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.


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.”


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.


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.”


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!

Canadian-approved advice for enjoying the outdoors at ESL school in Canada

English as a second language program in Canada

Winter, spring, summer, and fall are very different in Canada, but all times of the year offer great opportunities to take part in outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in ice skating, boating, biking or hiking, there are plenty of activities for you to enjoy all year long. Even if you come from a city, it’s very easy to start getting involved in these fun activities.

Students learning English in Canada can spend lots of time outside of the classroom exploring the outdoors. It’s one of the best parts about studying in this country, because there is always something new to do. Here is how to get ready for these great adventures.

Buy suitable outdoor clothing

Winter is, of course, very cold in Canada, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors all the time. You just need to wear the right clothing during outdoor activities. Buy yourself a heavy jacket, a nice woolly hat, and some tough boots to handle the snow. Some thermal clothing is also a good idea if the temperatures are very low.

If you’re studying English as a second language in Canada during the summer, however, then you don’t need to worry about those low temperatures. It gets pretty hot in Ontario, making it great for long trips in the countryside. T-shirts and shorts are all you will need during these summer months, and maybe a rain jacket too, just in case.

Be prepared for the cold during winter in Canada
Be prepared for the cold during winter in Canada

Discover great outdoor activities to try in Ontario

When you’re studying at CultureWorks, you are fortunate to be close to amazing scenery. The province of Ontario is full of beautiful parks where you can walk, cycle, or run. You could visit Algonquin Provincial Park, north of Toronto, where you can hike your way through Barron Canyon. Or you could travel to Niagara Falls to look at the powerful waterfall and do some rock climbing at the Niagara Escarpment.

When the snow arrives in winter, that creates new opportunities for outdoor adventures. Ontario’s largest ski resort is Blue Mountain, but there are many other places where you can enjoy winter sports. You can also try dogsledding, snowshoeing, or tobogganing.

Tips for staying safe outdoors

When participating in outdoor activities while attending ESL school in Canada, it’s important to take a few safety measures. During the summer, temperatures regularly rise above 30 degrees Celsius in many parts of the country, so wear sunscreen to avoid getting burned. Keep a supply of bug repellent with you as well to prevent any bites on your skin.

Do lots of research before going on an adventure. Be alert to potentially dangerous animals and keep a map with you just in case your smartphone runs out of battery. During the winter, make sure you wear plenty of warm clothes, and go inside for a little while if you feel very cold. Stay safe and enjoy the beauty of Canada!

Are you looking for an English as a second language program in Canada?

CultureWorks will help you to achieve success in a fun learning environment.

The 5 best ways to enjoy a Canadian summer at ESL school in Canada

ESL school

While winter in Canada is a unique experience, summer also has a lot to offer. In fact, the summer is Canada’s peak tourism season. This means that many cities hold festivals, parades, and other fun activities for locals and visitors alike. Parks also see many visitors during this time of the year, welcoming hikers, campers, and adventurists from Canada and all over the world.

What are some of the best ways to enjoy a Canadian summer? Read on to find out!

1. Get active outdoors

One of the best ways to get your summer off to a great start while studying in Canada is to try different outdoor activities. ESL students could ride a bike or go rollerblading around the city, which is a good way to explore and get familiar with a new environment. They may also enjoy going for a hike or a jog on the Pink Lake or King Mountain trails in Ottawa, or the Fanshawe Lake Trail in London, Ontario. It’s a great way to keep healthy and fit during the summer, letting students take in the fresh scent of pine trees and admire some of the beautiful lakes, rivers, and forests Ontario has to offer.

Hiking in nature is a great way for ESL students to explore Canada
Hiking in nature is a great way for ESL students to explore Canada

2. Have fun at local festivals

Local festivals are a great way for students attending ESL school in Canada to have fun during the summer. ESL students who love music will like Ottawa’s Bluesfest and TD Jazz Festival, while students in London will have the London Bluesfest and Beatles festivals to look forward to.

Music festivals aren’t the only fun activities students can enjoy during the summer. London and Ottawa also have great food and art festivals such as the London Ribfest and Centretown Outdoor Film Festival. London and Ottawa also celebrate many different cultures through festivals as well. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet others, enjoy foods from other countries, and enjoy a beautiful summer day!

3. Visit historical sites and buildings

London and Ottawa have plenty of important historical sites where ESL students can learn more about Canadian history. For example, students can start by visiting Parliament Hill, one of the most important buildings in Canada. This is where the Prime Minister and other Canadian politicians meet and manage the affairs of the country. During the summer, Parliament Hill becomes even more special. At night, a beautiful light show is projected onto the buildings for visitors and locals to enjoy. In addition, every Wednesday at noon (when it’s not raining!) free yoga sessions take place on the lawn of Parliament Hill:

[youtube]In London there are also many wonderful historic sites to visit. For example, you can visit the famous Banting House, which was the home of Dr. Frederick Banting and which is now a museum dedicated to his work. Why is Dr. Banting so important in Canada and around the world? He is the man who helped discover insulin!

4. Celebrate Canada Day!

Every 1st of July, Canadians gather together to celebrate the birth of their nation with fun and exciting activities. For ESL students in an intensive English program, these celebrations are a not-to-be-missed activity. Across the country, many Canada Day celebrations will include music shows, fireworks displays, and tasty foods to enjoy.

One of the best places to have a great Canada Day experience is on Parliament Hill. Here students will be able to watch performances from famous Canadian musicians, and when the singing is over you’ll be treated to an amazing fireworks show!

5. Take a day trip when studying English as a second language in Canada

Excellent ESL schools like CultureWorks offer great day trips to cities such as Toronto, as well as to Canada’s beautiful national parks. Cultureworks also offers trips to see Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s most well-known natural wonders. Students can walk along the platforms at Queen Victoria Park to get a closer look at the waterfalls, or get a better view from the Skylon Tower observation deck. For ESL students, there’s plenty to enjoy during a Canadian summer!

CultureWorks students enjoy day trips to nature reserves, national parks, and more!
CultureWorks students enjoy day trips to nature reserves, national parks, and more!

Are you looking to study English in a fun and stimulating environment?

Enroll in an English as a second language program in Canada with CultureWorks!

Creating the Perfect Study Group at ESL School

english as a second language in Canada

Having a study group at ESL school can be a fun way to practise your English. Together, you can go over course material, compare notes, and quiz each other. It can be the perfect way to prepare for an exam or even just practise your English conversation skills.

However, creating the perfect study group can sometimes be difficult. You want to make sure that your group doesn’t get distracted so that each meeting stays productive. How can you create the perfect study group? Here are a few helpful tips to try!

Invite Friends from Your Intensive English Program

The first step to creating the perfect study group is to invite several of your friends and classmates to join. This can seem like a first easy step. After all, ESL schools like CultureWorks work hard to create a friendly and welcoming environment. Even shy students can feel comfortable practising their English and meeting new friends, which makes it easier to ask classmates if they would like to create a study group.

As you ask students in your intensive English program to join your study group, it can be helpful to try and not invite too many. Study groups that are too big can be difficult to schedule. In addition, big study groups are also more likely to get distracted. Instead, try inviting three or four classmates. You can spend time with your other friends later during activities and trips!

Creating Rules Can Help Your Study Group Stay Focused

To make sure that your study group doesn’t get distracted, it might be good to have a few rules everyone follows. For example, you might decide that it’s best if everyone turns off their cell phones during study sessions. Or you could decide that using your cell phones is okay if no one checks their Facebook or other social media accounts.

In addition, having your study group meet regularly will help you establish a routine. This way, you can use study sessions to review the material you learned in your latest classes. By studying a little bit each week, you can avoid feeling stressed just before exams.

Remember to Have Fun at ESL School!

Having a study group is a great way to prepare for assignments and remember lessons, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun at the same time! As you study English in Canada, you’ll get to meet students from all over the world. You will also get to discover Canadian culture, try new foods, and even learn about other cultures as you get to know your new friends. This can be one of the most rewarding parts of learning English as a second language in Canada.

intensive english program
Making study sessions enjoyable is an important part of creating a study group

To help make your study sessions fun as well as productive, you can try meeting at a local coffee shop, or bring snacks that remind you of home. By making study sessions fun, you’ll feel more motivated to keep going and continue improving your English!

Do you want to attend a friendly and supportive ESL school?

Discover how CultureWorks makes learning English the experience of a lifetime!

5 Reasons to Volunteer While Attending English as a Second Language School

Students at CultureWorks like to get involved
Students at CultureWorks like to get involved

Coming to Canada to start your English as a second language education is very exciting! There are many ways you can get involved with your school. You can join the student club, participate in sports, and even volunteer. The Student Services Coordinators at CultureWorks will even help you find volunteering opportunities to try!

Here are five reasons why you should volunteer while you study English in Canada.

1. Students at English as a Second Language School Can Practice English When Volunteering

ESL students should always be looking for new ways to try out their English language skills outside of the classroom. If you volunteer during your studies in Canada, you can interact with native English speakers.

Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen helping to feed the less fortunate or volunteer to clean up a park, you are sure to improve your English. Not only is it great for your English practice, it’s very fun to help the community too!

2. Students in an English as a Second Language Program Feel Good Helping Other Students

At our English as a second language school, you can either volunteer in the community or with CultureWorks through the Buddy program. This program is for students who have been in ESL studies longer and want to help out new students.

As a Buddy you will help during student events. You may help by translating for students who have your same culture and language. You may even give advice and share knowledge of your experience. You can feel good about helping fellow students, and make many new friends at the same time.

CultureWorks students can share friendly advice and smiles
CultureWorks students can share friendly advice and smiles

3. Volunteering at ESL School Can Help Students Determine Their Career Path

When you study English as a second language in Canada through a program like CultureWorks, you can apply for conditional acceptance at one of our partner universities. There are many program types to choose from like business, finance, and health sciences. When you start at CultureWorks you may not know which career you want to study for. However, volunteering could let you explore your options and determine which career you will enjoy the most.

4. Students at English as a Second Language School Can Get Experience for their Resumes

After you complete your ESL program at CultureWorks or graduate from one of our partner universities, you may want to start your career. By volunteering during your studies in Canada, you will have new experiences to add to your resume. Having volunteering experience on your resume will show employers that you are a hardworking and caring individual, and could help your application stand out when you apply for work after graduation.

5. Students in an English as a Second Language Program Will Learn More About Canada

Volunteering during your ESL studies can be a great way to learn more about Canada. By volunteering, you can interact with different Canadians and learn more about their life and culture. Whether you help cook your first Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate, or participate in the Terry Fox Run (a famous Canadian fundraiser for cancer research), you will learn more about Canada.

CultureWorks students love Canadian culture!
CultureWorks students love Canadian culture!

Are you interested in an English as a second language program?

Visit CultureWorks to get started with us.

4 Ways to Celebrate a Canadian Christmas While you Study English in Canada

ESL School Canada
Students pose with Santa Claus at the CultureWorks Christmas Party

Canadians love Christmas. The day after Halloween, stores across the country rush to put up their holiday decorations. Local radio stations start playing Christmas carols, and Canadians begin preparing for the holiday season by baking cookies, buying presents, and throwing Christmas parties.

How can you get in on the fun while you study English in Canada? Read on to find out!

1. Go Christmas Shopping While You Study English in Canada

The month leading up to Christmas is when Canadian stores are at their busiest. Lineups can get long, but it’s well worth the effort if you like shopping and want to see some beautiful decorations.

If you’re studying study English in Canada, then you might enjoy going to Toronto’s famous Christmas Market. Here’s a sneak peak at what this year’s market offers:

[youtube]Toronto’s Christmas market is one of the top markets in the world. But, even if you can’t make a trip to Toronto this holiday season, you’ll still be able to enjoy the holiday cheer. Malls in every Canadian city put up decorations and special displays for the holidays, and many communities organise local craft fairs.

2. Bake Cookies with Your Friends from ESL School

Baking cookies is an important – and delicious! – part of the holiday season in Canada.

While you study English as a second language in Canada, ask some friends if they want to get together and bake Christmas cookies after class or over a weekend. You can make traditional Christmas cookies like gingerbread, or try a Canadian favourite called Nanaimo bars (named after the Canadian city of Nanaimo in British Columbia).

And, if you really want to get creative, you can even try making an entire gingerbread house, complete with candy and icing decorations! Canadians often display these at Christmas parties.

Study English in Canada

3. Host an “Ugly Sweater” Party While You Study English in Canada

Ugly sweater parties are one of the newest Canadian Christmas traditions to hit the holiday scene. What is an ugly sweater party? It’s a party where everyone has to come wearing the brightest, most over-the-top Christmas sweater they can find.

English as a second language in Canada
Classic examples of an “ugly” Christmas sweaters

The Christmas sweater party tradition started in 2001, when younger Canadians wore them to be ironic and funny. Since then, ugly Christmas sweater parties have been getting more and more popular.

To throw your own ugly sweater party, all you have to do is find an ugly sweater at a local second hand shop. Invite your friends (and ask them to wear an ugly sweater too!). You can serve the Christmas cookies you baked, as well as traditional drinks like egg nog or warm mulled wine.

4. Organize a Secret Santa with Your Friends from ESL School

Want to share presents this Christmas? Consider organizing a “Secret Santa” with your friends.

ESL Student
An ESL student shows off a Christmas gift he got at the CultureWorks Christmas party.

There are several different ways to do a Secret Santa. You can put all your friends’ names in a hat, and have each person pick a name and then buy a present for that person. Or, you can have everyone buy a present, wrap it, and put them in a pile. Then, pull names out of a hat to see who gets to choose and open a present first. Either way, everyone has fun and walks away with a new Christmas gift!

What other holiday traditions would you like to celebrate at ESL school in Canada?


5 Canadian Colloquialisms: What They Mean and How to Use Them!

intensive English program in Canada
Kings University College at Western University in Ontario, Canada

Every country, province, state – even neighborhood – has its own unique slang and colloquialisms. This is a big part of local culture, and learning to use these expressions is an important rite of passage for newcomers.

Canada is no exception, and the phrases ESL students will encounter as newcomers to Ontario are sure to cause some confusion!

With that in mind, we decided to de-code and explain five uniquely Canadian terms you’re likely to hear when you visit Ontario:

Hydro (pronounced hahy-droh)

The term hydro is a reference to hydroelectricity, the most common source of energy used to power Canadian homes. You’ll hear people refer to hydro in particular when talking (or complaining) about their monthly electrical bill. When renting an apartment in Canada, we usually ask up front if the total price includes hydro.

Kitty Corner (pronounced kit-ee – kawr-ner)

“I’m parked kitty corner from the entrance to our school.” No, that statement doesn’t have anything to do with cats. Actually it has to do with dice. Quatre, the French word for “four” was introduced to the English language as a way to define four-cornered dice. Over time, English speakers transformed the term into “catre-corner”, which soon became “kitty-corner”. Now we use the phrase in every-day conversation to describe something that’s positioned on a diagonal. So your friend’s car is parked diagonally across from the entrance to the school.

Loonie (pronounced loo-nee)

When you’re taking a break between classes at your ESL school and a fellow student asks if you have a loonie for the vending machine, it’s important to realize that they’re asking you for money: $1 to be precise. A few decades ago, Canada switched from paper currency to coins for some denominations. The $1 coin has the image of a loon (a type of Canadian bird) on one side, so people started calling it a “loonie”. The name stuck and a few years later, it inspired the nickname of the $2 coin, the “toonie”.

ESL school
Culture Works students take a coffee break at Apple Land Station in Thorndale, Ontario

Double-Double (pronounced duhb-uh l – duhb-uh l)

If you are pursuing an intensive English program in Canada, you have probably already encountered this term. It will most likely happen during a late-night study session when you just need a bit of caffeine to keep you going. A double-double is a cup of coffee served with two creams and two sugars. It originated as a term in the hugely popular coffee chain Tim Horton’s, but soon spread all over Canada as a typical way to order coffee.

Toque (pronounced tohk)

If you’re studying English as a second language in Canada, not only should you get familiar with the term toque, but you should also plan on buying one before the winter season starts. A toque is what Canadians call a winter hat. It was adapted from the French term tuque which was originally popularized by the coureurs de bois (French and Metis fur traders) in the 19th century.

Are you excited to try out some of these Canadian colloquialisms? Come to ESL school in Canada and you’ll get your chance to chat like a local!