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
Do you have any CultureWorks pictures you’d like to share? You can send them to us on our Facebook page!
Today we’re joined by the one and only, Mr. Stan Rath. Stan is one of CultureWorks’ powerhouses. He is a teacher, a curriculum developer, and a mentor to both teachers and students. If you want to learn something, I suggest you hang around Stan. I recently asked him some questions so you can get to know him a little better.
Q. Stan, who is your favourite Canadian musician?
A. Oscar Peterson is a world class jazz pianist. I listen to his music every day.
Q. What idiomatic expression best describes you and why?
A. I think “the best of both worlds” describes me well. I love to travel and meet people from different cultures, but I also love to stay close to home.
At CultureWorks, I experience the best of both worlds because I have many interesting students from a variety of cultures in the classroom, and I get to live in my hometown of London, Ontario.
Q. When you’re not teaching, what are you doing? Do you have any hobbies, and why do you like doing them?
A. When I’m not teaching, I am usually hiking or planning my next vacation. One of the best feelings for me is being close to nature, and my favourite way to do this is hiking in Algonquin Park here in Ontario.
I find traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures very interesting. Two of my favourite countries that I have visited so far are India and Italy.
Q. You studied Biology before becoming a teacher. Do you think language is like science in any way? Do you draw from your scientific background in your approach to teaching?
A. I definitely think that language has scientific structure and rules, and I have found a scientific approach to teaching grammar and writing to be very effective. Many of my students have indicated that they benefit from using a formulaic approach when they practice using their vocabulary to build grammatically correct sentences.
Q. Lastly, for fun, if you could create a new word for the English language, what would it be and what would it mean?
A. gramtastic (adjective) definition: relating to the joy people feel when grammar unlocks doors to language learning
Gramtastic! I love it! Thanks so much for stopping by the Hotspot, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about you, and I know our CultureWorks students are lucky to have you as their teacher!
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.
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.
Please welcome Meredith McGregor to the Hotspot! After reading her interview, you’ll learn she is a thoughtful and sincere person. You might even say she’s “Down to Earth”. I’d love to have her as a teacher!
How long have you been working at CultureWorks? What is it about teaching English that you like the most?
I started as a substitute teacher at CultureWorks in the Fall of 2010 and then began full-time in January of 2011. The staff and students are the best part about teaching at CultureWorks. What I like best about teaching English for CW is the academic nature of the program.
What are your hobbies? Which of them do you recommend new students to Canada try, and why?
I teach dance aerobics part-time for a gym. This is something I really enjoy doing in my spare time. I also like cooking and reading.
There are a lot of students from a wide variety of cultures at our school, and each culture is rich in music, food, film, art, history, and stories. Which of these cultural features would you be most interested in learning about? Why?
Since working for CultureWorks, I have become really interested in visiting China one day. I think it would be nice to have a better sense of where our Chinese students come from, and be able to relate to them better. Also, it just sounds like a really diverse and interesting country with a rich culture and history.
What is your role at CultureWorks? Which courses 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?
I mostly teach Level C/D Writing and Grammar. Being able to write well is an important skill not only for post-secondary studies, but for employment as well. My advice is to develop your vocabulary so that you are able to express yourself clearly and directly. Having strong diction is an asset that influences all aspects of communication.
Lastly, for fun, if you could visit any Canadian province, where would you go? Why?
I would love to see more of Canada because I feel like I have traveled more outside of my own country than domestically. I have never been to Nova Scotia, so maybe I would choose to go there, especially during the summer.
This week I am joined on the Hotspot with the lovely Jenny Blake. Jenny’s the kind of person who smiles when she speaks. Her warm, personal character leaves everyone saying ‘Thanks a million’ for her help!
1. How long have you been working at CultureWorks? What is it about teaching English that you like the most?
I have been working at CultureWorks for 5 years. Believe it or not, I love grammar and collocation! Of course, I also like having interesting and amazing students, and that’s exactly what we have at CultureWorks.
2. What are your hobbies? Which of them do you recommend new students to Canada try, and why?
My hobbies are deep conversation over good coffee, reading about World War II, dance, and martial arts. Joining a class or a gym is a great way for students to make new friends and immerse themselves into the culture.
3. There are a lot of students from a wide variety of cultures at our school, and each culture is rich in music, food, film, art, history, and stories. Which of these cultural features would you be most interested in learning about? Why?
All of them! I love learning anything and everything about new cultures. If I had to pick, I suppose I would choose history as I like to see “the big picture.”
4. What is your role at CultureWorks? Which courses do you specialize? 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?
I have two roles at CultureWorks. I am a Level D instructor of Academic Reading and IELTS, and I am a Student Success Coordinator. In my Student Success role, I help students transition from CultureWorks to university. I know from personal experience of going to university in Scotland, that university in Canada is quite different. It’s important to learn what these differences are in order to be prepared for university and be successful. My best advice? Ask a million questions!
5. Lastly, for fun, if you could visit any Canadian province, where would you go? Why?
I would go to Prince Edward Island to visit Green Gables. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite books, and I would love to walk through the countryside like Anne did!
CultureWorks teachers are a little weird. They’re real people.
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! 🙂
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
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!
So, stress happens, right? You’ve got dishes piling up, relationships breaking up (I hope not!), and, of course, assignments stacking up. Stress is like a natural disaster in the body – a tsunami, a tornado, an earthquake all in one. Good times! And while there’s no pause button to life, there is one coping tool I can share that has helped me through the most stressful experiences of life, many of which happened at school.
It soothes and inspires. Music fills your spirit with beautiful distraction on a frequency that is far, far away from your worries. Please, try it out, listen to music on your study breaks. You’ll come back to your laptop feeling refreshed and ready to keep learning. Music is like a reset button for your brain.
Being a proud Canadian, I have a few new Canadian bands I’d like to share. If you are coming to Canada, or are already here, this is a great way to tune into the ‘vibe’, or the sound our country is currently producing. Here are three musical suggestions from the great white north:
1. Mother Mother– No, I didn’t type that twice by accident, that’s really the band’s name. From Vancouver, this group is a mixture of indie (independent) rock with some amazing vocal harmonies and lyrics.
I tried to find groups that were distinctive and unique from one another. I’d love to hear what music you are listening to! Please share your recommendations on the blog or on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/cultureworkstheschool
Remember, when you need a break from studying, turn up the music!