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.

9673393468_43346a50c2_z

 

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. 🙂

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

 

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

IT’S A LITTLE LOONIE

www.canada.com
www.canada.com

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

www.akcanada.com
www.akcanada.com

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

www.opencanada.org
Oil Field Worker in Alberta, Canada www.opencanada.org

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’

www.monarchkitchenblog.com
www.monarchkitchenblog.com

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

blog.newswire.ca
blog.newswire.ca

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.

5 Inventions You Probably Don’t Know Are Canadian

http://www.midnightpoutine.ca
http://www.midnightpoutine.ca

Our most famous foods are maple syrup and poutine.  Our biggest exports are lumber and comedians.  But how many of you knew that these 5 world famous inventions were born in Canada?

1.  IMAX

I recently saw Gravity on IMAX, and it was stunning.  How can you go wrong with 72 × 52.8 ft screens displaying the absolute best resolution on the world’s biggest cameras?  My wife and I couldn’t drive home right away because we both actually felt like we were in space.  Yes, IMAX is a Canadian company, established in 1970 (after years of trial and error), and is now in 679 countries.  Forget Netflix!

www.imax.com
www.imax.com
www.imax.com
www.imax.com

2. THE EGG CARTON

Ok, so you might not think this is anything to brag about.  But be honest.  How many unnecessary egg tragedies have been avoided because of this ingenious piece of cardboard engineering?  I imagine when  Joseph Coyle of Smithers British Columbia came up with the design in 1911, it was mainly because he was tired of eggs exploding in his pockets on the way back from the market.

talentegg.ca
talentegg.ca

3.  INSULIN

When medical insulin was created in 1922,  Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Collip revolutionized the medical world forever.  These Canadians made it possible to regulate dangerously low insulin levels in people, and therefore make diabetes a manageable disease.  Ok, so it’s no egg carton, but it’s not bad!

http://anthonycolpo.com
http://anthonycolpo.com

4.  FIVE-PIN BOWLING

As if 10 pin bowling isn’t fun enough!  Thomas F. Ryan from Toronto, created 5-pin bowling in 1909 to put a spin on the classic game.  With a smaller bowling ball and only 5 ‘pins’ at the end of the alley, some people feel this version is faster and more challenging than the regular game.  Personally I don’t really care.  I love bowling for the shoes.

http://brechinlanes.ca
http://brechinlanes.ca

5.  THE G-SUIT

The G-Suit is a flight suit worn by aviators and astronauts who are subject to high levels of acceleration force (g). It is designed to prevent a black-out and Loss Of Consciousness caused by the blood pooling in the lower part of the body when under acceleration, thus depriving the brain of blood. The first g-suits were developed by a team led by Wilbur R. Franks at the University of Toronto’s Banting and Best Medical Institute in 1941.  Not a bad contribution to the world, eh?

http://www.fslocal.com
http://www.fslocal.com

When you travel and/or study in Canada, you need to know information like this.  Why?  Because when you go home you’re expected to be an expert on the country, right?  You need to know how the culture works! Impress your friends!  Shock your neighbours! Impress your teachers at CultureWorks!

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!

HAPPY ESL WEEK! (And happy everything else, too!)

It seems every time I check the calendar, there’s another reason to celebrate another aspect of our lives or society.  A few weeks ago, it was National ‘Hug a Drummer’ Day.  I guess drummers in bands don’t get a lot of respect.  And apparently there is an ‘Edible Book Day’.  Did you know about this?  It’s true.  Literature and snacks all in one.

Hug a Drummer Day.  https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net
Hug a Drummer Day. https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net
These books are cakes. http://library.law.wisc.edu
These books are cakes. http://library.law.wisc.edu

Today however, I wish you Happy ESL Week!  Oct. 21st-25 is English as a Second Language Week in Canada.  It is a time to recognize the valuable work our ESL teachers do, the exciting progress our ESL students make, and the significant impact language has in transforming lives.  Canada thrives on change and diversity, and the ESL field contributes so much to the values and identity of Canadians.

If you are studying ESL in Canada, congratulations!  You should be proud of the hard work you are doing to achieve your dreams.

If you are teaching ESL, thank you!  You should be proud to be an ambassador for the new participants in Canada’s culture.

For anyone who has learned a second language, you know how much power it gives you.  From everyone here at CultureWorks, Ontario’s leading on-campus ESL & EAP school, happy ESL week everyone!

In honour of ESL Week,  enjoy the beautiful artwork below submitted by ESL students for a contest held by TESL Ontario.   Aren’t they awesome? Other significant ESL contributors to our society include TESL Canada and Tutela.

Interestingly, it is Canadian Citizenship Week too.  The two go hand in hand, actually.  If you are downtown Toronto or by Niagara Falls tonight, check out the colours!  It should look really cool, and Canadian!

www.teslontario.net
www.teslontario.net
www.teslontario.net
www.teslontario.net

I love all the wonderful days we get to recognize.  It’s great!  I just wish they were holidays.