Apr 21, 2024  
PUBLISHED 2022-2023 Credit Catalog 
PUBLISHED 2022-2023 Credit Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

English Language Foundations

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Program Description

The English Language Foundations (ELF) program provides English language upgrading for learners whose first language is not English. Students are placed into the program based on demonstrated proficiency in English, using the Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA) or International English Language System (IELTS) examination. Most students use the ELF program as entry into SAIT career programs.

The ELF curriculum encourages development in all language areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

  • Five-level program
  • Six start dates per year (eight week terms)
  • Full and part-time studies; evening/weekend courses available
  • Intensive, skills-focused approach
  • Proficiency based placement and advancement
  • Completion of ELF 5 is accepted in lieu of English 30 for most programs at SAIT

Program Overview

Your Career

After successfully completing the ELF program, the majority of graduates are prepared for admission into SAIT career programs as completion of ELF level 5 is accepted as equivalent to English 30 for most programs at SAIT.

Students in ELF Levels 4 and 5 may combine ELF coursework with Academic Upgrading subjects in math or science.

Student Success

Progress in the ELF Program depends on the student’s demonstration of proficiency. Instructors regularly assess student progress through classroom assignments, participation and examinations. Students who achieve a rating of 50% (D) in all subjects can be recommended for promotion to the next level.

ELF is a fast track program. Students should be prepared to dedicate considerable time for study and to actively use their English outside of class time. SAIT career programs require academic appropriate English skills in all areas: reading, writing, listening and speaking.


No Credential Awarded


Level 1 (communications and speech) leads to level 2, which in turn leads to level 3, 4 and 5.  However, students entering the program with a CLBA may begin at any point between levels 1-4 depending on their score.  Students entering with IELTS, depending on their band score, may begin at any point between levels 1-5. 

Admission Requirements

To register for the English Language Foundations program, you must complete either a Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment (CLBA) and obtain a minimum score of 4 in all categories, or complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and obtain a minimum band score of 3.5 in all categories. CLBA or IELTS tests must be completed at least one week before the course start date.

Testing Information

You can complete a Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment (CLBA) test at SAIT or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. For more information please go to:


Please note:

  • CLBA and IELTS test results older than one year will not be accepted.
  • Teacher-assessed CLBA scores from Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) schools are not accepted except when students are coming from a LINC program with a certificate of completion for Canadian Language Benchmark 4 - Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing

Course Equivalents: CLBA
The benchmark score on your CLBA will determine the English Languages Foundations (ELF) level you will start:
Benchmark 4-ELF level 1
Benchmark 5-ELF level 2
Benchmark 6-ELF level 3
Benchmark 7-ELF level 4-ELF level 5
Benchmark 8 and completion of ELF level 5-Meets English language requirements to enter SAIT career programs.* Students with a CLBA score of 3 in each category can take ENGL 102-English Language Readiness.
* The SAIT Respiratory Therapy program requires Enhanced Language Training Placement Assessment (ELTPA) with a score of 9 in all sections.

Course Equivalents: IELTS
The band score on your IELTS test will determine the ELF level you will start:
IELTS band 3.5-ELF level 1
IELTS band 4.0-ELF level 2
IELTS band 4.5-ELF level 3
IELTS band 5.0-ELF level 4
IELTS band 5.5-ELF level 5
A band score of 6.0 in all categories and completion of ELF level 5 meets English language requirements to enter SAIT career programs.  Students with a band score of 3 in each category can take ENGL 102.

Bridging Pathways
Students who have successfully completed some level at either of one of the SAIT pathway program partners or other post-secondary academic English as a second language (ESL) programs may also be accepted. For more information, please go to:

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