Tag Archives: ILAC Teachers

6 Ways to Improve Your English with Music


Blog post author Joshua Mover puts on a show!

Looking for a fresh way to improve your English listening and vocabulary? Music is a universal language and can be a fun way to strengthen your listening skills, as well as expand your vocabulary.

Here are a few tips to help you use music as a language learning tool. Try them out and don’t forget to dance!

1. Choose a Genre – Do you listen to pop music in your home country? Or do you like jazz, or something with a bit more edge like heavy metal or punk? Whatever style you prefer, try finding some English music in a genre you love.

2. Look up Lyrics –  Google the lyrics to your favourite songs on the internet and follow along as the songs play. Can you memorize the words and melody? Are there words you don’t understand? Use your dictionary to gain a deeper understanding of the music! For more advanced students, see if you can listen without reading the lyrics — then try to write them down on your own.

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STICKING WITH IT When Studying a Foreign Language

- Paul Grieve (ILAC Teacher)

Learning a new language can be difficult, especially when the language is English; inconsistent grammar, ridiculous spellings, strange combinations of sounds, synonyms, homonyms and enough idioms to sink a battleship. Sometimes, it might seem that in spite of the hours spent in class, diligent completion of homework, frustrating attempts to understand the voices on the radio and the actors on television, you’re just not making progress.  Sure, you’re learning words and expressions and your ability to recognize those words in reading and listening materials is improving, but merely identifying words and phrases is small consolation when you can’t figure out the meaning.

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The Language Doctor is in – Free Grammar Lesson on Articles

The Truth about Articles

- Josh Pirie (The Language Doctor)

This isn’t so much a blog about articles and when to use them.  I can’t really address that in a whole blog, but I can address the need for them, and areas of grammar that may seem easier.

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One life, One chance

一期一会: Ichi go Ichi e (one life, one chance)

It is summer time in Toronto and Vancouver and an excitement and optimism fills ILAC Toronto and ILAC Vancouver. Our school is alive and electric with all the new students filling up the school, including many teenagers who come from around the world to enroll in ILAC’s Summer English camps.

Although it is the busiest time of the year for the school, it is also my favorite time to be a teacher not only because of the sunlight and warmth but because the energy and excitement that both teachers and students have at this time of the year just inspires each of us to open ourselves to the possibility of learning and meeting others and joining our lives with others. This is no better experienced than at the end of each academic term, Final Friday. On Final Friday, ILAC Toronto and ILAC Vancouver teachers spend lunch and an afternoon with their students. Frankly, it is my favorite time of the term. The students have completed their exams and coursework and are preparing for a new class or new level and this final day is a day that many teachers use to try and personalize their students learning, to introduce aspects of their own life so that the students see their teachers as not only instructors but as people and the day also allows teachers to see the students also as more than just students who are studying in English courses in Toronto or in Vancouver.

Each teacher has their own approach to Final Friday. Some teachers have pizza with their students and talk about life or watch a movie and than use the movie as a springboard to learning more English. Some teachers go out to lunch at a restaurant with their students, which allow the students to try food from a wide variety of international cuisines. Toronto is world famous for his restaurants and in fact, there is at least one restaurant in the city for each country. What I love to do with my students is take them to a restaurant that they may not have ever experienced before whether that is a Thai restaurant or an Ethiopian restaurant, an Argentinean or Vietnamese, or some mashed-up fusion of different national cuisines.

Today, my class and I went to a Thai restaurant and most of my students had never tried Thai food, which is an extraordinary combination of tropical sweets and colors married to a rich, fiery spicy essence. Today, we had Mango Chicken, Pad Thai, Fried Rice with Meat and Chicken and some Green curry. While we ate, I allow the students to ask me questions about English and my life outside of school, my family life, my life as a photographer and writer and the life before I came to ILAC. After asking me, I have the students write down a question that they would like to ask each student in the group and then we open up the conversation. What is wonderful about this day, is that the students (and teachers) are always at their most relaxed and open. My students always seem less worried about their language and become more natural and free. In fact, one of my students after lunch whispered to me: “Wow, why can’t learning English always be this fun and easy.” To which I told her: it is language is only about sharing stories with one another.

So, if you are interested in sharing stories of your own life and interested in hearing about the lives of others, drop by ILAC Toronto or ILAC Vancouver any time. Learning English and taking English Language courses in Toronto or Vancouver is not just about grammar and vocabulary and exams but more importantly, is about the learning and sharing of life. So, come by ILAC Toronto and Vancouver and participate in our great monthly tradition of Final Friday. Like all Fridays of summer, it will be a time never to forget.

Language invents us

WORDS OF THE DAY: Extrovert (n)/Extroverted (adj) – Introvert (n)/Introverted (adj)

Language invents us and makes us and confuses us but most importantly it shifts and changes us. With each new language you learn, you become a new person with a new personality and identity. The reason why I love to learn other languages (French, Spanish, Russian, Czech, Mandarin) is so that I can become a new person, a re-invented Bob, a Bob that isn’t comfortable with only being me but with being ‘another me.’ When a student studies English, they also discover that magic and that transformation (which means to change).

In my Pre-Advanced class at ILAC, in room 315 of the Main Building at 920 Yonge Street, we explore this interesting aspect. For example, on Monday we discussed personality. We learned a number of new adjectives and idioms that describe one’s personality and spoke about the difference between EXTROVERTED people and INTROVERTED people. In fact, I gave my students a personality test to measure how Extroverted (open, social, communicative) they were versus how Introverted (shy, quiet, reticent) they were. What surprised the students was when they took the test answering questions for both their life in their country and for their life in Toronto. They quickly discovered that learning and using English had a big change on them. For some students, they became much more Introverted using English (they’re concern for mistakes and feeling limited with expressions) and some students became much more Extroverted when using English and living in Toronto. As my student Danny from Korean said, “Here in Toronto I can be both free of expectations but also I can be a new me in this language.”

What I also did with the class was assign them to become a new student. In other words, they became one of their classmates. They had to speak as if they were the other student and to even imagine a life and some activities that they had done. I also made them write letters as if they were the other student. Each time I do activities such as this (identity exchange) the students are not only excited and become very creative but they seem to get a lot of pleasure out of being someone ‘new.’ But most importantly, the students ‘stop thinking’ about their English. As if this new cloak of an identity freed them from worrying about their mistakes and their grammar and pronunciation. I often explain to the students that this is the point. That they should remember that when they’re studying and Living in Toronto. That besides learning another language and skill, they are also developing and expanding themselves. A new and different YOU!

So, if you ever wish to find that OTHER you, don’t hesitate and don’t be shy. Try English on as if a new coat and stop by and see me and meet my students. You’ll be happy to know that there is always more than one you.

And maybe that other you can help you with your English study as well!

See you soon!

The Top Five Ways To Be Amazing In English

Hello Readers! Welcome to Jake’s blog!

Last month I had one of the most amazing classes I have ever taught. My face still hurts from smiling too much. All the students were friendly and loved to talk to each other. By the end of the month the class had become a giant group of friends, not just people going to school together.

The Top Five Ways To Be Amazing In English! The most amazing thing about my students was not just their kindness. These students have some of the best English skills I have ever seen. Their speaking, listening and reading were on a level that always surprised me and their writing was better than most of my English friends.

I asked them how they became such great students. Of course their first answer was ILAC. So, I asked them what they would tell new students to help them succeed while at ILAC. There answer turned into this list: The Top Five Ways To Be Amazing In English!

5. Make Friends With Students From Other Countries

One of the best things about ILAC is that students from all over the world go there. When you become friends with people from other countries many good things happen. You get to have fun with new friends and you can learn about cultures from all over the world. The best part is that while you are having fun with new friends, you are speaking English the whole time! You’re practicing your skills from class and having a great time!

4. Take Your Time

English can be a hard language. A month at ILAC is a good way to improve your skills or learn the basics. However, if you really want to become a master of English you need to relax and go slow. Take your time and make sure you understand everything before you move on. Going slow at first can help you go faster later.

3. Enjoy The Class

The Top Five Ways To Be Amazing In English! ILAC teachers know how to make English fun! You can learn while you laugh. Sometimes you will have so much fun you might forget you’re in class. Enjoy your class and have fun while you work! My last class spent the whole day laughing and smiling. They also improved their skills amazingly fast because they were having fun.

2. Go To Class Everyday

Each class builds on the information from the class before. Coming to class everyday helps you to learn faster. Plus you get to hang out with all your new friends!

1. Don’t Be Shy!

Don’t be nervous your first day. Everyone is here to help you. Of course the teachers are nice and willing to help but your classmates are there to help you as well. Your classmates remember what their first day was like and are always looking for new friends. You are all learning together. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and ask your new friends for help. One reason my class is so amazing is because they always welcome new students. As soon as a student joins the class they become a part of the group. So speak up in your new class and enjoy meeting your new friends!

The Top Five Ways To Be Amazing In English! Finally, I’d like to thank my amazing, awesome, FANTASTIC class for helping me make this list! You are all amazing students and I wish you were not so smart and I could keep you in my class forever.

To all students who are new or thinking about coming to ILAC come visit me someday! It would be great to meet you!

See you soon!

ILAC Teacher Blog – Advanced Business Class’ Theories on Success

Last week in my Advanced Business English class, the topic was Success: Defining it and achieving it. Defining what it means to be successful led to a lot of interesting debate, but generally everyone was of the mind that money was a key indicator – it is business class after all! They also identified happiness and that great feeling of accomplishment you get when you reach your goals. This was particularly relevant too as it was also test week and, like anyone who studies English can appreciate, they were all hoping to get that feeling on Friday. So I had all the students research and present either a theory of success or a famous example and what they found was a pattern of some essential characteristics.

Here then is a compilation of some of the points the presentations had in common, which I hope you will find helpful in the pursuit of your own goals – especially in learning English!

  • Dedication, determination, hard work and perseverance! These themes came up over and over again in every case studied, from Will Smith and Nick Vujicic (an Australian motivational speaker born with no limbs) to Ayrton Senna and Ronaldo (who exemplify that Brazilian adage, “I am Brazilian, I never give up!”)
  • Don’t forget, it’s a process! Sun Tzu teaches that it’s through challenge that we grow. Donald Trump says to be thorough and use your momentum and focus.
  • Think positively and have belief and passion for what you do – lessons promoted by Oprah and Pope John Paul II. As Simon Sinek so succinctly puts it, it’s not about what you do or how you do it – it’s about the why!

And I’m pleased to report that the test scores reflected that these steps to success do work! So I hope they also help you become a success in all aspects of your life and particularly when studying English.

ILAC Teacher Blog: Bob’s World of Language

To live and to study in Toronto means to reinvent yourself. When I first moved to Toronto 10 years ago, from the United States, I had lived and visited countries in Asia, Europe and North America. In fact, as a child, I lived for a time in Taiwan and that mix (a Westerner living in an Asian nation) helped create the person I would become.

Afterword, growing up in the United States and spending a lot of my youth in New York City, thriving in a complex and multicultural environment became the most important element in my own life. When I moved Toronto, I quickly fell in love with the city because of its richness, its diversity and its great atmosphere all of which are definite by its cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity. What better city in which to study language, I can’t imagine.

The topic of Multiculturalism and Diversity plays an important part in my class as well. Not only because ILAC is the most diverse Language school in Canada (which has students from all over the world) but because a student’s life in Toronto outside the classroom is defined by the rich diversity that they will encounter: different student backgrounds, different cuisines/restaurants, an endless list of festivals from around the world (film, dance, theatre, food, culture) that run each week throughout the city and the citizens of Toronto themselves who represent virtually every nation in the world. Thus, it becomes a natural focus for the class and for thestudents’ interests and curiosity.

Last month, the theme of the class was Multiculturalism, Globalization, the Future and Travel/Countries. On the final day of the course, last Friday, my students read about and discussed both the impact of Globalization on their lives and on the state of their countries. The final session of the class was dedicated to creating their own country with a partner, for which they had to create some laws, a short history, a geographical location and the reasons why people should visit their country. After each pair had created their nation, they had to select a leader and an ambassador. Afterwards, all the ambassadors and leaders met with the ambassadors and leaders from the other countries to learn about one another. At the end of the lesson, each student voted on which country they would love to visit if the country were a real one. It was a great day and a fun and exciting activity and each time my students create their nations and visit others they enjoy theexperience immensely. The best part of this activity is that many of the students incorporate aspects (cultural and food-wise) from some of the real nations that they’ve learned about over the course of the term. What is best, for me as their teacher, is to see not only their excitement and their wonderful creativity but to watch them feel completely comfortable in creating and imaging a new country and expressing all of this in English, without fear or concern.

I’ve attached a photograph of my whiteboard that we took at the end of the day. These are the flags that the students drew of their new country along with the name of their invented nation. As you can see, the flags are not only inspired and funny but also incredibly rich in their creativity.

So, if you’d like to join us some time for an adventure, the adventure that learning English at ILAC can take you on, Don’t Be Shy! Stop by my room any time, Room 315, in the main building, 920 Yonge Street, Toronto.

See you soon.

ILAC Teachers Start Blogging!

Starting this week we will be featuring posts from some of ILAC’s teachers.

ILAC teachers are essential to what makes our English school so special and we hope you can get to know some of our teachers a little bit better through their blogs. It’s a great way to learn more about the exciting things happening inside ILAC classrooms and more about the people teaching here.

Check back again tomorrow for a new post from Bob. In the meantime, check if you recognize any teachers from last month’s Teachers Appreciation Party