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ESL Foundation Program

The ESL Foundation Program teaches in-depth English proficiency in writing, reading, listening, and speaking.

Our instructors help students to build the academic skills required for success, including proper vocabulary, textual analysis, and critical thinking. To acquaint students with important university themes, course work will explore key modules such as business, economics, literature, and Canadian culture.


At the Real Institute, our mission is to help students to achieve academic and personal success, while building a pathway to Ryerson’s undergraduate programs.

The ESL Foundation Program is designed for students who are academically qualified, but do not meet the minimum English proficiency requirements to study at Ryerson.

After successful completion of the ESL Foundation Program, students will start in the Ryerson undergraduate degree of their choice.

Our instructors will inspire you to work hard and accomplish your educational goals, rewarding students who aim high. If you achieve early progress in the ESL Foundation Program, you can earn up to two university credits prior to starting your undergraduate studies.

At the Real Institute, there are three options for students in the ESL Foundation Program:

ESL Foundation I

  • Duration: Two terms (one term of ESL at the Real Institute & one at Ryerson’s Chang School)
  • Entry Options: Fall or Winter term
  • Credits Earned: Four total (one during ESL study & three in second term of program)

ESL Foundation II

  • Duration: Two terms of ESL at the Real Institute 
  • Entry Options: Fall or Winter term
  • Credits Earned: Up to three university credits

ESL Foundation III

  • Duration: Three terms at Real Institute 
  • Entry Options: Fall term only
  • Credits Earned: Up to three university credits

Please visit the ESL Foundation Program Curriculum page for more detailed information on the courses offered at Real Institute.

To be eligible for the Real Institute's ESL Foundation Program consideration, you must be academically qualified and competitive for admission to the undergraduate degree program you wish to pursue. Please visit the Ryerson Undergraduate Admissions page for detailed information, by program. 

Effective as of the 2021/22 academic year, these are the English proficiency requirements* for the ESL Foundation Program are:


ESL Foundation Program 

1 Semester*

winter, spring, fall entry 

ESL Foundation Program

2 Semester 

winter, fall entry  

ESL Foundation Program

3 Semester

fall entry only

Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL)





Official results must be sent to us directly by the testing service.


Cambridge Assessment English    

169-179 on B2 First

162-168 on B2 First

154-161 on B1 Preliminary


Use the “Send Your Results” function of the Candidate Results portal to send your results to Ryerson (, external link, opens in new window, external link). 


Duolingo English Test

Ryerson will continue to accept Duolingo English Test for admission consideration for fall 2021. 





Official results must be sent to us directly by Duolingo.


International English Language Testing System (IELTS)





Official results must be sent to us directly by the test centre.


Pearson Test of English (PTE)





Official results must be sent to us directly by Pearson. 


Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) 

Note: TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition (launched in select countries in March 2020) will be accepted.





Official results must be sent to us directly by ETS - TOEFL. Ryerson’s institution code is 0886.


*Students commencing studies in the fall semester with an IELTS of 6.0 (or equivalent) will spend the winter semester taking courses offered through Ryerson's Chang School of Continuing Education for the opportunity to earn credits towards their degree program of choice prior to beginning their full-time undergraduate enrolment.