Canadian Federation of University Preparatory Schools

Canadian Federation of University Preparatory Schools is a non-profit organization established to promote ESL education in Canada with the helps of ESL professionals, ESL teachers, and government officials. The purpose of our ESL education is to help children from new immigrant families and international students to learn English and involve in the school and community environment.         

Benchmarks, Strategies and Resources for Teachers of English Language Learners


This site is intended for use by teachers, administrators and consultants working with English language learners. This site allows users to:

  • Search the K-12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks.
  • Access student writing samples with benchmark analysis.
  • View videos of students engaging in content learning with teacher commentary on proficiency levels and benchmark analysis.
  • Access programming information on Organizing for Instruction.
  • Select Assessment Tools and Strategies for English language learners.
  • Access Research and Resources on a variety of topics related to ESL.

ESL Benchmarks
ESL Resources
ESL Assessment
Writing Samples

The K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks reflect how development and academic language expectations increase from one grade-level division to the next.
The goal is to match each English language learner to the most appropriate program or class and ensure teachers have access to the support and resources they need.
Students' English language proficiency needs to be assessed to identify student needs and inform planning for instruction.
This collection allows teachers to use these interactive examples to build their understanding of the different writing competencies and levels within the Benchmarks.

How long does it take for children to learn English?
There is a commonly held belief that young children can learn to speak English in just a few months, unlike adults, who may take years. Research shows that this is not true; young children learning English can take years to become as competent in English as their peers whose first language is English.
  • It takes approximately three to four years in school for young children learning English to accumulate an English vocabulary size comparable to their English-speaking peers, and even longer for them to produce sentences free of grammatical errors.
  • It can take from five to seven years in school for young children learning English to master complex academic English skills, both spoken and written, that are the same as their peers who speak English as their first language.
This common misconception most likely comes from our low conversational expectations for children. When adults speak to young children, they often ask questions requiring yes or no answers, refer to things in the child’s immediate environment and compensate for any communication problems. This me ans that a young child can know very little English and may still appear competent because she or he can easily guess how to respond.
Why do some children learn English faster than others?
Individual children vary in how quickly they acquire English, even when they are in the same learning setting. These individual differences can be due to such things as the following.
  • Language aptitude: Language aptitude is a kind of learning skill, a set of verbal and memory abilities that varies be tween individuals. Children and adults with high language aptitude tend to be faster second language learners. Language aptitude is thought to be an inherent characteristic. You cannot increase a child’s language aptitude.
  • Age of acquisition: Starting to learn English early—before the ages of six to eight years old—is better for developing pronunciation and grammar. Starting to learn English a little later—after six to eight years of age—results in faster vocabulary growth and development of skills such as storytelling. There is no age within the childhood years when it is 'too early’ or ‘too late’ to learn another language.
  • Socio-economic status: A family’s socio-economic status is measured primarily through the parents levels of education and income. Children from newcomer families where the parents have post-secondary education tend to learn English faster because these parents often have higher language and literacy skills in their home language.
  • Quality and quantity of English exposure: English language learning children vary in the English they experience outside the classroom, and this has a measurable impact on a child’s development. For example, the more books read in English and the more English-speaking friends they have, the more practice children have with English, and the more English vocabulary they will build.