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English as a Second Language (ESL)

Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt

November 11, 2016 | Maria | Comments (0)

Do you speak Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt? Today, I'd like to highlight the library's Vietnamese collection. From books, to movies, to eResources and even art exhibits, the library has a lot to offer to Vietnamese Torontonians. 

Vietnamese Collection Locations

Many library branches have collections of books and movies in Vietnamese.


1,500 or more items


750-1,500 items


fewer than 750 items

An up-to-date chart can be found on Toronto Public Library Language Collection Locations page.

Find Material in Your Language


Toronto Public Library offers a Browse by Language option, which can help you find out what books, movies, music and digital content are available at the library in Vietnamese. You can also place holds to request the items you want. Clicking on Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt will take you to the library catalogue.

You can also use the menu on the left-hand side to narrow down your search. 


Mango Languages

Mango languages is a great resource for learning different languages, including English and Vietnamese. The English for Vietnamese speakers (Tiếng Anh Cho Người Việt Nam) section can help native Vietnamese speakers learn English. You can access it for free from Toronto Public Library website's Mango Languages section with your library card.

Mango Languages
English for Vietnamese speakers (Tiếng Anh Cho Người Việt Nam)

Myseum of Toronto Presents Cosmopolis: The World in One City

Cosmopolis Toronto: The World in One City is a photography series by Colin Boyd Shafer that captures the stories of people born in every country of the world but who now call Toronto home. Cosmopolis Toronto, offered in partnership with Myseum of Toronto and Toronto Public Library, will be displayed at select library branches across the city from from November 3, 2016 to January 8, 2017.

Helen Vietnam
Photo credit: Cosmopolis Toronto

Helen from Vietnam, pictured above, is part of the Finding Refuge exhibit located at Bloor/Gladstone branch. You can read Helen's story online.

Questions? Comments?

If you have any questions about the library's Vietnamese collection, or any comments about this blog post, please post them below. 

Learning at Any Age

August 26, 2016 | Chantel | Comments (0)

I remember the first day of school like it happened yesterday. My mom waving and smiling as I walked through the doors. Me with my hands clenching the lunch box tightly, while thinking how afraid I was of this strange place. I didn't know anyone and I couldn't understand what they were saying to me. So many thoughts were going through my mind -- will the teacher be nice, will I meet new friends?  

Fortunately, there are resources to help you and your child prepare for a new school to make the transition easier.

First Day of School

First Day of School

By: Nora Gaydos

A parenting book with a helpful advice section to assist parents in getting their child ready for school on the first day. 




Sumi's first day of school ever Sumi's First Day of School Ever

By: Soyung Pak

A heartfelt story of a Korean-American student starting school in a new country that touches on the possible bad experiences and good experiences of a child's first day. 



Don't forget to check out these "Get Ready for Back to School" and "Your child's first day of school" blogs for more resources and book recommendations!

Splat the Cat Mouse's First Day of School The School

Bear's Big Day Tom and Sofia start school-Chinese Sam's First Day - Tamil

Children are not the only ones who need to prepare for school; adults returning to school might need to as well. If you are an adult thinking about going back to school -- it's never too late! Whether you want to improve your English, brush up on a subject or write an entrance exam, the library has the resources to help you. 

All library branches have an English as a Second Language (ESL) collection which consists of books, CDs and videos that can help newcomers learn the English language. You can also find materials on writing the TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS exams. If you would like to learn English with other people, several branches offer ESL classes or English Conversation Circle as a way for people to practice speaking. 

For those looking to brush up on a subject or write an exam to get into a program, you can try some of our online resources available to you at home.

Learning Express LibraryThis resource is great for those wanting to go back to school. There are practice tests and exercises on various subjects such as grammar, math and more for high school students as well as for college prep. There are also practice tests for standardized exams such as LSAT, GED, MCAT, TOEFL, iBT and TOEIC. 


Tense BusterAnother great tool to use for improving your English grammar. You can go through practice exercises and tests on different aspects of grammar such as modal verbs, past continuous and prepositions for ESL learners to the more advanced levels. 


If you're like me and like to learn anything and everything, don't forget to check out Toronto District School Board for adult high school classes and community programs held at different locations across Toronto. Of course, another alternative is to attend one of our library programs on topics such as starting a small business or learning basic computer skills and gain knowledge for free!

Now, who says learning is only for the young?





Ukrainian at the Library

August 5, 2016 | Maria | Comments (3)

This week, I sat down with fellow librarian Olena, who moved to Canada from Ukraine. She happily agreed to share her immigration story and offer advice to newcomers.


Olena was born in Kherson, a city in Southern Ukraine. She moved to Canada in 2003 with her husband and six-year-old son. When she first moved to Canada, her home library branch was Mimico Centennial in Etobicoke. Today, Olena works as a librarian at Toronto Public Library’s Albert Campbell Branch.

What was it like moving to Canada?

Olena: Of course there was a lot of excitement. Also relief, because it is a many-years process to get in. So lots of interviews, document scans, screenings and checkups before you get the visa.


Richview Branch

Did you know? Richview branch has a medium-sized Ukrainian collection, with 730 books, 42 movies and videos and 213 music CDs that you can borrow and take home.

Was it scary, moving to a new country?

Olena: No. Not at all. I had big hopes. No fears or concerns. The feeling was great and hasn't changed.

Are you happy in Canada?

Olena: Oh, yes!



Did you know? Runnymede has a medium-sized Ukrainian collection, with 934 books, 29 movies and videos and 111 music CDs that you can borrow and take home.


Did the library play a role when you moved to Canada?

Olena: I loved the library when I came to Canada. Now, of course, the library is my life. It plays a big role because it’s my profession.



Did you know? Toronto Reference Library has a large Ukrainian collection, with 1,294 books that you can borrow and take home, and an additional 2,482 books that you can use in the library.

What’s your favorite thing about the library’s Ukrainian collection?

Olena: That we have Ukrainian folk songs for children and adults at the library. Ukraine is famous for the literature, yes, but Ukraine is also famous for its singers’ talent and its songs.


 Ukraïnsʹki pisni ta romansy MINSKY, Michael Ukrainian Songs Ukraïnsʹki marshi UKRAINE Dumky (45 Folk Songs)     

Did you know? Toronto Public Library has free Ukrainian eMusic that you can listen to online with your library card.


Is there any advice you’d like to give to someone who’s new to Canada?

Olena: The shortest road to success in Canada is language, language, language, which you have to learn, learn, learn.

Unfortunately, even those who come to Canada with seemingly good English still need time to make their English fluent and Canadian. Very often people with strong English language skills learn from books, which is very often not the same thing as how people speak. I was an English teacher back home. I had a strong command of English — reading, writing, speaking, grammar. When I came to Canada, I knew British English. Words like “tram”.  It’s such a small difference, but there are so many local variations. It takes years.

If you’re like me and come to Canada with English learned elsewhere, it’s the skeleton, but you need time to grow flesh on your bones. Worse yet is when you come to Canada without that skeleton.

But you have the library, library, library. It provides a variety of means to learn the language. You’ll always find a book you’ll enjoy. You’ll always find someone to talk to at the library: conversation circles and librarians.


  Library Customers

Did you know? The library can help you learn English, with ESL classes, conversation circles, study guides, books, videos, CDs and online tools. 


How did you learn English?

Olena: I’d find movies that have been translated and available in both languages. I’d also read books in my native language and then retell them to someone in English. Mostly it was my imaginary English-speaking friend.

Naĭkrashchyĭ syshchyk ta padinni͡a  Karpatsʹkyĭ kapkan Taras Bulba The conqueror

Did you know? Toronto Public Library has a wide variety of books, music and movies in Ukrainian?


Do you have any advice on finding work in Canada?

Olena: Finding work is the hardest. I sympathize. My advice? Patience. Persistence. Education.

Forget all your previous experiences and accomplishments. The faster you can accept that you need to start over, that all your past accomplishments were in a different country and that no one knows about them, the better.

At the end of the journey, it’s very rewarding.

Career Books

Did you know? The library has a lot of information to help you find a job in Canada


Do you have any advice on making friends in Canada?

Olena: Seriously, there isn’t much time to make friends. You come here in your 30s or 40s, you have two suitcases, your family and nothing else. First you have to master the language, then go back to university, and only then go back into the professional field. Canada gives means and opportunities, but everything takes time. If you find people along the way, while you are moving ahead in covering these gaps, that’s where you make friends.


If you have any questions or comments for Olena, or would like to ask about the library's Ukrainian collections, please post in the comment section below.

Arabic at Your Library | اللغة العربية في مكتبتك

July 3, 2015 | Suzanne | Comments (1)

Did you know that the Toronto Public Library carries over 3500 materials in the Arabic language? With thousands of materials for adults, teens and children, let us help you find your next favourite Arabic book or movie! We can also make it easier for you to learn Arabic in many different ways – books, audiobooks or online. Welcome to Arabic at your library! مرحبا بكم في اللغة العربية في مكتبتك  

There are seven locations that carry Arabic collections. The largest Arabic collection is at the Toronto Reference Library. Other locations that carry Arabic are the Agincourt, Albion, Fairview, Don Mills, Maryvale and York Woods branches.

A wonderful way to share the joy of reading with children who speak or are learning to speak another language is through dual-language books. Dual-language books tell the story in English and another language. We have a great selection of Arabic and English dual-language books for children.

Here are some of my personal favourites:

Brown Bear Brown Bear   Splash!   The Very Hungry Caterpillar   We're Going on a Bear Hunt

If you are looking to explore our Arabic collection, have a look at these links to our great collection of Arabic Books, DVDs, audiobooks & music.

Travelling somewhere and need to learn Arabic on the go? Try using Mango Languages to learn Arabic. Our Overdrive collection also has a number of titles to help you learn Arabic. Or explore a world of titles in hoopla.

You can learn Arabic:

How to Speak Arabic   Learn Arabic Easily Effectively and Fluently   Subliminal Learn Arabic

Or listen to some great Arabic music:

Arab Classics   Arabic Beat   Arabic Lounge

These are only a few examples -- find many more by browsing Hoopla and Overdrive.

Haven't got a library card yet? It's easy! To borrow materials from the library, all you need to do is sign up for your free library card. Find out how easy it is to get a library card. Here are instructions on how to get a library card in Arabic.


Come and enjoy the many different resources the Toronto Public Library has in your language.

Welcome to Arabic at your library!

مرحبا بكم في اللغة العربية في المكتبة الخاصة بك!

Newcomer Youth -- Welcome to the library!

December 24, 2014 | Suzanne | Comments (1)

Toronto Youth
   [Source: City of Toronto Youth Services]

Are you a youth who is new to Toronto? Maybe even new to Canada? There can be a lot to adjust to in your new home. Not only are you in a brand new place, but you might be starting at a new school, trying to make new friends, and of course, trying to have some fun too!  The Toronto Public Library is here to help you! Not only can we find that textbook or novel you need for an assignment, we also have free programs, homework help, computer classes, and so much more!

Do you want to learn more about your new home? Or perhaps you are preparing for the Citizenship Test. Why not try using the My Canada database from our online databases? This helpful resource has lessons and practice tests on Canadian history, geography, government & culture. Give it a try!

My Canada Database
Outside of the library, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has a great website called NewYouth is an online community for newcomer youth, offering information on any questions you might have about school, work, immigration, law, health or daily life.

NewYouth Website
I got the chance to speak to Jai Sahak, Content Coordinator for the site, who told us a bit about himself, his involvement with the site and his tips for newcomer youth. 

What is your involvement with the site and youth?

Jai: I am the Content Coordinator for and its French counter-part It’s my responsibility to identify issues relevant to newcomer youth in Ontario and present those issues using new media outlets. The site contains articles which address key issues every newcomer to Ontario faces. The site also has a large collection of videos from other newcomer youth sharing their experiences and challenges with starting a new school, making friends and life in Ontario in general. 

What is the most common inquiry you get from youth?

 Jai: From the discussion forum on our site, the most common inquiry we get from youth is in regards to access to better and more effective services in their city. Youth find it problematic to apply for Ontario Works, find a shelter, food bank or community health centre in their cities. More needs to be done at the school level to inform youth about what services are available to them and how they can benefit from their local library branch.  

What are some of the best ways newcomer youth can get involved in Toronto?

Jai: Newcomer youth in Toronto can do a number of things to get involved in their city. The most valuable way is to volunteer at their school, a community centre or a local library. Volunteering can provide youth with Canadian job experience which will be important once they start applying for work. It also allows them to learn the language and make new friends. Not to mention, it will count towards their community service hours required to graduate secondary school.

Thank you Jai for the great advice!  Just as Jai said, newcomer youth can do a number of things to get involved in their city. Volunteering at the library is a great way to get involved, and a Youth Advisory Group is great way to get involved!  Youth Advisory Group members can help with programs, services, and give feedback on youth collections.

Volunteer-YAGs[Youth Advisory Group Members]

The Toronto Public Library also has a lot of programs for youth.  Check out all of our Upcoming Programs for Teens or the TPL Teens blog for more info!

TEENSFor newcomer youth, the library has a program called Afterschool Newcomer Hubs where newcomer students in grades 7-10 can get free tutored homework help, workshops, electronic gaming and other fun activities.

From Homework Help to a Sushi Making Class, to help finding a job there is bound to be something for you. Best of all, programs and services at the library are always FREE!  Visit your local library branch today to find out how you can get involved!

Youth at Toronto Public Library Branch[Teens hanging out at the Cedarbrae Library] 

The Library Now Has Free Telephone Stories in 15 Languages!

June 7, 2014 | Iana | Comments (0)

Do you enjoy listening to stories? Have you heard of Dial-a-Story? Toronto Public Library has a FREE phone line 416-395-5400 you can call 24 hours a day and listen to recorded stories in 15 languages.

Recently we added a new language - there are now stories recorded in Tagalog!

It is a very popular service - only in the year 2012 the Dial-A-Story service received  251,917 calls!

Every day there are different stories to listen to in each language and they are divided by age - stories for younger children (7 and under) and for older children (up to 12).


You can listen to Dial-a-Story in the following fifteen languages:  


  • English Dialastory1
  • French
  • Cantonese
  • Gujarati
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tamil
  • Tagalog
  • Urdu


The newest language that will be added to the story phone line later in 2014 is Persian!

The library will also will continue to add new stories in the languages we currently have.

For example this year 6 new Portuguese stories were recorded and there are plans for new Spanish, French and English stories.

So listen to a story in a language that you know or even in a new one. It is fun to hear how a different language sounds. We all experience this daily in our multicultural city of Toronto.


Dial-a-story Helps  You Practice English as a Second Language (ESL)

Listening to stories in English and French is also a great way to practice your listening comprehension and vocabulary if you are learning English or French as a Second Language.

Among the stories that are recorded and rotated on the phone - there are also many stories recorded for special occasions such as Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month, Aboriginal Month, Christmas, Summer Reading Club.

If you are a newcomer - your family can enjoy stories in your heritage language as well as practice English.


Borrow Books and Other Materials in Your Language from the Library

In addition to stories by phone, you can of course find children's and adult books in many languages (we call them multilingual collections) at some of the branches of Toronto Public Library. Please visit your local library for more information, call our Answerline service at 416-393-7131 or browse the library's list of multilingual collections by language to find out which library has materials in your language.


Read Other Related Blog Posts from Library Staff:


So why not call 416-395-5400 for and enjoy some wonderful storytelling!

Free Multilingual eBooks Available for Download on OverDrive

December 9, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0)

TPL eBooks Campaign

Have you seen our advertising campaign for free eBooks from the library?
Have you ever used OverDrive to download eBooks or eAudiobooks?

With a Toronto Public Library card, you can access our OverDrive database to download eBooks for FREE! Visit the website for more information.

If you are downloading eBooks for the first time, we have many resources available for your support:

Getting started with eBooksNeed Technical Help with eBooksEBook Programs


NEW! Do you read in another language?

Recently, Toronto Public Library has expanded their digital collections to include multilingual eBooks in Spanish, French (Canadian), Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. You can now download eBooks in your native language!

*More languages will be added in time. 

Spanish Interface OverDrive
[Screen shot of OverDrive's eBooks in Spanish]

Download a bestseller today! If you require further assistance, see eBook FAQs.


Multicultural Films at The Toronto Public Library

October 2, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0)

Did you miss the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year? TIFF was the highlight of the city from September 4-14, 2013 and you can read what our blogger, Alyson, had to say in her Toronto International Film Festival post. Last year our blogger, Melanie, wrote a great post about TIFF and Exploring the World in Movies.


There are many great films featured each year and with a Toronto Public Library card, you can borrow some of these great films and watch them in the comfort of your own home! Take a look at some of our highlights:

  A Monster in Paris Flower Drum Song Inescapable Lore Princess Kaiulani

For more staff suggestions, Download the Film Watcher's Guide to Multicultural Films at the Library!

Last year's list can be found here: Download the MULTICULTURAL FILMS LIST

If you see a title you like, search for it through our library catalogue at and place a hold on it with your library card! If you have any questions, please call our answerline at: 416-393-7131


Do you have a library card?

Toronto Public Library CardHave you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.

Newcomer Artist Award Opportunity

August 16, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0)


Have you recently moved to Canada?

Are you a professional artist?

Are you a resident of the City of Toronto?

If you’re a recent new immigrant and a professional artist, you can apply for $10,000 in funding being offered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and TELUS.

TELUS Newcomer Artist Award

Administered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and Toronto Arts Foundation, this prize is specifically geared for an individual artist who is a newcomer to Canada, a resident of the City of Toronto and making a positive impact in their community through their artistic practice.

Deadline is Sept. 10, 2013

You are eligible if you are:

  • An individual artist
  • A newcomer to Canada (having moved to Canada within 1 to 7 years)
  • Over the age of 18
  • A current resident of the City of Toronto (Must have lived in Toronto for a minimum of 1 year)
  • A Neighbourhood Arts Network member (You can sign up for our free membership prior to applying at


For more information on the Art selection process or contact. Please visit the Neighbourhood Arts Network website.




ESL Summer Classes, Learn English with Mango and More

June 4, 2013 | Iana | Comments (4)

ESL section at the libraryThe ESL summer brochure of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) just came out and here is the good news for English language learners in Toronto this summer! You can attend summer  ESL (English as a second language) classes between July 2-26, 2013.

The choice of classes during the summer is more limited that the rest of the year, but there are still 23 locations spread across the city that you can attend ESL classes, while enjoying summer. Download the pdf version of the Adult ESL Summer Program 2013 brochure. (At the end of summer - check your local library for the next ESL brochure with the busy Fall class schedule by TDSB.)

To register:

  • Simply go to the ESL location of your choice on the first day of class.
  • Remember to bring a proof of residency in Canada.

Please note that those classes are FREE for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, convention refugees, refugee claimants, Live-in Caregiver program participants, Canadian experience class participants, provincial nominees. All adults, 18 years and older, are welcome. "Visitors" to Canada can attend classes for $7 per hour.

For any questions about these ESL classes - contact the TDSB ESL program: or 416-338-4300. The Toronto Catholic School Board (TCDSB)  - another public school board in the city may be offering free  ESL classes in the summer - for more information: 416-397-6600 or


Mango Languages icon - online learning centre



If you prefer to study from the comfort of your home or on your mobile devide, especially during one of those hottest and most humid summer days in Toronto - why not try the online ESL courses offered by MANGO? With your free Toronto Public Library card - you can login to Mango at any time. Then choose between a "basic" and "complete" ESL course.

Mango offers customized ESL courses for fifteen languages! These are: ESL Spanish, ESL Brazilian Portuguese, ESL French, ESL Russian, ESL Mandarin, ESL Cantonese, ESL Italian, ESL Arabic, ESL Japanese, ESL Vietnamese, ESL Polish, ESL Korean, ESL Greek, ESL German, and ESL Turkish.

How to find the "Mango" database at the library? Visit the Toronto Public library's website and simply type "MANGO" in the search box, then click on the Mango icon and enter your library card number.


  Watch this "Getting a library card" video,  TPL's youtube channel.



Have you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.


Families at the libraryToronto's libraries are open all summer long and are air-conditioned (so helpful in the hot humid days  of July)! They have welcoming spaces and staff, and are usually located nearby (98 busy branches to choose from, and a bookmobile!).  

Each library branch has some ESL materials on the shelf,  and many more can ne requested from the website catalogue. The largest ESL centre is at the Toronto Reference Library. For more on that, read our previous post: Learning English at Toronto Reference Library: The largest ESL collection in Toronto.


How to find more summer ESL classes in the community:

  •  Call 211 or search the 211Toronto website for ongoing ESL classes (and other community resources) offered by newcomer agencies.
  • Talk to a summer LSP settlement worker at 20 branches of Toronto Public Library. They provide information for newcomers, including ESL.
  • Just arrived in Canada? Visit a YMCA Language Assessment and Referral Centre to get your English language tested and be referred to the appropriate class level (book your appointment with the YMCA assessment hotline at 416-925-546).


Welcome! This blog is written by librarians and provides information and resources available from the library and around Toronto to new residents of Canada. For more information see the Library's Help for Newcomers website