Schools in Waterloo Region offer numerous programs designed for to support your children's education. These programs and classroom settings will suit the children's needs and skills. Many schools also offer language training for newcomer students.

English as a Second Language

Elementary schools in Waterloo Region run English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Literacy Development (ELD) programs. ESL helps students who read and speak another language to learn English as their second language. English Literacy Development (ELD) programs help students who have not yet learned to read or write and develop children's English language skills.

At the secondary school level, there are five "magnet" schools for ESL and ELD programs in Waterloo Region. Other secondary schools offer limited ESL and ELD programming.

Settlement support

Most public and Catholic schools in Waterloo Region have settlement workers. The workers help newcomer students and parents adjust to school and life in Canada. This is run through the Settlement and Educational Partnerships in Waterloo Region (SEPWR) program

Newcomer orientation week

Before the beginning of each school year, a Newcomer Orientation Week is held through the SEPWR program in local secondary schools with high numbers of ESL students.  It is a peer-led program designed to ease the transition into high school by providing opportunities for newcomer youth to familiarize themselves with their schools and build relationships prior to the first day of school.


YMCA Immigrant & Employment Services

800 King Street W, Kitchener ON
258 Hespeler Road, Cambridge ON

KW Phone: 519-579-9622

Cambridge Phone: 519-621-1621

Email YMCA Immigrant & Employment Services

Waterloo Region District School Board Welcome Centre

325 Louisa Street, Kitchener

Phone: 519-570-0003

Email WRDSB Welcome Centre