English Classes in Canada
How to be a good student in Canada:
A good student is autonomous, active and responsible for his or her learning.
‘Autonomous‘ means you are independent. Search for some information by yourself – don’t wait for your teacher to tell you to do it. If you finished an exercise, don’t just sit and wait. Find something else to do: review (read again) what you studied yesterday or read something in the newspaper in English. Your teacher will not be happy if they see you sit and do nothing.
‘Active‘ means you are not passive. Don’t wait for the teacher to call on you to answer a question. Raise your hand and answer. Or make eye contact with your teacher and answer. Be active – ask questions and answer questions in class. When you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. But make sure that you don’t interrupt another student when they are speaking to the teacher – wait for your turn. Interrupting is not polite in Canadian culture.
Note: if your teacher is Canadian, she or he will often ask a question but not choose one student to answer. Your teacher will wait for a volunteer – a student who wants to answer the question. This is Canadian culture. Be active and volunteer your answer. Teachers like it when you show initiative.
‘Responsible‘. You are responsible for your progress and success. Your teacher is there to help you but your success is your responsibility. Keep your binder safe and organized – this is your main responsibility. You are also responsible for asking questions when you don’t understand. You are responsible for telling your teacher about your English language needs and goals. You are responsible for doing your homework.
How to show respect in class:
- Come on time – being late every day is very rude. If you have a good reason (for example you need to drop off your kid at school), let your teacher know.
- Put your cell phone on ‘Silent’ or ‘vibrate’. Do not let your cell phone ring in class – this is not polite.
- When your teacher is speaking, make eye contact. In Canadian culture, when somebody is speaking to you, you need to look them in the eye.
When a new immigrant comes to Canada and they want to continue studying English, they can join a free (don’t need to pay) class provided by the government. There are two kinds of free classes: LINC and ESL. LINC is for newcomers only. ESL is for everybody.
When immigrants join a class, they will receive a binder called “Language Companion“. This binder is part of PBLA. PBLA stands for “Portfolio Based Language Assessment”. PBLA is a new system introduced by the government.
A new student must:
- bring the binder “Language Companion” to class every day
- Keep it in a safe place at home
- Don’t lose it (don’t lose any pages)
- Keep it organized (teacher will explain how to do it)
- Don’t let your children draw in it or play with it
If you lose a binder, you cannot get a new one from school (but you can find it online and download and print a new one for yourself).
The binder has a lot of good information to introduce Canada and Canadian systems (education, employment, etc.) But it is not a text book because it only introduces some information.
In the beginning, a new student will need to do a “Needs Assessment“. Your teacher will give you a handout (paper) and you will write some information about yourself and why you need to learn English – future job, future study at a college, visiting a doctor, talking to your kids’ school teacher. When writing on the “Needs Assessment” paper, you must tell your teacher what is your priority (what’s your number one, most important reason why you want to study English). Then your teacher will teach you about that in class.
The next step will be to write down your goals. (Your teacher will help you). Goal means what you want to learn how to do in English. There are two kind of goals: short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term goals are for one semester. Long-term goals are for 5 years or longer.
In class, you will have a small test once or twice a week. The teacher will collect your test papers, check them and give them back to you. You must put these papers into your binder (at the back where you have sections ‘Speaking’, ‘Listening’, ‘Reading’ and ‘Writing’.) Do not lose those papers! At the end of the semester (twice a year, in December and in June) your teacher will take your binder and check all your test to see if your level has improved. Your teacher will write a progress report, sign it and give it to you. If you miss too many classes and do not have the test papers, you will not get promoted to the next level. You need to collect 8 or 10 test papers in each section (speaking, listening, reading and writing).
This is the new system. Before, under old system, there was a big test at the end of the semester but not anymore. Now you must keep your binder and all the test papers in it.
What else to expect in your class:
You will write “Learning Reflections” where you need to think what you have learned in one week and how you can use this knowledge in your real life (outside the classroom).
You will do “Self-assessment” where you will check your own class work.
You will do “Peer Assessment” where you will check your classmates’ class work.