ECSL Blog

24July

Getting to Know Nova Scotia (Outside Halifax)

Getting to Know Nova Scotia (Outside Halifax)

July has been an exciting month at ECSL for students. We planned many activities outside of Halifax. Students had many opportunities to experience all Nova Scotia has to offer. We feel it is important to show our students the beauty and excitement that lies outside of the city. What makes Halifax so great is that we live in an urban centre with easy access to Canada's nature and wilderness.

Students went Tidal Bore Rafting on the Bay of Fundy. Rafting on the highest tides in the world is an opportunity only available in Nova Scotia and Australia. It's a popular activity for Nova Scotians and tourists alike. This activity was a wet and wild ride for students, who rode the tides in a boat and went swimming and mud-sliding.

The next day, students travelled to Peggy's Cove, a Nova Scotia landmark. Many people travel to this lighthouse to experience the view of the crashing waves against the rocks where the old lighthouse stands. It's a great photo opportunity! And we followed it up with a visit to the most popular beach in Nova Scotia, Crystal Crescent, with white sand and blue water, though a bit cold for those who swam in it.

Camping was also a popular event this month outside of the city. Students travelled into the heart of the province to the National Park area of Mersey River to spend the night in a log cabin in a wooded area. They kayaked, canoed, swam, and played sports, followed by a BBQ and campfire. This activity was a unique experience for many!

This past weekend, students took on another uniquely Nova Scotian experience: fruit picking. The students travelled into the Valley area of the province to a fruit farm and picked their own strawberries. U-picking is popular because people get to enjoy farm life and see where the fruit they eat comes from. Students then spent the rest of the day hiking in a Provincial Park to a well-known look-off point, Cape Split. The views from this point are worth the hike to get there!

For photos of these activities, check out our Facebook page!

Posted in ECSL Blog

17July

Thousands celebrated World Student Day across Canada

Thousands celebrated World Student Day across Canada

More than 9,000 international students gathered in Canadian cities to celebrate World Student Day on Friday, July 7. Annually, World Student Day celebrations take place in locations across the country as a way to recognize the valuable contribution of international students to Canada's education system, culture, and economy. This year's events were held in 14 locations, including Calgary, Cape Breton, Charlottetown, Halifax, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Welland, Windsor and Winnipeg. Thank you again to guard.me International Insurance for sponsoring this important event and to our local sponsor, Scotia Dental.

In Halifax, 7 local language programs worked together to organize a fun-filled morning for our students. We played bubble soccer, saw dance displays from Mexico, Brazil, and Mali, and enjoyed cultural booths and cake. Nova Scotia's Minister of Immigration, the Honourable Lena Diab attended the event and encouraged our international students to make Nova Scotia their home. In addition, Andy Filmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax sent greetings to the students.

This was the fourth Languages Canada World Student Day and we are already looking forward to 2018!

Posted in ECSL Blog

09July

Knowledge vs. skills: How to become more fluent in English

Knowledge vs. skills: How to become more fluent in English

I often have conversations with students who want to move up to a higher level than the one they tested into. Most often, the reason I am given is that the student knows "all the grammar and vocabulary" in that level. My explanation to these students addresses the differences between knowledge and skills. While many students learned the English language in the past as a knowledge-based concept, our approach at ECSL is skills based. Understanding this key difference is extremely important because it has a profound effect on language learning, and we want our students to leave us with communicative competence in English. Have you ever said, "I want to be more fluent in English" as a reason why you're travelling abroad to study it? If so, keep reading—this article is for you.

Knowledge refers to information that you get through observation or some kind. For example, you can read, listen, experience, watch, study, do, or touch to get knowledge. Through this process of getting knowledge, you can acquire facts, ideas, theories, concepts, and more. Skills, however, involve your ability to apply knowledge to a situation and take action according to your knowledge. You get skills through practice—you get better and better at something by taking your knowledge of how to do it and doing that task over and over again until you can do it well. Here's an example to illustrate the difference. Say, for instance, that you want to learn how to play the guitar. First, you must gain knowledge about how to play the guitar. You can read a book, watch a YouTube video, or take lessons—all of this will give you the knowledge of how to play the guitar. But then you must pick up an actual guitar and play it over and over, applying your knowledge so that you can develop the skill of playing the guitar.

So what does this mean for language learning? Many students think that they are at a higher level than they actually are because they have knowledge of the language. They might know the meaning of a vocabulary word, or they might have learned the rules of a grammar point in a past language class back home. But that doesn't mean that they can use that word in a sentence when writing or speaking or that they can use that grammar point fluently and accurately without even thinking about it in the same way a well-practiced guitar player can just pick up a guitar and start playing it without really thinking about it.

How can you change your knowledge into a skill? There is only one way, just like there's only one way to learn the guitar: practice. This is not only a part of language acquisition; it's also a part of learning in general. Skills training can't just be an information dump! It has to include practicing the application of your knowledge in different situations until it becomes so familiar to you that you can do it without thinking. And this is why ECSL's classes are focused on a communicative practice approach to language learning—you have to use your knowledge of language in order to gain skills. Some students will find this approach strange because it is so different from the way English was taught in their previous classes, but as you can see above, it is the only way to become more fluent and comfortable in your language use. So get practicing, EAL students, both inside and outside of the classroom!

Tiffany MacDonald
Manager of Academic Services

Posted in ECSL Blog

03July

Tips for Improving Your English Language Listening Skills

Tips for Improving Your English Language Listening Skills

In order to be ready for the IELTS examination there are four key areas you need to be prepared for ahead of time:

• Listening

• Reading

• Writing

• Speaking

Over the course of the next four blog posts, we 'll look at each individual area in greater detail and offer tips and suggestions you can use to help improve your abilities in each one. Ready to get started?

The first skill we’ll look at is listening. We use our ears to hear spoken English. However, what many people find difficult while learning English, is the words spoken in a classroom setting are often very different from the ones their English-speaking friends, co-workers, and the general public use.

To make matters even harder, there are several different dialects of English and accents, depending on which province a person is from or where they were raised. Not to mention, there can be specific slang terms and phrases people will use that don’t necessarily follow the official definition of the words.

Additionally, the English speaking people you encounter tend to talk about a wide range of topics, like the weather and sports to the latest fashion styles and music. What can you do to help improve your listening skills?

One of the best ways to improve your listening skills is to expose yourself to a variety of spoken English. There are many different ways to do this.

Watch television and movies where English is spoken. Rather than turning on captions in your native language, turn on the English subtitles, so as you listen, you can start to identify words you already know and their spellings.

Get involved in events and activities where English will be spoken. You could join a group fitness class, participate on a sports team, or other community activities and events where English will be spoken.

Get involved in events and activities where English will be spoken. You could join a group fitness class, participate on a sports team, or other community activities and events where English will be spoken.

Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or radio stations. These are great to listen to while commuting to and from work or school, and when you just want to listen to English, but may not want to watch videos, TV shows, or movies.

Find English-speaking friends and co-workers who would be willing to sit down with you several times a week and just talk one-on-one with you in English. Not only will this tip allow you to improve your listening skills, but can also help you improve your spoken English skills, too!

Before you know it, you’ll be able to make sense of what others are saying in English and you won’t be left wondering what was just said. For more tips and tools to help prepare for the IELTS exam, please feel free to browse our website or contact the nearest IELTS Test Centre in your province with our “Find an ELTS Test Location” button on our website.

- See more at: http://ieltscanadatest.com/2017/01/tips-for-improving-your-english-language-listening-skills/

Posted in ECSL Blog

26June

Welcome Aris!

Welcome Aris!

This month, ECSL welcomed a new team member to the Department of Student Services! We are happy to introduce Aris Hernandez as our new Activity Coordinator. Aris is originally from Mexico and first came to Nova Scotia as an international high school student. He then returned to Halifax to study at Mount Saint Vincent University where he is about to graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration.

Aris has already planned many successful activities for our students. He loves to encourage the students to participate outside of class time in order to meet other students and have fun in their new city! He is a very friendly face to see around the school!

If you want to participate in any social activities or have an activity idea for us, please come see Aris at the Front Desk!

Posted in ECSL Blog

19June

Graduation: My Favourite Time of the Term

Graduation: My Favourite Time of the Term

This week is my favourite time of term; it is our Graduation Ceremony. I really enjoy seeing the proud faces of our graduates who, at ECSL, have achieved the high level of English they need to be accepted unconditionally into our partner universities and colleges. Many of these students have been with us for many months while they have diligently worked their way through each level. The representatives from our partner universities and colleges attend our Graduation and they are happy to welcome the students into their institutions. One of the graduating students is chosen as the class valedictorian and when he or she delivers the speech, I can guarantee there will be some tears in the room as the speech is heartfelt and moving.

In addition to the students who are going on to university or college, our graduation is also a time for us to celebrate and say goodbye to students returning home or going travelling in Canada before they return home. These students have taken a different path at ECSL to achieve their language and learning goals.

The ceremonies are both happy and sad for us all. At ECSL, we are very happy to see the students graduate but we are sorry to see them leave us. For the students, there is a mix of excitement to be moving on but also sadness to be leaving their ECSL family.

This week we received a lovely letter from one of our students, Ali, who has just successfully graduated with his Masters' degree in Civil Engineering from Concordia University. He wrote to us to thank us for the help we provided on his journey. If you would like to read his letter, please click here

Ali's story and the stories of all our students are the reasons we do what we do!

Sheila

Posted in ECSL Blog

04June

University and College Registration

University and College Registration

Registering for courses can be a stressful time for first-year students heading to university or college. Not only are students starting at a new school, they are also expected to learn all about their program offerings and options before they start their studies. We at ECSL recognize that this is a stressful time for our UCP students who are university or college bound, so we have a process here as part of our UCP program to alleviate their stress.

Firstly, all UCP 450 students have a lesson on university vocabulary. Learning this enables them to be familiar with common words and phrases that they will encounter at university or college. Then, the students are introduced to their university or college websites. On these websites, the students learn about the academic calendar and how to navigate it. Students learn about prerequisites and requisites, and explore the course offerings.

After students are familiar with this, they have arranged face-to-face meetings on their campus with first-year advisors. These advisors help the students choose the best courses relating to their program and their interests. After these meetings, students have the option to have more meetings here at ECSL with the Academic Advisor, or they are ready to register for their class!

ECSL hopes that assisting students through the stressful registration process is another way that students feel prepared for their university or college studies. 

Posted in ECSL Blog