Meet Desi Ivanova, the Eager Beaver!

desiThis week on the CultureWorks Hotspot we are joined by Desi Ivanova.  Desi has been teaching at CultureWorks since 2009 at our Oshawa campus.  As many of our students will tell you, she’s an awesome teacher and a very fun person!

Q. What is your favourite show on Netflix right now?

A. I have been watching “White Collar” its about a con-man who is given an option to help FBI agents capture other criminals in return for his freedom.

Q.What idiomatic expression best describes you and why?

A. I would say I am an eager beaver because I like learning new things and most of the time I am enthusiastic and excited about new projects. At the start of every semester I get really pumped up about new groups of students and a new start.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/American_Beaver.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/American_Beaver.jpg
http://i.neoseeker.com/
http://i.neoseeker.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 am not teaching, I am either cooking or spending time with my son. I try and stay healthy so I like exercising, which is my hobby I guess. Or maybe I just like it as it clears my head and helps me relax. I also enjoy reading books and watching documentaries. I am really into the documentaries right now. I just finished one on Dubai, it was very interesting.

http://cdn.shopify.com
http://cdn.shopify.com

Q. You are excellent with people, Desi. How do you make our students feel comfortable in class? What do your students need when they first come to CultureWorks?

A. I once was an ESL student myself so I understand the hardship that new students experience. I feel for their struggle to fit in and adjust to a new culture. In class, I try and keep it light and positive. I always want all of my students to be heard and to feel happy coming to class. I often try and get to know more about my students by asking them what their hobbies, favourite music/movies are. I think when students first come to CultureWorks, they need to feel welcome and excited about being here. I think they need to feel like this is their home away from home, and that someone here cares about them and their education.

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Q. Lastly, for fun, if you could add one item, food or beverage, to the Tim Horton’s menu, what would it be? Why?

A. I would add Nutella sandwiches with the option of adding peanut butter because Nutella is like heaven on earth and everyone everywhere totally LOVES Nutella! Its like Italy with pasta! Canada with Nutella! 🙂

http://cdn.mtlblog.com
http://cdn.mtlblog.com

There we have it folks.  An eager beaver who loves documentaries and eats ‘nutellwiches’.  What more could you ask for in a teacher?  Thanks Desi, I hope you can stop by the blog again soon. 🙂

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!

 

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

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

At the Drop of a Dime ~ Interview with Matt Devlin, Vice Principal @ CultureWorks Oshawa

Matthew Devlin, Vice Principal, Oshawa CultureWorks
Matthew Devlin, Vice Principal, Oshawa CultureWorks

Name: Matt Devlin

Title: Vice Principal of Oshawa Campus, CultureWorks

Best Canadian Film:  My favourite film set in Canada is Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. It’s such an inventive, unique film, and the city of Toronto plays a major role.

Q. Matt, you’re someone who seems to be able to do anything at ‘the drop of a dime’.  That idiom perfectly describes how you get a job done without hesitation. Outside of your regular duties as Vice Principal, there must be many different, more surprising ways you help students that come up unexpectedly.  What are they?  dime

A. I love a challenge. When a student comes to me with a question or a problem it’s important that I can help them as best as I can, and as fast as I can. I love using technology to help students.  For example, communicating with students through email or instant messaging means students have faster, easier access to me.  It’s great.

Q. Your love of technology seems a perfect fit for UOIT and Durham College.  What apps are you using most often these days?  Is there an app you’d like to develop for our students?

A. There is an app for everything these days and that pretty much describes my app usage. People say we live in the age of technology, which is certainly true, but it is really the age of access. Technology, like smart phone apps, gives us instant access to people, ideas, thoughts and knowledge. If I had to develop an app for our students, it would be one that incorporates these things. It would give students immediate access to teachers, textbooks and other educational tools. Either that, or I’d design an app would give students an electric shock if they are late for class…just kidding.

Courtesy of digital3000net.blogspot.com
Courtesy of digital3000net.blogspot.com

Q. Why do students succeed at CultureWorks?  In your opinion, what are a few basic Dos and Don’ts when studying English for Academic Purposes?

A. Someone once reminded me that a successful school really needs three things: a good teacher, an eager student, and a log to sit on…and the log is optional. Our students are hardworking and dedicated to their studies.  Technology is a great tool for students, but it really comes down to a solid student-teacher relationship. At CultureWorks we have a teaching team that is well educated, passionate and empathetic to our students’ needs. Our success comes from there. Basic dos and don’ts? Do: Work hard. Don’t: Make excuses.  Durham Fast Track Program

Q. Lastly, for fun, if you had to eat only one kind of Canadian food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A. That’s a difficult question! I love grilled or smoked salmon from British Columbia. Montreal-style smoked meat is delicious. Of course, this time of year I’m all about Quebec maple syrup. Do I have to pick just one?

Courtesy of www.healthy-delicious.com
Courtesy of www.healthy-delicious.com

Thanks for your time Matt, we hope to have you back on the Hotspot soon! 

Courtesy of www.about.montreal.com
Courtesy of www.about.montreal.com
Courtesy of www.941thefox.com
Courtesy of www.941thefox.com

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Opening Ceremonies!

CultureWorks Opening Ceremonies
CultureWorks London, Jan. 2013 Opening Ceremonies

Students always ask me: “So, what’s the first thing that happens when I arrive at CultureWorks?”  I always answer with a smile: “Opening Ceremonies”.

This is a picture of CultureWorks’ January 10th Opening Ceremonies in London, Ontario. It’s one of my favourite days at CultureWorks because everyone has a chance to meet each other, meet their teachers, learn about the program, hang out, eat some good food, and then enjoy a fun activity together.

openingbowling
CultureWorks Oshawa, Jan.2013 Opening Ceremonies, Bowling

A few of the activities we’ve done in the past include: BBQ and summer games, snow tubing, skating, roller skating, and bowling. I have a great memory of one of our Saudi students going snow tubing with only a t-shirt on.  He went blasting down the hill shouting, “I love winter!  It’s a white desert!”

Here’s two of our Oshawa teachers with new students hanging out at the bowling alley during Opening Ceremonies. Below is a great pic of one of our London teacher lacing up before an ice skate.  Good times!

skating
CultureWorks London, Jan.2013 Opening Ceremonies, Ice Skating

Do you have any other good ideas for opening ceremonies?  Moose hunting?  Or maybe a death defying walk along the outside of CN Tower?  No, please, I’m kidding!!  Just thinking about the idea makes me feel ill!

edgewalk-gift-card-1
CN Tower Edge Walk. Photo Courtesy of www.edgewalkcntower.ca

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