Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted legislation and services. Information on this website may not reflect the current situation in Alberta. Please visit for up-to-date information about these impacts.

Three students learning English in a study group.
Explore Education & Training

English Language Skills for Newcomers

You must be able to speak, read, and write English very well to work in many occupations in Alberta.


Newcomers to Alberta often have to improve their English to get the job they want. Taking classes is one way to do this, but it’s also a good idea to practice your English in other parts of your life, such as with family and friends.

How to know if your English is good enough

There are several different tests you can take to see if you need to improve your English. This is called assessing your English skills.

These are some commonly used tests:

"Learn as much English as you can. When you understand, everything comes easily. You need the language to understand the information. I knew a computer programmer who wanted to do upgrading, but what he really needed was language training. He found work cleaning office buildings. That was OK for a while. But once he improved his English language skills, he was able to get a job in his field."—Ed, an emigrant from Nicaragua

Not every occupation uses the same type of test because different occupations need different skills from their workers. Contact employers, your professional regulatory organization or professional association (these groups help people who work in a certain occupation), or check Tradesecrets to find out what level of English you’ll be expected to have. 

Answer these questions to see what you need to find out about the English language requirements of your occupation:


Once your English skills are assessed, there are different kinds of English language training classes you can take. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are for people whose first language isn’t English. ESL helps you learn different reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Tips for learning the terms used in your job

You may have very good English language skills for everyday life. But your occupation may use certain words, which are called technical terms. 

Try to speak English as often as you can. There are conversational, business, and technical ways to speak English. By practising your English you can become comfortable using a variety of English language speaking styles.

You have to know these terms to work in your occupation in Alberta. In some jobs there are manuals or codes you must know how to read and understand. For example, architects have to understand building codes and technical drawings. Check with your professional regulatory organization or professional association to find out what you need to know.

You don’t need to speak English fluently to work in Alberta. After researching the English skills required for the job you want, and then assessing your English level, you might be surprised to learn you’re closer to your goal than you think.

Was this page useful?