LOVING LONDON

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

Our King’s Summer students are cooking! Big smiles! (I see one male student and many female students…who says guys can’t cook?)
Behold!  Champions of English!
Behold! Champions of English! (The small guy is the teacher, btw.)
Banging the Drum at Opening Ceremonies in London!
Banging the Drum at Opening Ceremonies in London! The student on the left is really into the rhythm!
London Potluck, 2014
London Potluck, 2014
End of Term Party, London 2014
End of Term Party, London 2014
Janine, Elaine, and Liz enjoying time with London alumni, Peng Tu and Yuxiao
Janine, Elaine, and Liz enjoying time with London alumni, Peng Tu and Yuxiao

Do you have any CultureWorks pictures you’d like to share?  You can send them to us on our Facebook page!

 

Stan Rath ~ The Best of Both Worlds

stanrathbus_lr

Today we’re joined by the one and only, Mr. Stan Rath.  Stan is one of CultureWorks’ powerhouses.  He is a teacher, a curriculum developer, and a mentor to both teachers and students.  If you want to learn something, I suggest you hang around Stan. I recently asked him some questions so you can get to know him a little better.

Q. Stan, who is your favourite Canadian musician?

A. Oscar Peterson is a world class jazz pianist. I listen to his music every day.

www.thestar.com
www.thestar.com

Q. What idiomatic expression best describes you and why?

A. I think “the best of both worlds” describes me well. I love to travel and meet people from different cultures, but I also love to stay close to home.

At CultureWorks, I experience the best of both worlds because I have many interesting students from a variety of cultures in the classroom, and I get to live in my hometown of London, Ontario.

globes-300x275
https://sendgrid.com

 

Q. When you’re not teaching, what are you doing? Do you have any hobbies, and why do you like doing them?

A. When I’m not teaching, I am usually hiking or planning my next vacation. One of the best feelings for me is being close to nature, and my favourite way to do this is hiking in Algonquin Park here in Ontario.

Stan Students Niagara

I find traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures very interesting. Two of my favourite countries that I have visited so far are India and Italy.

Q. You studied Biology before becoming a teacher. Do you think language is like science in any way? Do you draw from your scientific background in your approach to teaching?

A. I definitely think that language has scientific structure and rules, and I have found a scientific approach to teaching grammar and writing to be very effective. Many of my students have indicated that they benefit from using a formulaic approach when they practice using their vocabulary to build grammatically correct sentences.

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

Q. Lastly, for fun, if you could create a new word for the English language, what would it be and what would it mean?

A. gramtastic (adjective) definition: relating to the joy people feel when grammar unlocks doors to language learning

Gramtastic!  I love it!  Thanks so much for stopping by the Hotspot, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about you, and I know our CultureWorks students are lucky to have you as their teacher!

Stan Class Photo 2

Coffee Clash!

coffee-if-youre-not-shaking

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

1. Attend Classes

2. Maintain Study Habits

3. DRINK COFFEE!!!

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

tim-hortons-starbucks-camps

mcdonalds-vs-starbucks

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

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

 

The Power of (S)NOW!

www.snowheart.com
www.snowheart.com

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.

www.thestar.com
www.thestar.com

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!

www.ottawacitizen.com
www.ottawacitizen.com

Canadian Compassion

www.ctv.ca
RCMP Officers at memorial www.ctv.ca

This was a very sad, but historical week in Canada.  After the terrible shootings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Officers in Moncton, New Brunswick., a memorial was held on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014.  As you can see from the picture above, RCMP officers’ uniforms are red.  To show their support, thousands of Canadian citizens also wore red to demonstrate compassion for the fallen officers.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.49.11 AM Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.49.25 AM Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.49.36 AM

www.ctvnews.ca #wearred
www.ctvnews.ca #wearred
www.ctvnews.ca
www.ctvnews.ca

This is a great example of the Canadian social mentality.  When bad things happen to members of our communities, Canadians try their best to express sincere concern and support for those who are suffering.  Without question, it is easier to go through difficult times when you are supported by others.

Try to keep this in mind as you pursue your studies in Canada.  Support your classmates if they are struggling, whether it is at school or socially.  If you hear someone is having a hard time, reach out and show them you care!  Together, we triumph over adversity.

For more #wearred pictures: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canadians-wear-red-to-honour-fallen-mounties-1.1861511

ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL!

The weather is warmer, the grass is bright green, and we’ve all finished watching Breaking Bad.  Time to get outside and play some sports!

You can learn a lot about yourself by doing sports (like how good you look in shorts), and you can actually learn a lot of English, too.  Between high school and university I rowed for seven years, and learned a lot of language out on the water.  We used to chant, “ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL” before every race.  It means we promised to work as a team, to do it for ourselves and every team member, equally.  Unfortunately the rest of the language we used out on the water isn’t appropriate for sharing, but I can show you some practical sports idioms! Check out this awesome video to help get your ‘head in the game’ (to focus on what’s important):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEACHERS ARE PEOPLE TOO

CultureWorks teachers are a little weird.  They’re real people.

Dreamcatchers_OshawaNative_2013

I mean, they stand at the front of the classroom like ‘regular’ teachers.  They give professional lectures and facilitate dynamic group exercises.  What makes them weird is that CULTUREWORKS TEACHERS WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU.  Like, as a person. They’re weird because they don’t ONLY stand in front of the classroom, they also walk around the room and talk with you one on one.  They go on weekly trips with you and scroll through your Facebook photo albums.  Heck, I’ve even seen CultureWorks teachers exchange recipes, play squash, and sing with their students. Super weird, and like, totally human, right?

So the question is, what are you doing to connect with your teachers?  Your time in Canada is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t be shy! Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:

#5.  MAKE SMALL TALK

Easier said than done, right?  Well, believe me, CultureWorks teachers like when you ask questions!  The only way you’ll feel less shy around your teacher is by asking questions, simple stuff, like “How was your weekend?”  “Have you seen (movie)?” “Is there a restaurant you recommend in the area?”  Of course your teachers are there to teach you, and how better to do that if you are comfortable with them?

#4.  CONNECT WITH CULTURE

Canadians all have a unique heritage.  Just by asking your teacher’s family history, you’re learning valuable Canadian history and getting a better understanding of them at the same time.  Take me, for example.  My mother is German, and my father has Welsh heritage.  Now you know why I like to tell people what to do while eating lots of bread.  (I’m joking.) (Not really.)

#3.  SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE CLASS

Hiding behind your laptop or texting under the desk at the back of the class will never connect you to your teacher.  By sitting at the front, or near the front of the class, you will engage more with your teacher’s lessons and show them that you care, and are there to learn.

#2.  WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE

You work hard, and so do your teachers.  Taking the time to write a thoughtful thank you note for all the effort they put into your lessons will really mean a lot to them.  I know this may sound strange depending on your academic customs, but in Canada, teachers respond kindly when they know their work is appreciated.  This won’t guarantee you a higher grade, but it will give you a shared experience that goes beyond marks and tests.

#1.  THROW A SURPRISE PARTY!

Last week some students threw a surprise party for teachers at our Oshawa/UOIT campus, which was AWESOME!  Food, music, and loads of memorable photographs definitely showed the teachers that their students cared about them.  Cool, eh?  It goes to show that anytime is a good time for party time!

Reach out to your teachers.  You’ll learn far more than a language! 🙂

Oshawa Teacher Party
Oshawa Teacher Party

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The Inuit

INUKSHUK; for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, and food caches in the frozen Arctic climates.  www.cbantlerart.com
INUKSHUK; for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, and food caches in the frozen Arctic climates. www.cbantlerart.com

To me, it often feels like we talk about natives in Canada as if they only existed in the past.  We’ve heard the ancient stories about first settlers meeting native tribes, the nomadic hunters, and how at first they traded their goods with the Europeans.  It’s interesting history, sure, but the next generation native cultures in Canada are making ‘new’ history all the time.

Take the Inuit people in Nunavut, Canada’s arctic.  Nunavut is the first official territory (1999) with official governing status over its people.  That’s a huge deal!  No other native group in the world has managed to rise above the controversy and oppression of their past, not to mention have national recognition and governing power. And what’s really interesting is that the Inuit new generation are the first to write their history down!  So, as a result, the oral history of Nunavut is still a big part of this new territory’s future.  They are actively teaching the youth about the land, the culture, and the traditions so their history isn’t lost.  Check out this video from the National Geographic that discusses the Inuit oral tradition, it’s pretty cool:

[wpvideo yJfo2XOy]

Inuit diet, hunting traditions, and language need to be passed down to the next generation otherwise their amazing history will be lost.  Whale fat instead of hamburgers.  Storytelling instead of texting.  I mean, this image doesn’t reflect modern Iqaluit, but it’s how the old generation lived!  And not that long ago!

http://clinicalnature.com/page/2/
http://clinicalnature.com/page/2/

I had the unique opportunity to live in Nunavut in the year 2000.  I lived on Cornwallis Island in a 200-person village called Resolute Bay.  Resolute Bay is the second most northern community before the North Pole, and in the winter temperatures got as low as -80 with the wind chill.  (This is why I almost never complain about the cold in Ontario!) Honestly, I felt like I was living on the moon!  I went to Nunavut for my first teaching job after university, where I taught kindergarten.  Even though I worked up there as a teacher, it was me who received the education. The Inuit people are wise, understanding, and gentle people.  They have an insight on life like nothing I’ve ever known, born from years in a tight community and culture, not to mention on harsh land.

skidooView_of_resolute_bay_4

Student Appreciation Week!

1,955,340 — That’s the approximate total number of students enrolled in Canadian universities and colleges in 2013.  Do you have any idea how many late night pizzas that is?  Yikes!

Seeing as it’s Student Appreciation Week, I’m going to dedicate this week’s blog to you, students.  Consider it a big digital hug.

Thanks for maintaining Canada’s high level of academic standards on the global scale.

Thanks for striving for excellence and furthering yourself.

Thanks for contributing to Canadian society in a constructive, intelligent, and progressive way.

And if you are an international student in Canada, thank you for diversifying our campuses, and enriching our worldview.

Check out the two awesome videos of these two CultureWorks  students, Amanda Dantas Oliveira De Medeiros, and Meshel Albaqmi.  They are being interviewed about their experiences at CultureWorks.  Excellent work you guys!  You both have excellent English speaking skills, and your positive attitude toward learning is inspiring!  Happy Student Appreciation Week to you both, and to the other 1,955,338, too!

[wpvideo 7tqnpHuj]

[wpvideo iOLKIjrq]

NEED A BREAK? TURN UP THE MUSIC!

http://vapresspass.com
http://vapresspass.com

So, stress happens, right?  You’ve got dishes piling up, relationships breaking up (I hope not!), and, of course, assignments stacking up.   Stress is like a natural disaster in the body – a tsunami, a tornado, an earthquake all in one.  Good times!  And while there’s no pause button to life, there is one coping tool I can share that has helped me through the most stressful experiences of life, many of which happened at school.

MUSIC.

It soothes and inspires.  Music fills your spirit with beautiful distraction on a frequency that is far, far away from your worries.  Please, try it out, listen to music on your study breaks.  You’ll come back to your laptop feeling refreshed and ready to keep learning.  Music is like a reset button for your brain.

Being a proud Canadian, I have a few new Canadian bands I’d like to share.  If you are coming to Canada, or are already here, this is a great way to tune into the ‘vibe’, or the sound our country is currently producing.  Here are three musical suggestions from the great white north:

1.  Mother Mother – No, I didn’t type that twice by accident, that’s really the band’s name.  From Vancouver, this group is a mixture of indie (independent) rock with some amazing vocal harmonies and lyrics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiXvDsHfpdk

www.mothermother.com
www.mothermother.com

2.  K-OS – A successful hip hop artist, K-OS (Chaos) studied music at York University and has since pumped out a huge variety of up-beat, intelligent hip-hop ‘beats’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryAeRXArVHY

www.epicureanmusician.com
www.epicureanmusician.com

3.  Marcio Novelli – A young, fresh indie rock artist with clean, hopeful voice from Hamilton, Ontario.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRmlwv6Fijg

http://static.music.cbc.ca
http://static.music.cbc.ca

4.  Death from Above 1979 – I recently came across this duo, described as rock/noise.  I’ve never heard that category of music before, but give them a try and see if you like them!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Wnl9PpnTXI

http://cdn.pitchfork.com
http://cdn.pitchfork.com

I tried to find groups that were distinctive and unique from one another.  I’d love to hear what music you are listening to!  Please share your recommendations on the blog or on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/cultureworkstheschool

Remember, when you need a break from studying, turn up the music!