A Reading List to Improve Your English

The Universal Learning Institute (ULI) supports international students who want to improve their English language skills. Our campus is a place where you can talk to native speakers and other ESL students. We also encourage you to read English language books. Reading is an ideal way to expand your vocabulary and increase comprehension.

This list of book recommendations for ESL students presents a variety of titles. You should find a few titles that appeal to you. From ideas important for success to some good relaxing fun, these books will build your English reading skills.


This list offers everything from career advice to new ways of looking at the world.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – First published in 1936, it is easy to read and packed with tips for effective communication and success in life.
  2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – An influential work that explains how ideas, behaviours, and products become popular.
  3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth – Given 5 or 4-star reviews by most readers, the book says that success depends on dedication more than talent.
  4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Often the recipient of 5-star praise from readers, the book will train you to be mindful or your habits.
  5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – Anyone, introvert or extrovert, can benefit from this book that most readers give 4 or 5 stars.

Relax With Your Imagination

Reading fiction can help you unwind after studying for exams. Get to know some characters whose adventures will help you learn more English.

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Still getting 5 star reviews after 200 years, this monster story written by a teenager created the science fiction genre.
  2. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – Featuring the famous character Sherlock Holmes, this story is a great read on a spooky night. Doyle wrote popular fiction, and you’ll have little trouble with his prose.
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – This modern science fiction comedy will put a smile on your face. Plus, the text contains the answer to life, the universe, and everything!
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Perhaps you already read this world-famous novel in your own language. Even so, Harry’s adventures at wizard school as written in their original English will build your language skills.

15 Very Canadian Things You Need to Know

Canada is becoming quite a hot topic on the world stage these days. From its handsome Prime Minister to its highly-developed healthcare system and welfare state to its increased presence in world trade organizations and global partnerships, Canada is carving out a name for itself in the 21st century. Here are a few things you need to know about the Great White North — in the words of the locals.

1. Is there puck on the TV tonight?

Canadians love hockey more than any other country, and they’re good at it too — more than half of the NHL is made up of Canadians, and their national team has won the last two Olympic Gold Medals in 2010 and 2014. Oh yeah, and they call it “puck”.

2. Poutine and Donair

Canada has lots of regional foods that might mystify people from other countries. If you visit Quebec, try a bowl of poutine — French fries, gravy, cheese curds, and almost any topping you can imagine. If you’re out east in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, check out donair — essentially a Chicago-style gyro with a sweet white sauce.

3. More Than a Snowy Tundra

Canada gets a bad rap for having one of the worst winters in the world, but the country is definitely not snowy white all year, and definitely not a flat wasteland. British Columbia has world-renowned rainforests, Alberta is home to the Canadian Rockies, Ontario borders a pair of great lakes and eastern Canada has some of the most incredible beaches in North America.

4. Canadians Fight Wars Too

Americans might not always realize it, but Canada has been a major part of most of the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. Remembrance Day, celebrated on November 11, is a day of mourning and commemoration of the country’s sacrifices in WWI, WWII, and many others.

5. Early Thanksgiving?

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving about a month and a half before Americans, in mid-October. No one is precisely sure why this is, but most experts point to an earlier harvest in Canada thanks to its shorter summers and falls.

6. Canadian Slang

Let’s take a brief look at some words that Canadians say, and their meaning in plain English. It’s not always easy to figure out!

7. Let’s go to Timmy’s = I need coffee from Tim Horton’s
8. Double-double = two milk and two sugar in my coffee, please
9. Sorry = I’m sorry that you bumped into me
10. Toonie = $2, Loonie = $1
11. Mounties = Royal Canadian Mounted Police
12. Tories = Conservative Party of Canada
13. Maritimes = The three eastern provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I.)
14. Newfy = person from Newfoundland
15. Eh? = Am I right?

Canada is so much more than its stereotypes. It’s a welcoming place where people of all backgrounds can come together peacefully… and try to survive the winter. Doesn’t sound too bad, eh?

How to manage challenges and find friends in Vancouver?

For many students, going to college away from home can be scary. Not only will you have to make new friends, but you will also have to face the challenges of student life. Luckily for you, the Universal Learning Institute (ULI) is home to a highly diverse international community of students just like you. To help you make the most of your year, here are 3 ways to manage challenges and find friends as you adjust to life in Vancouver:

1. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone.

As one of the most sought-after places to live and conduct business, it is no wonder that students are flocking to Vancouver. With this in mind, there is no better time to get out and start making new friends. During your first few weeks of school, challenge yourself to join a student club where you can meet other students with common interests. While you may experience a little awkwardness at first, these activities might just lead to blossoming new friendships.

2. Learn How to Deal with Homesickness.

Even as you begin to make new friends, you may still experience homesickness from time to time. You can manage this by getting out and participating in various social activities. Joining a Meetup group or seeking help from your peers can help you manage missing home while you are away.

3. Explore the Various Resources Available to You.

Even if you are not interested in seeking a degree or diploma program, ULI still has something for you. The Universal Learning Institute’s Career College is specially designed for students who are interested in career training. This program allows international students who are not otherwise interested in seeking a degree to become more proficient in the English language while receiving valuable career training. With small class sizes, ULI creates a comfortable environment where students can feel at ease while learning the English language and exploring various career paths. Most sections of this non-degree training program can be completed in as little as one or two years. Several programs offer paid work opportunities where students can gain real-world skills to jumpstart their career. The Career College offers resume help, career counselling and a variety of other resources for job-seekers.

Adapting to life in Vancouver may seem intimidating at first, but it does not have to be. Follow these 3 tips and you will be well on your way to making friends and enjoying your first-year college experience. For more information about ULI and the various programs they offer, visit their website.