Stan Rath ~ The Best of Both Worlds

stanrathbus_lr

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.

www.thestar.com
www.thestar.com

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.

globes-300x275
https://sendgrid.com

 

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.

Stan Students Niagara

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.

http://www.ssri.psu.edu
http://www.ssri.psu.edu

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!

Stan Class Photo 2

Coffee Clash!

coffee-if-youre-not-shaking

We all know what we need in order to succeed at school:

1. Attend Classes

2. Maintain Study Habits

3. DRINK COFFEE!!!

So my question is very simple: Which coffee do you prefer?  This has been a long debate in Canada for quite some time, and ever since McDonald’s introduced their line of coffee, the debate has become quite heated! (And we need heat this time of year.)  Starbucks is considered to be the international ‘standard’ for good coffee-on-the-go, so let’s compare the others to it.

tim-hortons-starbucks-camps

mcdonalds-vs-starbucks

I want to know what you think.  Which one has the best taste?  The best price?  The best selection?  Which one works for late night study sessions?

If you are a tea drinker, I’m sorry if you feel excluded from this post.  Feel better knowing that you are probably healthier than the rest of us coffee lovers!

 

Top 5 Reasons to Love CultureWorks!

Welcome to CultureWorks!  Are you excited? Do you have any idea how fantastic your experience is going to be this year?  Well, juice up your laptop batteries and open up your minds, boys and girls!  Our new term begins next week!  And to get everyone in the mood, here are the top 5 reasons you’re going to love learning English at Ontario’s premiere EAP school.

#5.  Experience Campus Life

At CultureWorks, you’re not only getting a conditional acceptance to a Canadian university, you’re also getting an on campus education in world culture.

King’s University College, Brescia University College, Western University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Durham College and Carleton University all boast a vibrant community of learners who come from India, Europe, Africa, Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Korea, China and many, many more countries.  It’s like a buffet of culture! You are going to be learning so much just by going to school together.  How cool is that?

students on campus JUNE CAMPUS 2010 LONDON

#4.  Ontario is an Awesome Playground

Let’s face it.  You can’t *always* be studying, right?  Ottawa, Toronto, and London are filled with satisfying distractions.  Live music venues, tons of restaurants, fabulous parks, a huge selection of movie theatres, and groovy coffee shops are just the beginning to some super fun times!

You might ask, “Yeah, Canada sounds great, but how do I know what to do?”  And my answer is, “Make friends with the great people in your Student Services office!”  Want to know how to rent an apartment?  Have to take a subway in Toronto?  Interested in joining a campus team?  Our CultureWorks Student Services team will help you figure out your life in Canada. Don’t be shy!

Courtesy of www.niagarafallscourtsidein.com
Courtesy of www.niagarafallscourtsidein.com

#3.  Rockstar EAP Program

eyecontact2011LONDON

It’s all about our teachers.  They make your experience real, and help make your success a reality.  They have lived overseas too, which makes CultureWorks teachers understand the language learning process and international experience like no one else.  They are  your true Canadian ambassadors.

The CultureWorks’ curriculum is one of a kind, above and beyond what any regular ESL school has to offer.  Academic level Reading, Writing & Grammar, Listening & Speaking, Pronunciation, Canadian Studies and Integrated Study Skills & Exam Preparation are blended so that you are always practicing more than one language skill at a time.   As an intensive, academic program, you will be prepared for the advanced skills required at university.

#2.  100% Authentically Canadian

The central theme to your life in Canada, is….Canada!  Right?  And how better to learn about this amazing country than to experience it?  Three times a term, students embark upon an exciting, different trip to a wide variety of Canadian destinations to share in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  Grab your camera and upload your pictures to show your new life off to loved ones at home.

Dreamcatchers_OshawaNative_2013

#1.  CultureWorks Puts You in Control

The absolute best feature of the CultureWorks experience is that it teaches you how to take control of your learning.  We give you the opportunity and tools to work hard, reflect upon your skills, and ask your teachers smart questions.  “How can I improve my reading?”  “What is the best way to expand my vocabulary?”  “How do I make friends at university?”  When you are aware of your learning, you know which areas to develop, and that will set you on a path to success.

As your excitement builds over the next week, remember that your Canadian adventure with CultureWorks is a unique opportunity.  Not everyone lives in a foreign country, or learns another language, so take every chance to learn and enjoy.  In the end, we show you the culture and how English works.  We need you to put them together and succeed at CultureWorks.  Welcome!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcVYXvnEIwI&list=TLh7QeEE8D_rg

HAGRADGROUP_OSHAWA_APRIL2013

Study in Canada

CultureWorks students, I applaud you! Again you find yourselves at the end of another successful term, glowing from your efforts studying English.  And again, we need to reflect upon why you are able to realize your academic dreams.  Of course, hard work and determination are the key components ~ you should be very proud of yourselves!  But the other component is quite clear too, although maybe too obvious to realize sometimes:  you chose to study in Canada!

I stumbled upon this amazing article today and had to share it with you.  If you need a reminder why you chose Canada, or you know someone who wants to come here to study, read and share this article. It is amazing.

http://www.studentworldonline.com/article/study-in-canada-special-the-experts-answer-your-questions/194/

Canada is built to help people succeed.  Our educational policies set out by the government are designed to help students build their future.  Whether you are studying in London, Oshawa, or Ottawa, you have experienced the amazing support our country brings to facilitate your learning.  Furthermore, Canada is proud to have international learners come to our great shores!

Have a spectacular term break!  Enjoy our mighty country and come back to the classroom with stories to tell!

canada_0

 

“Down to Earth” ~ An Interview with Meredith McGregor @ CultureWorks London!

meredethmcgregor_hrPlease 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.

http://www.loseweight101.net
http://www.loseweight101.net

 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.

http://www.ghorayebtravel.net/
http://www.ghorayebtravel.net/

 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.

http://englishtutoronlineusa.files.wordpress.com
http://englishtutoronlineusa.files.wordpress.com

 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.

www.worldatlas.com
www.worldatlas.com

halls_harbour_nova_scotia_sc0512

Thanks a million! An Interview w/ Jenny Blake @ CultureWorks London

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!

jennyblake_london_lrg1

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.

http://grammartimewths.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/grammartime1.png
http://grammartimewths.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/grammartime1.png

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.

http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/karate-class-2.jpg
http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/karate-class-2.jpg

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.”

http://nau.edu/uploadedImages/Academic/CAL/History/History_720x350.jpg
Tarracotta Warriors in China

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!

jenny think

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!

http://www.cbc.ca/books/anne-of-green-gables.jpg
http://www.cbc.ca/books/anne-of-green-gables.jpg

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

IT’S A LITTLE LOONIE

www.canada.com
www.canada.com

My colleague Christina informed me this week that our “Loonie”, the Canadian dollar, is at its lowest value now since 2009.  “Isn’t that cool?” she exclaimed.  “Wouldn’t it make a neat blog post?”  “Yeah,” I laughed. “It’s a little loonie, but it’d work.”

Loonie is the slang name for the Canadian dollar.  We call it that because it has the image of a beautiful Canadian bird, the loon, on it.  Also, loonie (or loony) is another way of saying someone or something is ‘crazy’.  And let’s face it, there’s a lot of things in Canada that are pretty loonie!

So how is a lower dollar value a good thing for the Canadian economy.  I admit, I am no economist, so I had to do the research on this.  What I learned is rather cool.

1.  A lower Loonie will help our economy

www.akcanada.com
www.akcanada.com

Canada sells a lot of stuff to other countries (export).  This includes manufactured goods and services.  Canada’s tourism and services industry is big, too.  So with a lower dollar, suddenly our stuff isn’t so expensive compared to the rest of the world.  As a result, more countries will want to buy Canadian.

2.  A dip in the dollar will help employment

www.opencanada.org
Oil Field Worker in Alberta, Canada www.opencanada.org

Our lower dollar will make the U.S. exports more expensive.  This means that other countries won’t buy as much from the U.S., and American workers could lose their jobs.  Meanwhile in Canada our exports are busier than ever, which creates work for Canadians to keep up with the demand.

3.  A bargain buck means ‘buy Canadian’

www.monarchkitchenblog.com
www.monarchkitchenblog.com

A lot of Canadians shop ‘over the border’, or in the U.S. because their prices are usually cheaper than ours.  This is especially true for groceries and gas.  But with the Canadian buck (slang for dollar) low, it doesn’t make sense to buy in America.  Canadians will buy in Canada, and a higher volume of business is great for the economy.  Also, Americans will come to Canada to buy Canadian!  It’s a win win!

4.  Cut-rate cash is great for tourism

blog.newswire.ca
blog.newswire.ca

Canadian music and theatre festivals, ski resorts and summer resorts, will all benefit from a lower dollar.  Why?  Because other countries’ money is higher value, making Canada a great place to travel too.

There are drawbacks, of course.  People with Canadian investments and retirement savings won’t be earning as much.  Bank rates haven’t been lowered either, which means people are paying more on their credit cards while the dollar is technically worth less.  In the end however, this was a good lessen for me.  When people say the ‘dollar is low’, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing.  It’s when people say your pants are low, or your marks are low – that’s pretty much always a bad thing.

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?