A story of two Peters and how they are planning their passage to priesthood, minus the pickled peppers.

CultureWorks students Peter Tran, left, and Peter Nguyen, right, are heading down the road to priesthood. Here they accompany CultureWorks graduate and staff member, Peter Choi, at a CW event.
CultureWorks students Peter Tran, left, and Peter Nguyen, right, are heading down the road to priesthood. Here they accompany CultureWorks graduate and staff member, Peter Choi, at a CW event.
CultureWorks students Peter Tran, left, and Peter Nguyen, right, are heading down the road to priesthood. Here they accompany CultureWorks graduate and staff member, Peter Choi, at a CW event.

In this case, a very well known alliteration does not really come into play.

However, it sure is fun when we introduce two charming CultureWorks students.

Neither Peter Tran nor Peter Nguyen, who hail from Vietnam, have ever picked a peck of pickled peppers in their lifetimes.

(And our newest CultureWorks staff addition, Peter Choi, assures us he also has never gone deep for peppers in his home country of China. See photo above)

What the two Peters from Vietnam have in common, in addition to being CultureWorks students, is the lifetime goal to be Catholic priests. And the route they are taking is through St. Peter’s Seminary and King’s University College, next door to each other in London.

Peter Tran talks about coming to Canada to study English and theology

Peter Tran, the older of the two at 27, was recruited from St. Boniface in Winnipeg and he could not be happier. And before King’s, he has to improve his English writing and speaking by taking the ESL program at CultureWorks.

“They told me the (CW) English program in London, Ontario, is better for me, a reason for me to choose study here,” he said. “And another reason is St. Peter’s Seminary is here and the main reason to come here is to study theology.”

While the Canadian weather would never stand in his way, he was somewhat surprised, nevertheless.

“When I came here, I was very shocked about the weather. The weather is so much colder than Vietnam. Now I think Canada is a good temperature. The people are friendly. I think it is good for me to serve here and meet people in Canada,” he said.

Now in Level 7 at our ESL school and most likely graduating at the end of June, he will head to Winnipeg for the summer and return to St. Peter’s and King’s University College in September.

“For me, CultureWorks means a lot of work, but now for me it is a good English program. It makes me do a lot of work … practice, practice every day,” he said.

“Now, I feel CultureWorks is good and I feel comfortable and I enjoy my studying here.”

Peter Nguyen shares what he loves most about the ESL program

Meanwhile, Peter Nguyen, the younger of the two at 20, will be working with the Hamilton, Ont., diocese. He has eight years ahead of him while the older Peter has five years of training.

Peter Nguyen said the program at CultureWorks is difficult, yet fair.

Peter Tran (above) and Peter Nguyen talk about their days at CultureWorks.

“But I think those assignments have helped me to study hard and to gain more knowledge. And it has prepared me for the skills before I go to Western,” he said.

“The teachers in CultureWorks are nice and are fun and they always take care of the students when they have difficult questions. And another thing is Boomalang. That is a good program. After we study in CultureWorks, we can study at home. We can practice our speaking and listening and we can study from the news.”

He, also, has adjusted to the weather.

“I like the environment here, because Vietnam is a little polluted,” he said frankly.

Discussing the bombing in Sri Lanka

Recently, the two young men heading down the road to priesthood, had to face — emotionally at least — the mass bombing in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. More than 250 people died in the explosions at St. Anthony’s Church.

“For me, as a Catholic person, they are like my relatives,” Peter Tran said. “For me, I had a lot of passion for the people in Sri Lanka. They are Catholics, too.”

Peter Nguyen, like his fellow countryman, felt the same.

“The first thing is my emotion,” he said. “I felt so sad for that, but another thing as I am a priest and when I saw a lot of people who died by the terrorism from some crazy people, the first thing I thought is they were not lucky.”

Two fine young men, picking the path to priesthood.

Would you like to study English in Canada?

Discover why so many students choose CultureWorks!

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

A huge congratulation goes out to our Level 7 class for completing our program. Best wishes as you embark on new challenges and adventures!

 

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

CultureWorks graduating students say goodbye with Spirit Awards, photos and the all-consuming poster presentations.

BEST WISHES

“Congratulations on your successful completion of the CultureWorks program. You have worked hard to reach this milestone, and we have enjoyed working with you. You should feel confident that you are well-prepared to achieve your future academic and career goals, and we wish you the greatest success. We hope you will always look back fondly on your experience at CultureWorks as a time of transformation and growth.”

Derek Martin,

CultureWorks Principal

Stan Rath

CultureWorks Vice Principal

A huge congratulation goes out to our Level 7 class for completing our program. Best wishes as you embark on new challenges and adventures!
A huge congratulation goes out to our Level 7 class for completing our program. Best wishes as you embark on new challenges and adventures!
Huda- Confident and Capable Award Dingxin- International Affairs Expert Award Defu- International Trade Expert Award Yuqing- The Most Dedicated and Interesting Answers Award Hao- The Student with a Great Sense of Humour Award Hai - The Happy to Be Here Award (not pictured)
Huda- Confident and Capable Award
Dingxin- International Affairs Expert Award
Defu- International Trade Expert Award
Yuqing- The Most Dedicated and Interesting Answers Award
Hao- The Student with a Great Sense of Humour Award
Hai – The Happy to Be Here Award (not pictured)
Poster presentations are the final major part of work for the Level 6 and Level 7 students each term. The effort teams put forward results in brilliant work each and every time.
Poster presentations are the final major part of work for the Level 6 and Level 7 students each term. The effort teams put forward results in brilliant work each and every time.

ESL program

 

From China with love, CultureWorks graduate takes on major role with the Canadian school he started with.

CultureWorks’ Peter Choi and his wife, Nina Dang, are doing what they enjoy most, learning more about Canada each day.
CultureWorks’ Peter Choi and his wife, Nina Dang, are doing what they enjoy most, learning more about Canada each day.

It would be easy to say Peter Choi is a gentleman and a scholar and move on. But that is unfair. He is much more than that.

Peter is a father. He is a husband. He is thoughtful and articulate in two languages. He has Masters degrees from two different countries, neither of which he gathered in his home country of China.

And for purposes of this story, he is a graduate of CultureWorks who has never left the ESL school behind.

While gathering Masters No. 2 in Computer Programming at Western University, he took on part-time duties in IT support for our current events online class known as the Daily Boomalang.

When school ended, Peter stayed. And CultureWorks was extremely happy he did.

Our ESL school is proud to announce that Peter will be assisting full time with technical support

CW President and Founder Tina Bax recently announced that Peter will be using his specialization in computer-to-computer networking in “supporting us full-time as we arrange portions of our course” in new and dynamic initiatives in China.

CultureWorks Chief Operating Officer Amrik Sidhu was impressed from the moment he met Peter.

“When I first met him, I didn’t really have any expectations,” Amrik said recently. “I knew what my needs were and it wasn’t really an interview, I just wanted to know ‘does he even understand the challenges I am having?’

“And as soon as I posed a few questions that we were struggling to answer, he knew the answer right off the bat. Within the first — I would say few minutes — I knew he could help us solve the problems.”

Peter’s role will be helping full-time as CultureWorks arranges to deliver portions of its course through Chinese faculties in Harbin and Xi’an.

Amrik said it always helps when somebody speaks the language when they are talking to technical support.

“It’s incredibly valuable to have him as a resource, not only because he is technically astute, but also because he speaks the language and he has connectivity within China that can help you get around digging for answers.”

Now that’s enough – for now — about Peter, the computer wizard; time to learn more about Peter, the person.

Why Peter chose to study English in Canada

Peter, now 42, came to Canada at the end of 2016 and his first stop was CultureWorks in London, Ont. His English was not good and he admits he lost many well-paid jobs in China because of that. He also thought he needed to learn “even a little bit” about Western culture.

After gaining his first Masters at Seoul National University, he had worked for two Korean companies – Samsung and Kookmin bank – for six years in Beijing.

“To be honest, the last job I had was very good, a well-paid position. I was an IT manager, but I was a little tired. Usually at the company before 7 and back home after 8:30 p.m., 7 days a week,” Peter said.

“I was a little tired and I thought what exactly I want in the next 10 or 20 years, so I thought that was a good time to restart my life in Canada.”

Peter’s experience as a CultureWorks student

He came alone to Canada late in 2016 and was a CultureWorks student for eight months. His wife Nina Dang, now 38, joined him in 2017. The couple who first met at university in South Korea had their first child, Ava Cai, seven months ago.

Peter is proud of his first child, Ava Cai, now seven months old
Peter is proud of his first child, Ava Cai, now seven months old

Peter said the CultureWorks experience was more like a family experience. The teachers, he said, teach you not only English as a second language, but also the Canadian culture and how to survive in Canada.

“The teachers encourage the students to use critical thinking. More questions are open questions. There is no standard answer, especially in the Boomalang class,” he said.

“We don’t have the textbooks; we don’t have the exams. We just encourage the students to open their minds and exchange thinking about the news or something that just happened around them.”

Peter is over-the-top excited about his new role with CultureWorks. To be fair, CW management feels the same.

“CultureWorks has a big project in China and we have a partner in Harbin,” Peter said. “We need an IT person to support this project from Canada. Because most of the resources are in Canada, including the teachers, the materials and also IT support.

“My role is to provide IT support to the manager or to the server based on the cloud technology, remotely to the server in Beijing. My role is like the bridge, connecting Chinese students and Canadian resources for our Chinese partners.”

Peter’s role with CultureWorks is an important one as our ESL school makes major changes.

Meanwhile, here are a few of Peter’s thoughts on three different topics. Enjoy!

1. Peter on Chinese students studying in Canada

I want to say to Chinese students: Open your minds and don’t just focus on the studying. That is just a part of your life. For the young Chinese students, you have more important things that you should enjoy, especially when you come to Canada. This is a place you can enjoy in your life, not only because of the English study, but also you can build your own opinions about this world, about globalization. We need you; your family needs you; China also needs you.

2. Peter on why he chose to move to Canada

Compared to other countries, Canada’s geographical location and climate cannot be called excellent, but this does not stop Canada from being known as one of the world’s most developed countries. Exploring the secrets of Canada’s success is one of the reasons that attracted me to come here. Through the two years of staying in Canada, I think the main reasons for success of Canada are:

  1. Canada’s inclusiveness and openness. As is well known, Canada is a model of multi-ethnic, multicultural integration. It embraces any culture, race and religion. I have seen many churches, mosques and temples in London. This inclusiveness and openness attracts talented people from all over the world and provides a steady stream of blood for Canada’s development. On the other hand, based on a deep understanding of the different culture, Canada can win the respect of partners in international trade, which also promotes Canada’s economic development.
  2. Canadian attitude towards life. The cold climate did not make Canadians have a negative attitude towards life, but instead made Canadians feel calm and kindness. I can’t remember how many times strangers took me to catch the bus. This enthusiasm for life makes Canadians not afraid of any difficulties and always have confidence in life and the future.

3. Peter on the relationship between Canada and China

China and Canada have deep traditional friendships. According to historical records, trade between Canada and China began in the 18th century. In modern times, this relationship has been further deepened. The Chinese people will never forget Norman Bethune’s contribution to China. Grateful of Bethune’s altruistic help to China, the nation’s normal elementary school textbook still has the essay today. Therefore, the Chinese people have a special feeling for Canada, which has always been the first choice for studying and immigration.

I think there is quarreling even between the couple, not to mention two distant countries. What is happening now is only an episode and will not affect the main theme of friendship between the two countries.

Would you like to study English in Canada?

Learn more about the programs and activities offered at CultureWorks!

CultureWorks students take the test, tubing all the way.

English as a second language in Canada

A test tube is usually known as a common piece of laboratory glassware consisting of a finger-like length of glass or clear plastic tubing, open at the top and closed at the bottom.

However, in this case it was a reference to 55 CultureWorks ESL students making their maiden runs down a 30-metre high, snow-covered hill on custom winter tire tubes.

Located on a beautiful piece of property outside of St. Marys, Ont., the River Valley Winter Tube Slide is wide open at the top and closed at the bottom where the thrill seekers come to a rest.

The test tube, at this point, was complete for the students on this Spirit Day experience.

CultureWorks teacher and Spirit Day coordinator Joel Melton took time out to make several runs down the glorious hills.

 

An activity for teachers and students at our ESL school to enjoy

But it was not the end for the students — along with our ESL school’s teachers and admin staff – as they made several more trips down the hill with smiles almost as large as the tire tubes themselves.

English as a second language in Canada

CultureWorks teacher Joel Melton has been with the CW team since 2007, but it was his first time as Spirit Day coordinator for this event. He, like the students, was enjoying himself all day long.

“I’ve been doing this activity for years — I’ve been trying to figure out how many years — but I’m really enjoying this one,” Joel said. “And not because I had a personal hand in it, but because it’s a just a nice balance of inside and outside events.

“It’s not about forcing the kids to be outside and face the Canadian winter, but instead just to have everybody together and enjoying themselves. We didn’t have many absences which also speaks volumes to the teachers communicating with the students.”

Students had plenty of activities to enjoy inside and out

Rounding out the outdoor experience was roasting marshmallows on the traditional open fire. Meanwhile, the inside experience was numerous games for students in our ESL program, including the cards variety.

And making new friends at the same time!

English as a second language in Canada

“I find that some of the students just like to stay with their friends, but I am also seeing the students, they are not level here,” Joel said. “In the classrooms, they are in their own levels, but here they are all the same.

“I really like to see that because then you clearly see students that are from different classes, different campuses, coming together, talking to each other. That’s what makes it better for us in terms of spirit.”

Joel’s observation of the students sharing the good times with each other, regardless of classes, was supported by many student comments during the day.

English as a second language in Canada

“This is my first time trying this tubing and I tried it four times. It’s a very nice experience with the snow,” Maggie, a Level 7 student from China, said.

“And with this event from Level 4 to Level 7, students can play together and we can make some new friends, not just our classmates.”

Thanh Duan is in Level 6 and a budding priest from Vietnam. He agreed.

“I think today was perfect. The outdoor activity helped me improve my health and the Spirit Day like today gets everyone together and I made friends with them,” Thanh Duan said.

Mohammad, in Level 5, is from Jordan.

“It’s helping me to know new friends and to make a lot relationships with the CultureWorks students, so it’s really fine. I had fun,” Mohammad said.

Howard, a Level 6 student from China, said he found the tubing a fun experience, with the snow-covered hills grabbing his attention.

“I am from the south of China. It’s pretty close to Hong Kong. The temperature is never lower than 15. So it’s pretty warm. I think (the snow) is pretty awesome,” Howard said.

“This year is my first year to come to Canada. It’s the first time I have seen the snow. In China, I never see the snow. When you are on the top of the hill and you go down to the bottom, it’s crazy and exciting.”

Howard said it was also a great experience meeting students from different countries.

English as a second language in Canada

“This is a good change for me to find another friend, somebody from Vietnam and Brazil. I can make other friends, not only from China. This is pretty good for me,” Howard said.

Yes, the “test tube” was indeed a treat for all. And no glass was broken.

CultureWorks students comment on the ESL program.

HOWARD

China. Level 6

“Personally, I can pass my language tests through the CultureWorks, and they also have some activities like this one. Can make some friends or play with my friends on this trip. I think it’s very good.”

THANH DUAN

Vietnam. Level 5

“At first, I had a lot of work to do and it made me depressed, but now I am enjoying my studies and a lot of work makes me study a lot. In two months, I feel I have improved my English skills. I had a lot of challenges when I came here, like weather, like the food, the culture. I think CultureWorks helps me with my listening skills a lot. When I came here two months ago, my listening skills were not good. I can’t hear anything from teachers, but I don’t know how. Now I can hear clearly.

TIM

China. Level 6

“I think CultureWorks is a good school and we can learn English skills and make more friends. Also, teachers can also teach life skills to us or other countries that don’t know English. That’s very good. The teachers are also always teaching us how to do the grammar and writing skills and how to speak to other people.”

MOHAMMAD

Jordan. Level 5

“I have been in CultureWorks for two months and really it’s the best people experience in my life, because there are a lot of communities here and the teachers are also helpful and they help the students and that’s what I want, to improve my English for university program. The level of teaching is professional and they are such good teachers and I don’t have this in my home town. It’s really different. First thing I had was culture shock when I came here because this is the first time in a new country without my family. They are helpful and they help me to move on and get more comfortable.”

Would you like to experience fun activities while learning English as a second language in Canada?

Learn more about the programs offered at CultureWorks!

CultureWorks 4th Annual Holiday Open House can be summed up in a thousand words.

study English in Canada
CultureWorks teacher Melissa Douglas and her daughter Lena enjoy all the festivities at the Holiday Open House. (photo credit: WHA CHOI/CultureWorks)

Google the expression “a photo is worth a thousand words” and it may take you in that many directions.

There is not a clear answer where the term originated, but one popular suggestion is from Frederick R. Barnard and his 1921 article where he says “one look is worth a thousand words.” He was writing about the effectiveness of graphics.

Now where are we going with this? Obviously, to an image in some form. Look up, look way up and you will see what we are taking about.

The photo is of CultureWorks teacher Melissa Douglas and her daughter, Lena. Photographer was Wha Choi, a CultureWorks and Western University engineering graduate.

“She (Lena) is a joy… and some days a tyrant,” Melissa said with a smile.

The event was the CultureWorks 4th Annual Holiday Open House at the Mary Manor (White House) on the Brescia University College campus.

An evening of fun at our ESL school

On this evening, CultureWorks students, alumni, staff and family were all invited to enjoy the festive season with games, food and yes, even Santa Claus.

Four current CultureWorks students signal all is going well at the Holiday Open House. (photo credit: WHA CHOI/CultureWorks)
Four current CultureWorks students signal all is going well at the Holiday Open House. (photo credit: WHA CHOI/CultureWorks)

Students are from many countries and many religions, but somehow Christmas plays a large role when the event is held late in the calendar year in Canada.

The photo of Lena and Melissa sums up, in many ways, the tale of the evening – smiles, hugs, location, treats, students, staff, children, love and respect.

Graduates of our ESL school share their thoughts

Many other photos are included here, covering off many more words. But the alumni students also did include some of their thoughts on this day.

Take Laura for example. She graduated from CultureWorks in 2015 and is now a junior designer for a mechanical engineering company in London, Ontario.

“I have just graduated from Western University for one year; I can’t be a senior yet,” Laura said with a wide grin.

“For Canadians, Christmas is like a new year. For us (in China), it is similar to Spring Festival. They get together and they enjoy and celebrate dinner and exchange gifts.”

And now from Ahmad, a Syrian student who graduated from our ESL school in 2016. He is in his first year of engineering at Western University.

“I feel like Christmas, everyone goes to visit their family in their home town. It’s a really good holiday so people can see each other, have fun with each other,” Ahmad said,

“So I am here now for the Christmas Open House. I can meet my friends from two years ago and meet my teachers. It’s a good thing.”

Finally, from Yuan, a 2016 graduate from China who is taking psychology and primary education at Western University.

“I do enjoy the atmosphere when people celebrate some festivals. It gives me a sense of Homecoming. That’s really important to me. That’s really a sweet thing for me to see,” Yuan said.

“Also, I feel like I am a bit lonely because obviously in China, we don’t celebrate Christmas.”

A word from CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax

And CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax did not miss the efforts put forward by the staff on this day.

From left, CultureWorks Student Services Coordinator Liz Macedo, Vice Principal Stan Rath and Founder and President Tina Bax join the holiday festivities. (photo credit: WHA CHOI/CultureWorks)
From left, CultureWorks Student Services Coordinator Liz Macedo, Vice Principal Stan Rath and Founder and President Tina Bax join the holiday festivities. (photo credit: WHA CHOI/CultureWorks)

“Thanks to all of you who came out to see our students. You brought your time and your children; you cared, you laughed, you worked hard … and our students thoroughly loved it as they do each year,” Tina said.

Can’t wait for the 5th annual event, everyone agreed.

In the meantime, here are more than 7,000 “words” to celebrate. We needed more room.

Students, teachers and their children enjoy the evening in a variety of ways.
Students, teachers and their children enjoy the evening in a variety of ways.

Would you like to study English in Canada?

Learn more about the programs available at CultureWorks!

CultureWorks front-office staff share some observations when engaging ESL school students in the ‘White House’

From left to right: Janet, Camella, and Tammy
From left to right: Janet, Camella, and Tammy

Today, we are going to have discussions with several CultureWorks staff members in London, Ontario, who, on most occasions, are the first to meet new international students from China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc.

What we hope you will discover is a genuine caring for the students. And a real challenge in learning how to speak foreign languages. Both are understandable.

So let’s see what Liz, Camella, Janet and Tammy have to say after a total of 24 years of opening the door of our ESL school to many, many international students.

And to be fair, we canvassed some current students for their thoughts. All happen to be from China.

LIZ MACEDO

Student Services Coordinator

Joined CultureWorks in 2008

“Oh jeez, when I first started, it was very difficult. I was not used to the accents. I couldn’t understand anything they were saying, so it was a lot of hand signals, trying to figure things out. Now, I totally know what they are saying. That was hard.

“At first, it was tough getting to know them. They were young. I was used to young people, but not international students. So I didn’t really know what kind of obstacles they were facing before they arrived. But now I know and understand them a lot better.

“The whole culture shock thing (was difficult) — the single child households, as opposed to our Saudi students with multiple siblings. Real huge differences. And just knowing how to react differently with those different groups.

“For the most part, they are all really great kids. You always get that one or two. They are great kids. The thing that I notice is that young people are the same no matter what part of the world they come from. I think I can relate to that because I have kids — or I had kids at that time at that same age.”

CAMELLA MACKINNON

Finance and Administration Associate

Joined CultureWorks in 2010

“Sometimes, (the students) don’t understand what an invoice is or tuition or a bill. It can be a little bit funny getting them to understand what I am asking them for. Usually, they do come around and we figure it out.

“There are always some excuses, you know. It’s not the typical ‘my grandmother passed away.’ But there are also funny things that they come up with, but generally on the whole the London students are very responsible.

“It was really quite different coming from a corporate background to dealing with students, but it’s been interesting and it’s been fun. Most of the students are a lot of fun and it’s really nice getting to know students from different cultures.

“My pronunciation is much better now than when I started. I know that ‘X’ means ‘shu’. So I have grown into that part. But yes, it’s a little better than when I started. I always ask them ‘did I pronounce your name correctly’ and ‘how do you say it,’ so it makes them kind of laugh at me the way I pronounce words. But yes we have a pretty good rapport.”

Students at our ESL school share their experiences at the CultureWorks Head Office, also sometimes called the “White House”

JANET BURTON

Registrar

Joined CultureWorks in 2014

“We have had some pretty interesting discussions going back and forth, especially for students applying on their own. Obviously, this is their second language and so interpretation of what I have asked for. But in the end, we seem to manage to get through it after multiple emails and the best thing is to get that final confirmation that they understand everybody has arrived safely. So that is always the best.

“A lot of times I will just bring out a copy from a different student to give them an example. It’s kind of funny when you are only trying to show them what a sealed stamped envelope looks like, but trying to translate that sometimes does not come through. So just showing them what it looks like works probably a 100-per-cent better.

“In most cases, it is to insure that they understand that they are required to complete certain steps by a certain time, especially for their (university) offers to stay valid with our partners. So trying to assist them to receive the documents from their home countries in the formats that the universities require can sometimes be a little tricky in translating.

“I am excited when they have applied to a program and received an offer. They are so excited to feel that they can move forward with their plans to do their post-graduate studies. Any way that I can assist them in reaching that dream or goal is amazing.”

TAMMY CHAPMAN

Administration Assistant.

Joined CultureWorks in 2017.

“I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to adjust to understanding them and finding ways to work about that barrier of me not being able to understand. So I have learned to ask a lot of people for emails. If you could email me your question, I can understand and I can respond. I have found that is the best way.

“I have learned a little bit about the enunciation and how different it is. Different letters. Even their test is spelled H U I K A O, I would never have known it is pronounced HEEKOW. So things like that in learning different letters and how they sound. So I am learning a little bit.

“You know what my favourite thing is now? I have been here for almost two years. It is that they know my name now. I see them out on campus when I am out walking and they say ‘Hi Tammy.’ I love it.

I love that they know me. I love going on class trips with them and getting to know them more than one on one, not just administration stuff.

“I love them. I think they are great. I often say, too, I think I have a lot of respect for them. They have come to a completely different country, different culture, different language at age of 17, or 18. I could never have done that. It’s taken a lot of guts, so I really admire them. I respect them a lot.”

Would you like to study English in Canada?

Learn more about the caring staff and teachers at CultureWorks!

Recent CultureWorks graduate from China leaves a trail of soul searching during his ESL experience.

Zekun (Kuhn) He is a treasured member of the CultureWorks community
Zekun (Kuhn) He is a treasured member of the CultureWorks community

There is something special about Zekun (Kuhn) He.

Kuhn is a recent CultureWorks graduate who asks questions, and lots of them; he takes routes not often traveled; and his smiles are large and often.

Yes, there is plenty to be learned from this 23-year-old from Xi’an, China.

At the beginning, he applied for his Master’s degree in three countries – Great Britain, Australia and Canada. He is aiming for a mechanical engineering degree. Australia was dropped early, and Great Britain was not far behind.

“The Australian school gave me an offer in one day. And they even used Chinese people to show me their welcome. I say why are you giving me it so soon? Do you ever consider about me? British gave me an offer in one week. So soon!”

Next task was choosing which school in Canada. Western, McGill and Toronto were on his list.

Why Kuhn chose CultureWorks to be his ESL school

Kuhn ultimately chose Western. Kuhn’s cousin was at CultureWorks before him, allowing him to know about the ESL program before coming to Canada.

“He told me CultureWorks is better than other language schools, because the teacher will provide more good designed courses for you, not just follow the books. So I think it’s better. And mostly CultureWorks classes are not bigger classes as other ESL schools. Small class size so you can talk to teacher more often.

Making friends from all over the world

Kuhn tested into CultureWorks’ Level 5, and his route to graduating from there was not traditional for a Chinese student. Instead of spending most of his time with students from his own country, he did just the opposite.

“If you want to stay by yourself, why go to Canada? You can enjoy your room in China. I told (any fellow students) I meet, but most of them don’t care. They just want to stay by themselves.”

Kuhn said his goal in coming to Canada was making new friends at ESL school. He did just that in a large way.

“People are very high social animals. I am social. My goal in going to Canada is make friends, international friends. So now I have Congo friends, Arabic friends, Brazilian friends, Canadian friends, Japanese friends, Vietnamese friends, Korean friends.”

This all helped Kuhn avoid any problems about being so far from home. Loneliness was never a problem and CultureWorks helped him with that as well.

Now, six months later, he is on the move to Western. But not before he left a large, positive mark at CultureWorks.

“Actually, I never feared being lonely in London because Canada has lots of activities here. If you want to participate, there are many places you can do that, but sometime students don’t want to play. They just want to stay in their house playing games. That is why they have loneliness.

“For me, it doesn’t matter because in my free time, my home stay will take me to apple picking, go to Niagara Falls, buy something in downtown so I think the half year is very quick for me. I never feel lonely.”

Kuhn’s teachers are impressed with his positive and outgoing attitude

CultureWorks teachers were also impressed with the graduating Kuhn. Paul Findlay and Joel Melton were just two of the many on that list.

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“He is a very inclusive student, works well with everyone. Outgoing, he has become more so as he has become more comfortable here at CW. He always speaks English in class, has made the effort to actually become a part of society here!” Paul said.

“Kuhn is a very independent worker, however, he loves to connect to others; both from his native China, but also with students and teachers from other countries.

He always carried a positive attitude and curious nature which lead him through his new city of residence,” Joel said.

In this short clip, hear Kuhn participate in one of our ESL classes:

Kuhn shares what he loves most about our English as a second language school

At the end of a 25-minute chat, Kuhn was asked if he had anything else to say before he moved on to his next stop in life.

“I want to say something for next class of classmates. That Canada is a very peaceful and beautiful country. It will give you a very impressive experience of your life.

“I think it’s very good. In my personal thoughts before, I think the language schools are very small, without any of their own culture. But CultureWorks is different. CultureWorks has their own blog, they have many of their own many activities, many festivals.

Kuhn said this all leads to something, frankly, that was soul searching.

“So I think they have their own culture. That is why CultureWorks has their soul. I think for me the soul of the culture is very important for the company.”

“It’s like the inner context. It’s not like just teaching, just like giving you a diploma and like educational product of students. That is not the soul. Soul is made after you study here. You can get lots of different things. They can give you some fresh ideas. They can give you gifts, like special CultureWorks gifts to you and you can hold it for the rest of your life.”

And finally, from an exceptional student ….

“From CultureWorks, the hugest thing I learned was to have critical thinking about everything.”

More great words from the CultureWorks soul man.

Would you like to attend a caring and friendly English as a second language school?

Learn more about why Kuhn and so many other students love CultureWorks!

Studying an intensive English program in October? What to know about Canadian Thanksgiving

study English in Canada

Thanksgiving in the United States is very famous around the world, but you might be surprised to learn that it’s a holiday also celebrated in Canada. It’s similar to U.S. Thanksgiving in a lot of different ways, but in Canada it is held on the second Monday of October. That means this year’s Thanksgiving is on Monday, October 8th, and good news—it’s a public holiday here!

It’s a great opportunity to enjoy Canadian culture, but how do you celebrate it properly? You might be experiencing this great day for the first time while learning the English language, so here’s a quick guide on what Canadian Thanksgiving is all about.

Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada before the United States

The first Thanksgiving celebration in Canada is believed to have taken place in Newfoundland in 1578 to celebrate explorer Sir Martin Frobisher’s safe journey from Europe. That’s 43 years before the first Thanksgiving in the U.S.! It has been a national holiday here since 1879 and it has taken place on the second Monday in October since 1957. Some Canadian provinces celebrate the day more than others, and Ontario is a great place to be for Thanksgiving when you’re studying an intensive English program.

Eat delicious food for the day

Avoid following a diet on Canadian Thanksgiving because this is a great day to eat lots of delicious food. Turkey is the most traditional meat eaten on the day, and most people also enjoy stuffing, mashed potatoes, and different vegetables. It’s almost identical to a traditional Christmas dinner until the dessert arrives. Traditionally, the dessert served on Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is the perfect fall treat, so why not try it with friends!

Enjoy a delicious turkey dinner on Thanksgiving
Enjoy a delicious turkey dinner on Thanksgiving

Go for a nice walk while you study English in Canada

Fall is a wonderful time of year in Canada. The air is cool and it’s a perfect opportunity to go for a walk after eating a big dinner. Go to a local park and enjoy the sight of leaves falling off the trees, or go on a bike ride with friends if you have a little more energy. Check out whether there are any suitable places for pumpkin picking too, which is a fun activity to try. Winter can be very cold here in Canada, so take advantage of the nice fall temperatures on Canadian Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the beautiful fall scenery after dinner
Enjoy the beautiful fall scenery after dinner

Football and hockey are popular sports on Thanksgiving

Did you know that Canada has its own version of U.S. football? They’re almost identical and Thanksgiving is a big day for the Canadian Football League (CFL). Lots of people relax in front of the television to watch the games. If you’re feeling more active, you can also go out on the streets and play some road hockey. Fall is the start of the hockey season, so it’s a great time to start learning more about the sport.

It’s a public holiday so beware of shop closures

Thanksgiving is an official holiday in Ontario, which means that most people don’t have to go to work. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of your favourite shops and restaurants might not be open on the day. So, if you’re attending English as a second language school and need to do some shopping, try and do it a few days beforehand.

Do you want to study English in Canada?

Develop your language skills and have great fun at CultureWorks.

A strong Iranian wind brings Saba ‘good news:’ A successful CultureWorks ESL program, entrance to Western University and a new home in Canada

ESL school
Saba Serat on her experience at CultureWorks: “It was a great experience for me. I got to know Canadian people, like my teachers. It was a good first impression of Canada.”

“(Saba Wind) is a wind that blows in the spring in the morning,” Saba Serat said. “He (Hafez) uses my name a lot in his poems: ‘Saba Wind, bring me good news.’”

Saba Serat is a recent graduate of CultureWorks ESL program in London and these days she is biding her time in Canada before she enters Western University in the chemical engineering program in September.

Her name, Saba, comes from the often-used term in Hafez writing. The legendary Persian poet “lauded the joys of love and wine, but also targeted religious hypocrisy.” He was born in Shiraz in 1325 and died in 1390.

Saba’s journey to CultureWorks

The CultureWorks Saba is 27, is from Iran, and her family lives in Tehran.

The good news she refers to came in bunches at the end of 2017. Once she decided Canada was going to be her country of choice, she received a conditional offer at Western and entrance to CultureWorks.

But there was a Canadian visa to be had. Everything was not perfect, but it was coming together. Hurry up and wait, some people might say.

For the visa, she had to go Turkey because there is no Canadian embassy in Iran. The process—including obtaining all the documents associated with the offer of the university, the acceptance of CultureWorks, other financial documents and fingerprints—took longer than expected.

“I went back to Iran and I was going crazy. Four months was a long time to wait.”

Then it was off to London and a one-term stay in a CultureWorks ESL program. Her English speaking was already strong. But she still needed some work before entering Western. She was not sure she needed the ESL help.

“I wanted to go straight to the university and start my program. I wasn’t happy with it. But after about a week or two, I changed my mind. I was so happy, actually, that I came to CultureWorks first,” Saba said.

Saba voices her opinion on smoking in a CultureWorks online class.

“It’s a practice for me to speak language and study in English and have a teacher who speaks in English because it’s my first time. I didn’t have that experience before. And the skills that they taught were actually some things I didn’t know of, like academic listening skills, and writing, or academic reading. These are all important skills.”

Enjoying Canadian culture while studying English as a second language

She appreciated her first taste of Canada.

“It was a great experience for me. I got to know Canadian people, like my teachers. It was a good first impression of Canada. I could see Canadians are good people. They are not racist. They are not against international students. They are friendly. They try to help you. If you ask them one question, they try and help you as much as they can.”

Olivia Trzcianowski is one of those CultureWork teachers. She was impressed with her student.

“Though she has completed a degree in Iran, her academic skills in the area of research were lacking,” Olivia said. “Her speaking skills were unbelievable. She learned English only in Iran.”

Saba and her classmates receive awards on her last day at CultureWorks.
Saba and her classmates receive awards on her last day at CultureWorks.

Olivia said Saba had no trouble fitting in, despite the fact she was the only Iranian student during the term.

“She (Saba) wasn’t self conscious about talking with other people. She was always friendly and willing to work with everyone.”

Saba has decided to stay in London during the break she has between ESL school and Western. This gives her time to reflect on what she leaves behind in Iran, other than her two sisters and two parents. Incidentally, three of the four are engineers.

“It’s kind of a family tradition. If your father is an engineer, you become an engineer. If your father is a doctor, you become a doctor.”

Saba discusses soccer, religion and staying in Canada

Meanwhile, her summer stay has also included watching her country compete in the World Cup of soccer. She watched the Iran-Portugal match at a jammed North York, Ont., sports bar.

“When we scored a goal, or there was a penalty or something, the whole place exploded. Everyone would scream,” she said, enjoying every minute despite the fact Iran lost on this day.

“The Iranian players played perfectly. And Ronaldo did something. He should have got a red card, but the referee gave him a yellow card. Everyone was so mad. He put his elbow on somebody’s face. It was so hard. It wasn’t fair.”

Always hot topics when it comes to Iran are religion and politics. Saba is comfortable talking about both.

In the ongoing tricky religion situation in Iran, Saba can best be described as a non-practicing Muslim.

“As you can see, I am not wearing a hijab. I dress the way I want,” she said.

“In Iran, it’s a not a choice. You can’t choose not to wear a hijab or wear a hijab or be a Muslim or not be a Muslim. You have to wear your hijab. It’s not just me. Most of the people don’t believe in that. They just cover their hair because they are supposed to; they are forced to. And if they don’t, they will get arrested.”

Saba intends to stay in Canada after she graduates from Western, unlike her two sisters who returned to Iran after obtaining their engineering degrees in England.

“I am different. I want to stay,” Saba said.

“Saba Wind has many communicative roles in Hafez’ poetry: an informed source; a sender giving information; it conveys the message; as a channel, it transmits concepts and messages; it is sometimes a harbinger; it receives messages; it shapes meaning in the mind of the receiver.”

— Courtesy of University of Wollongong, Australia.

Would you like to learn English as a second language?

Discover the friendly and welcoming environment at CultureWorks!

5 great ways to stay cool this summer when you learn English as a second language

learn English as a second language

Canadian winters might be cold, but our summers certainly aren’t! During the hot summer months, temperatures can climb up to over 30 degrees Celsius. Fortunately, Canada is home to many large beaches, lakes, and other natural wonders that will thrill you while keeping the heat and humidity away. You can also try visiting one of Canada’s many water parks, guaranteed to provide you with a fun and exciting time. Here are just some of the fun activities you can look forward to during a summer in Canada.

1. Visit local beaches

Whether it’s passing a beach ball around or playing some volleyball with your friends, the beach is where you can go to have fun, swim, enjoy the sunshine, and stay cool. Should you choose to study English as a second language at CultureWorks’ campus in London, Ontario, there are over 10 unique beaches you can visit! Try going to Sauble Beach, a huge beach with an incredible view right on the shores of Lake Huron, or take a trip over to Port Stanley, another great beach on Lake Erie!

CultureWorks students enjoy a game of tug of war at the beach
CultureWorks students enjoy a game of tug of war at the beach

2. Have you ever tried kayaking?

Kayaking is a fun activity you can do on your own or with friends. Kayaking is also a great way to get exercise too! For new students just starting an intensive English program in Canada, kayaking can be a wonderful way to stay cool and explore local lakes and rivers.

Try kayaking with friends during the summer
Try kayaking with friends during the summer

You can kayak almost anywhere in Ottawa, along slow moving rivers and tranquil lakes, such as Lac Philip and La Peche Lake. You can also try rowing your kayak along Dow’s Lake. The lake has a great pavilion, and it’s close to the Rideau Canal, another great place to kayak!

3. Go on a boat tour

Boat cruises and tours are so much fun, and they’re educational too! There are many different boat touring companies in Ottawa, which can take you around Ottawa’s huge lakes and rivers. Some tours will even have a guide to explain local history and points of interest. One of the most popular boat cruises in Ottawa is along the Rideau Canal, famous for its history, landmarks, and amazing sights. Boat tours are also a great way to just sit back, relax, and cool down after a long hot day!

4. Water parks are a blast!

For maximum fun while attending ESL school in Canada, you have to visit one of the country’s incredible water parks. Students in London, Ontario, can visit East Park. East Park has many cool things to do, such as golf, go carting, and fun water slides! In Ottawa, students can visit Canada’s largest water theme park, Calypso. This water park has 35 different water slides, 100 types of water games, and a massive wave pool!

5. Try a day trip to Niagara Falls when you learn English as a second language

Niagara Falls is one of Canada’s most famous natural wonders, and if you decide to enroll at CultureWorks, you’ll have the chance to go on a trip there. Niagara Falls is the meeting place of three great waterfalls, the Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil Falls. One of the best ways to experience Niagara Falls is get onto the Maid of the Mist boat cruise, which takes you up close to the waterfalls. You’ll definitely cool down near all that water mist!

Have fun at Niagara Falls with CultureWorks!
Have fun at Niagara Falls with CultureWorks!

Are you ready to learn English as a second language in Canada?

Contact CultureWorks for more details!