of the landmass. Canada is thought to be home to one seventh of the world’s fresh water.

Things to do

International students will find there are many opportunities for entertainment in Canada between studies. International students who are interested in sports can go to Vancouver to ski on Grouse Mountain, surf at Wreck Beach, or stroll through Stanley Park. International students who enjoy the city life can visit Montreal or Toronto to get a sense of the diverse culture. International students who want to get a European feel can go to Quebec City to see 1th and 18th century buildings with the aroma of freshly baked bread and brewing espresso on the cobblestone streets. A popular destination in Canada is Niagara Falls where the Niagara River plummets over the 170-foot drop at up to 68 miles per hour.

Financial considerations


Canadian Dollar


It is customary to tip approximately 15% of the total bill before tax, 20% for exceptional service. Although most Canadian food workers receive the standard minimum wage, it is still expected that customers tip because at the end of each shift, most servers will have to tip 1 to 2 percent of their total sales for the kitchen staff, hosts and busboys.

General Expenses: As of 2011

Loaf of bread2.45 C$
Eggs (12)3.28 C$
Coffee3.78 C$
Water (.33 liter bottle)1.66 C$
Fresh milk (1 gallon)7.81 C$
Bottle of Wine15.00 C$
Taxi one way (1 mile)2.96 C$
Main course dessert and drink14.00 C$
Fast food8.50 C$
Beer6.00 C$
Soft drink1.93 C$
Gym membership one month50.55 C$
Cinema ticket12.00 C$

Getting around


Because of Canada’s size, it is not uncommon for people to travel between major cities by airplane. If traveling shorter distances or if time is not a factor, there are many public transportation options for international students. Canada’s rail network runs across the country with safe and comfortable trains. International students who would like to travel by train should buy tickets in advance to save money. One of the cheapest ways to travel in Canada is by catching a bus, and it may be the only way to get to smaller towns if driving is not an option. Most buses will have air conditioning and a washroom on board. Ferries are a common way to travel in coastal areas, and some can transport vehicles as well as people.

Taxis charge based on a fixed rate calculated by the meter. Most drivers will hope for a tip, especially if they help you with bags. In most cases, international students should only use this option if they do not have any others, as taxi travel can be quite expensive. To catch a taxi, international students can call for a taxi to pick them up using one of the telephone numbers found on the internet, or they can “hail” a taxi on the street by standing on the sidewalk and waving their hands at an empty taxi driving past.

International students who want a healthy and cheap way to travel in Canada can walk or cycle to get around cities and towns. Local bike shops as well as the government will usually have a map of bicycle networks.


The overall police-reported crime rate in Canada has been falling for more than 20 years. The crime level in most Canadian cities is lower than similar sized cities in the U.S. Violent crime is mostly isolated to individuals involved in drug, gang and organized crime related activities. The most common crimes are financial scams, vehicle thefts, pickpocketing, and residential break-ins. International students who find themselves in an emergency situation can call 911 for assistance, or the non-emergency police line for other crime-related events.

National Holidays

  • December 25 Christmas: The biggest holiday on the Canadian calendar, Christmas observes the birth of Jesus Christ. Like most western nations, Canadian Christmas has evolved into a largely secular holiday centered around giving gifts. The Canadian version of Santa Claus (the mythical character who gifts gifts to good children) is said to live in Canada, since Canada claims to own the North pole. The post office offers a “write to Santa” program that gives Santa a Canadian address and postal code.
  • Third Monday in February Family Day: This day is usually declared to be a time to celebrate families by taking a day off of work to spend time with them.
  • Monday before May 24 Victoria Day: On this day, observed celebration of the current monarch’s birthday. Most people celebrate with a long weekend and camping trips.
  • July 1 Canada Day: This day is the official birthday of the Canadian nation, celebrating the anniversary of July 1, 1867. It is usually celebrated with neighborhood or family barbecues, picnics and fireworks. There are also outdoor festivals, parades, and other festivities in many towns.
  • Second Monday in October Thanksgiving: To celebrate and give thanks to wealth and bounty of the New World, this holiday is often celebrated by eating an enormous, lavish dinner with turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is the most important family day of the year for many Canadians.
  • November 11 Remembrance Day: The most somber holiday of the year, Canadians celebrate peace and remember the horrors of World War 1. At 11 o’clock, all Canadians are expected to stop what they’re doing and observe a moment of silence in memory of the soldiers who have given their lives in war. Canada will distribute small, plastic poppy pins that Canadians will wear on their jackets for the first 11 days of the month.


Upon arrival in Canada, international students will be greeted by a border services officer. The officer will ask to see a passport and travel documents. International students should be prepared to answer the following questions from the officer:

A second interview will follow when the officer asks to see a declaration card. The officer may also inspect the luggage. International students should be prepared to answer the following questions:

International students are expected to answer all questions truthfully. If not, they will not be allowed entrance into the country.


International students may need a study permit to study English in Canada. These permits are only issued after acceptance at a Canadian college, university or other accredited educational institution designated to receive international students. Besides acceptance, international students must also have the following to be eligible for a study permit:

International students are eligible to work in Canada while studying and after graduation.

International students do not need a study permit if they will be studying in Canada for six months or less, if the student or a family member is a foreign representative to Canada accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the student is a member of a foreign armed force under the Visiting Forces Act, or the student is a citizen of another country who has Registered Indian status in Canada. » Learn more about the Canadian Student Visa

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