Pickering College - Learning For Life. Creating The Future.

ESL Frequently Asked Questions

About the Summer English Program

What is the focus of the Summer English Program?

The program is designed for students between 12 and 17 years of age who plan to study in an English-speaking school or who wish to study English as an academic subject in their own country.

Classroom instruction is directed to the skills that are needed for in school study: listening, reading and writing. Practical assignments are given and include some computer instruction.

All students sit for the TOEFL Junior assessment at the end of the 4-week session. The cost of the test is included in the camp fees.

How many hours per week will I be in the classroom?

Students will receive approximately 27.5 hours of classroom instruction spread equally over 5 weekdays.

What level should I apply for?

You do not need to apply for a specific level. All students are assessed on the first day of class and are placed in the most appropriate suited of ESL instruction.

Could you please tell us how many students there are in each group? (Maximum group size)

One of our program strengths is to be as personalized as we can by providing each student the opportunity for leadership development and personal growth through peer support, creative problem-solving and team-building, so we keep our classes small with a teacher/student ratio 1:15.

How long does every lesson normally last?

An Instructional English period usually lasts for 90min.

What kinds of fun activities are available?

During the program, you will have off-campus evening activities and weekend trips to places of interest. There will also be regular physical, social and cultural evening activities on-campus. After your registration is approved, we will email the Camper Information package which includes a detailed calendar of activities to you by April. Below is an example of activities we have done in the past:


  • 3 Day, 2 Night Weekend Trip to Ottawa - Canada's Capital City!
  • Day trip: Medieval Times Dinner, CN Tower, Niagara Falls, Royal Ontario Museum,
    Blue Jays Baseball Game, Canada's Wonderland, Shopping Mall,  Skyzone Trampoline, Newmarket Scavenger Hunt, Laser Quest

On-Campus Activities

  • Daily Co-Curricular Program: Baking, Soccer, Drama, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Filmmaking, Scrapbooking, Crafts, Dodgeball, Photography and Badminton.
  • Evening Program: Capture the Flag, Amazing Race, Bonfire Night, Cultural Night, Dance Night, Movie Night, Talent Show
Is the participation on the evening and week-end social programs optional?

No, we expect every student registered in the camp to participate in all the activities, because this is an essential part of the all English learning experience. 

Will Pickering College be used for lessons and activities to meals and accommodations? 

For on-campus activities (ie. classroom, field, arena, gymnasium, dining hall, housing residence) these will be carried out on Pickering College's 42 hectare campus. For weekend and off-campus activities, the students will be transported using Pickering College's own buses to the respective sites. 

What kind of curriculum does the ESL summer program adopt?

We adopt the Ontario curriculum for our ESL program which focuses on learning, speaking, listening, writing and reading the English language. Practical assignments are given and include some computer instructions. 

This is further reinforced by the students' activities outside the classroom, going about their daily life in an English language environment. All students sit for the TOEFL Junior assessment at the end of the session. 

Being in Canada, we also incorporate the traditional local summer outdoor camp experience for the students to have a better understanding of nature and the country. 


About the students and staff

What is the student profile?

International students from around the world participate in Pickering College's ESL Summer Camp to improve their English language skills, have a memorable summer experience and learn more about Canada and its culture. Students are between 12 and 17 years old.

Where do your students come from?

Our program guarantees a good mix of students coming from all around the world. In the past, we have had students from Colombia, Germany, Japan, China, Korea, Spain, Thailand, Iran, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Venezuela, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Iran and Mexico. We strive to maintain a balance of cultures in the classroom so that you will have a solid language and cultural learning experience.

I imagine you have lots of students who come from Latin America or Asia. Do you ensure that they don't speak in their mother tongue between themselves?

We do our very best to ensure students only speak English. All of our supervised programs are in English and when assigning rooms, students are placed with campers not of their mother tongue when possible. All meals, signs and activities are in English. We do our very best to fully immerse the students in the culture and the English language. 

What are the qualifications of the ESL Teachers? 

Our ESL Teachers hold a Bachelor of Education with ESL qualifications and/or TESL certification from TESL Ontario. In addition, they are also qualified by the Ontario College of Teachers. In all of our previous years, most of our ESL teachers were all current staff of Pickering College. 

What is your staff-to-student ratio outside the classroom?

Staff-to-student ratio outside the classroom is 1 teacher to every 10-15 students. 

About registration, finance and cancellation

What is included in the tuition fees for 2020?


The “All Inclusive” ESL Summer Camp Program consists of:

• 110 hours of ESL language instruction
• TOEFL Junior Assessment, Individual Study Report and Certificate of Completion
• 3 Day, 2 Night trip to Canada’s National Capital – Ottawa
• Day trips to Niagara Falls, ROM Museum, Canada’s Wonderland, Ripley’s Aquarium, Toronto Blue Jays baseball game, Medieval Times Dinner and Show, CN Tower, Laser Quest, etc.
(Final and complete schedule of activities to be determined and subject to change)
• 24/7 supervision by Pickering College staff, including custodianship
• Comfortable accommodation in a modern twin-bed and study room
• Nutritious meals 3 times per day plus fruits and snacks
• Health insurance during the program
• Airport Transfer
• Camp T-shirt
• On-campus daily sports and recreational activities

How long will it take to process my application?

Once we have received your completed online application together with the CDN $1000 registration fee, we will require 2-3 weeks for the letter of acceptance to be emailed out to you. 

When do I get my letter of acceptance?

Your letter of acceptance can be scanned and emailed to you or it can be faxed to you within 2-3 weeks after your file is complete. The original letter of acceptance will be sent to you by mail upon request.

May I have the acceptance letter sent by express mail?

Your original letter of acceptance will be sent to you by email. If you require an original document, you can request courier delivery. 

How can I submit my application?

Click here for online application.

Applications are processed on a rolling basis and we will accept them until 2 weeks before the start of the camp. It is recommended that you submit your application as early as possible to be able to get the visa on time and to guarantee a spot in the camp.

Once the application has been approved, we will email you the letter of acceptance and the custodianship declaration. The letter of acceptance can be used to obtain your visitor visa if required.

Enrolment will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

How can I pay?

For payment methods (including credit card), click here.

If I do not receive my tourist visa, may I cancel my registration and receive a refund?

If the Canadian Embassy rejects your application for a Tourist Visa for any reason, we will refund the fees paid. Copies of documentation from the Embassy will be required. A request to cancel your registration must be made in writing and requires a brief explanation for the withdrawal.

If I cancel for other reasons, can I receive a refund of my tuition payment?

A request to cancel your registration must be made in writing and requires a brief explanation for the withdrawal. If a camper withdraws after enrolling, regardless of when the notice is provided, the $1,000 deposit is forfeited and is non-refundable. If a camper withdraws up to two weeks before the start of camp, 50% of the tuition fee is non-refundable. Within two weeks of the start of camp, 100% of tuition is non-refundable.

How much money do I need for spending expenses for one month of study?

You will need some pocket money for snacks, souvenirs, and for shopping. Average spending ranges from about $30.00 to $50.00 CAD a week without any major purchases.

Can I receive a scholarship for the Summer English Program?

Unfortunately, there are no scholarships or financial aid provided by Pickering College for the ESL Summer Program.

Do I need to purchase health insurance?

This medical insurance will cover the basic services of physicians and hospitals in the event of illness or injury. 

Mandatory health insurance provided by Pickering College is already included in the tuition fees.

About On-Campus Accommodation

What are the advantages of living on-campus?

Students who live on campus are located close to classes and student activities. It is very convenient to live on campus because it allows the students to be fully immersed in the English language environment. The ESL camp is managed and supervised by the experienced staff of Pickering College; 24/7 supervision is provided by residential counselors and tour escorts of university age or older. These counselors are there to ensure students have a SAFE, EXCITING AND ENJOYABLE STAY.

What are the options for meals?

Equipped with leading-edge cooking equipment, our kitchen team serves high quality and nutritious meals.

All meals are provided in the Dining Hall. Some meals will be off campus. Please indicate on the medical form if you have any food allergies or dietary concerns.

Can I cook in the campus residence?


Will you help keep safe students' money, tickets, valuables and medicines upon their arrival? 

Upon students arrival, they will be provided a large personal envelope for safekeeping. They will place their passports, airline tickets, valuables and extra spending money in the envelope. The envelope will be kept in the vault at our school and they will have access to it any day during set hours. The rooms are also equipped with a safe if students have any valuables they would like to personally store. Concurrently, they will also handover any medication to be kept by our staff.  

How often can students do their own laundry? 

Students are free to do their laundry 1-2 times a week. Laundry soap is provided on-site. 

About Pickering College

What makes your camp unique?
  • Students benefit from personalized small class size.
    Our staff to student ratio is kept at 1:15 to ensure that students learn English in a comfortable and more personalized environment and to provide each student the opportunity to participate.
  • Students take the TOEFL Junior Assessment
    The TOEFL Junior assessment allows the students to test their skills in an international context and with a recognised external organization.
  • Students participate in operations of live radio station, 102.7 CHOP FM
    102.7 CHOP FM is a CRTC-licensed radio station where students get the opportunity to become on-air hosts, producers, editors and interviewers, enhancing their presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Leadership development and team building trip to an outdoor recreation centre.
    Students participate in the elements of overnight trip preparation and experience multiple different activities on land and water. These activities create an ideal environment for the students to develop leadership, critical problem solving, communication skills and is also a powerful way to connect the wide diversity of students to actively support and respect one another and the natural environment.

Some of our past year activities include voyageur canoeing, zip lining, pole walking, paddle boarding and participating in a high ropes course.

  • Escorted service for evening and weekend activities.
    The camp is managed and supervised by experienced staff of Pickering College. 24/7 supervision is provided by resident counsellors of university age or older. These counsellors ensure students have a safe, exciting and enjoyable stay. They are also trained in emergency first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and treatment for anaphylaxis.
  • Excellent boarding facilities.
    Students enjoy the excellent boarding, dining, academic, athletic and social facilities at one of Canada's oldest independent schools.
Will I be able to use the athletic facilities at Pickering College?

Your registration in the ESL Summer Camp Program allows you to use all of our recreation space including:

  • 3 playing fields for soccer and rugby
  • a baseball diamond
  • a rubberized surface track
What is Pickering College like?

At Pickering College, parents and students will discover our long history of leadership amongst independent schools – a tradition of educational excellence and innovation since 1842. Founded on solid values emphasizing learning through action, students will discover a school where academic, co-curricular and residential programs focus on developing leadership, values-based decision-making and social responsibility through service to others. And they will discover a spirit of community linked to the past, energized in the present and focused on the future.

Pickering College is located on a beautiful 42-acre campus just 45 minutes north of Toronto in Newmarket, Ontario. Our majestic buildings speak to the history and tradition of Pickering College, and with regular investments and upgrades, we continue to provide leading edge learning spaces for our students.

About Newmarket, Ontario, Canada

What is the city of Newmarket like?

The Town of Newmarket has a population of 87,000, with both small town charm and big city conveniences. The close proximity to Toronto makes it attractive to business and citizens. Its proximity to the Holland River Trail System and Fairy Lake allows for recreational, cultural and arts activities. The Town of Newmarket is the home of York Regional Headquarters, and the Southlake Regional Health Centre.

How close is Newmarket to Toronto?

Newmarket is about 45 minutes to downtown Toronto by car, bus or train.

What is the nearest airport and how long does it take from the airport to your school?

Students attending the ESL Summer Camp program will fly into Pearson International Airport. The airport is 45 minutes from the school and transportation from and to the airport is included in the camp fee.

How is the weather in Newmarket during July and August?

During July and August, the weather is sunny, warm and humid with the temperature range from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius. Early mornings and evenings are cool in August.

What type of clothing should I bring?

Canadians tend to dress casually during the summer months, especially on a school campus. It is rare to see someone wearing a suit during the summer. Be sure to bring your bathing suit, shorts and casual athletic clothing. Early mornings and late nights can be cool, so you will need a warm sweatshirt or a light jacket.

  • Clothes: shorts, socks, t-shirts (golf shirts), jeans, sweatshirts
  • Shoes: Comfortable shoes for the classroom, evening and weekend activities; running shoes (for sports and outdoor activities) and sandals for the shower (optional)
  • Light waterproof jacket for the cool evenings or rainy days
  • Dress clothing for special events; eg. khaki pants/shorts, dress pants, dress shirt/golf shirt, skirt/dress, blouse, and nice shoes/sandals
  • Personal Care products: your own towels, soap, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, and other toiletries
  • Sunglasses, hat and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Bathing suit and beach towel (you will need a towel for showering)
  • Pens and pencils
  • Duffle bag or back pack
  • Several pictures from home (baby picture, family, friends, landscape)
  • An item(s) that represents your culture (to be used on “Culture Night")
  • A small book that you can use as a journal to record your experiences
  • Don't forget your camera!
  • Bed linens will be provided for you.