Online Resources for Newcomers

February 16, 2013 | Melanie

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How do I properly dispose of my old CD player? How do I get that pot-hole on my street fixed? Where can I get the flu shot?

These are some of the questions many newcomers may have when they arrive in Toronto, but many people may not know where to look.

The City of Toronto website is a great resource for finding answers to your everyday questions. Here are a few of my favourite City of Toronto online resources.



Waste Wizard is a great online resource for finding out how to properly dispose of unwanted items. I use this resource quite frequently because many times I'm not sure whether something goes in the garbage or recycling bin. I guarantee that once you start using it, you won't be able to stop!

Waste Wizard


311 is a muncipal information service that provides access to information about non-emergency city services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can access 311 either by phone (just dial 3-1-1), or through their website ( If you have a question, and you don't know whom to ask, start with 311! If they can't answer your question, they'll be able to refer you to someone who will.

You can use 311 to request information for anything from tree pruning to water service, and even for road and weather conditions. Once, I even used 311 to report a dog I thought to have been abandoned. Whatever your question is, 311 will connect you with the right city service.



Did you also know that Toronto Public Library has some great online resources for newcomers and English language learners? You will need your library card to access these databases, but once you're logged in, you'll find a wealth of information to help you settle into your new life in Toronto.

Here are some of the best databases for newcomers and ESL students:



Road to IELTSThis IELTS database helps you to prepare and practice for your IELTS test by providing links to reading, listening, speaking, and writing practice tests. This database may come in handy, especially now that skilled workers and professionals who immigrate to Canada must provide proof of language proficiency.



Mango Languages is another great resource that provides online English language learning courses tailored for speakers of Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and other languages. If you're interested in learning a third or fourth language, Mango also provides language learning courses for fifty other languages, including Spanish, Japanese, Hindi, and even Pirate!



My Canada is an online resource that will help you learn more about Canada's history, geography, government, and culture.


This online resource will help you develop the skills you need to learn English. Study Skills Success offers courses on English reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Once you've mastered these four language skills, you can also try out their grammar, vocabulary, critical thinking and research courses.



Learning Express Library is your one-stop shop for practice tests, exercises, and skill-building courses on subjects ranging from math and science, to social studies and reading comprehension. Learning Express Library also provides online courses on job and career skills, including how to write a resume, tips for successful job interviews and job search information. But wait! There's more! Learning Express Library also provides TOEFL practice tests, as well as Canadian citizenship practice exams.

Learning Express Canada



Business WritingAnd last but not least, the Business Writing online resource is a great online learning tool for small-business owners, job seekers, and professionals alike. This online resource provides you with online courses for developing a variety of business and career related skills, including how to write a report, how to apply for a job, and even how to successfully share your ideas with colleagues.


So how do you access these wonderful online databases? It's easy! just follow these instructions:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on "Articles and Online Research."
  3. Click on "A - Z list of all databases."
  4. Search for your desired database from the list, which is in alphabetic order. Once you've found the database you're looking for, click on the orange "Access Online" button.
  5. Type in your library card number and PIN.
  6. Click on the orange "Continue" button
  7. Start learning!


Do you find these online resources useful? Which online resources have you used to help you settle in Toronto? Let us know!