One of the oldest institutions of its kind in Canada, the Queen’s School of English has provided language instruction to generations of international and domestic students. In the early 1940s, the Queen’s Department of Extension, which was responsible for providing additional educational services, such as language courses for adults, created the Queen’s Summer School of English (QSSE), adding to the summer program offerings. The initial QSSE students were French-speaking laity from convents and monasteries in Quebec. The laity, who were also teachers in Quebec, were sent to learn English so they could then teach it in their schools.
Over the years, the QSSE student base shifted from domestic to international. In the early 1980s, international demand was such that the QSSE began to offer programs outside of the original summer session. This significant step necessitated a name change from the Queen’s Summer School of English to the School of English (QSoE).
Famous staff and alumni of the QSoE include novelist Jeanette Turner Hospital (an instructor in the early 1970s), Gord Downey and Paul Langlois of The Tragically Hip (who were both socio-cultural monitors, Queen’s students who assist with social and cultural activities), and Imperial Prince Norihito Takamado (a student in the late 1970s) from Japan.
Today, Queen’s School of English prepares English as a Second Language (ESL) students with the language skills necessary for academic success in the Canadian post-secondary context. In addition, QSoE continues to work closely with various departments at Queen’s University, providing them with English language support for their students and staff.