How Immersion + Instruction Helps You Learn English Faster

CultureWorks students practising their vocabulary in the classroom

CultureWorks students practising their vocabulary in the classroom

Deciding to learn a new language PLUS move to new country may seem like a lot to take on for some ESL students. But the truth is, moving to Canada to enrol in an ESL program makes the whole language-learning process so much easier than you might think – and faster!

Research shows that language immersion combined with classroom instruction is the ESL student’s fast track to fluency – and admission into the Canadian university program of your choice.

Read on to learn exactly why immersion combined with classes is the best way to reach your ESL learning goals.

Immersion in Canada Builds Confidence and Fluency

Being immersed in a language means that you are surrounded by native speakers. You’ll use your developing English skills on a daily basis as you buy your groceries, browse through a bookstore, grab a coffee, go to the movies, or hang out in the student lounge on campus. You will listen, absorb, and speak English all the time. Immersion means you HAVE to use English, which may at first seem a bit intimidating, but will quickly help you build confidence and better language skills.

CultureWorks students get comfortable using English in various social settings

Immersion also helps you learn how Canadians really speak. At an ESL program in Canada, students meet locals on campus, get involved in the community, and take sight-seeing trips. This helps them develop fluency and sound like a native speaker themselves – much more so than if they learned English back home from a book, computer program or local school!

ESL Teachers Take Your English to the Next Level

Immersion is great for building fluency and confidence, but without expert teachers, students will have a difficult time developing the grammar, writing, and comprehension skills they will need in university. After all, if you’re taking English courses for western university because you want to major in Business, you will definitely need to know how to write an essay, do research and make presentations in English before starting school! On its own, immersion can’t help you build those specialized skills.

CultureWorks students practice their conversations skills in class

CultureWorks students practice their conversations skills in class

The strong foundation you build in ESL class COMBINED with every-day practise is really what makes the magic happen.

If you’re planning to study English in Canada, it’s important to choose an ESL program that has both experienced instructors and plenty of opportunities for getting involved in the local community. And that’s the real secret to learning English faster, and getting prepared for success at university.

What other techniques do you think help students learn English quickly?

Feeling Homesick? 5 Solutions for International Students

CultureWorks end of term party in London, Ontario

CultureWorks end of term party in London, Ontario

Studying abroad is an exciting – and challenging – transition for students who leave their home country to pursue English studies and attend university in Canada. One they arrive, international students must contend with unfamiliar surroundings, a whole new culture, tons of new faces – and the realization that their friends and family are thousands of miles away!

We know that plenty of CultureWorks students miss their home while they’re studying abroad, so we’ve put together these five simple tips to make the transition a little easier, help you settle in, and really get the most out of your time in Canada.

1. Know that Feeling Homesick is Normal

Up to 70 per cent of international students will experience homesickness at some point while studying abroad. It’s completely normal for human beings to miss their old routines, family and friends when traveling far from home. No one should feel ashamed or regret their decision to study in Canada because they occasionally feel homesick. All you need is a few go-to strategies to help you smile, feel better and get involved with your new surroundings. And that’s where the next four solutions come in….

2. Connect with Other Students in Your ESL Program

It might be tough to admit feeling homesick to fellow students in your ESL program, but keeping your thoughts to yourself, or staying alone in your room is definitely not a good idea. Talk to your classmates about missing home, and you’ll probably find out that they’re feeling the same way too! Reach out to a classmate who has traveled to study English in Canada from the same country or city as you – sharing stories will help you feel less isolated.

CultureWorks students get to know each other at the Oshawa holiday party

CultureWorks students get to know each other at the Oshawa holiday party

3. Stay in Touch with Family and Friends

A great way to combat homesickness is to stay in touch with family and friends via Skype once or twice a week. Setting up a regular schedule of video chats gives new international students something to rely on and look forward to while they’re adjusting to new surroundings. Plus, telling family and friends all about what you’re doing and learning here in Canada will make them proud, remind you of why you traveled abroad in the first place – and put a smile on your face.

CultureWorks students visit the African Lion Safari outside of London, Ontario

CultureWorks students visit the African Lion Safari outside of London, Ontario

4. Explore Your New Surroundings

Part of what causes homesickness is feeling “out of place”. International students who feel lost and alone in their new surroundings should get out there and explore. Walk around campus, visit hotspots in your new city, and try out public transportation. With GPS and Google Maps it’s practically impossible to get lost – and chances are, your ESL school will plan several guided trips to help you feel more at home and learn your way around.

CultureWorks students at a potluck dinner at the Oshawa campus

CultureWorks students at a potluck dinner at the Oshawa campus

5. Cook Your Favorite Food

Cooking your favourite food can help ward off homesickness by bringing a little taste of home to your new life in Canada. Most local grocery stores have international food sections where you will find a wide range of imported ingredients. Your classmates who are also learning English as a second language would probably be open to the idea of a potluck night where everyone brings a dish to share. If you’re not the best cook in world, this would be the perfect time to take notes from mom the next time you talk over Skype!

What tips do YOU suggest for handling homesickness while you study abroad?

4 Tips for Getting Social in a Second Language

CultureWorks students get social at the end of term party

CultureWorks students get social at the end of term party

Meeting new people can be intimidating even when you all speak the same language. Speaking up in a language you barely know? Now that can be downright terrifying! But taking the time to get social both inside and outside of the classroom is one of the best things students can do when learning English as a second language in Canada. Socializing gives you the chance to perfect your conversation skills, prepare for success in university, and develop a supportive network of new friends.

Here are 4 simple tips to get you started on getting social in a second language:

1. Start With Your English Language Classes

The most effective ESL programs go beyond rote memorization by creating opportunities for students to have meaningful exchanges in a comfortable and nurturing setting. For example, at CultureWorks students participate in simple debates, practice back-and-forth conversations, and learn how to give presentations and speak in front of a group. Enriched activities like these work as terrific confidence builders because they teach students how to speak up and respond spontaneously – without dictionaries or memory aids.

A CultureWorks student practises speaking in front of the class

A CultureWorks student practises speaking in front of the class

2. Get Used to Being Outside Your Comfort Zone

Let’s say that you are taking English courses for Western University because you want to study Business, start your own company, and work with international clients. Once you graduate and start your career, you will have to attend important meetings, give presentations, and write reports – all in English. The best way to get comfortable pulling off advanced tasks like these is to take small steps now, and push beyond your ESL comfort zone.

Start with something simple like ordering a muffin at a coffee shop, or chatting in English with your classmates. At first it might feel intimidating, but over time you’ll get used to those small exchanges and move on to bigger conversations – like which business trends you find most interesting, and which stocks you would invest in!

CultureWorks students get social on the Western University campus

CultureWorks students get social on the Western University campus

3. Practise Answers to Common Questions

Although your goal is natural conversation in English, preparing and practising answers to common questions can really take the stress out of those first interactions. Some typical questions you can prepare for include:

  • Where do you come from?
  • How do you like Canada so far?
  • What are you planning to study in university?

As you get more comfortable, you will no longer need to repeat your memorized responses – and can start having more spontaneous and advanced interactions.

4. Put Yourself in Situations Where You’ll Meet New People

When you study English in Canada at CultureWorks you’ll have plenty of opportunities to participate in social events. From cultural festivals and team sports to day trips off campus to explore local surroundings – every event offers chances to practice your growing English skills and build new friendships. Even if you’re feeling shy, participate in every activity. It’s the best way to build your confidence and practise some of the tips you’ve learned in this post.

CultureWorks students learn a sport Canadians love called Curling

CultureWorks students learn a sport Canadians love called Curling

Getting social in a second language can feel intimidating, but take heart. Canadians are known for their kindness and will be more than happy to explain new vocabulary, repeat a question, or help out if you forget a word.

How else would you practise your English while meeting new people?

Culture Works Hotspot: Amanda Furnis, Oshawa Campus Registrar

Study English in Canada

Amanda Furnis, Culture Works Registrar, Oshawa Campus

As Canada’s leading ESL program, we at Culture Works recognize that our exceptional and dedicated staff members are truly the foundation of our success. Our instructors and administration have managed to foster an environment in which students always come first, building the confidence and skills they need to reach their language learning goals.

This week on the Culture Works Hotspot, we talk with Amanda Furnis: avid traveller, proud mom, and an integral part of the Culture Works team since 2009. Read on to find out a little more about Amanda, and to hear firsthand about her rewarding role as Registrar at our Durham College Oshawa campus.

1) In your Registrar role – what is the best part of the job?  

Meeting new students on the first day of school! Some students really struggle to arrive with all of the right paperwork, have to deal with immigration issues, and decide where to live – all while being away from their family. I speak to some of these students on a daily basis via email, answering all of their questions and trying to help them make the transition to Culture Works. To see them finally arrive to study English in Canada is very exciting!

Culture Works

Amanda with Culture Works students at an Oshawa campus event

2) How many different countries do we have students applying to our program from?

Right now in Oshawa we have students applying from 26 different countries.

3) What advice do you have for students applying to a Culture Works ESL program? Are there any particular questions about the process that come up often?  

My advice to students applying to our school is to always answer our emails!  We send very important questions to prepare for each student’s arrival, and sometimes students wait to reply to us when they don’t have an immediate answer to our questions. For example, if you would like to live in one of our homestays, please answer our email about homestays and let us know so we can make the necessary arrangements.

If you don’t have your flight arrival date, don’t wait to reply until you know the answer to that question – just write us back letting us know you received our email and will provide the details as soon as possible. The sooner we know your arrival details, the smoother your arrival will be!

CW students

Culture Works students from Brazil, Syria and South Korea at an Oshawa campus event

4) When you’re not helping students settle in at Culture Works, what are you doing?  Do you have any hobbies and why do you like doing them?

My hobbies include playing soccer, shopping, and writing for my lifestyle blog I am ALWAYS planning a trip – I am always travelling.

5)  If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why?   

My toddler because he usually makes really good dinner conversation! He asks me a lot of questions, he usually eats for free, and he always gets dessert included with his meals, which he shares with me.

6)  What is your favorite aspect of Canadian culture and why?

I love that Canadians are really polite and patient – except when it comes to the things we are passionate about. We usually only get feisty when it comes to a long Tim Horton’s line or a hockey game. I have travelled all over Europe, and seen people from other countries pretend to be Canadian so they would be treated more nicely. And like they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!

Thanks, Amanda for sharing a little about yourself this week. Culture Works is proud to have you as a caring and committed first point of contact for our students.

Are you hoping to take English course for Durham College – or for one of Culture Works’ other partner universities?

Apply now and one of our registrars will help you get started!

The DC/UOIT Pathway!


Being a CultureWorks EAP student just got a whole lot sweeter!

Durham College and UOIT (University of Ontario Institute of Technology) have announced an exciting new academic collaboration called PATHWAYS.  This allows Durham College students to complete 2 years of their Diploma and apply their credits toward a UOIT Degree.  How awesome is that?!

Select programs apply; Business, Accounting and Computer Programming are popular choices. You can see the full list here: and here.

There are obvious advantages to the Pathways option:

  • Receive acceptance to DC and a conditional offer to UOIT at the same time
  • Reach your goals in less time – earn both an applied college diploma, and a university degree
  • Save tuition costs
  • Complete your education on one campus
  • Learn from both college and university experts


We know you’ve come to study in Canada to receive the highest-quality education – innovative programs like this prepare students for their academic and professional careers.

Durham College and UOIT are only a short distance from safe, beautiful and exciting Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

From your EAP preparation at CultureWorks, you will already know everything you need to know in a student-life experience  ~ to balance your studies with culture outside the classroom.


5 Canadian Colloquialisms: What They Mean and How to Use Them!

intensive English program in Canada

Kings University College at Western University in Ontario, Canada

Every country, province, state – even neighborhood – has its own unique slang and colloquialisms. This is a big part of local culture, and learning to use these expressions is an important rite of passage for newcomers.

Canada is no exception, and the phrases ESL students will encounter as newcomers to Ontario are sure to cause some confusion!

With that in mind, we decided to de-code and explain five uniquely Canadian terms you’re likely to hear when you visit Ontario:

Hydro (pronounced hahy-droh)

The term hydro is a reference to hydroelectricity, the most common source of energy used to power Canadian homes. You’ll hear people refer to hydro in particular when talking (or complaining) about their monthly electrical bill. When renting an apartment in Canada, we usually ask up front if the total price includes hydro.

Kitty Corner (pronounced kit-ee – kawr-ner)

“I’m parked kitty corner from the entrance to our school.” No, that statement doesn’t have anything to do with cats. Actually it has to do with dice. Quatre, the French word for “four” was introduced to the English language as a way to define four-cornered dice. Over time, English speakers transformed the term into “catre-corner”, which soon became “kitty-corner”. Now we use the phrase in every-day conversation to describe something that’s positioned on a diagonal. So your friend’s car is parked diagonally across from the entrance to the school.

Loonie (pronounced loo-nee)

When you’re taking a break between classes at your ESL school and a fellow student asks if you have a loonie for the vending machine, it’s important to realize that they’re asking you for money: $1 to be precise. A few decades ago, Canada switched from paper currency to coins for some denominations. The $1 coin has the image of a loon (a type of Canadian bird) on one side, so people started calling it a “loonie”. The name stuck and a few years later, it inspired the nickname of the $2 coin, the “toonie”.

ESL school

Culture Works students take a coffee break at Apple Land Station in Thorndale, Ontario

Double-Double (pronounced duhb-uh l – duhb-uh l)

If you are pursuing an intensive English program in Canada, you have probably already encountered this term. It will most likely happen during a late-night study session when you just need a bit of caffeine to keep you going. A double-double is a cup of coffee served with two creams and two sugars. It originated as a term in the hugely popular coffee chain Tim Horton’s, but soon spread all over Canada as a typical way to order coffee.

Toque (pronounced tohk)

If you’re studying English as a second language in Canada, not only should you get familiar with the term toque, but you should also plan on buying one before the winter season starts. A toque is what Canadians call a winter hat. It was adapted from the French term tuque which was originally popularized by the coureurs de bois (French and Metis fur traders) in the 19th century.

Are you excited to try out some of these Canadian colloquialisms? Come to ESL school in Canada and you’ll get your chance to chat like a local!

How Knowing Multiple Languages Can Help Boost Your Business Career

ESL programs

One word you’ll hear over and over again in business, politics and finance is “globalization.” In the business world, this term refers to the expansion of a single company beyond its own borders, into multiple other countries.

For example, many major Canadian companies such as Bombardier, Sun Life Financial and Roots, have set up locations all around the world in order to attract international clients. For many companies, international expansion is the ultimate goal, which makes learning more than one language a very smart move for today’s business students. Making the decision to study English and even earn your business degree in English will help international students build their language portfolio. Here’s why this is so important:

A Growing Demand for Multilingualism

Since more and more businesses have tapped into international markets, there is an increasing demand for professionals who have both business and language skills. Today’s companies are on the hunt for employees who can communicate with existing clients, prospective clients and business partners overseas. It’s also crucial for marketing and sales professionals to be fluent in multiple languages, since they have the duty of selling products and services, and identifying customer needs.

Job-Seeking Advantages

Taking an intensive English program like Culture Works can help double the marketability of your business degree. Employers love to see multiple languages on a resume, because multilingual employees can ultimately provide more value to a company by performing tasks that many others cannot. Better yet, bilingual employees can be hard to come by, meaning that recruiters are likely to prioritize your resume when filling positions for prominent companies.

Did you know that multilingual employees also get paid more than their unilingual (people who only speak one language) counterparts? In Canada, bilingual men outside of Quebec earn 3.8 percent more than their coworkers who only speak one language. For women, this number actually jumps to 6.6 percent. In the United States, bilingual employees might have a pay raise of up to 20% higher when they speak more than one language! As a bonus, bilingualism also makes the brain work harder and increases cognitive ability—overall making you a better, smarter worker.

A Global Appeal

Many students who come to Canada and participate in ESL programs are passionate about travelling and immersing themselves in new cultures. New graduates with multiple languages are far more likely to land positions that allow them explore new cities and countries.

As companies continue to expand globally, the demand for business professionals who are willing to travel for work will no doubt increase. Being fluent in multiple languages will give you the opportunity to showcase yourself as an ideal candidate, and give you the confidence to apply for these international positions. You’ll have the diverse language skills needed to adapt quickly and grow professionally no matter where your job might take you!

Are you considering a degree in Business? Which company would you love to work for?

4 Things That Really Define Canadians

Study English in Canada

When people consider the nation of Canada, a lot of symbols come to mind: the maple leaf, winter sports, the Rocky Mountains, frosty temperatures – even a couple of famous names like Celine Dion, Sidney Crosby or Mike Meyers. But what actually define us as people? How has living in this nation formed who we are?

If you’re considering traveling to Canada to study English and attend college, chances are you’ll be with us for at least a few years. And you might find yourself pondering exactly what it is that makes Canadians so Canadian. Let’s take a look at a few things we’re known for around the world.

We are Diverse

In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. In doing so, Canada affirmed the value and dignity of all Canadian citizens regardless of their racial or ethnic origins, their language, or their religious affiliation. Multiculturalism defines us as a people in every way imaginable.

Students enrolled in ESL programs in Canada know that our country has two official languages – English and French. However, many may not be aware that our inherent diversity has led to a veritable explosion of languages across the country. It was recently reported that there are over 200 languages spoken in Canada in the home or as a mother tongue. Our streets are rich with restaurants featuring foods from every corner of the globe, our schools are filled with children from all cultures, and in most cities it’s easy to find a place of prayer regardless of your religious affiliation.

We’re Friendly and Peace Loving

In a nation that embraces so much diversity, it’s no wonder that we get along so well! Canada consistently ranks among the top 10 most peaceful countries in the world, with low levels of violent crime, enduring political stability, and a high level of UN peacekeeping involvement.

Students who travel from abroad to study English in Canada soon discover that Canadians are also world renowned for our friendly attitude. We’re sometimes poked-fun at in the media for being overly nice and polite, but what’s so bad about that? The truth is, as travelers we are welcomed with open arms all over the world, and are valued as partners in global business and trade.

We’re Highly Educated

In Canada, education is seen as the most desirable route to career success, personal growth and happiness. With affordable tuition rates and a wide variety of high quality universities to choose from, it’s no surprise that Canada is ranked the number one most educated country in the world! We are considered a world leader in language training and boast an unmatched literacy rate of 99 per cent.

We Love Sports

As a nation, we’ve not only hosted the Olympics three times, but have produced some of the world’s finest athletes. We have leagues in nearly every sport imaginable from youth leagues all the way up to professional leagues. And ok, we do have a special place in our hearts for hockey – it’s true.

If hockey’s not necessarily your preference, we’ve also got prominent sports figures in the UFC and the NBA.

Whether you’re taking part in athletic training or watching a game from the comfort of your own home, a love for sports is something we proudly share as Canadians.

What comes to mind when YOU think of Canada?

How to Build Confidence as a New English Speaker

ESL school in Canada

Moving to a new country can be quite intimidating, but even more so if you don’t speak the native language. Many newcomers to Canada struggle to make contacts, build friendships, and just plain fit in because they’re nervous to make mistakes while speaking English. And for prospective university students, the stakes are quite high because they must improve their language skills in order to succeed at school.

An intensive English program (like Culture Works) will definitely provide you with a thorough understanding of the English language – but it will be up to you to actually apply what you’ve learned in class in everyday situations. This means that you’ll need to build up the confidence it takes to communicate with others and engage them in conversation, even if you’re positive you’ll make a few mistakes. Here are some basic confidence-building tips to get you started:

Do Your Reading Out Loud

Whether your English as a second language courses involve reading a textbook, a newspaper, or even a short story, read it out loud for extra practice. Not only will this help with comprehension, but will offer you a chance to work on your pronunciation. Reading out loud can also be a great way to enhance your reading speed and build confidence. If you’re a beginner student and are still unsure about your English language abilities, you can try reading to another person (either a close native English companion or a teacher) and ask them to provide feedback.

Make English-Speaking Friends—And Speak To Them!

They say “practice makes perfect” and what better way to practice your English skills than to have fun with some great new friends? When you attend an ESL school in Canada, you’ll find that it’s surprisingly easy to make new connections – after all, Canadians are known as some of the friendliest people in the world!

Casual socializing in English is a fantastic way to strengthen your language skills. First of all, your friends won’t judge you if you make a mistake – and secondly, it’s a great opportunity to pick up some conversational, colloquial banter.

Make Use of the Recording App on Your Smartphone

These days, most cell phones come fully equipped with a variety of applications—games, cameras and sound recorders. English language students will definitely want to make use of those recording applications. One of the most common exercises students do when learning a new language is the “Introduction Game.” Partners practice introducing themselves, making small talk, and asking questions – exactly like you would do in real life when you meet someone new. Recording these conversations and listening to them later at home can be extremely helpful for improving pronunciation, phrasing, and vocabulary. This of course can only boost your confidence when you’re trying out these same phrases outside of school.

Make Small Talk While Running Errands

No matter where you live you will definitely find yourself visiting grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants. English language students should look at these activities as learning opportunities – valuable chances to converse with shopkeepers and waiters in a causal way. And, because they will most likely speak to you in English, you’ll be forced to face your fears and respond in kind. Those recorded conversations from class will really come in handy here, helping you make that first gesture with confidence. And hey, if you can master small talk then you’ll be ready to move on to bigger and better things, like longer conversations!

How would you practice your new language skills in Canada?

‘Live and Let Live’ ~ CultureWorks Ottawa Teacher, Jason Mercier

jasonThis week I’m pleased to have Jason Mercier on the Hotspot.  Jason is a teacher on our Ottawa campus, and has a lot to say about…well, read and you’ll find out!

1. What’s your favourite Canadian TV show?

Hockey Night in Canada! Clearly!

2. What idiomatic expression best describes you and why?

Hmmmm. I always liked the expression, “Live and let live”. It’s simple, to the point, has a good message and it works in any situation. Words to live by I suppose.

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

Well, when it comes to sports, I play baseball in the summer, hockey in the winter, and occasionally squash in between. You have to keep active.

In terms of hobbies, I have a few. I like to play guitar, because obviously, it’s awesome.

I love to read. There’s an old saying: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Also, I’m a huge movie and TV buff. I binge, binge, binge. Documentaries, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones…Love em!


Finally, I love to travel. Any chance to see something new, meet new people, take some photos, and have new experiences is a must for me. I’m always on the move for a new adventure.

4. You studied and English and History before becoming a teacher, so it’s safe to say you enjoy culture. What advice do you have for CultureWorks students who want to get involved in Canadian culture?

I know how hard it is to be in a new surrounding and not having the comfort of your friends and family with you. It can be tough. I can relate. I remember living in South Korea and having some pretty crummy days. But it wasn’t until I met and started hanging out with local Koreans that I soon realized how great it was living in a new country. Then I started to take chances and try new things I NEVER thought I’d do and love doing them. I know its tempting and easy to just simply socialize with people of your own culture, but don’t limit yourself. When you socialize with others, you see the world through their eyes. It makes you more aware of how much bigger and better the world is. You grow as a person, and you’re just happier. Long answer, I know but if I can sum up in a sentence: “Move out of your comfort zone…you can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward.” Hope it helps!

hockey night in cultureworks

5. Lastly, for fun, if you could be a mascot for any of the Canadian hockey teams, which one would you choose and why?

It would have to be ‘Carlton the Bear’ for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Go Leafs!

The Authentic Storytelling Project

Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

The CultureWorks Hotspot

Study in English. Live in Canada. Build your Future.


This site is the cat’s pajamas


4 out of 5 dentists recommend this site


Bringing language research into the classroom

Seven Spheres

Aqua Terra Ignis et Aer

Educate Blog

student recruitment | digital advertising | mobile solutions


John Field's blog

Student Recruitment

All the information you need about Student Recruitment

English Language Wizard

Management and Business Communications Coaching - Editing - Writing - Speaking Skills - UK Culture

Choose the Right Words

Fun and expert help with the confusing English language

Christine's Collection

My streams of thought meet here

Latest news, tips, advice and stories on emigrating and overseas properties