LOVING LONDON

CultureWorks is the original ESL school for higher education in Canada.  And London, Ontario is the school’s original location.  Our CW students have created so many great memories in London, all the way from our summer programs, through our school year, and beyond into the alumni chapter.  This Valentines Day, send some love to London, and enjoy these London memories caught on camera

Our King’s Summer students are cooking! Big smiles! (I see one male student and many female students…who says guys can’t cook?)
Behold!  Champions of English!
Behold! Champions of English! (The small guy is the teacher, btw.)
Banging the Drum at Opening Ceremonies in London!
Banging the Drum at Opening Ceremonies in London! The student on the left is really into the rhythm!
London Potluck, 2014
London Potluck, 2014
End of Term Party, London 2014
End of Term Party, London 2014
Janine, Elaine, and Liz enjoying time with London alumni, Peng Tu and Yuxiao
Janine, Elaine, and Liz enjoying time with London alumni, Peng Tu and Yuxiao

Do you have any CultureWorks pictures you’d like to share?  You can send them to us on our Facebook page!

 

Canadian Compassion

www.ctv.ca
RCMP Officers at memorial www.ctv.ca

This was a very sad, but historical week in Canada.  After the terrible shootings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Officers in Moncton, New Brunswick., a memorial was held on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014.  As you can see from the picture above, RCMP officers’ uniforms are red.  To show their support, thousands of Canadian citizens also wore red to demonstrate compassion for the fallen officers.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.49.11 AM Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.49.25 AM Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.49.36 AM

www.ctvnews.ca #wearred
www.ctvnews.ca #wearred
www.ctvnews.ca
www.ctvnews.ca

This is a great example of the Canadian social mentality.  When bad things happen to members of our communities, Canadians try their best to express sincere concern and support for those who are suffering.  Without question, it is easier to go through difficult times when you are supported by others.

Try to keep this in mind as you pursue your studies in Canada.  Support your classmates if they are struggling, whether it is at school or socially.  If you hear someone is having a hard time, reach out and show them you care!  Together, we triumph over adversity.

For more #wearred pictures: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canadians-wear-red-to-honour-fallen-mounties-1.1861511

TEACHERS ARE PEOPLE TOO

CultureWorks teachers are a little weird.  They’re real people.

Dreamcatchers_OshawaNative_2013

I mean, they stand at the front of the classroom like ‘regular’ teachers.  They give professional lectures and facilitate dynamic group exercises.  What makes them weird is that CULTUREWORKS TEACHERS WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU.  Like, as a person. They’re weird because they don’t ONLY stand in front of the classroom, they also walk around the room and talk with you one on one.  They go on weekly trips with you and scroll through your Facebook photo albums.  Heck, I’ve even seen CultureWorks teachers exchange recipes, play squash, and sing with their students. Super weird, and like, totally human, right?

So the question is, what are you doing to connect with your teachers?  Your time in Canada is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t be shy! Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:

#5.  MAKE SMALL TALK

Easier said than done, right?  Well, believe me, CultureWorks teachers like when you ask questions!  The only way you’ll feel less shy around your teacher is by asking questions, simple stuff, like “How was your weekend?”  “Have you seen (movie)?” “Is there a restaurant you recommend in the area?”  Of course your teachers are there to teach you, and how better to do that if you are comfortable with them?

#4.  CONNECT WITH CULTURE

Canadians all have a unique heritage.  Just by asking your teacher’s family history, you’re learning valuable Canadian history and getting a better understanding of them at the same time.  Take me, for example.  My mother is German, and my father has Welsh heritage.  Now you know why I like to tell people what to do while eating lots of bread.  (I’m joking.) (Not really.)

#3.  SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE CLASS

Hiding behind your laptop or texting under the desk at the back of the class will never connect you to your teacher.  By sitting at the front, or near the front of the class, you will engage more with your teacher’s lessons and show them that you care, and are there to learn.

#2.  WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE

You work hard, and so do your teachers.  Taking the time to write a thoughtful thank you note for all the effort they put into your lessons will really mean a lot to them.  I know this may sound strange depending on your academic customs, but in Canada, teachers respond kindly when they know their work is appreciated.  This won’t guarantee you a higher grade, but it will give you a shared experience that goes beyond marks and tests.

#1.  THROW A SURPRISE PARTY!

Last week some students threw a surprise party for teachers at our Oshawa/UOIT campus, which was AWESOME!  Food, music, and loads of memorable photographs definitely showed the teachers that their students cared about them.  Cool, eh?  It goes to show that anytime is a good time for party time!

Reach out to your teachers.  You’ll learn far more than a language! 🙂

Oshawa Teacher Party
Oshawa Teacher Party

brazfood10brazfood8brazfood6brazfood4brazfood3

The Inuit

INUKSHUK; for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, and food caches in the frozen Arctic climates.  www.cbantlerart.com
INUKSHUK; for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, and food caches in the frozen Arctic climates. www.cbantlerart.com

To me, it often feels like we talk about natives in Canada as if they only existed in the past.  We’ve heard the ancient stories about first settlers meeting native tribes, the nomadic hunters, and how at first they traded their goods with the Europeans.  It’s interesting history, sure, but the next generation native cultures in Canada are making ‘new’ history all the time.

Take the Inuit people in Nunavut, Canada’s arctic.  Nunavut is the first official territory (1999) with official governing status over its people.  That’s a huge deal!  No other native group in the world has managed to rise above the controversy and oppression of their past, not to mention have national recognition and governing power. And what’s really interesting is that the Inuit new generation are the first to write their history down!  So, as a result, the oral history of Nunavut is still a big part of this new territory’s future.  They are actively teaching the youth about the land, the culture, and the traditions so their history isn’t lost.  Check out this video from the National Geographic that discusses the Inuit oral tradition, it’s pretty cool:

[wpvideo yJfo2XOy]

Inuit diet, hunting traditions, and language need to be passed down to the next generation otherwise their amazing history will be lost.  Whale fat instead of hamburgers.  Storytelling instead of texting.  I mean, this image doesn’t reflect modern Iqaluit, but it’s how the old generation lived!  And not that long ago!

http://clinicalnature.com/page/2/
http://clinicalnature.com/page/2/

I had the unique opportunity to live in Nunavut in the year 2000.  I lived on Cornwallis Island in a 200-person village called Resolute Bay.  Resolute Bay is the second most northern community before the North Pole, and in the winter temperatures got as low as -80 with the wind chill.  (This is why I almost never complain about the cold in Ontario!) Honestly, I felt like I was living on the moon!  I went to Nunavut for my first teaching job after university, where I taught kindergarten.  Even though I worked up there as a teacher, it was me who received the education. The Inuit people are wise, understanding, and gentle people.  They have an insight on life like nothing I’ve ever known, born from years in a tight community and culture, not to mention on harsh land.

skidooView_of_resolute_bay_4

MAKING MEMORIES IN CANADA

Hello new and returning students!  Welcome to another exciting, brand new term at CultureWorks.  2014 is just getting warmed up, my friends…because it can’t get much colder, can it! Ha! (Ok, bad joke.  Too soon?)

I’d like to start the new year off with a wish.  My wish is that all of you will embrace your first week, cherish it, and remember it, because these memories are golden!  They only happen once guys. You are in Canada, studying at CultureWorks, and that’s super cool!  So here’s 5 tips to make your life as an international student memorable.  Believe me, I’ve lived abroad before.   Some people look like they’re having the time of their lives, and other people look like their doing time. (Like, in jail!)  The choice is yours!

5.  Take a picture of something everyday.

Choose something that looks new or unusual to you, compared to life in your home country.  Your friends, Canadian fashion, transportation, the food, sites, etc…These pictures will add up over time and will be a great reminder at how different, and how great, your experience was.

Thanks Gustavo!  Great pic!
Thanks Gustavo! Great pic!

4.  Think of your life in Canada like it’s an adventure.

It is!  When you wake up, tell yourself that you have no idea what weird and wonderful things you’ll see and learn.  Maybe you’ll try a new food.  Maybe you’ll meet an odd bearded Canadian at a Tim Hortons who will tell you strange stories.  Who knows!  That’s the thrill of the ride!

sunnyyq.wordpress.com
sunnyyq.wordpress.com

3.  Spice up your life.

If you feel your routine is getting dull, change things around.  Take a different route to school.  Visit a different area of Toronto, or London, or Ottawa.  Explore a new area of campus, or even join a club. Just like a good curry, life is better with spice!

http://www.pasospices.com
http://www.pasospices.com

2.  Meet people, make friends.

Honestly, the friends you make now will be with you for the rest of your lives.  When you’re 80 years old, you’ll laugh together about the time one of you took the wrong bus and ended up in Montreal.  Or the time you finished an exam and then passed out with your face in the middle of a pizza.  You get the idea.

Ottawa Holiday Party
Ottawa Holiday Party

1.  Ask questions.

This is my number one piece of advice.  Your teachers, your student services co-ordinators, your cafeteria workers, your neighbours, your homestay parents…these are all people who hold the key.  When you ask, you learn, and you will learn so much from the people around you.  And you know what?  They want to help!

9670134409_06fa2fd41f_z 9670210787_58740e26ed_z liz

I’m jealous of all of you, to be honest.  I want to feel that *new* feeling again of living and travelling abroad.  You know what?  Forget it.  I’m enrolling in CultureWorks.  I’ll pretend I’m Russian and wear a big fur hat.  See you in class!

Tips on Study Tips

http://www.cse.buffalo.edu
http://www.cse.buffalo.edu

I remember preparing for my third year Anthropology class presentation, writing a 25 page term paper for my Classics course, and studying for three other courses, and all were all taking place in the same week. Ugh! They say university and college is great for teaching us time management, but I’d like to add that it is also great for teaching us how to stress out and throw dishes against the wall.

In researching this week’s blog post on study tips, I kept coming across the same advice.  Study with a friend.  Don’t procrastinate.  Use a highlighter.  Keep a log of difficult words and ideas.  Quiz yourself.  Divide your material into smaller, manageable chunks.  These suggestions are very good.  You’ve heard our teachers at CultureWorks give you the same advice a million times, so I don’t want to bore you with repetition.  Luckily, I came across two videos that offer some different ideas about preparing for tests.

This video has a lot of strange ideas that are just weird enough to work.  I definitely agree with listening to instrumental music while you study – music with lyrics are much too distracting.

[wpvideo xnQyUrVP]

This video offers excellent advice on setting a time limit when you are really concentrating.  In our age of iPhones and universal internet access, this is a great skill to practice.

[wpvideo NM4E1QUr]

These tips will especially help you with advancing your reading, listening, writing, and grammar skills.  Not only that, they’ll make your brain HUGE! Big brains are attractive, right?

Student Appreciation Week!

1,955,340 — That’s the approximate total number of students enrolled in Canadian universities and colleges in 2013.  Do you have any idea how many late night pizzas that is?  Yikes!

Seeing as it’s Student Appreciation Week, I’m going to dedicate this week’s blog to you, students.  Consider it a big digital hug.

Thanks for maintaining Canada’s high level of academic standards on the global scale.

Thanks for striving for excellence and furthering yourself.

Thanks for contributing to Canadian society in a constructive, intelligent, and progressive way.

And if you are an international student in Canada, thank you for diversifying our campuses, and enriching our worldview.

Check out the two awesome videos of these two CultureWorks  students, Amanda Dantas Oliveira De Medeiros, and Meshel Albaqmi.  They are being interviewed about their experiences at CultureWorks.  Excellent work you guys!  You both have excellent English speaking skills, and your positive attitude toward learning is inspiring!  Happy Student Appreciation Week to you both, and to the other 1,955,338, too!

[wpvideo 7tqnpHuj]

[wpvideo iOLKIjrq]

5 Inventions You Probably Don’t Know Are Canadian

http://www.midnightpoutine.ca
http://www.midnightpoutine.ca

Our most famous foods are maple syrup and poutine.  Our biggest exports are lumber and comedians.  But how many of you knew that these 5 world famous inventions were born in Canada?

1.  IMAX

I recently saw Gravity on IMAX, and it was stunning.  How can you go wrong with 72 × 52.8 ft screens displaying the absolute best resolution on the world’s biggest cameras?  My wife and I couldn’t drive home right away because we both actually felt like we were in space.  Yes, IMAX is a Canadian company, established in 1970 (after years of trial and error), and is now in 679 countries.  Forget Netflix!

www.imax.com
www.imax.com
www.imax.com
www.imax.com

2. THE EGG CARTON

Ok, so you might not think this is anything to brag about.  But be honest.  How many unnecessary egg tragedies have been avoided because of this ingenious piece of cardboard engineering?  I imagine when  Joseph Coyle of Smithers British Columbia came up with the design in 1911, it was mainly because he was tired of eggs exploding in his pockets on the way back from the market.

talentegg.ca
talentegg.ca

3.  INSULIN

When medical insulin was created in 1922,  Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Collip revolutionized the medical world forever.  These Canadians made it possible to regulate dangerously low insulin levels in people, and therefore make diabetes a manageable disease.  Ok, so it’s no egg carton, but it’s not bad!

http://anthonycolpo.com
http://anthonycolpo.com

4.  FIVE-PIN BOWLING

As if 10 pin bowling isn’t fun enough!  Thomas F. Ryan from Toronto, created 5-pin bowling in 1909 to put a spin on the classic game.  With a smaller bowling ball and only 5 ‘pins’ at the end of the alley, some people feel this version is faster and more challenging than the regular game.  Personally I don’t really care.  I love bowling for the shoes.

http://brechinlanes.ca
http://brechinlanes.ca

5.  THE G-SUIT

The G-Suit is a flight suit worn by aviators and astronauts who are subject to high levels of acceleration force (g). It is designed to prevent a black-out and Loss Of Consciousness caused by the blood pooling in the lower part of the body when under acceleration, thus depriving the brain of blood. The first g-suits were developed by a team led by Wilbur R. Franks at the University of Toronto’s Banting and Best Medical Institute in 1941.  Not a bad contribution to the world, eh?

http://www.fslocal.com
http://www.fslocal.com

When you travel and/or study in Canada, you need to know information like this.  Why?  Because when you go home you’re expected to be an expert on the country, right?  You need to know how the culture works! Impress your friends!  Shock your neighbours! Impress your teachers at CultureWorks!

Being Erica & Learning English

www.wrightawards.ca
www.wrightawards.ca

CultureWorks ESL teachers often tell their students to watch English TV and movies.  I know, they’re pretty cool teachers.  Of course they are suggesting this for students to improve their skills.  But what shows and films are best for students to watch?  Although Canada doesn’t produce nearly as many TV shows as the U.S., many of our shows tell interesting stories with intelligent ideas that just happen to be perfect for anyone learning English.

The show I’ll present this week is called Being Erica.  It is a popular CBC program that is in its final season.  Read the show’s description and see if you can guess why it would be a good one to watch:

“Being Erica is a one-hour series that explores the life of Erica Strange, a woman who has been given a wonderful gift. Every episode, Erica goes back to relive a regret from her past, in order to come back and make a positive change in her present.”

Firstly, the main character travels in time, so that’s a good enough reason to watch it.  Secondly, because she travels in time, it’s the perfect show to learn about VERB TENSES!  By watching this show you’ll hear it all:

Present Tense Family: the simple present (I live), the present progressive (I am living), the present perfect (I have lived)

Past Tense Family:  the simple past (I lived), the past progressive (I was living), the past perfect (I had lived)

Future Tense Family: the simple future (I will live), the future progressive (I will be living), the future perfect (I will have lived)

Conditionals:  I would, I could, I should…

In addition to memorizing the rules, it is most effective to listen and watch English being used.  Being Erica is the perfect show for this.  Watch this clip to see what I mean, and see how many tenses you hear.  Write them down and say them aloud as you hear them, too. You might want to close the door when you practice though, some people might think you’re crazy! 🙂

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Being+Erica/ID/1237349536/

You can search through all the seasons of this show and more on CBC’s site: http://www.cbc.ca/player/

Happy watching!

Your Friendly Canadian Word Nerd

http://api.ning.com
http://api.ning.com

I’m in the mood to put on my teaching hat today.  I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for 13 years, and as a result my mind is married to the mechanics and the beauty of the English language.  Which is a nice way of saying that I’m a huge word nerd.

Have you ever heard of a ‘collocation’?  A collocation is a pair or group of words that sound natural, and commonly go together well.  The above word cloud is a great example of the many words that go with ‘news’.

There are millions of collocations, and they occur in all languages.  I guarantee that if you start to apply even a few of them in your writing, reading, and presentation skills, your academic English is going to skyrocket.

Why learn collocations?

– You will be more natural and easily understood.
– You will have alternative and richer ways of expressing yourself.
– You will express yourself as a native speaker and that´s the whole point, right?
– It is easier for our brains to remember and use language in chunks or blocks rather than as single words.
– if you are getting yourself ready for an English exam, collocations might make the difference between passing ot or not.

http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

For example, here are regular, acceptable word combinations:

a big house

give a quick report

very different

rather strong

Many of these words are very common in spoken English.  By learning collocations however, we use language more precisely, and choose our words and combinations more carefully in order to sound natural.  So we might prefer:

a magnificent house

present a preliminary report

significantly different

relatively strong

See how they sound so natural, and tell you so much more?  That’s the magic of collocations! 🙂

Now look, don’t get freaked out by collocations, ok? I know, you want to skip this, run away, and go check Facebook or Weibo. You probably are saying what a lot of my students have said to me in the past: “HOW CAN I LEARN ALL THOSE WORD COMBINATIONS!  IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!”

You need to believe me, it’s not.  Collocations might seem intimidating at first.  They can be learned, however, and it’s really quite a lot of fun.  Way more fun than like, trying to lose weight, or picking ice cream off the sidewalk or something.  The bonus is that you’ll communicate so much more effectively once you get the hang of it.  Why don’t we start with the different kinds?

Different Kinds of Collocation

Some word pairs occur together so often that when you see one word, you strongly expect that the other word may be there too.  Here are the most important categories:

1. adjective + noun fatal accident, golden opportunity

2. verb + noun accept responsibility, undermine (my) self-confidence

3. noun + verb the gap widened, a fight broke out

4. adverb + adjective highly desirable, potentially embarrassing

5. verb + adverb discuss calmly, lead eventually to

Now check out these collocations.  Which category does each belong to?:

a.  the wind howled

b. she teaches professionally

c. demolish (the) house

d.  remarkable movie

e. terribly shocking

Ok, we’ll stop there, that’s all I want to show you this week.  I’ll post the answers to the question on our Facebook page tomorrow! (Tuesday, June 4th)

Now that you have been introduced to collocations, keep your eyes and ears open for them.  Try really listening to English speakers and see if you can hear patterns of word pairs they repeat.  And if you want an awesome excuse to watch movies, collocations are it!  Keep a place for them in your notebook or laptop, I promise you’re going to use them later!

Until next time,

Your Friendly Canadian Word Nerd

http://lawhimsy.files.wordpress.com
http://lawhimsy.files.wordpress.com