March 24, 2023

Prêt à emporter: Free Mise à niveau English Course Materials

Out of a desire to support all students in successfully learning English at the college level, in 2019, our team at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit started working on a Moodle-based Mise à niveau course (604-000-MQ) that allows colleges to offer absolute low-beginner students a springboard to their first required general education English course. After collaboratively designing and testing our course with colleagues from 6 other colleges thanks to an Entente Canada-Québec grant, the platform is now available to the entire network, and as of the winter 2023 session, 23 colleges are already exploring its possibilities or using it. In this article, we explain why this is important in terms of equity and access, and how the platform works.

Addressing an important need

As part of their general education courses, Francophone CEGEP students need to successfully complete 2 English as an Additional Language (EAL) courses, which are called English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in Quebec. Four levels are offered (100-103) and allocated to students after a placement test. However, an important number of students do not feel adequately prepared to pass the lowest-level course Anglais de base (Basic English, 604-100-MQ) because:

  • they have experienced difficulties in English during their school career in the Quebec educational system
  • the English instruction they received elsewhere has not prepared them adequately for the reality of CEGEP

The ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur (Ministry of Higher Education) [in French] enables colleges to offer a Mise à niveau (MAN) course [a remedial course] based on the competency 01PM Comprendre et exprimer des messages simples en anglais [Understanding and expressing simple messages in English] or 1002 Communiquer en anglais, langue seconde [Communicating in English as a second language]. Financing is available [in French] to offer a remedial course, yet interviews we conducted with college administrators indicate that this possibility isn’t widely known. In order to promote offering remedial English across the college network and support student success in an inclusive and equitable manner, we have designed Anglais précollégial, a free fully-interactive Moodle-based course containing all the materials and activities necessary for colleges to offer 60 hours of remedial English in the format of their choice [testimonials in French]:

  • Synchronous
  • Asynchronous (mandatory or optional)
  • Hybrid (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Help centre workshops or support for tutors working with MAN students

Anglais précollégial allows students to:

  • progress at their own pace while having access to the tools to succeed in Basic English
  • improve their English without affecting their R-score
  • benefit from teacher guidance and support when it is offered in synchronous or hybrid formats
  • maintain full-time student status when it is offered as a non-credit course with course units attached

What is Anglais précollégial and how does it work?

Anglais précollégial is a Moodle-based course. It is available free of charge but needs to be integrated into each college’s own Moodle platform [in French]. Our team is available to support you in this step during the winter 2023 session, but the course will still be available even beyond the end of the ECQ grant. Please do not hesitate to contact either of us by email (Chloé and Rebecca) if you would like to receive access to explore the course, or if you would like to implement it locally at your college.

Video presentation of the Anglais précollégial course

The course is designed to help absolute or low beginner students (the equivalent of A0 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) acquire the tools and concepts they need to succeed in Basic English 604-100-MQ. It offers material to address all 4 language skills while initiating them to college life:

  • reading
    Computer screenshot of an activity entitled “Reading: Simple Past – Humans of New York.” On the right of the screen, we see a short text of 9 lines giving information about a Vietnamese young adult. Under the text are 2 images: a photo of the Vietnamese girl, wearing a light pink long-sleeved top and sitting on a chair, and a photo of her parents standing behind a bush of yellow flowers, the man’s hand over the woman’s shoulder.

    Screenshot of a reading comprehension activity designed with H5P

  • listening
    Computer screenshot of an activity entitled “Watching: A Day in the Life of a Student.” We see a screen of a video that has been paused. A wide-smiling student wearing a red coat is closing his laptop. A pop-up window displays a prompt: “choose the best answer” and underneath are two answer options.

    Screenshot of a watching activity designed with H5P

  • speaking
    Computer screenshot of a Moodle section entitled “Pronunciation Labs,” which presents 4 practice activities as clickable links

    Screenshot of a Moodle section presenting 4 pronunciation practice activities

    A female student sitting in front of a white wall is recording herself for what we presume is a speaking activity

    Screenshot of a student recording a speaking activity with Flip

  • writing
    Computer screenshot of a grammar exercise. The screen is divided vertically into 2 parts. On the left, the instructions state “Click on all the verbs in the PRESENT SIMPLE.” Underneath are 5 sentences in which 7 gaps have been filled with verbs. On the right of the screen, we see a map of Canada in which the province of Alberta is identified in red. Underneath is a photo of a female Indigenous worker wearing a hard hat and safety glasses.

    Screenshot of a grammar exercise designed with H5P

    Computer screenshot of a writing exercise. The screen is divided vertically into 2 parts. On the left, the instructions state “Put the words in the correct order.” Underneath are 2 sentences with gaps that need to be filled to make up a dialogue. The words to drag into the gaps are at the bottom of the screen. On the right of the screen, we see an image of two young adults, a man and a woman, dressed in sports clothes, waving to each other against the backdrop of a park and skyscrapers.

    Screenshot of a writing exercise designed with H5P

The mini-lessons and activities, enough for over 60 hours of work for students, have been created so that they can be completed asynchronously or with teacher guidance. Students need headphones and a microphone to complete most of the speaking and listening activities. All content is fully customizable so teachers can curate or adapt content to their local needs.

There are 5 fully interactive modules, each developed around specific themes but that recycle vocabulary and grammar for maximal exposure while leading them progressively towards what will be expected in 100-level courses:

  • Module 1: Introduction
  • Module 2: Cégep and Technology
  • Module 3: Food and Home
  • Module 4: Work/Life Balance
  • Module 5: Where Next?

In order to offer students meaningful and authentic tasks, we leveraged the power of Moodle plugins and outside resources:

  • H5P: interactive and gamified content that targets all 4 skills
  • Poodll: pronunciation practice
  • Flip speaking practice: get students interacting asynchronously with the possibility of teacher feedback
  • Smore: mini-tutorials are also available outside of this course to support students if so desired
Computer screenshot of 6 tiles identified with different coloured headings: “to do vs to make,” “prepositions,” “desserts and snacks,” “soft skills,” “articles,” and “question words.” Each clickable tile represents a module made up of pages with vocabulary, sentences in context and links to audio files to help with pronunciation.

Screenshot of 6 mini-tutorials designed with Smore


Offering this open-source course helps students acquire English, whether they have been educated in Quebec or elsewhere. The additional pedagogical support also contributes to equity in access to education by ensuring that all students have the skills necessary to obtain a degree.

Since the Service regional d’admission au collégial admits these students without verifying that they have the necessary linguistic and academic skills to succeed at the post-secondary level, namely in the general education disciplines, this potentially sets them up to fail and ultimately be excluded from future employment and higher education opportunities. We encourage all colleges to use what we have created as they see fit, keeping in mind that our Moodle-based Mise à niveau course is free and completely modifiable to meet local needs.

For detailed information about the course, please see our onboarding guide/FAQ.

For more information, contact us!

About the authors

Chloé Collins

A lover of languages, Chloe Collins has a background in journalism and translation, and has been teaching for over 12 years. She taught many varieties of English as an additional language (EAL) in California, South Korea, Tunisia, Argentina, and UAE. She has been teaching at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit since 2016 and enjoys exploring plurilingual pedagogy and edutech and their applications in an interactive classroom.

Rebecca Peters

Rebecca Peters has been teaching English as an additional language at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit since 2008. She is convinced that success is possible with the right tools and resources and with the right commitment. In her 26th year of teaching, Rebecca continues to deepen her knowledge based on the needs of her students and her educational community, focusing on classroom technology, inclusive teaching and learning, and training future language teachers.

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