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Life In Canada

Making Friends

Our students tell us that it is easy to make really good friends here in Canada and this is something that is important to us.  We want our students to have lifelong attachments with their friends and homestay families and we support students in orientation and through ambassador clubs to have experiences with domestic/Canadian students to break barriers and build positive relationships.    At a recent orientation for second semester students, new to our district, Canadian ambassadors who were both experienced international students and Canadian students were asked to give advice on how to have the best abroad experience ever.  The responses are listed below: 

  • join teams and clubs as in this way the time spent together creates the commraderie from a shared learning experience
  • join the ambassador club at school to learn from each other and share cultures and language
  • hang out with Canadians as much as possible and sit with them at lunch and in class
  • volunteer to do things such as tutoring or other positions needed in the school or community
  • if a Canadian student invites you to the movies or to their house to have dinner with their family - say "YES"   
  • Although you will want to be with students from your own country at times to connect with your own culture, break away from always doing this and be open to pulling yourself away from usually staying in your own culture group.  

Homestay Family Success

We understand that the most important aspect of an abroad experience is homestay.  Therefore, to ensure a great homestay experience we ensure the best homes with the following actions: 

Our international program in the Kootenay Lake School District IS COMMITTED TO PROVIDING THE BEST PERSONAL SERVICE FOR OUR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS.  This service is outlined below:

Prior to arrival:

  • Selection of up to 3 families - note that in almost all circumstances, the first profile sent to the family is the one that the homestay staff feel is the best match for the student with the information provided in the student application
  • Pictures of the family, the home, and student's bedroom
  • Detailed profile of the family

After arrival:

  • The student will be greeted at the airport (Castlegar, Trail, or Cranbrook) by the homestay family
  • Orientation session for homestay members and the student together in the home, shortly after the student arrives in Canada
  • A monthly activity soon after arrival to help the student enjoy the Canadian lifestyle and get connected with other international and domestic students as this also is a time to check on the emotional well-being of the student
  • Monthly face to face visit with the student in private to get the student's perspective on how things are progressing in the homestay
  • A report is written to the natural parents after the face to face visit with the students so that any issues and be resolved before they become bigger issues and the parents are aware of what we are doing to support their child while he/she is enrolled in our homestay program.  
  • Sending of various pictures from outings, What's App and other events to parents.

Studying in Canada

You may find some differences between the educational values/system in your home country and that in Canada.  It is essential for you to understand the appropriate and accepted roles for students in the Canadian educational system.  Here are some of the general characteristics of the Canadian educational system:

  • Students are encouraged to ask questions for clarification, to question information, or to extend thinking.  The philosophy of education in Canada includes the idea that students should be involved in an interactive learning process. This means, students should not sit passively and memorize what the teacher presents.
  • Teacher-student relationships tend to be informal compared to those in many Asian countries.
  • Group work is an important part of the school learning. It values cooperation, creativity and compromise.
  • Conversation is used as a teaching strategy with student partners or small groups.  Students are expected to be able to discuss in order to develop their ideas and opinions and present them for reactions and assessment by the teacher.
  • Students are actively engaged in their learning and perform experiments, work on projects, and with technology.  Students learn not just information, but how to arrive at conclusions, to solve problems, and to analyze.  As part of this process, students are often asked how they got an answer and need to be able to show how they arrived at a particular answer
  • .Plagiarism (submit the work of another person as your own/copy the work of another person and present it as your own) is a serious offence. 
  • Students are expected to attend and be on time for all classes. 
  • Homework counts as much as tests in Canadian schools, so do all of your homework to ensure that you will pass a course.  Hand in all assignments on the day they are due.  If you are not able to finish your assignment on time, talk to your teacher before it is due.  If you miss any assignment/quiz/exam, see the teacher and ask if there is any way to make up.

Practicing English

International Students have found these useful ways to meet English-speaking people and practice new vocabulary and sentence structure.  Research is really clear on language acquisition - the better someone can speak a language, the better they will be able to write it and the better one writes, the more interested they will be in reading it as well.  So, as most exams in Canada are based on the ability to write, learning to speak well is really important so here are some suggestions for daily habits to improve your English speaking:

  • Practice English as part of your normal homestay school experience by asking short questions at first and then build this up into more complex questions
  • Talk with your homestay family during dinner and relaxation time
  • Join family events and outings and listen carefully to the language around you and respond when you feel comfortable to do so
  • Play, read to or just talk with the children in the family.  Show them pictures of your family and where you live, explain what life is like in your own country and talk about the differences 
  • Cook with your homestay family and share recipes that you have brought from home with them so that they can learn about your culture as well
  • Join school clubs (e.g.  choir, drama, band) and/or sports teams.  Singing English songs has been proven to increase the fluency, pronunciation, and cadence levels of speaking by 40% 
  • Go on school trips to the ski hill or other activities with the host family when the opportunity is available
  • Make English speaking friends so that you can be part of the chit chat.  
  • Sit beside Canadian students in class and help them with their learning and don't be afraid to ask them questions if you need help or just want to get to know them.  Canadians love to help!