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

Study in Canada

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

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

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

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

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

canada_0

 

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

meredethmcgregor_hrPlease welcome Meredith McGregor to the Hotspot! After reading her interview, you’ll learn she is a thoughtful and sincere person.  You might even say she’s “Down to Earth”.  I’d love to have her as a teacher!

How long have you been working at CultureWorks?  What is it about teaching English that you like the most?

I started as a substitute teacher at CultureWorks in the Fall of 2010 and then began full-time in January of 2011. The staff and students are the best part about teaching at CultureWorks. What I like best about teaching English for CW is the academic nature of the program.

What are your hobbies?  Which of them do you recommend new students to Canada try, and why?

I teach dance aerobics part-time for a gym. This is something I really enjoy doing in my spare time. I also like cooking and reading.

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

 There are a lot of students from a wide variety of cultures at our school, and each culture is rich in music, food, film, art, history, and stories.  Which of these cultural features would you be most interested in learning about?  Why?

Since working for CultureWorks, I have become really interested in visiting China one day.  I think it would be nice to have a better sense of where our Chinese students come from, and be able to relate to them better. Also, it just sounds like a really diverse and interesting country with a rich culture and history.

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

 What is your role at CultureWorks? Which courses do you specialize in?  How do you feel these skills will aid our students in university or college?  Do you have any advice you’d like to give students in these areas?

I mostly teach Level C/D Writing and Grammar. Being able to write well is an important skill not only for post-secondary studies, but for employment as well. My advice is to develop your vocabulary so that you are able to express yourself clearly and directly. Having strong diction is an asset that influences all aspects of communication.

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

 Lastly, for fun, if you could visit any Canadian province, where would you go? Why?

I would love to see more of Canada because I feel like I have traveled more outside of my own country than domestically. I have never been to Nova Scotia, so maybe I would choose to go there, especially during the summer.

www.worldatlas.com
www.worldatlas.com

halls_harbour_nova_scotia_sc0512

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

This week I am joined on the Hotspot with the lovely Jenny Blake.  Jenny’s the kind of person who smiles when she speaks.  Her warm, personal character leaves everyone saying ‘Thanks a million’ for her help!

jennyblake_london_lrg1

1. How long have you been working at CultureWorks?  What is it about teaching English that you like the most?
I have been working at CultureWorks for 5 years.  Believe it or not, I love grammar and collocation!  Of course, I also like having interesting and amazing students, and that’s exactly what we have at CultureWorks.

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

2. What are your hobbies?  Which of them do you recommend new students to Canada try, and why?
My hobbies are deep conversation over good coffee, reading about World War II, dance, and martial arts.  Joining a class or a gym is a great way for students to make new friends and immerse themselves into the culture.

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

3. There are a lot of students from a wide variety of cultures at our school, and each culture is rich in music, food, film, art, history, and stories.  Which of these cultural features would you be most interested in learning about?  Why?

All of them!  I love learning anything and everything about new cultures.  If I had to pick, I suppose I would choose history as I like to see “the big picture.”

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

4.  What is your role at CultureWorks?  Which courses do you specialize?  How do you feel these skills will aid our students in university or college?  Do you have any advice you’d like to give students in these areas?
I have two roles at CultureWorks.  I am a Level D instructor of Academic Reading and IELTS, and I am a Student Success Coordinator.  In my Student Success role, I help students transition from CultureWorks to university.  I know from personal experience of going to university in Scotland, that university in Canada is quite different.  It’s important to learn what these differences are in order to be prepared for university and be successful.  My best advice?  Ask a million questions!

jenny think

5. Lastly, for fun, if you could visit any Canadian province, where would you go? Why?

I would go to Prince Edward Island to visit Green Gables.  Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite books, and I would love to walk through the countryside like Anne did!

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

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

Tips on Study Tips

http://www.cse.buffalo.edu
http://www.cse.buffalo.edu

I remember preparing for my third year Anthropology class presentation, writing a 25 page term paper for my Classics course, and studying for three other courses, and all were all taking place in the same week. Ugh! They say university and college is great for teaching us time management, but I’d like to add that it is also great for teaching us how to stress out and throw dishes against the wall.

In researching this week’s blog post on study tips, I kept coming across the same advice.  Study with a friend.  Don’t procrastinate.  Use a highlighter.  Keep a log of difficult words and ideas.  Quiz yourself.  Divide your material into smaller, manageable chunks.  These suggestions are very good.  You’ve heard our teachers at CultureWorks give you the same advice a million times, so I don’t want to bore you with repetition.  Luckily, I came across two videos that offer some different ideas about preparing for tests.

This video has a lot of strange ideas that are just weird enough to work.  I definitely agree with listening to instrumental music while you study – music with lyrics are much too distracting.

[wpvideo xnQyUrVP]

This video offers excellent advice on setting a time limit when you are really concentrating.  In our age of iPhones and universal internet access, this is a great skill to practice.

[wpvideo NM4E1QUr]

These tips will especially help you with advancing your reading, listening, writing, and grammar skills.  Not only that, they’ll make your brain HUGE! Big brains are attractive, right?

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!

Being Erica & Learning English

www.wrightawards.ca
www.wrightawards.ca

CultureWorks ESL teachers often tell their students to watch English TV and movies.  I know, they’re pretty cool teachers.  Of course they are suggesting this for students to improve their skills.  But what shows and films are best for students to watch?  Although Canada doesn’t produce nearly as many TV shows as the U.S., many of our shows tell interesting stories with intelligent ideas that just happen to be perfect for anyone learning English.

The show I’ll present this week is called Being Erica.  It is a popular CBC program that is in its final season.  Read the show’s description and see if you can guess why it would be a good one to watch:

“Being Erica is a one-hour series that explores the life of Erica Strange, a woman who has been given a wonderful gift. Every episode, Erica goes back to relive a regret from her past, in order to come back and make a positive change in her present.”

Firstly, the main character travels in time, so that’s a good enough reason to watch it.  Secondly, because she travels in time, it’s the perfect show to learn about VERB TENSES!  By watching this show you’ll hear it all:

Present Tense Family: the simple present (I live), the present progressive (I am living), the present perfect (I have lived)

Past Tense Family:  the simple past (I lived), the past progressive (I was living), the past perfect (I had lived)

Future Tense Family: the simple future (I will live), the future progressive (I will be living), the future perfect (I will have lived)

Conditionals:  I would, I could, I should…

In addition to memorizing the rules, it is most effective to listen and watch English being used.  Being Erica is the perfect show for this.  Watch this clip to see what I mean, and see how many tenses you hear.  Write them down and say them aloud as you hear them, too. You might want to close the door when you practice though, some people might think you’re crazy! 🙂

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Being+Erica/ID/1237349536/

You can search through all the seasons of this show and more on CBC’s site: http://www.cbc.ca/player/

Happy watching!