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.