CultureWorks is the original ESL school for higher education in Canada. And London, Ontario is the school’s original location. Our CW students have created so many great memories in London, all the way from our summer programs, through our school year, and beyond into the alumni chapter. This Valentines Day, send some love to London, and enjoy these London memories caught on camera
Do you have any CultureWorks pictures you’d like to share? You can send them to us on our Facebook page!
Today we’re joined by the one and only, Mr. Stan Rath. Stan is one of CultureWorks’ powerhouses. He is a teacher, a curriculum developer, and a mentor to both teachers and students. If you want to learn something, I suggest you hang around Stan. I recently asked him some questions so you can get to know him a little better.
Q. Stan, who is your favourite Canadian musician?
A. Oscar Peterson is a world class jazz pianist. I listen to his music every day.
Q. What idiomatic expression best describes you and why?
A. I think “the best of both worlds” describes me well. I love to travel and meet people from different cultures, but I also love to stay close to home.
At CultureWorks, I experience the best of both worlds because I have many interesting students from a variety of cultures in the classroom, and I get to live in my hometown of London, Ontario.
Q. When you’re not teaching, what are you doing? Do you have any hobbies, and why do you like doing them?
A. When I’m not teaching, I am usually hiking or planning my next vacation. One of the best feelings for me is being close to nature, and my favourite way to do this is hiking in Algonquin Park here in Ontario.
I find traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures very interesting. Two of my favourite countries that I have visited so far are India and Italy.
Q. You studied Biology before becoming a teacher. Do you think language is like science in any way? Do you draw from your scientific background in your approach to teaching?
A. I definitely think that language has scientific structure and rules, and I have found a scientific approach to teaching grammar and writing to be very effective. Many of my students have indicated that they benefit from using a formulaic approach when they practice using their vocabulary to build grammatically correct sentences.
Q. Lastly, for fun, if you could create a new word for the English language, what would it be and what would it mean?
A. gramtastic (adjective) definition: relating to the joy people feel when grammar unlocks doors to language learning
Gramtastic! I love it! Thanks so much for stopping by the Hotspot, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about you, and I know our CultureWorks students are lucky to have you as their teacher!
You know when you wake up and you glance out the window groggily as you make your way through your morning routine? You’re barely half awake, yet you subconsciously need to confirm what the weather looks like before you start your…
…and then, BOOM! White everywhere! Welcome to beautiful Canadian winter, baby! It’s here!
Yes, yes, I know, it’s cold and your boots are heavy and it’s hard to hold anything when you’re wearing those goofy gloves. But man, is it beautiful, and clean and fresh and exciting…admit it. You love snow. I know you do.
I like winter because it’s such a dramatic and refreshing change from the rest of the year. A dramatic weather change like this helps you to remember where you are, and what you were doing when it happened. Also, I love winter because it brings people together, indoors, playing games and swapping stories (or apps) to help stay warm and cozy. That’s the power of snow.
For those of you experiencing this gorgeous Canadian precipitation, breathe it in and enjoy. These are the memories that living in a foreign country are made of. Stay warm and take lots of pictures, my friends! I guarantee your friends back home won’t believe it.
Why do you love winter? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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.
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!
Please welcome Meredith McGregor to the Hotspot! After reading her interview, you’ll learn she is a thoughtful and sincere person. You might even say she’s “Down to Earth”. I’d love to have her as a teacher!
How long have you been working at CultureWorks? What is it about teaching English that you like the most?
I started as a substitute teacher at CultureWorks in the Fall of 2010 and then began full-time in January of 2011. The staff and students are the best part about teaching at CultureWorks. What I like best about teaching English for CW is the academic nature of the program.
What are your hobbies? Which of them do you recommend new students to Canada try, and why?
I teach dance aerobics part-time for a gym. This is something I really enjoy doing in my spare time. I also like cooking and reading.
There are a lot of students from a wide variety of cultures at our school, and each culture is rich in music, food, film, art, history, and stories. Which of these cultural features would you be most interested in learning about? Why?
Since working for CultureWorks, I have become really interested in visiting China one day. I think it would be nice to have a better sense of where our Chinese students come from, and be able to relate to them better. Also, it just sounds like a really diverse and interesting country with a rich culture and history.
What is your role at CultureWorks? Which courses do you specialize in? How do you feel these skills will aid our students in university or college? Do you have any advice you’d like to give students in these areas?
I mostly teach Level C/D Writing and Grammar. Being able to write well is an important skill not only for post-secondary studies, but for employment as well. My advice is to develop your vocabulary so that you are able to express yourself clearly and directly. Having strong diction is an asset that influences all aspects of communication.
Lastly, for fun, if you could visit any Canadian province, where would you go? Why?
I would love to see more of Canada because I feel like I have traveled more outside of my own country than domestically. I have never been to Nova Scotia, so maybe I would choose to go there, especially during the summer.
CultureWorks teachers are a little weird. They’re real people.
I mean, they stand at the front of the classroom like ‘regular’ teachers. They give professional lectures and facilitate dynamic group exercises. What makes them weird is that CULTUREWORKS TEACHERS WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU. Like, as a person. They’re weird because they don’t ONLY stand in front of the classroom, they also walk around the room and talk with you one on one. They go on weekly trips with you and scroll through your Facebook photo albums. Heck, I’ve even seen CultureWorks teachers exchange recipes, play squash, and sing with their students. Super weird, and like, totally human, right?
So the question is, what are you doing to connect with your teachers? Your time in Canada is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t be shy! Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:
#5. MAKE SMALL TALK
Easier said than done, right? Well, believe me, CultureWorks teachers like when you ask questions! The only way you’ll feel less shy around your teacher is by asking questions, simple stuff, like “How was your weekend?” “Have you seen (movie)?” “Is there a restaurant you recommend in the area?” Of course your teachers are there to teach you, and how better to do that if you are comfortable with them?
#4. CONNECT WITH CULTURE
Canadians all have a unique heritage. Just by asking your teacher’s family history, you’re learning valuable Canadian history and getting a better understanding of them at the same time. Take me, for example. My mother is German, and my father has Welsh heritage. Now you know why I like to tell people what to do while eating lots of bread. (I’m joking.) (Not really.)
#3. SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE CLASS
Hiding behind your laptop or texting under the desk at the back of the class will never connect you to your teacher. By sitting at the front, or near the front of the class, you will engage more with your teacher’s lessons and show them that you care, and are there to learn.
#2. WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE
You work hard, and so do your teachers. Taking the time to write a thoughtful thank you note for all the effort they put into your lessons will really mean a lot to them. I know this may sound strange depending on your academic customs, but in Canada, teachers respond kindly when they know their work is appreciated. This won’t guarantee you a higher grade, but it will give you a shared experience that goes beyond marks and tests.
#1. THROW A SURPRISE PARTY!
Last week some students threw a surprise party for teachers at our Oshawa/UOIT campus, which was AWESOME! Food, music, and loads of memorable photographs definitely showed the teachers that their students cared about them. Cool, eh? It goes to show that anytime is a good time for party time!
Reach out to your teachers. You’ll learn far more than a language! 🙂
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
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
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’
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
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.
Hello new and returning students! Welcome to another exciting, brand new term at CultureWorks. 2014 is just getting warmed up, my friends…because it can’t get much colder, can it! Ha! (Ok, bad joke. Too soon?)
I’d like to start the new year off with a wish. My wish is that all of you will embrace your first week, cherish it, and remember it, because these memories are golden! They only happen once guys. You are in Canada, studying at CultureWorks, and that’s super cool! So here’s 5 tips to make your life as an international student memorable. Believe me, I’ve lived abroad before. Some people look like they’re having the time of their lives, and other people look like their doing time. (Like, in jail!) The choice is yours!
5. Take a picture of something everyday.
Choose something that looks new or unusual to you, compared to life in your home country. Your friends, Canadian fashion, transportation, the food, sites, etc…These pictures will add up over time and will be a great reminder at how different, and how great, your experience was.
4. Think of your life in Canada like it’s an adventure.
It is! When you wake up, tell yourself that you have no idea what weird and wonderful things you’ll see and learn. Maybe you’ll try a new food. Maybe you’ll meet an odd bearded Canadian at a Tim Hortons who will tell you strange stories. Who knows! That’s the thrill of the ride!
3. Spice up your life.
If you feel your routine is getting dull, change things around. Take a different route to school. Visit a different area of Toronto, or London, or Ottawa. Explore a new area of campus, or even join a club. Just like a good curry, life is better with spice!
2. Meet people, make friends.
Honestly, the friends you make now will be with you for the rest of your lives. When you’re 80 years old, you’ll laugh together about the time one of you took the wrong bus and ended up in Montreal. Or the time you finished an exam and then passed out with your face in the middle of a pizza. You get the idea.
1. Ask questions.
This is my number one piece of advice. Your teachers, your student services co-ordinators, your cafeteria workers, your neighbours, your homestay parents…these are all people who hold the key. When you ask, you learn, and you will learn so much from the people around you. And you know what? They want to help!
I’m jealous of all of you, to be honest. I want to feel that *new* feeling again of living and travelling abroad. You know what? Forget it. I’m enrolling in CultureWorks. I’ll pretend I’m Russian and wear a big fur hat. See you in class!
Q. The idiom ‘happy as a clam’ is an appropriate one for you, Man. Your smile is so big it makes everyone around you smile, too! What kinds of things do you do in the classroom to keep students so happy?
A. I simply try to welcome my students with a smile and ask them how they are doing. It’s usually pretty easy because they’re already smiling at me and asking me how I’m doing!
Q. Do you like clams, by any chance? Do you have other favourite foods?
A. Mmm…clams! 🙂 I usually crave sushi, onigiri, dim sum, Korean BBQ, kabsa, butter chicken, pad thai, kimbab, banh mi, ramen, red velvet cupcakes, chocolate and my mom’s cooking. Nonetheless, I’m always open to trying new dishes.
Q. Wow! There goes my diet! Tell us a bit about your interest in travelling. Where have you been? Where would you like to go next? What would you say is important about seeing the world?
A. I enjoy traveling because it gives me the opportunity to interact with different people from different cultures. It is also nice to visit relatives and/or friends who I rarely see. Over the years, I’ve been to Niagara Falls, Vancouver, Kingston, Montreal, Quebec City, Tokyo, Omiya, Sapporo, Hong Kong, Macau, Okinawa, Kyoto, Dortmund, Rheine, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, New York City, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Beijing, Lijiang, Kumming, Taipei, Kenting, Sendai, Nagoya, Seoul, Halifax, Charlottetown, Cape Breton, Hopewell Cape, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, and Bali. Next, I’ll be making my way through Mexico. Well, I think traveling opens one’s eyes, ears, mind and heart to infinite possibilities. So, the following quote from St. Augustine is fitting: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, get out there, explore and keep learning!
A. We are teaching them how to get organized, think critically and cope with challenges. In addition to Carleton’s wide range of programs, I think the university’s underground tunnels are a huge draw. This network allows students to stay warm and dry as they travel across the campus to places like residence, their classes, the gym and our office. Oh, and of course its library expansion will make it that much cooler to study (both literally and figuratively)! Afterall, it’s a modern design with lots more space, a 3.5 Green Globe rating, exterior sun shades and screens, and a projected grand opening in the fall…now, that is cool!
Q. Lastly, for fun, what are your top three Ottawa restaurants you would recommend?
Once upon a time, I had a dream. When I was about 20 years old, I dreamt of becoming the world’s oldest student. That’s right. A student for life! I loved university so much I didn’t want it to end. I was surrounded by other people who love to learn. My parents weren’t around. I didn’t have to work. Um, well. See that’s where my dream ended, unfortunately. We won’t dwell on that.
But think about it. Canada’s university campuses have it all! Not only are they wired with the latest in technology, but countless other modern amenities as well. From Olympic-quality sports facilities to public concert halls and art galleries, Canada’s post-secondary campuses offer you enormous possibilities for learning and leisure. Plus, you’ll have incredible opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and gain valuable experience through student-run governments, radio, newspapers and businesses.
So ‘drink it up’, people! Enjoy every last part of campus life. Meet new people, try a new sport. Canada is a land of opportunity, after all! And see if you can beat my record. Including my undergraduate degree, special qualification courses, and my Masters, I’ve been a post-secondary student for nine years. Yet somehow I’m not a doctor. A few more years should do it, eh?