Even the family cats join new CultureWorks student and her parents in making the move from Colombia to Canada.

Natalia Parra (left) is a CultureWorks ESL student in London, Ont., and her parents, Julio and Nelly, joined her in the move from Bogota in the Republic of Colombia. Not to be left behind --two other family members, Merengue (yellow) and Candonga (black and white) -- also elected to make Canada home
Natalia Parra (left) is a CultureWorks ESL student in London, Ont., and her parents, Julio and Nelly, joined her in the move from Bogota in the Republic of Colombia. Not to be left behind –two other family members, Merengue (yellow) and Candonga (black and white) — also elected to make Canada home

Two months ago, Natalia Parra, 25, and her parents, Julio and Nelly, left Bogota in the Republic of Colombia for perhaps the final time.

Merengue and Candonga were allowed to stay longer in the South American country of 50 million. They arrived last week.

Merengue is yellow; Candonga is black and white. They are the family cats.

Natalia is a student in the CultureWorks ESL program in London, Ont., soon to enter Level 6. She is determined, charming, intelligent, but really not certain where her life is headed.

“Right now, I am not sure if I will return to Colombia,” Natalia said in a recent discussion. “I am not sure. Maybe in the future, but right now my home is here. I am with my parents, so it’s easier, the new life.”

Choosing to move to Canada

Unlike a traditional family move, Natalia acknowledged the decision was connected with some personal challenges in Colombia and had little to do with the work status of her 48-year-old mother, Nelly, and 53-year-old father, Julio.

Natalia has a business degree in the not-always-peaceful country she and her parents — and cats — are leaving behind.

While Natalia is attending CultureWorks, her parents are looking for work in their new country. Her mother is a nurse; her father a pet nutritionist for cats and dogs. They are also working on their English.

“Here, they are improving their level of English because it is necessary if they want to find something to work at in their fields,” Natalia said.

Natalia talks about what it’s like to study English in Canada

Meanwhile, Natalia is also taking on the challenge of learning English as a second language. She is winning, her CultureWorks teachers tell her, but she is not always certain.

Natalia talks about her ESL studies at CultureWorks. “Here it is like I am learning to speak again. So I feel like a baby, a kid that only says blah, blah, blah.”

“Here in Canada, the first days were terrible. The weather was different, the language was different, everything was different. So it was difficult, but with time, I am improving my English. I improve my ability to be here, so I think that I am good, but I am trying to do better things here.

“I hope that I can improve my level in English, especially in grammar and pronunciation, because, it is very difficult for me.”

She will survive the English battle.

“Oh my God, actually last night, I was thinking about how I am not sure who I am because here I am a different person. For example, in Colombia, I have a degree, so for me in Spanish it is very easy to write an essay.

“Here, it is like I am learning to speak again, so I feel like a baby, a kid that says only blah, blah, blah. I feel like that here in Canada. Everything has changed. Everything.

Natalia has a somewhat different best friend in London and Canada.

“For me, here in Canada, my best friend is Google Maps. It is my best friend. It is my favourite tool in life.”

Joel Melton, one of Natalia’s CultureWorks ESL teachers, says she is “learning to embrace this new culture and take the good with the bad.”

Natalia discusses her love of Colombia and Canada

She plans to attend either University of Toronto or Western when she completes her CultureWorks English for university study program and moves to a Masters degree.

Natalia has also every intention of helping Colombia improve its status.

“I am very sad, because it is my country, because I study political science, because I want to help build a better country, but I cannot. But I can’t, I can’t,” she said.

Natalia has not lost the love of her country, in fact, far from it.

“I want to say that Colombia is more than drugs. People think that Colombia is only drugs and no, Colombia is a beautiful place with beautiful people,” she said.

“We have many, many beautiful places, delicious food … we are a people that every day wakes up for work to make the world a better place.”

And thoughts about Canada?

“I am happy. I am so happy. Canada is a beautiful country. It’s very friendly. I love Canada. I am very happy to be here, very happy.

“I have a challenge, but I am OK. I hope that I am OK …

Her teachers vote yes.

Would you like to study English in Canada?

Find out how CultureWorks can help.

CultureWorks students are now eligible for conditional admission to Algoma University


We are happy to share the news that CultureWorks students are now eligible for conditional admission to Algoma University. This new pathway will provide additional options for students studying with CultureWorks in China or in Canada.

Founder Tina Bax says “Our mission is to provide students with access to education. Algoma offers an experience that many other Canadian universities do not, due to its location and program offerings. We look forward to sharing the Algoma story with our students and their parents”.

The tale of how the ‘newspaper guy’ becomes the Daily Boomalang moderator.

The ‘newspaper guy’ heads up the Sun Media team at the 2012 London Olympics. Here they gather at St. Pancras International Station on the final day.
The ‘newspaper guy’ heads up the Sun Media team at the 2012 London Olympics. Here they gather at St. Pancras International Station on the final day.

The year was 2014 when the career of the lifetime “newspaper guy” ended.

But, as it turned out, not his employment dealing with the news of the day.

His one-year stint with the Metro daily paper had come to a stop when the London, Ont., version closed.

That was after 16 ½ years at Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. And two stints at the London Free Press (one stint in which he overlaps with Sun Media) adding up to 24 years.

Ok, yes he’s old, but doesn’t act that way. Sometimes, you wish he would.

Newspaper mail boy and copy boy, sports writer, sports desk editor, photo editor times two, sports editor times two and finally back to sports writer.

The end was not what he wanted, despite the long haul. Where would he go?

Joining the team at our ESL school

Maybe head back to the golf club where he worked in the pro shop as a teenager. Or back to where he started, delivering The Globe as a 10-year-old in Owen Sound, Ont., or the London Free Press in St. Thomas, Ont., as a 12-year-old.

He was too young to retire, too poor to run away to Jamaica, too energetic to not be dealing with people on a daily basis.

Within days, CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax invited the “newspaper guy” for lunch. She had an idea how to keep him employed.

And if you know Tina, ideas are not something she has in short supply.

Within minutes, she explained how her “vision” was going to work. At this point, there was no staff for the project, no name attached. But it did sound much like a newspaper position.

A few months later, it became a reality.

An English as a second language class about news and current events

This new online course would allow students to practice their listening and speaking skills anywhere there is internet access. Carried out in real time, this is focused on daily current events, guided by a course moderator. Topics include a mix of international, national and local news.

Students completing their intensive English training have the opportunity to critically reflect upon the news, share opinions and discuss a variety of topics within an intimate class format. The size of the online class – no more than 8-10 students – allows regular conversation in English, helping students build up the confidence needed to reach their goals. And the online forum is always encouraging and never intimidating!

In the fall of 2014, the vision came into play. Plenty of discussion on how exactly the class discussions would be shared with the moderator, ultimately the newspaper guy’s role in this online class.

A name had to be attached and a group of downtown London staffers sat down and worked on the ultimate name game.

By the end of the day, the official name was sent to us from a New York taxi where several members of CultureWorks administration were on their way to the airport and home.

Feelings were not hurt. The suggested name from the taxi was perfect – the Daily Boomalang. Sounded much like a newspaper name, was a takeoff on the boomerang and perhaps had something to do with the newspaper’s guy last name.

The Daily Boomalang started out as a separate project with London, Oshawa and Ottawa students included. Then it became an elective and finally a weekly class for all London-based CultureWorks students.

Three nights, 50-minute classes, several different news stories, too much Donald Trump, too little baseball, too many plane crashes, too little on global warming.

Mornings are spent selecting the news stories for the evening classes. Newspaper guy loves it. Essentially a split shift, allowing him to go for a run in between.

And allows the newspaper guy to step aside for one absolutely necessary Daily Boomalang component.

That would be IT expert Peter Choi who puts together the photos and videos and makes certain all students are connected in each class from their home-stays or whatever site they may have chosen to be seated.

The Masters graduate in computer engineering is required to “baby sit” the newspaper guy, also known as the guy with a Blackberry.

And we also needed the keen students from China, Vietnam, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.

At this point, the newspaper guy becomes the moderator when the students hit the online classroom. The students have had a chance to review the news stories, links posted earlier in the day. He leads the discussions.

‘Newspaper guy’ on duty for the online classes in London, Ont.
‘Newspaper guy’ on duty for the online classes in London, Ont.

Soon after, the newspaper guy turns into something different as he works his way through the daily online English as a second language classes.

He becomes a fan.

He smiles a lot. He becomes a cheerleader. He watches and listens. He wants the students to do well. He wants to join them in their CultureWorks outings. He wants all of them to not miss a class.

He also combines with Peter to capture the students on video clips, talking about the news stories of the day, the week, the year. He spends time learning how to pronounce Jingxuan’s name.

And now five years later, he wants to meet the alumni and hear about their successes.

The newspaper guy clearly enjoys being part of the CultureWorks family.

Would you like to join the CultureWorks family?

Learn more about enrolling in our ESL school in Canada!

Teaguen gives us a lesson ‘Onn’ the independent study program at our ESL school

CultureWork students, teachers and staff mingle through the independent study poster presentations in the Andy@Helen Spriet Learning Commons at The Darryl J. King Student Life Centre on the King’s University College campus. Photos courtesy of Peter Choi.
CultureWork students, teachers and staff mingle through the independent study poster presentations in the Andy@Helen Spriet Learning Commons at The Darryl J. King Student Life Centre on the King’s University College campus. Photos courtesy of Peter Choi.

Teaguen Onn is a teacher, a good one as a matter of fact. That does not make him one of a kind at CultureWorks. It’s a talented group from top to bottom.

If some of his teaching philosophies may be unique, however, they may have started with his two favourite studies in school, history … and philosophy.

Degrees in education and English literature at Western and Waterloo, respectively, and international teaching time in South Korea helped to round out his background. And being a CW teacher since 2011 doesn’t hurt either.

Teaguen Onn has been a teacher at CultureWorks since 2011.
Teaguen Onn has been a teacher at CultureWorks since 2011.

Teaguen sat down recently to talk about the independent study course outline, a path he has guided students along many, many times since joining CultureWorks. It is something he enjoys doing and where the teaching uniqueness comes into play.

What students can expect from the independent study course at our ESL school

In short, here is what we are talking about, using the course description as a guide.

Students work in pairs to propose, research, conduct, and report on a project of their choosing. This project will take the entire eight weeks of the term. Throughout the term, students will be responsible for meeting project milestones. They will be required to reflect on the project weekly and to produce a final learner portfolio explaining their contributions to the project and reflecting on their own learning throughout the process.

At the end of the term, they have created a show-and-tell poster presentation that they share with the teachers and fellow students.

“The main focus would be in using all the skills learned from all the other core subjects that we teach at CultureWorks,” Teaguen said in outlining the ESL program.

“So we are looking at listening and speaking, the reading, and then the writing as well. And I am also doing research. All of this is kind of rolled into one package… and it gives them more freedom to express these different skills, outside the parameters that we would normally assign to them with those specific classes.”

The poster presentations and the road to get there begin with their first days at our ESL school, Teaguen said.

“This is their chance to show kind of a final product, I guess, from what they have learned throughout their time. And I don’t even think this is necessarily cumulative just from a Level 7 or Level 6, but really from whenever they started in the CultureWorks program.

“To show ‘I’ve come this far and this is my end product. This is my big finale’.”

CultureWorks independent study teachers Paul Findlay (left, Level 6) and Teaguen Onn (right, Level 7) assess student poster presentations.
CultureWorks independent study teachers Paul Findlay (left, Level 6) and Teaguen Onn (right, Level 7) assess student poster presentations.

Allowing students to learn English as a second language in a more authentic way

Level 6 and Level 7 students take this eight-week program, with the expectations higher for the final-term students. Teaguen has the Level 7 group this term; fellow CW teacher Paul Findlay has the Level 6 group.

“With the Level 6, it is more of a rigid structure. With the Level 7, it’s more of about what can you do outside of the structure and how can you get people interested and engaged in your topic. That is the goal.”

The students’ subject choices cover a wide range and environmental subjects seem to top the list. But you may also find the proper way to operate a hot-pot restaurant in London, Ontario!

“The reason we introduced this program initially was we were trying to look for some more authentic ways for people to express the skills and the things that they have learned throughout the time of the program,” Teaguen said.

“They are supposed to be feasible and realistic solutions to these problems. So in that sense, it is an authentic assessment of what would you do in a real world like this.”

The benefits of completing the independent study course

Teaguen said the full-term project helps the students in many ways.

“It gives them a sense of working on something throughout a term. That’s important because when they do get into university, there will be some assignments that require bigger presentations, bigger reports, bigger essays. They will need sustained focus and concentration in order to be successful.”

Now back to Teaguen’s teaching philosophies. Some involve the ongoing teacher-student relationship in the independent study program.

“I would say it is a different relationship, because it allows me to not be the — for the lack of a better term — the all-knowing teacher preaching from the front of the room, telling people what is right and what is wrong.

“It’s me facilitating; it’s me closer to a peer — obviously not a peer — but closer to a peer and being able to communicate with them on a different level.

“It’s me working with them, discussing with them about the problem. It’s just a different scenario where I actually feel more comfortable doing that because I actually think it’s more helpful to talk people through things and feel that they can learn a lot more. It’s actually a different way in giving them feedback.”

Brian and Ruby, two current CultureWorks students, share some thoughts on the independent study program

At the end of the day comes satisfaction. Not always, however.

“With that sense of satisfaction can come with some dissatisfaction, depending on the experience. I am not going to lie. But the opportunity for the ultimate award is there.”

More often than not.

Would you like to develop your English language skills?

Discover how CultureWorks helps you learn English as a second language.

4 reasons to visit Niagara Falls while attending ESL school in Canada

ESL school in Canada

Niagara Falls is one of the most famous natural wonders in Canada. If you study English in London, Ontario you’ll be just two hours away from this must-see sight. Of course, the main reason for visiting Niagara Falls is to see the incredible waterfalls themselves. But did you know there are actually many other attractions nearby that are also worth a visit?

Visiting Niagara Falls is a highlight for countless people who come to study English in Canada. It is also a fantastic opportunity to spend a fun-filled day with friends and classmates. You’ll get to see an amazing natural attraction and even practice your English language skills while you’re at it.

1. Practice your English language skills with a boat cruise to the falls

For a truly unforgettable way to see the falls, take one of the boat cruises available. The most popular Niagara Falls boat cruise is the Maid of the Mist, which departs from the U.S. side. However, there is another cruise called the Hornblower that leaves from the Canadian side. Both cruises take you past the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls: the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Because these are guided tours, they are a great opportunity to test the skills you learn in your intensive English program. You’ll get really close to the falls and you will definitely get wet, so make sure your camera is waterproof!

2. Stay past dark to see fireworks and the illumination of the falls

You may be surprised to know that for many people the best time to see the falls is not during the day, but at night. That’s because as soon as the sun sets, the waterfalls are lit up in different colours using incredibly powerful LED lights. Different colours of lights are used to mark special occasions or to promote worthy causes. This light show is an incredible sight that occurs every night of the year. Even better, from mid-June to September there is a nightly fireworks show above the waterfalls.

The falls are lit up with lights and fireworks every night during the summer
The falls are lit up with lights and fireworks every night during the summer

3. Join your ESL classmates for a day of thrills at Clifton Hill

One of the most popular attractions in Niagara Falls is called Clifton Hill. Clifton Hill is a street lined with a lot of fun and even bizarre attractions, such as wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, a Guinness World Records Museum, and miniature golf courses. Clifton Hill is an entertaining place to visit with friends and classmates from your ESL school in Canada. Many of the buildings have very outlandish architecture and the street is often compared to Las Vegas. In the middle of Clifton Hill is the Niagara SkyWheel, which is a giant Ferris wheel offering spectacular views of the falls.

Clifton Hill is a great place to enjoy fun attractions such as haunted houses and a Ferris wheel
Clifton Hill is a great place to enjoy fun attractions such as haunted houses and a Ferris wheel

4. Take a look behind Niagara Falls during your intensive English program

Another inspiring way to see the famous waterfalls is by visiting Journey Behind the Falls. This attraction takes you down an elevator into a network of tunnels that have been carved into the rock behind Niagara Falls. From these tunnels you get to see behind the waterfalls and really feel how powerful they are. There is also an outdoor observation deck located at the bottom of the falls that is great for photo opportunities.

Do you want to study English as a second language in Canada?

Contact CultureWorks today to learn about our programs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Peter chose to study English in Canada

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

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

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

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

Peter’s experience as a CultureWorks student

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Peter on Chinese students studying in Canada

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

2. Peter on why he chose to move to Canada

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

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

3. Peter on the relationship between Canada and China

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

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

Would you like to study English in Canada?

Learn more about the programs and activities offered at CultureWorks!

4 facts about hockey for students beginning an ESL program in Canada

English as a second language

Ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport. Many Canadians love playing hockey and many also have a favourite hockey team. If you want to improve your English skills while you are in Canada, having some knowledge about hockey is a great way to start a conversation.

Let’s take a look at four unusual facts about hockey. These facts will help you better understand Canada and its favourite sport.

The biggest prize in professional hockey in North America is the Stanley Cup

There are 31 Canadian and U.S. teams that make up the National Hockey League (NHL). Each year, the top 16 teams compete for the Stanley Cup during what is called the playoffs. The Stanley Cup is named for Lord Stanley of Preston, who was the former Governor General of Canada. It is the most important trophy in professional hockey in North America. When a team wins the Stanley Cup, each player on the team gets to spend a day with the cup. Some players have done some pretty strange things with it, including eating popcorn or cereal out of the cup!

The part of the year when NHL teams compete for the Stanley Cup is called playoff season. During playoff season, you may notice a lot of people wearing beards. Many players and fans believe it is bad luck to shave their beards while their team is in the playoffs. Only when their team is eliminated or wins the Stanley Cup can they shave again! When you learn English as a second language, playoff beards are a fun topic of conversation to bring up with Canadian hockey fans.

English for academic purposes courses
During your ESL program in Canada, you’ll probably see a lot of “playoff beards”

Montreal has won the most Stanley Cups, but no Canadian team has won since 1993

The Montreal Canadiens (nicknamed “The Habs”) have won more Stanley Cups than any other NHL team. They have won the Stanley Cup 24 times! That’s a lot more than the second-best team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have won the Stanley Cup 13 times. Montreal and Toronto are both in Canada, which shows just how much Canadians love hockey! However, the last time a Canadian team actually won the Stanley Cup was way back in 1993. During your ESL program in Canada, you’ll find that Canadians are very passionate about which Canadian team will finally “bring the Cup home” again.

Many fans have traditions during games to show their support for their teams. Fans of the Winnipeg Jets, for example, dress entirely in white during what is called a “whiteout.” The Columbus Blue Jackets fire a replica of an 1857 cannon whenever they score a goal. However, the strangest tradition belongs to the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit fans actually throw dead octopuses onto the ice! The eight arms of the octopus represent the eight games teams used to need to win in order to win the Stanley Cup. While teams no longer need to win eight games to get the Stanley Cup, the tradition of throwing octopuses remains.

Do you want to learn English in Canada?

Contact CultureWorks to learn more about our English for academic purposes courses!

4 amusement parks to visit when studying English in Canada

studying English in Canada

Canada may be known for its cold winters, but summer here is also a wonderful experience. Festivals, Canada Day celebrations, and visits to local wildlife reserves are all a fun part of studying in Canada during the summer. These aren’t the only activities ESL students can look forward to. Canada also has several theme parks to visit!

For students who want to learn English and have fun at the same time, here are just some of the many places to explore.

1. Take a trip to East Park for many different activities

If you decide to study English as a second language in London, Ontario, you might want to visit East Park during your studies. This amazing amusement park has plenty of different activities and games to try. First, there are the indoor activities such as bumper cars, rock climbing, and even an arcade!

ESL students can enjoy arcade games and more at East Park!
ESL students can enjoy arcade games and more at East Park!

Then you have fantastic outdoor games such as go karting, which allow ESL students to drive around a racetrack with friends. Practising baseball at the batting cages can also be a wonderful activity to try. It’s a perfect way to enjoy local culture and have fun at the same time!

2. Canada’s Wonderland is a must-see for students studying English in Canada

Located near Toronto, Canada’s Wonderland is the biggest amusement park in the whole country. It’s also one of the most popular. This amusement park has several thrilling roller coasters, such as the Leviathan—the tallest roller coaster in Canada. Adventurous students can also try many other rides and roller coasters, including an inverted roller coaster called the Flight Deck, which is a very special experience!

See it for yourself in this short clip:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG0-_tITFjk]This park is perfect for students who want an adventure, but even nervous ESL students can have fun too. Canada’s Wonderland also has plenty of more relaxing rides, including a beautiful antique carousel. This theme park even has a water park with a wave pool, slides, and more!

3. Calypso Water Park is perfect for a warm summer day

Summertime in Canada can get very hot, which is why many Canadians love to visit water parks during this time of year. For students learning English in Ottawa, visiting Calypso Water Park can be a wonderful activity to enjoy with friends.

This water park is the biggest water park in the country, and is home to some of Canada’s tallest and fastest waterslides. Students interested in studying English in Canada can slide down the mighty Adrenaline, spin around the vortex of the Black Hole, and brave the twists and turns of the Boomerango and Aqualoops! Wave pools, volleyball courts, and more also await students at this fun park.

4. Play some laser tag and more at Fun Haven

Trips and activities help students make new friends, enjoy local attractions, and also practice their English. It’s why top ESL schools such as CultureWorks plan many different activities for students.
Fun Haven is another fun amusement centre in Ottawa where students can have fun, relax, and practice English. For starters, students can work together to solve puzzles in Fun Haven’s escape rooms. Each escape room has a theme and a story, and it’s up to participants to solve the puzzle before the time runs out. Fun Haven also has other great activities such as laser tag and a special game called Laser Frenzy, which is a maze participants need to try to complete without touching any lasers.

For students who want to make memories that last a lifetime, these activities and parks offer a wonderful adventure!

Do you want to learn English with a fun and supportive ESL program?

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From Syria with love, the refugee story of Faiez Khouri and his family.

From left, Helen, Faiez, Hayat, Fady and Adib Khouri.
From left, Helen, Faiez, Hayat, Fady and Adib Khouri.

This is the story of a family of five making its way from Saydnaya, Syria, a war-torn community of 20,000, through Lebanon, to London, Canada.

It is an increasingly familiar tale.

Yes, they are refugees. Yes, they are happier now. Yes, they miss Syria. And yes, they had plenty of help when they hit the ground.

But it was far from a simple exercise.

In the beginning, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London played the major role with the Anglican church sponsoring the Khouri family of five. CultureWorks and Western University then took care of educational sponsorships for the two oldest children.

Faiez said the entire Khouri family is more than happy to be in London. Their religion is Christian Orthodox.

The journey from Syria to Canada

“The war in Syria was going too long and it wasn’t safe any more to keep living in Syria, so we had to leave,” Faiez Khouri, the family spokesman, said in a recent interview.

“I love Syria and it’s my home country. I still have family there and I hope to see Syria very soon back to a safe country with no war and I hope to see that people there can live normally again.”

The Khouri family made its first stop in Lebanon at the end of 2015. Faiez and his sister Helen then were the first in their family to arrive as privately-sponsored refugees in Canada. The date was Feb. 26, 2016.

“Canada was accepting Syrian refugees. They announced they wanted to get 25,000 Syrian refugees. At that time, my aunt in London helped. She helped us to apply to come to Canada as refugees. And we were lucky, we got here very fast.”

Enrolling in ESL school and adapting to life in Canada

First order of business for Faiez and Helen – with the help of their uncle and cousin, who already lived in London – was a visit to Western University. Helen’s English was better than Faiez and that was a big help. After papers were shared, Western officials suggested they contact our ESL school, CultureWorks.

Faiez will never forget that first day in class. He and his sister were awarded scholarships for study at CultureWorks. Vice-principal Stan Rath had already run them through the placement test the day before.

“I was so happy that day. After living in Syria, the war changed a lot, the war changed the way people acted. In order to survive, you have to become a tougher person. It makes you a stronger person. It’s become all about surviving. It’s not about anything else.

Helen was studying English literature in Syria and is two years younger than Faiez.

[two_third]“So when I started at CultureWorks, I literally knew no-one,” Faiez said. “I had only been in Canada for 11 days when I      first started. Very welcoming, everyone was very nice, extremely nice. I wasn’t used to that much niceness.”

Faiez said the CultureWorks teachers were more helpful      than he could believe. And it wasn’t just classroom      education.

“The teachers would answer any questions you had, even about life. I learned more about living in Canada from the teachers at CultureWorks than from anyone else. We used to talk to them about banks, about buses, about how to do this, how to do that. I used to ask them about everything.”

Looking towards a bright future after the war

“You don’t really care about emotions. It’s all about staying alive. And you would be always be stressed out, so being here you are much less stressed out. At least you don’t have to worry about your life, about dying at any moment.”

Faiez and Helen were in Canada seven months before their parents and brother joined them. They took on part-time      jobs and Faiez even worked for CultureWorks for 10 months.

Faiez quickly became an important part of CultureWorks’ community
Faiez quickly became an important part of CultureWorks’ community

“I have had the pleasure of knowing (Faiez) in two ways,      both as a student and as a co-worker,” CultureWork teacher Joel Melton said. “He has a keen sense of knowing the environment he is in and adapting to it.”

“As a student, he was able to lead and listen to others with ease and care. He took responsibility for himself and his learning. His ideas, in the classroom and office, were creative and challenging; these often improved the environment that he was a part of.”

Helen and Faiez are both now on Western sponsorships. She is taking English literature and theatre and Faiez is pursuing a specialization in computer science and a minor in software engineering.

Their father and mother, Adib and Hayat, and their brother Fady, arrived later in 2016. Adib works at a meat factory in Ingersoll, Ont.; Hayat is a full-time English as a second language student; and Fady is attending Regina Mundi high school.

“My parents are in their late ‘50s,” Faiez said. “They are still young, but it is harder for them to adjust in new country in a totally new culture. Having family here has helped a lot. And they were open about being in a new country.”

Faiez said the entire Khouri family is more than happy to be in London.

“I am very thankful for being in Canada. Being in Syria the last few years was – Syria is an amazing place and I love it – but after the war, it was kind of depressing. You don’t know anything about the future. You don’t know even if you are going to stay alive or die at any moment.”

“So you can’t plan the future. That’s something totally different when I came to Canada. I can build a future here. I can probably follow my dreams here. That’s something I love about Canada and that’s something I am very grateful for.”[/two_third][one_third_last]

Now, Faiez, in his own words, tells the story of his special relationship with his brother, Fady, a Down syndrome youngster.

“My brother, Fady, started school in November, 2016. Special program in specific Catholic school, Regina Mundi. He graduated last year, but he will stay there until he is 21. He is 19 now.

“He loves school. He is sad now that summer has started. He likes going there, he liked the gym there, he loved drama, he loved acting and imitating people. He is very smart and he would literally sit with people for two or three times and he would start acting like them immediately after that. He would copy all their impressions.

“I love him.

“Back in Syria, we didn’t have a special school for him that was close to us. He couldn’t be in school at all. He never went to school.

Helen and Fady kidding around together
Helen and Fady kidding around together

“At first here, he wasn’t very happy with it, but when he got used to it – and no one speaks Arabic there. My brother only speaks Arabic – it was challenging for him at first, but then he got used to it and he started learning a few English words.

“I remember the other day we were at home and I was telling my sister something about him, but I didn’t want him to know so I spoke in English and my brother replied to me. He understood what I said in English. I was so surprised.

“His classmates love him. His teachers love him, too. We went to the graduation and everyone was just coming up to us last year, saying ‘hi’ and taking pictures with Fady. Even when we go grocery shopping. A lot of time we just meet people who say ‘hi Fady, how are you?

“I think here in Canada they take more care about people with special needs. They try their best to make them part of the community, as much as possible and make them feel no different than anyone else. That’s something I really love about Canada. And that’s something that I can see my brother is enjoying and loving.”[/one_third_last]

Would you like to learn English and meet students from all over the world?

Find out why so many students choose to study English in Canada with CultureWorks!

Nature parks to visit while studying English as a second language in Canada

English for academic purposes courses

Canada’s natural wonders are one of the reasons students far and wide come here to study. Beautiful trees, brilliant lakes, quiet meadows, and vibrant local wildlife are exciting to interact with, and great for taking a quick selfie! There’s no shortage of exciting nature parks and wildlife reserves to explore near Ottawa and London, should you decide to take English as a second language course in the province of Ontario.

Here’s how our country’s excellent nature parks will inspire you to make Canada your ESL destination!

When studying in Ottawa, come view the beautiful sights in Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park is a big park filled with many different trails and paths for walking and hiking. What really makes this nature park so special are two unique spots within the park: Pink Lake and King Mountain.

Park guests can make their way toward Pink Lake by walking along a trail that leads to and surrounds the lake. Along the trail are plenty of pine and maple trees, and if you’re lucky to be studying English as a second language in the autumn, you’ll see the leaves change colour to red, orange, and yellow! Pink Lake is a meromitic lake, which means that the water on the surface of the lake doesn’t mix with the water below. This is why the lake has a beautiful green colour to it (not pink, as the lake’s name would suggest!).

King Mountain is awesome if you love hiking. It’s an uphill climb that is challenging, but not too tough to handle. What makes King Mountain special are the many lookouts that guests can use to see the rest of Ottawa. Make sure to have a camera, because if you go even higher to the Eardley Escarpment, you can see even more of the Ottawa Valley from 300 metres high. It’s a wonderful opportunity for ESL students to take beautiful pictures!

Studying English as a second language in London, ON? Check out Medway Valley!

London, Ontario, isn’t without its beautiful and relaxing nature parks, one of the best being Medway Valley Heritage Forest. This nature park has plenty of rare and stunning natural sights such as dense forests, marshes, creeks, and trails that give guests access to places such as the Museum of Ontario Archeology, as well as the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate. We’d recommend heading over to the park’s flower covered valley slopes to check out the beautiful trilliums, violets, and trout lilies. Be sure to take a picture with your friends for a wonderful memory!

Canada is a country proud of its Indigenous heritage, and Medway Valley Heritage Forest is a nature park with a rich and long history. For thousands of years, the forests and valleys that make up the park were home to Indigenous people known as the Attawandaron by the Huron-Wendat Nation, and as the Neutral Nation by European colonisers. In fact, a village of more than 2,000 people used to be located where the Museum of Ontario Archeology is now.

Students learn about Indigenous peoples and their cultures
Students learn about Indigenous peoples and their cultures

Study ESL at CultureWorks and check out Niagara Parks!

One of the great perks about registering in English for academic purposes courses at CultureWorks is the day trips students can participate in. For example, students can enjoy a trip to Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s greatest natural wonders. While you’re there, Niagara Parks, which is the nature park that maintains and preserves the area around Niagara Falls, offers a lot of different nature trails and gardens to explore. Start by taking a hike up the paths of the Niagara Glen and you’ll see plenty of rocky cliffs, pines, and local plants. Take a look over the edge of some paths and you might just catch a glimpse of the Niagara River Whirlpool!

Check out the many attractions and activities you can enjoy at Niagara Parks:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKq-Q2ZIwfE]Are you looking for a great English for academic purposes school?

Come join us at CultureWorks in Ontario, Canada!