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Academic upgrading

Similar to bridging, academic upgrading prepares learners for further studies such as post-secondary education.

Upgrading typically aims at learners with or without a Canadian high school diploma, but who need specific pre-requisites for post-secondary programs.

Some schools offer a transitional year as upgrading and bridging to post-secondary studies.

For academic upgrading in Ontario:

Please also see BridgingTransitional Year.

Accredited learning

Usually known as formal education that receives officially granted credits from recognized educational institutions.

Credits are granted through meeting prescribed standards established by authorities or jurisdictions such as the Ontario’s Ministry of Education (, and the Ontario Ministry of Trades, Colleges, and Universities (

Please also see CEGEPsCommunity collegesCareer collegesDiplomaDegree.

Advanced standing

Technically transfer of accredited courses from one program or institution to another. Successful recognition of advanced standing usually grants credits that allow a student to pursue studies at a higher level, such as from diploma to degree.

Examples of agreements of granting advanced credits:

Please also see Transfer credits.


A type of post-secondary training, apprenticeship is workplace-based learning in skilled trades involving concurrent in-school studies and on-the-job training under qualified supervision.

Many Canadian occupations train tradespeople using apprenticeship models that require licensing at the end of a program.

For more information:

Please also see On-the-job trainingTrades.


To complement evaluation, assessment is a process of determining learning needs, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and aptitudes using tests, demonstrations, and portfolios, so that results can be used to determine competencies for placement in appropriate courses of study and employment.

An example of skills assessment is the Essential Skills Indicator (Canada):

Please also see EvaluationRubricsJob placement.


Basic skills

Also known as Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS), these are preparatory skills in reading, writing, math, computer technology, interpersonal communication, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Many community colleges offer LBS to upgrade adult learners for further education, training, job readiness, or independent living.

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see Essential skills.

Blended learning

Also known as “mixed mode” or “hybrid” learning, it refers to courses or programs that combine face-to-face meetings in classrooms with distance learning using on-line technology (such as e-learning).

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see Distance education.

Bridging programs

Also known as academic bridging programs, they are post-secondary opportunities for learners whose prior learning may need upgrading to achieve credentials in designated fields of study.

Some institutions also offer fast-tracking bridges for learners to complete their education in a shorter time.

Many post-institutions offer bridging opportunities. One example is Ryerson University:

Please also see Academic upgradingTransitional Year.



Publicly funded pre‑university colleges in the province of Québec, CEGEPs are unique programs required for admission to university or technical training.

After completing high school or Grade 11, Québec students will attend two years of a CEGEP’s “general program” before finishing an undergraduate degree at a university. An alternative is a two-year “vocational program” before attending professional training at a technical school.

For more information:


Education in Québec:

Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP)

A form of financial aid, CSLP is an interest-free loan system in Canada that helps post-secondary students pay for their education.

While the federal government funds the CSLP, the provinces operate parallel programs to distribute loans to applicants eligible for tuition assistance.

For more information:

Please also see Financial Aid; OSAP.

Career colleges

Usually private vocational schools, these colleges are permitted to grant certificates, diplomas, and applied degrees in some cases.

As alternatives to public and non-profit colleges, career colleges usually specialize in shorter programs across fields in technical, business, health services, and applied sciences.

For more information:

Please also see Community colleges.

Community-based adult learning

A wide range of learning programs in locations where learners live and work, these programs help adult learners gain connections to new knowledge, integrated community participation, and responsible citizenship.

Some programs are tuition-free or geared to income that provide adults with learning experiences that many may not be able to afford otherwise.

Often delivered by non-profit organizations in collaboration with local institutions, these programs make themselves relevant to learners’ lives via project-based activities, dialogues, debates, and some professional development.

An example of community-based adult learning is the University in the Community coordinated by the Workers’ Educational Association of Canada.

For more information:

Please also see Learning in the CommunityUniversity in the CommunityWEA.

Community colleges

These institutions include public post-secondary schools such as colleges of applied arts and technology (CAATs) in Ontario, general and vocational colleges or CÉGEPs in Québec, and poly-technical institutes that provide specialized professional training.

Community college admission usually requires successful high school completion. However, all colleges offer bridging and upgrading programs, and some colleges now have degree-granting abilities.

For more information:

In Canada:

In Ontario:

Please also see Career collegesOntario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Continuing education

Often on a part-time basis, continuing education represents a wide spectrum of general interest, personal enrichment, post-secondary, and career-related courses and programs that support additional, extra-curricular, and lifelong learning for adults.

However, many institutions offer at least some formal programs through their continuing education departments, so that participants can achieve certificates, diplomas, and even degrees equivalent to full-time credentials.

To accommodate the needs of adult learners, continuing education classes are usually offered in the evenings, on weekends, and by distance learning methods.

For more information that supports continuing education students:

Please also see Lifelong learning.

Co-operative learning

Educational approaches that incorporate academic and experiential learning.

Secondary and post-secondary students who choose co-operative learning are engaged in concurrent classes and productive work experiences.

From these work-study opportunities, students will receive academic credits, nominal wages, and performance evaluation from supervising employers.

For more information:

Please also see ApprenticeshipOn-the-job training.


Specific qualifications, achievements, personal qualities, and personal background typically used to interpret an individual’s suitability for a task.

Typically, academic credentials refer to formal documents that recognize an individual’s formal and professional achievements, typically in the form of transcripts, employment records, and letters of recommendation.

For more information:

Please also see Accredited learningDegreeDiploma.


A specific set (syllabus) of planned purposes, content, activities, objectives, and evaluation for teaching and learning in single courses or entire programs used by teachers and learners.

Curriculum is an educational field with specialists such as content designers, subject experts, trainers, examiners, and researchers who create teaching and learning material in fields of study from A to Z.

An example of curriculum material is the Welcome to Canada syllabus:

Please also see Accredited learning.



A formal designation issued by recognized institutions as completion of university-level studies.

In Canada, a Bachelor’s degree (an undergraduate credential) after achieving fifteen courses is called “general”, while a “specialized” or “honours” degree requires completion of twenty courses. Master’s and doctoral degrees are graduate or advanced designations after satisfying academic requirements in research, specialization, publishing, and in some fields, a professional practicum.

Other advanced degrees include MD for medical doctors, DMD for dentists, and JD (or LLB) for lawyers.

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see CredentialsHigher learningOntario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.


A diploma is a credential granted by a recognized institution upon completion of a prescribed course of study.

A diploma usually requires more credits than a certificate, but fewer courses than a degree. Most full-time programs in community colleges are diploma-based.

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see Community collegesCredentialsHigher learning.


They are conditions that suggest some impairment, limitations, or restrictions that can be intervened with professional advice and compensatory strategies.

Disabilities may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or a combination of these conditions.

A disability may be present from birth, but it can also occur during a person’s lifetime. A permanent disability may indicate some long-term barriers to full participation in daily activities, and may need accommodation from a school or an employer.

Examples of accommodation include assistive technology, professional guidance, tutoring, and other supportive strategies at home, school, and work.

For more information:

Please also see Learning disabilitiesSkills transfer.

Distance education

Teaching and learning conducted not in a physical classroom using face-to-face communication, but through postal services, mass media, and the Internet.

Teachers and learners of distance education have some, little, or no face-to-face contact on a regular basis with each other. Students usually register in distance learning courses at institutions that offer them.

Most Canadian post-secondary institutions have distance learning courses and programs that can enroll students from any location in the world.

For more information:

Please also see Blended learningVirtual learning environment.


Documentation is the process of presenting a set of formal documents on paper, online, on digital media, or in alternative formats such as audiotapes or CDs.

In adult learning, documentation usually involves collecting, submitting, receiving, and verifying formal documents such as transcripts and work records for assessing and evaluating an individual’s credentials.

An example of evaluating documentation in Canada:

Please also see Accredited learningAdvanced standingCredentialsProfessional certificationTranscriptTransfer credits.


ESL for adults

Short for “English as a Second Language”, ESL is English language classes for adults.

In Canada, ESL has a descriptive scale of language abilities from basic to advanced using Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB).

While ESL credit courses are offered to secondary school or mature students in post-secondary programs, non-credit ESL classes are available to new Canadians through local school boards, provincial ministries of education, and the federal Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI).

As a field of study, ESL is a growing specialization in Canada and other countries where English is at least one spoken language.

For information about Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC):

Please also see Enhanced language training;LINCTESL.

Enhanced language training

Also known as ELT, it is a federally funded English language training program with work-related components intended for high English proficiencies. ELT is usually taught to adults such as professionals trained outside Canada, and it usually incorporates a workplace experience such as a practicum.

For more information:

Please also see ESL for adultsLINCTESL.

Essential skills

There are close to 10 essential skills in adult learning that lead to employability: reading, writing, using documents, numeracy, computer literacy, logical thinking, verbal communication, collaborating with others, and lifelong learning.

Workers are expected to demonstrate essential skill appropriate to their occupations and workplaces.

On a regular basis, essential skills also mean receiving job-related training, updating their credentials, and learning about new work equipment, procedures, services, and products in the context of their employment.

For more information:

Please also see Basic skillsICT skillsTransferable skills.


To complement assessment, evaluation is process of systemically determining if learning, training, or work performance has met specific outcomes, expectations, or criteria known as “rubrics”.

Evaluation can be formal or informal, but it should provide credible and useful feedback to facilitate decision-making for teachers and learners, such as PASS or FAIL, or grades earned.

An example of evaluation is a transcript, work performance review, or verbal feedback that uses reliable benchmarks or criteria, such as having credentials recognized:

Please also see AssessmentRubrics.

Experiential learning

Also known as “learning through doing”, it is a learning model through one’s participation, trial and error, and reflection on experience.

Experiential learning is often used in adult education when learners are expected to play an active, self-directing role through activities, experience, reflection, and self-evaluation.

Experiential learning also endorses learning beyond the classroom. These out-of-the-classroom experiences often provide students with connections to workers, mentors, and hands-on learning in their industries.

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see ApprenticeshipOn-the-job training.


Financial aid

Financial resources for post-secondary students authorized by either the provincial, territorial, or federal government.

These resources are usually offered as scholarships, bursaries, grants, regular loans, and emergency loans through lenders such as banks.

One can apply for financial aid through the financial aid office of an educational institution.

Similar to the mission of the CSLP (Canada Student Loan Program: and OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program:, financial aid offers interest-free loans, grants, and other forms of assistance to applicants who are individually assessed for eligibility.

Please also see OSAP.

First language

Similar to one’s mother tongue, a person’s first language is one learned from birth or within the first five years, or one that a person speaks the best from the benefits of early exposure and maintained throughout life.

First languages for Canadians include English, French, and other languages from Aboriginal cultures and immigrant communities.

Canadians who have grown up here, or who have spend substantial periods of their lives in Canada may identify English or French as their first language because of proficiency and cultural affiliation.

For more information about first official language spoken by Canadians at home:

Please also see Mother tongue.

Functional literacy

An essential skill, this term refers to acceptable information processing skills for reading, writing, and numeracy in social life, at work, and at home.

Examples of functional literacy include understanding age-appropriate books, newspapers, job application forms, training manuals, and other material requiring adequate reading, writing, and numeracy skills.

For more information:

Adult literacy in Canada:

Resources for adult literacy in the City of Toronto:

Please also see Basic skillsEssential skillsNumeracy.



Higher learning

Also known as “post-secondary education”, higher learning means formal education provided by universities, community colleges, training institutions, and other settings that grant academic and/or professional degrees, diplomas, and certificates, as well as applicable formal credentials.

All higher learning programs have strict requirements for lengths of study in specific fields, as well as admission requirements. However, many post-secondary institutions offer bridging and transitional courses to individuals without all the academic pre-requisites.

Higher education also makes many second-career programs available to adult learners.

For more information:

Post-secondary education in Canada:

Colleges and universities in Ontario:

Please also see DiplomaDegreeCommunity collegesOntario Ministry of Training, Colleges and UniversitiesPost-secondary education.

Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Also known as “Employment and Social Development Canada” (ESDC), this federal government department is responsible for developing, managing, and delivering social programs and services across employment, unemployment, income security, disability issues, essential skills development, and other work-related resources.

The ESDC provides services to Canadians from their first paid work experience to retirement.

For more information:

Please also see Job placement.


ICT skills

Employability skills needed for the efficient use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), including computer literacy for office procedures, research techniques, and using the Internet.

For more information about ICT’s importance to the economy:

Please also see Information literacyInformation technology.

Informal learning

On-going learning experience gained from everyday activities at work and home, as well as in public spaces, social interaction, and recreation.

Informal learning is not planned, intentional, organized, or structured in terms of goals, instructions, or time invested. Individuals learn informally whenever they are open to an experience that adds new knowledge to their lives.

When people engage unintentionally in many hours of informal learning each day, it becomes a significant part of their lifelong learning.

For more information:

Please also see Continuing educationLifelong learning.

Information literacy

An essential skill, information literacy involves knowing when one needs information, where to effectively locate this information, and how to select and use it in different formats.

In addition, to be information literate means having the ability to evaluate the usefulness of information, and to communicate it to a variety of audience.

An example of information literacy is the ability to search and collect material from wide-ranging mass media, including printed material, online content, and visual images.

An example of information literacy at one university:

A perspective on information literacy and critical thinking:

Please also see Essential skillsInformation technology.

Information technology (IT)

Increasingly more integrated into adult education, information technology is considered a vital part of information and communications technology (ICT).

IT refers to the use of computers, telecommunications equipment, and data engines for learning, work, business, as well as many aspects of household and personal life.

IT allows one to store, retrieve, send, search, and compile data using Internet-supported programs. It is also the digital information in mass media, including libraries, radio, television, publishing, films, and advertising – wherever words, images, data sets, and transmission of information are present.

For more information about IT in Canada:

Please also see Information literacyDistance learningVirtual learning environment.

Internationally educated professional

Also known as “IEPs” or “foreign-trained professionals”, these individuals are highly educated new Canadians who move to Canada by choice, and who were professionally employed in their home countries that would normally lead to regulated careers in Canada.

However, due to obstacles in recognizing their qualifications, and barriers with English or French, many foreign-educated immigrants experience obstacles when trying to secure work in occupations for which they hold credentials.

Nonetheless, IEPs are likely to enjoy increased success with more time spent in Canada.

There are currently bridging programs, further training, language courses, and second-career opportunities to boost the career success of internationally trained professionals who already hold professional credentials, including health care providers, engineers, IT experts, lawyers, business managers, and teachers.

For more information:

Please also see Enhanced language trainingSecond career students.


Job placement

In the context of training and employment, placement takes place when an individual’s knowledge and skills are suitably matched with a position and job description.

Canada has organizations, agencies, and services for job placements in both the public and private sectors.

Examples of government job placement services that are free of charge:


In Ontario:

Examples of private job placement agencies that charge user fees:

Please also see Human Resources and Social Development CanadaOccupationTransferable Skills.



Learning disabilities

By definition, learning disabilities affect learning through one or more functions necessary for reading, writing, and even spoken language based on symbols of communication.

Learning disabilities may be associated with neurological conditions, developmental concerns, genetic markers, or brain injuries that affect 5 to 10 percent of the population.

Although individuals with learning disabilities fall into normal ranges of intelligence, they may experience more learning barriers than their counterparts without the same concerns.

Common learning disabilities include dyslexia (reading), dysgraphia (writing), dyscalculia (math), and ASD (autism spectrum disorders) that suggest life-long conditions. However, these conditions can be compensated successfully via accommodations such as assistive technology, professional guidance, tutoring, and other supportive strategies at home, school, and work.

Adults can also be diagnosed with learning disabilities not previously identified in childhood or adolescence.

For more information:

Please also see Disabilities.

Learning in the Community

Similar to community-based learning for adults, learning in the community can offer programs in locations where learners live and work. These programs help adult learners explore new knowledge and skills, develop personal potential, and practice self-direction.

One example of learning in the community is the quarterly publication, Learning Curvesto engage adult learners as informed decision makers in education and career.

Another example of learning in the community is a weekly class coordinated by volunteer instructors for the Workers’ Educational Association of Canada. Using liberal arts and the humanities (e.g. literature) as curriculum, these classes facilitate dialogue, story telling, reading, writing, and critical discourse.

For more information:

Learning Curves

Please also see Community-based adult learningUniversity in the Community (UitC)WEA.

Learning styles

Each individual’s learning style is unique with his/her own way of thinking, feeling, perceiving, reasoning, and carrying out tasks.

For these reasons, everyone has strengths and limitations when learning and mastering concepts and skills.

Furthermore, self-understanding and self-discovery are tools for finding out more about how one learns best.

Adult learners may discover that they are primarily visual learners who learn best using their eyes (e.g. watching, reading). Some may also find out they are more successful learning with their ears (e.g. hearing, listening). Other learners may realize they pick up skills faster through hands-on experience (e.g. imitating, practicing).

Adult learners also discover they may have different affinities to knowledge and skills, or “multiple intelligence”.

For more information:

Learning styles:

Multiple intelligence:

Please also see Mind mapsStudy skills.

Liberal arts

Also known as “liberal studies”, or “general arts and science”, liberal arts represent teaching and learning of general knowledge, as well as the acquisition of an intellectual breadth and scope via eclectic courses that are usually electives in vocational, professional, and technical programs (e.g. engineering).

By definition, liberal arts offer diverse courses in the humanities (e.g. literature), social sciences (e.g. sociology), natural sciences (e.g. biology), and formal sciences (e.g. mathematics).

Almost all Canadian colleges and universities have developed liberal arts programs as diplomas, degrees, and as pre-requisites to further studies.

For a perspective on liberal arts:

Please also see Community-based adult learningLearning in the communityUniversity in the Community.

Lifelong learning

By definition, this term means regardless of age, experience, or academic credentials, lifelong learners continue to master new skills, attend classes or workshops, and gain new knowledge as they share it with others as learning opportunities.

These activities are self-directed and voluntary when learners choose to enhance personal development, employability, and emotional sustainability through a wide variety of activities.

Lifelong learners are also socially motivated by benefits such as group inclusion, active citizenship, and collaborative partnerships.

Examples of groups and organizations that promote lifelong learning:

The University of Toronto’s Academy for Lifelong Learning: and

Ryerson University’s Life Institute:

Lifelong learning in Canada:

Please also see Informal learning.


Short for “Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada”, LINC offers English classes funded by the federal government to assist with settlement, integration, and employment in Canada, and made available by local agencies, school boards, ethno-cultural organizations, and community centres.

Using Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) from Level 1 to 7, LINC has classes in different neighbourhoods, with most locations offering childcare services. Classes can be full-time or part-time, with some offered in the evenings and weekends.

LINC is open to all newcomers who are permanent residents, refugee claimants awaiting a hearing, and individuals at least 18 years old. However, it is not offered to Canadian citizens, visiting students, and visitors without letters of permission.

For more information:

For LINC in Ontario:

Please also see ESL for adultsEnhanced language trainingTESL.


Mature student status

A mature student is an individual at least 18 years old who has been out of school for a period of at least one year, and who is enrolled in a formal program to obtain a high school diploma or post-secondary credentials.

For more resources that support mature students in Ontario:

Secondary programs:

College programs:

University programs:

Please also see Second career students.


A learning process when more experienced or skilled persons (mentors) work to improve the skills of less experienced ones (mentees) through role-modeling, support, advice, performance appraisals, and knowledge-sharing.

Mentoring can be facilitated in formal learning settings, workplaces, and social environments. Teachers are often some of their students’ mentors through mutual exchanges in teaching and learning.

An example of mentoring is when a senior employee shows a junior one how to complete a task, or when a new worker “shadows” a seasoned colleague.

Mentors and mentees can also engage in long-term, professional mentoring relationships. Alternatively, mentors and mentees often become lifelong friends.

For more information:

Please also see ApprenticeshipExperiential learningOn-the-job training.

Mind maps

Also called “concept maps”, mind maps are organizational tools for visual information, often in the form of diagrams created around specific concepts.

A mind map usually presents an image or central concept in the middle of a page, to which associated concepts, ideas, images, words, and phrases are attached, with related and further ideas branching out from them.

Mind maps can be notes written as brainstorming material during a class or meeting, or drafted as ideas to be shared in a larger group or a presentation.

A mind map can also be a blueprint for planning, assignment preparation, or directions for more detailed tasks later on.

Technological options are now available for creating interactive mind maps.

Examples of traditional mind maps:

Examples of mind maps using prezi technology:

Please also see Learning stylesStudy skills.

Ministry of Education

Instead of a centralized federal ministry or national department of education, Canada’s educational system is made up of provincial and territorial jurisdictions that administer and regulate similar and compatible structures.

These structures ensure legitimacy in all levels of learning: early childhood, elementary, secondary, and post-secondary, as well as adult training and lifelong learning.

Under each jurisdiction, educational institutions are publicly funded by taxes, or privately operated as independent schools.

For more information about departments of education across Canada:

For more information about post-secondary and adult education in Canada:

Please also see Ontario Ministry of EducationOntario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Ministry of Citizenship

Canada has a federal Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship (MIC) that works with provinces to ensure successful outcomes for matters related to emigration, settlement, employment, and citizenship.

Most provinces also have a ministry or department of citizenship, such as the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade.

Together, both federal and provincial jurisdictions deliver programs to newcomers, such as ESL classes, employment assistance, matters in Canadian citizenship, and finding help with addressing daily concerns.

For more information:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

The Ontario Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship and International Trade:

Immigration, diversité et inclusion Québec:

Mother tongue

Also known to most people as first language or native language learned at home in early childhood, and one that is still spoken by individuals as adults.

In Canada, many individuals have learned two or more mother tongues and can use them equally well.

Mother tongues in Canada include the two official languages of English and French, and also non-official ones such as Chinese, Italian, Hindi, Tagalog, and Arabic maintained in the home by a multicultural population.

Aboriginal languages spoken by First Nations, Métis, and people in Canada’s north are also mother tongues if first learned at home.

For more information:

Mother tongues in Canada:

Aboriginal mother tongues in Canada:

Please also see First language.



Also known as functional numeracy, it is an essential skill and an ability to interpret numerical concepts, so that one can use mathematical functions as applied to social life, work, and planning, such as scheduling, budgeting, and managing one’s financial assets.

To learn more about Canada’s adult numeracy:

Please also see Basic skillsEssential skillsFunctional literacy.



Short for “The Ontario Student Assistance Program”, OSAP offers 24 combinations of loans, grants, scholarships, and bursaries to Ontario students. Available to full-time and part-time students, each applicant will be individually assessed for eligibility. Help with applications is also available to students at each post-secondary institution’s financial aid office.

For more information:

Please also see CSLPFinancial aid.


Short for “The Ontario Universities’ Application Centre” located in Guelph, OUAC is a publicly funded organization that processes university applications in Ontario. Since 1971, OUAC’s primary mission is to centralize nearly all Ontario’s university applications, to minimize duplication, costs, and time, as well as to increase efficiency in handling applications to Ontario’s 21 publicly-funded universities.

For more information:

Please also see Ontario Ministry of TrainingColleges and Universities.


Also known as career, vocation, employment, work, and labour, an occupation is a full-time or part-time activity associated with an enduring source of income.

Occupations are often directly related to the qualifications (education, training, skills preparation, and experience) of workers, with corresponding salaries, benefits, upward mobility, and on-going training or professional development.

Examples of occupations in Canada include lawyers, accountants, teachers, machinists, chefs, custodians, and entrepreneurs.

For more information about Canada’s occupations:

Please also see Job placementProfessional certification.

Ontario Ministry of Education

The Ontario Ministry of Education is the provincial legislative body that governs teaching and learning standards in Ontario from childcare, elementary, secondary, and adult education to employment and training for individuals who require special skills training.

For more information:

Please also see Ministry of EducationOntario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

The Ontario provincial legislative body that governs higher learning and that works in tandem with the Ontario Ministry of Education. This ministry focuses on formal post-secondary education, career preparation, apprenticeships, and adult learning. It also pays special attention to Ontario jobs, labour trends, and resources for post-secondary education.

For more information:

Please also see Community collegesHigher learningMinistry of EducationOntario Ministry of Education.; Post-secondary education.

On-the-job training

This is a model of skills training in public and private sectors that pays employees for learning in work settings outside formal classrooms. This training is intended to provide necessary knowledge, skills, and supervision toward full and satisfactory performance on the job.

For more information:

Please also see ApprenticeshipExperiential learningTrades.


Orientation refers to providing assistance to such groups as: 1) new Canadians who are adapting to the Canada’s language, culture, and society; 2) adult learners in unfamiliar settings, such as mature students; and 3) Canadian and international partner organizations, including sponsors of visiting trainees and students.

Orientation is a learning process to provide relevant information, and to optimize participants’ opportunities, success, and benefits.

Since each province or territory is responsible for orientation programs to new Canadians, mature learners, and international partner organizations, these programs may differ from region to region. However, in most jurisdictions, adult education models are used to assist individuals, groups, and organizations through experiential learning, self-directed choices, and continuous skills development.

Orientations are available to newcomers, adult students, and international organizations across Canada.

For more information:

Newcomers’ orientation to Canada:

Settlement services in Ontario:

Orientation for new students at one college:

Orientation for international partners:

Please also see Internationally educated professionalsReferralsWorkshops.


Polytechnic institutions

Polytechnic institutions are post-secondary settings that offer accredited programs across different fields in industrial arts, applied sciences, and technical subjects.

By definition, all Canadian community colleges are poly-technical in nature. Simultaneously, many universities and degree-granting institutions have also integrated polytechnic programs into their departments of science and technology.

An example of a publicly funded polytechnic institution is Ryerson University with full-time and part-time programs:

Some career colleges also claim to be polytechnical, such as RCC Institute of Technology:

For new developments in Canada’s polytechnic education:

Please also see Community collegesSTEM fields.


The portfolio of an adult learner or a professional is a collection of documents called “artifacts” that demonstrate an individual’s formal and informal achievements.

Often used to assess and recognize prior learning, portfolios are informative statements about an individual’s experience. For this reason, a portfolio usually collects letters, narratives, personal awards, test results, references, and other applicable artifacts that describe an individual’s personal and professional experiences.

Portfolios can also be created to demonstrate essential skills in adult learners:

For more information about portfolios in adult education and career development:

Please also see DocumentationPrior learning assessment and recognition.

Post-secondary education

Also called “higher education”, post-secondary education refers to college, university, polytechnic, and career training after secondary school.

Post-secondary education is governed by each province or territory, such as the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities:

For more information about post-secondary education in Canada:

Please also see ApprenticeshipCommunity collegesHigher educationPolytechnic institutions.

Prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR)

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition involves the identification, documentation, assessment, and evaluation of formal and informal competencies (skills, knowledge, and abilities) that have been acquired through a multitude of experiences, e.g. education, employment, training, independent study, volunteer work, travel, and hobbies.

An organization that specializes in PLAR is the Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA: that offers leadership on the recognizing the knowledge and skills of learners such as mature students, internationally educated individuals, and those who are unable to produce formal transcripts.

PLAR is usually a process that uses tests, demonstrations, portfolios, narratives, and other relevant challenges to support an applicant’s achievements that are not formally documented as on an official transcript.

For more information:

PLAR in Ontario:

Please also see AssessmentDocumentationEvaluation; Lifelong learning; PortfolioSelf-evaluation.

Professional certification

Usually formal and official recognition of one’s successful completion of training, professional certification is required for a wide range of occupations.

The Canadian government relies on many professional fields to govern their own certification processes.


Engineers Canada:

Ontario College of Teachers:

Canadian Nurses Association:

The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario:

The Canadian government also accepts decisions made by third parties such as the Canadian Council of Professional Certification for granting credentials in a wide range of industries. For more information:

Please also see Credentials; DocumentationOccupation.




A referral is the service or action of directing someone to access further answers to a question, or solutions to a problem.

Adult learners often make self-referrals when they are informed decision-makers. However, most adult learners actively seek referrals when they have a question or concern that may benefit from the expertise of others, such as that of an organization.

Using learner-centred adult education principles, almost all community agencies, school boards, training settings, and post-secondary institutions make referrals to facilitate the success of adult students.

An example of using referrals as services to support adult learners:

Please also see OrientationSelf-evaluation.


By definition, rubrics are outcomes, benchmarks, indicators, and expectations for a task such as an assignment. A rubric also allows an instructor to provide specific feedback to students at any point. 

For these reasons, a rubric should clearly state what an evaluator wants to measure in the criteria, with described levels of quality from high to low.

As criteria, rubrics can teach as well as evaluate when they help students with understanding a skill, and improving the quality of their work.

Students and their teachers should use the same rubrics so that the same skills are being taught and learned.

Examples of rubrics:

Canadian studies:

Employability skills:

Essential skills:

Please also see AssessmentEvaluationSelf-evaluation.


Second language assessment

When Canadians demonstrate proficiencies in English or French as a second language for work or further studies, they usually need an assessment to determine their abilities to use at least one official language.

For more information about second language assessment:

Skilled immigrants:

Public service candidates:

Acceptable third parties that assess English skills in students and workers can also be engaged. An example of such an agency is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS):

For IELTS locations:

For information about language requirements using Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB):

Please also see ESL for adultsEnhanced Language Training.

STEM fields

Short for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine”, STEM represents a group of fields and professions that are still under-represented by women.

A 2013 study commissioned by the Government of Canada is available to the public:

Please also see Higher educationPoly-technic institutions.

Second career student

By definition, a second career student is one eligible for training in an occupation currently in demand, and who is interested in this funding after his/her Employment Insurance has run out.

Almost all community colleges in Canada offer second career training programs available to adults who may be older or internationally trained professionals, but willing to maximize their chances for re-entering employment through enrolling in second career training.

For second career resources in Ontario:

Please also see Community colleges.


An adult learning skill, self-evaluation refers to a realistic understanding of one’s learning styles, progress, personal development, and learning needs before determining the next step.

Similar to evaluation, self-evaluation requires the use of rubrics with clear indicators, criteria, outcomes, expectations, and self-reflection.

Examples of workers’ self-evaluation in Canada:

Please also see AssessmentEvaluationRubrics.

Senior citizens

Also known as “retirees” and “seniors”, senior citizens are defined by Canada’s government as age 60 and older regardless of employment status.

When many seniors engage in formal and informal learning, they also enjoy benefits such as advice on skills training, financial planning geared to older Canadians, and waived tuition at many post-secondary institutions by age 65.

For more information:

Seniors and education:

Seniors and healthy living:

Please also see Lifelong learning.

Skills transfer

In the context of learning, training, and employment, skills transfer takes place when an individual’s knowledge and work competencies can adapt to the demands of different settings.

An example of skills transfer is a pediatric nurse with a new job in geriatrics where successful adaptations enable her/his clinical skills with children to be transferred to caring for the elderly.

However, these adaptations may challenge learners who do not fit neatly into mainstream systems of learning. Examples include persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, older workers, foreign trained professionals, mature students, and marginalized youth. Instead, their life experiences may benefit from alternative models of accreditation through supportive internships, culturally focused apprenticeships, fast tracked training, and special mentorship to optimize skills transfer.

For more information about adaptable skills transfer:

Employability skills:

First Nations culture and technical skills:

Older workers:

Persons with disabilities:

Please also see Internationally educated professionalsLearning stylesStudy skills.

Student loans

Financial assistance available to post-secondary students in the form of interest-free loans, authorized by a provincial jurisdictions or the federal government, and administered through lenders such as banks.

One can apply for student loans through the financial aid office of an educational institution, with applications individually assessed for eligibility by CSLP and OSAP.

For more information:

CSLP (The Canada Student Loan Program):;

Applying for Canada Student Loans:

OSAP (The Ontario Student Assistance Program):

Please also see Financial aid.

Study skills

These are strategies that help students with learning, organizing, processing, and using information effectively.

Successful students often use skills such as note-taking, reading, listening, word associations, and time management to optimize academic success.

Equally often can students use mind maps, cue cards, keywords, and imagery to help them study more effectively.

For more information:

Study tips for Ontario students:

Study strategies for Ontario adult learners:

Please also see Learning stylesMind mapsTutoring.



Short for “Teachers of English as a Second Language”, and also known as TESOL, TESL represents a growing field of study with an increasing number of professionals who specialize in teaching English as a second language.

TESL requires teachers to complete specific post-secondary courses, practicums, and certification. Once certified, graduates of TESL can work for school boards, colleges, universities, and community settings where English as a second language is taught.

For more information:

TESL Canada:

TESL Ontario:

Training locations in Ontario:

Government of Canada TESL job bank:

Please also see ESL for adultsEnhanced language trainingLINC.


A group of skilled occupations that require on-the-job training or apprenticeship, trades typically involve manual work, specialized skills, and licensing.

Examples of Canada’s tradespeople include construction craft workers, carpenters, electricians, hazardous material workers, ironworkers, refrigeration mechanics, pool installers, and roofers.

Once licensed, a tradesperson can either be employed or self-employed.

For more information:

Skilled trades in Canada:

Skilled trades in Ontario:

Please also see ApprenticeshipOn-the-job trainingOccupations.


A learning model based on teaching specific skills or behaviors, training applies to adult students whenever they are learning a skill toward mastery.

Training programs have trainers and trainees who are engaged in a learning process toward prescribed outcomes. An example of training is an apprenticeship where intensive training constitutes a trainee’s education under the supervision and guidance of a trainer or teaching master.

Resources to support training in Canada:

Please also see ApprenticeshipOn-the-job trainingTrades.


An official record of courses taken and grades earned by a student.

Official transcripts are confidential documents issued by an educational institution’s Registrar’s Office or Student Records Office.

Usually in a sealed envelope, a transcript is sent as proof of academic credentials to a prospective employer, or to an institution for further studies.

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see AccreditationAssessmentDocumentationEvaluation.

Transfer credits

Formal credits officially earned that can be transferred from one type of post-secondary institutions to another, and that allow students to have an integrated document of completed credits.

One example is the transfer of credits between colleges and universities when students and graduates switch from one system to the other.

For more information in Ontario:

Please also see Advanced standingCredentialsDocumentation.

Transferable skills

From the perspective of learning, training, and employment, transferable skills are an individual’s knowledge and skills that demonstrate competencies needed in almost all situations.

They are also called “employability skills” and “soft skills” when important social skills are highly desired by most employers.

Examples of transferable skills include active listening, interpersonal communication, teamwork, leadership, and adaptability to new situations.

For more information:

Please also see ICT skills.

Transitional year program

A transitional year is a full-time academic program that prepares students for university study. Similar to academic bridging, it is intended for adult students without all the formal qualifications for university admission.

During a transitional year, students are expected to pass required university-level courses within a specific time frame.

For more information about the transitional year at one university:

University of Toronto:

Please also see Academic upgrading and Bridging programs.


An amount students must pay post-secondary institutions for instructional services, such as the classes they attend with the presence of professors and other teaching personnel, and for enjoying student services such as campus public areas, libraries, counseling, tutoring, e-mail accounts, and even some extra-curricular activities such as athletic facilities.

Tuition does not include the cost of books and supplies.

In Canada, tuitions vary from program to program, with substantial differences between community colleges and universities and degree-granting institutions.

Determined by individual colleges, educational expenses at private career colleges are higher than those at publicly funded institutions.

For more information:

Tuition at Ontario’s community colleges:

Tuition at private career colleges:

Please also see CSLPFinancial aidHigher learning; OSAPPost-secondary education.


Usually known as teaching, learning, or helping in a small group such as with one teacher and one or several students, tutoring represents educational services in both public and private learning settings.

Tutoring also means extra help given to students who need individualized support with specific courses.

An example of publicly funded tutoring is the learning centre model at almost every Canadian public college or university:

An example of private tutoring is help offered by for-profit learning services:

Please also see MentoringWorkshops.


University in the Community (UiTC)

An initiative of the Workers’ Educational Association of Canada since 2003, the UiTC is an example of a community-based adult learning. Inspired by the Clemente Course in the Humanities, this program has been offering free, non-credit, university-level liberal arts courses to adults who may not consider university study otherwise.

For more information:


Clemente Course in the Humanities:

Please also see Learning in the communityWEA.


Virtual learning environment

Similar to most distance learning platforms, virtual learning, also called “e-learning” means using technology such as the Internet for teaching and learning in a virtual environment.

When technology is used to support educational activities, it facilitates a virtual classroom or virtual learning environment. Every time teachers and students are not engaged face-to-face but via technology, their learning space becomes “virtual”.

For more information about e-learning environments in Ontario:

Please also see Distance learningInformation technology.


WEA (The Workers’ Educational Association of Canada)

Founded in 1917 by university professors and trade unionists, the WEA is a non-profit, non-partisan charitable organization devoted to adult education and lifelong learning.

The WEA is a member of the International Federation of Workers’ Educational Associations (IFWEA) with connections with the Scandinavian community education associations, and the WEA’s of the Commonwealth.

The WEA in Canada is 98 years old. To foster learning in the community, it publishes Learning Curves quarterly, coordinates University in the Community (UiTC) classes, and supports learning in the community activities.

For more information:


WEA charitable registration number: #130259328RR0001

Learning Curves

University in the Community (UiTC):

Please also see Learning in the Community.


By definition, workshops are purposeful meetings at which people engage together for learning, discussions, and activities around particular subjects.

Workshops can be formal or informal. They can also be seminars used in adult learning for skills training, problem-solving, and professional development. For these reasons, classes for adults can be designed as workshops to foster interaction, group collaboration, social inclusion, and public speaking skills.

Similar to courses, meetings, and seminars, workshops need to be designed, organized, facilitated, and evaluated.

Workshops usually have facilitators who provide leadership, time management, structure, guidance, and expertise. Based on principles of adult education and group dynamics, workshops are widely used in almost all venues of adult learning.

For more information:

Workshops for students at one university:

Workshops for employment seekers in Ontario:

Please also see Community-based adult learningExperiential learningOrientation




Zero tolerance policy

A publicly supported code of conduct that fosters appropriate environments and behaviours, zero tolerance is based on Canada’s human rights laws.

For example, a zero tolerance policy ensures that all Canadians are protected from unsafe treatment such as discrimination across race, gender, and culture. It also prohibits violence such as harassment and assault.

In that sense, zero tolerance is a practice in response to offensive, injurious, and unwanted behaviors in public spaces. By extension, these same behaviors (such as domestic violence) also receive similar legal sanctions in private spheres such as the home and in personal relationships.

Other behaviors that receive zero tolerance from Canada’s laws include stalking, bullying, cyber-bullying, uttering threats, and creating disorder in public spaces.

In the context of teaching and learning, zero tolerance is a policy that applies to a wide range of academic and behavioral offenses, including breach of academic honesty (such as cheating, plagiarism, and helping someone t be dishonest).

For more information on interpretations of zero tolerance policies:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission:

The Ontario Human Rights Commission:

The Ontario Safe Schools Act:

The Canada Criminal Code:

Learning Curves

Personal Brand: Significance and Development Strategies

May 30 2024

In today's competitive marketplace, personal branding is essential for establishing a deep connection with your audience and differentiating yourself from competitors. By authentically representing your values and journey, you can build a strong, sustainable brand that resonates with people and creates lasting impressions.


Learning Curves

It wasn't just a pizza...

May 26 2024

A heartwarming story from a Lebanese friend highlights the cultural challenges and kindness encountered by immigrants, as two women collecting grape leaves for a traditional dish were unexpectedly gifted pizzas by a compassionate police officer. This anecdote underscores the importance of understanding and supporting the diverse needs of newcomers in our communities.


Teacher’s Voice
Learning Curves

Thinking about Exams

May 17 2024

Some colleagues and I find exams to be stressful experiences for college students who usually cram for them. Given viable options to traditional midterm and final exams, we want to try other learning components for the same marks. We’ve shared with each other reasons for choosing learning over testing. Over time, we’ve also seen administration’s interest in making exams optional.


Here In the House of Mirrors
Learning Curves

Coming to Canada

May 14 2024

Join Rob Herholz as he recounts his parents' courageous journey from Germany to Canada in the post-World War II era. Through vivid anecdotes and heartfelt reflections, discover the challenges they faced, the community they found, and the lasting legacy of gratitude they instilled in their family.