Wearing his Heart on his Sleeve ~ An Interview with Joel Melton, EAP Instructor

joelstashName: Joel Melton

Title: EAP Instructor on London Campus, CultureWorks

Best Canadian Author: Will Ferguson! He takes an honest and critical look at this nation that we share. He has also written some fiction and travel memoirs, both of which I enjoy!

Q.  The idiom ‘to wear your heart on your sleeve’ is an appropriate one for you, Joel.  You are a very genuine, thoughtful individual, and people feel that as soon as they get to know you.  How do you think teaching affected your personality?  I mean, were you always this kind, or do you students keep you nice? 

A. I am a very empathetic person. I try to understand and connect with the individual that I am engaged with; whether that be a student, the team or anyone in my life. I feel that working at CultureWorks has helped this quality in me to bud and grow. I have spent time living and working overseas, far away from home. I have also spent time in university, with the pressures of study and socializing sometimes coming all at once. I get it, and I want to help my students realize that they are not the only ones feeling this way.


Q. Speaking of ‘wearing’ things, how do you feel fashion these days?  Tattoos?  Super baggy pants?  Any opinion there?

A. I’m a big fan of swag! I wear my CultureWorks golf shirt almost every day to school, and after school. Don’t worry, I have more than one and they are clean! It gives me a certain degree of pride to slip on my uniform and go to work. It almost seems like I am playing for the Blue Jays, the Raptors, or the Leafs… but not really.

Joel in his swag with the 'London moustache boys!'
Joel in his swag with the ‘London moustache boys!’

Q. I’d love to know more about your degree in Linguistics and Japanese studies.  For people who may not know, what are these areas of study about? What attracted you to these fields? 

A. Wow, so much to say here. Let’s see, I fell in love with Japan when I first went as a teen on an exchange program. At that time I wanted to live the rest of my life there teaching English. Since then, I have been there many times and worked for a span of two years. I no longer live in Japan, but one aspect of my life has remained the same – my love of teaching English. Linguistics helps us to understand the language(s) we use. I like to share with my students the meaning of the language that we share: what and how we say something can affect the meaning of our intended message.

Q. You are preparing CultureWorks students English as an Academic Language who may want study at Western University, Kings University College, and Brescia University College in London, Ontario.  What skills are you teaching them to succeed?  Do you have any tips about learning English you’d like to share?  What might attract a student to study at these campuses?

A. Most importantly a student learning English for Academic Purposes needs to be engaged in the language. Talk with others in your program in English. On university campuses that I have been on, it is easy to find students who are talking about academic subjects. It is important for our students to get into this mindset – talk and ask questions. Success begins there.


Q. Lastly, for fun, what Japanese foods do you wish were more available in Canada?

A. My introduction to Japan was in a homestay program. I lived in the countryside and was first introduced to home-style cooking from my Japanese “grandmother.” Her kitchen was always full of pickled vegetables from grandfather’s garden. She would prepare the most delicious soups and rice dishes that I just couldn’t get enough of.  My wife and I make okonomiyaki (a cabbage pancake with your choice of meat, seafood and vegetables) at home, but we also crave the simple omuraisu (a mound of cooked, seasoned rice, wrapped in a thin egg and topped with ketchup). I like sushi, tempura and ramen but the simple dishes I just mentioned could really take off here!

OKONOMIAKI www.hirosima-japanhotels.com
OMURAISU http://www.worldanime.tv
OMURAISU http://www.worldanime.tv


RAMEN rasamalaysia.com

Thanks for your time Joel, we hope to have you back on the Hotspot soon!

Stylishly Smart


So, apparently, it’s fashionable to be smart.  Did you hear about this?  Yeah, it’s all the rage.  Dumb is so 2012.  Big brains are sexy.  Cunning intellect is down right cool.  If you can write an A+ exam with plenty of time left on the clock to relax, you are one hip individual.  Think Einstein.  No hair stylist has ever been able to replicate his hair. That’s because his intellect burst with so much pizzazz!  I don’t know what to attribute his women’s shoes to in this picture though…

Anyway, in order to get smart, I recommend you find some ‘study style’.  Everyone’s studying style is different of course, so it’s vital to find out what works for you.  Consider some of these tips:

1. Treat your notes like they are Facebook updates.  Review them OFTEN.  This daily habit makes the information common, and then makes studying for an exam much less difficult.

2. Figure out your best time of day to study and make a weekly routine.  Most people are most alert in the morning, but nighttime works for others, too.  Avoid afternoons, you’ll be snoring in no time.

3. Prioritize the information you need to learn.  This could be from hardest to easiest, or most interesting to least interesting.  If nothing is interesting, consider choosing a new subject.

4. Study in small allotments of time.  Studying for hours on end gets you a headache, not good grades.

5. Use an alarm. After 45-50 min increments when the bell rings, get up and change things up for 10 minutes.  Drink some water.  Call a friend.  Dance like a happy monkey.  Or something.

6. Turn off your Internet and mobile devices.  I know it’s hard.  It’s like asking you to hold your breath. But just think of how much MORE information there will be waiting for you after your study session!

7. After studying, practice what you’ve learned to a classmate.  Try to be as detailed as possible ~ when you do this, you are actively interacting with the content and therefore understanding it better.  This is particularly important if you are learning a second language!

8. Create a study group.  Choose serious people, and avoid people who don’t want to pull their weight!  Discussing and reviewing makes the information real.

9. Draw!  If you can illustrate the information into diagrams and illustrations, you are visualizing your new knowledge making it easy to remember.

10. Visit your teaching assistant or professor before, during, and after the course.  Ask them where you are making mistakes and correct them for next time.  If you’re not making mistakes, try learning something harder.

Now you know that being smart is in vogue, grow your brain!  With the right study routine, you too can look as good as old Albert Einstein!

A real ‘Team Player’! Interview w/ Brad Gribben, EAP Instructor @ CultureWorks

Brad Gribben, EAP Instructor @ CultureWorks Oshawa
Brad Gribben, EAP Instructor @ CultureWorks Oshawa

Title: EAP Instructor on Oshawa Campus, CultureWorks

Best Canadian Sports Team: Vancouver Canucks

Q. Brad, you’ve been teaching with CultureWorks for almost five years, and you are a real ‘team player’.  That idiom perfectly describes how you approach your job. How do you use your team player approach in the classroom?

I surprise myself sometimes in just how much of a ‘sporting psychology’ I use in the classroom. Having a game plan, yet being flexible enough to change it quickly if we are not hitting targets, is essential for our class success. I also believe that a team philosophy means that students need freedom to make as many decisions as possible, so I welcome their input in my delivery methods of lessons and the decisions for deadlines, for example. Once work has been completed, students can look back on the impacts of their decisions, so they can better learn to manage their time and hone their study skills for their upcoming college and university courses


Q. Most people watch sports on TV and pretend they are athletes.  You have had quite a bit of game time in real life, haven’t you?  What can you tell us about your sporty life, both then and now?

Well, a great Compare and Contrast paragraph could be written about my former and current sporting ventures, no doubt! Playing basketball and football in leagues inside and outside of high school and taking up hobbies in so-called ‘extreme sports’ like snowboarding and skateboarding were a way of life for me when I was younger. These days, I am lucky if I can drag myself to a gym or go for a jog once a month! Luckily, our Canadian Studies class activities at CultureWorks often involve sporting events, so I can get a good workout just by joining in with our students on a soccer field. My grandfather was a professional soccer goalie in Scotland and later became the head coach of the Canadian Men’s soccer team in the mid-1970’s, so you could say sports and education are in my blood, and that they both require focus, dedication and  practice in order to excel.

The Toronto Argonauts www.perkopolis.com
The Toronto Argonauts
The Toronto Raptors www.raptorscage.ca
The Toronto Raptors

Q. Many courses are offered at CultureWorks: Reading, Writing, Grammar, Pronunciation, Listening & Speaking, and Canadian Studies.  Which do you specialize in?  How do you feel these skills will aid our students in university or college? Do you have any advice you’d like to give students in these areas?

The majority of my teaching here at CultureWorks has taken place in Writing and Grammar classes, and there is no doubt that writing well, with accurate grammar, is necessary for success in college or university. My advice to students would be to use the tools of technology that teachers show them to be better writers and more accurate grammarians, as advancing technology really can make these age-old subjects more interesting and engaging. With that said, however, students must always remember that relying heavily on spell checkers, translators, dictionaries, and auto-correct will not create a skilled writer. Putting words to page is an art, and all great artists must learn theory and then carve out their own style.

Q. Lastly, for fun, what are your three favourite cars…that are assembled in Canada?

Great question! I bet many newcomers to Canada, and even some native Canucks, may not be aware that General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler all have factories and design facilities in Ontario alone! I’ll choose an SUV in the Honda CRV, built in Alliston, Ontario, two sporty cars in the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, built in Oshawa and Brampton respectively, and my all-around choice for Canada’s nicest car (also assembled in Oshawa) the new Buick Regal. It is not your grandpa’s Buick anymore!


Thanks for your time Brad, we hope to have you back on the Hotspot soon!

Thanks for having me! This blog is a great addition to all we have to offer at CultureWorks.

Ottawa Teachers Needed

CultureWorks is seeking English for Academic Purposes teachers for our Ottawa campus at Carleton University.

Please visit our Teacher Position page for description and application form, and submit your application, resume and cover letter to Trevor van Peppen, Director, Ottawa at ottawa.teach@cultureworkstheschool.com by Friday, July 19.

Anticipated start date of August 30. Only successful candidates will be contacted.