Essential Skills

This resource book contains curriculum for financial literacy with well-presented teaching guidelines.

Topics: economic literacy, employment literacy, personal management literacy

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Linking Canadian Language Benchmarks to Essential Skills

Included is an Implementation Guide for Instructors.

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Alberta Learning Information Services (ALIS) has 249 occupational videos available. They could be used for listening activities or independent learning.

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This 6-module curriculum, produced by Literacy Link Eastern Ontario, provides the Essential Skills training required to work as a call centre operator.

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These seven workbooks in this series were developed to introduce learners to the Essential Skills required by all workers in Canada. The Essential Skills have been aligned to the CLBs. The workbooks will introduce instructors to the Essential Skills and they could be used as workbooks for later stage 2 learners.

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This is a 240-page e-book that provides lessons in reading, document use and math. The lessons are built on real-life examples and follow four individuals in the workplace in Ontario. The organization and layout is appealing to a reader. The four individuals work in four different jobs. Instructors and students can decide which worker to learn about. There is self-assessment as well as critical thinking questions embedded in the modules.

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This website is designed for beginning and intermediate learners (not CLB aligned), with a wide variety of activities for language practice, including podcasts, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The podcasts  link to different sites, including Archie comics.

Online vocabulary and contextual information for occupations, including airline, hotel, food & beverage, nursing, police, cashiers, tour guides, taxi. Some audio available.

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These online activities focus on English vocabulary and grammar exercises for the hospitality industry in the categories of food & beverage, hotel, travel/tourism, politeness training. While individual files are free to download, there is a fee option that allows you to download a topic file.

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This free educational website houses 2,000 lessons for a global audience, covering 180 topics, primarily designed to improve technology skills for learners of all ages. There are tutorials to improve knowledge of Microsoft Office, iPads and other devices, and how to use social media. In addition, there are lessons in the Essential Skills of reading and mathematics, and English language learning.

The technology tutorials may be quite useful for teachers to improve understanding and comfort levels with digital tools. Learners can use the tutorials for independent study.

The English language feature for ESL students is suitable for intermediate/high level learners. The lessons are for grammar, reading skills. Instructions are available in several languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and Korean. The lessons have video and interactive features as well. Teacher guides and resources are available, and instructors can customize lessons.

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This online textbook is geared towards CLB 5–6 learners. It is designed to be used by an instructor or tutor. An instructor guide is provided.

The focus is on the Canadian workplace: workplace culture, development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, plus Essential Skills and intercultural competence.

The text introduces two characters, a Strategy Coach and a Workplace Mentor. The Strategy Coach provides strategies to develop language skills. The Workplace Mentor introduces learners to general workplace culture in Canada.

  • Video tasks and focus questions help learners develop “noticing skills” and prompt discussions about similarities and differences between the learner’s home culture and Canadian culture.
  • Reading sections provide reading passages, pre- and post-reading activities. There is also a reading progress check for self-assessment.
  • Each listening section has two listening texts with pre- and post-listening activities, and a listening progress check for practice and self-assessment.
  • A writing section with pre-writing tasks, writing practice and a progress check. A rubric is included that generally aligns with CLBs.
  • A speaking section contains pronunciation, speaking practice and a progress check. A rubric is included.
  • Wrap-up includes discussion, reflection and extension tasks. The extension activities have vocabulary log activities, community tasks and research opportunities.


  1. Workplace Environment
  2. Personal Management
  3. Workplace Communications
  4. Clients and Customers
  5. Career Management

Text features:

  • Navigation bar allows learners to download/print individual activities, link to social media, easily access the table of contents and answer keys, change settings and translate (linking to Google Translate)
  • Vocabulary tables and glossary provided

Content is comprehensive. Chapters are clearly laid out for instructors and learners. Online availability means learners can access the text in their free time for review and reinforcement or do as homework.

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“Understanding the Boss” and “Workplace Safety” are interactive lessons with video, listening, reading, practice and review activities. (There are five other stories on various topics.) The site requires Adobe Flash download.

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The Language and Skills Training Resource Catalogue of ISANS includes books that cover a wide range of topics for ESL Literacy and SLT classes. For example:

  • Through the Lens helps learners navigate and understand living in a diverse community
  • Workplace Curricula focuses on healthcare, engineers, communication for work and business, pronunciation and communication for work
  • Soft skills focus on professional communication, working with others, workplace writing for levels 1, 2 and 3
  • Language learning strategies
  • EAL computer training

Order form included; prices range from $20 to $300 (plus HST).

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Measure Up allows individuals to practice the three Essential Skills of reading text, document use and numeracy. The Choices of Activities include testing and practicing skills, exploring careers and workbooks that are specific to the construction, tourism and trucking sectors. Free to download. The explore careers section is aligned with both Essential Skills and National Occupational Codes. Related Resources is no longer live.

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OLAs were developed for the tourism sector through the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. They align a benchmark with an Essential Skills Profile and National Occupational Standard.

OLAs include:

  • Bartender
  • Event coordinator
  • Food service counter attendant
  • Food beverage server
  • Counsellor

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The Ontario Skills Passport allows teachers and learners to plan for future employment by offering occupational profiles, information on Essential Skills and goal setting.

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“The Can Do Statements for Employment are intended for immigrants seeking employment, employment counsellors, and employers. The Can Do Statements are based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB); they have been simplified and given a narrower focus to support their use in an employment context. The statements cover CLB levels 4–10, and offer an overview of each level from a workplace perspective. They provide examples of English-language tasks in a variety of workplace-related contexts:

  • On the phone
  • Working with others
  • Workplace safety
  • Taking part in meetings

and for a variety of workplace tasks:

  • Making and answering phone calls
  • Communicating with others in a workplace setting
  • Understanding and responding

The tasks cover all four language skill areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing.” (

You need to “Add to Cart” in order to download, which means registering to order.

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Ontario Resource Compilation

A selection of resources and links for learners.

Essential Skills Profiles

Essential Skills Profiles are available for most occupations in Canada. Each profile lists job tasks in nine Essential Skills and rates them at 1–5 levels of competency.

Essential Skills Assessments

These are clearly written checklists for students to use to assess their skills. There is one for each of the nine Essential Skills.

Essential Skills Online Assessments

A series of short quizzes provide an indication of skill strengths and areas that may require improvement.

List of Tools

Tools, assessment and support information for trainers and career counsellors.

Manitoba Resources

Includes curriculum for pharmacists, health care aid and entrepreneurs with an Essential Skills focus.

Learner Materials: A Strategy for Writing Tests, Navigating Workplace Documents and Numeracy

Vocabulary Building Workbook

This workbook includes 24 lessons to help students increase Canadian workplace vocabulary.

Google‘s G Suite is a set of digital tools to help instructors interact, collaborate, prepare and store materials. The Suite differs from a personal account because it allows instructors to share school-wide and with the class, providing shared access to Drive, Calendars and Docs, with enhanced security. There are 11 Google tools, including Gmail, Drive, Vault, Docs, Sheets, Forms, Websites and Hangouts. The Classroom tool allows instructors to create, share, grade assignments and communicate with learners. The website is a site-builder for instructors or students to create their own website or class website. The Vault is a space to archive emails and chats.

G Suite is free for schools and includes support. There is no advertising and your data belongs to you.

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The resource includes information and techniques for incorporating Essential Skills into activities. You will need to “Add to Cart” in order to  download. The PDF will be sent to you.

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This resource was developed to help instructors/trainers with the language and strategies to help newcomers approach employment opportunities in Canada. You will need to “Add to Cart” in order to download. The PDF will be emailed to you.

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This resource explains the relationship between Essential Skills and the Canadian Language Benchmarks (caveat: CLB 2000 was used). This is an excellent resource for developing tasks based on real-world employment examples. You will need to “Add to Cart” in order to download. The PDF will be emailed to you.

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There are two large collections on Tutela relating to employment. While not all have been reviewed, it is an excellent starting point for developing workplace/workforce curriculum.

  1. Employment Curriculum:
    1. Essential Skills
    2. General Employment Curriculum
    3. Sector Specific Curriculum
  1. Employment Teaching Resources:
    1. Assessment Tools
    2. Module Planning
    3. Teaching Resources
    4. CLEO Employment Rights Lesson Plans
    5. Lesson Plans for NOC Classifications
    6. Language for Work Series Lesson Plans

Free to join. Free access nationally. Must register then search Tutela Collections.

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ABC Life Literacy Canada, with Canadian Business Partners, promotes  literacy in health, workplace, family, finance, digital, civic and life. Its workplace with Canadian business partners, Up Skills, promotes Employability Skills (similar to Essential Skills). Workbooks are available to download.

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The site includes searchable databases:

  • Occupations
  • Fields of study
  • Outlook
  • Wages

The point of view is Essential Skills. There is an online assessment of individual skills and knowledge, descriptions of the nine essential skills and access to a Canadian national job bank.

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The Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society (AWES) has a number of workforce/workplace specific resources. This handbook can act as a stand-alone training program in an ESL employment class.

The general site contains a variety of additional documents supporting organizational development, workplace safety, leadership and so on.

Free access to the general site:

Free access to the handbook:

The Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society (AWES) has a number of workforce/workplace specific resources. This workbook can act as a stand-alone training program in an ESL employment class.

Free access to the workbook: