Here are some tips on how you can get involved in your city, meet native English-speakers, practice your English in the “real world” and have fun!
I’ve been teaching at ILAC for awhile and in that time I have heard some students say they don’t have many opportunities to meet native English-speakers. Another problem students face is how to make the best of their time spent in Canada, especially when some students are here for as little as three weeks. There are many ways to enjoy your time here and improve your English outside of ILAC. Here are my top five suggestions to make your stay the best it can be.
1 – Volunteer: This allows you to practice yourEnglish, learn about the city and do meaningful work. There are many different types of volunteer jobs, so in order to find the best fit for you, visit www.getinvolved.ca. This website helps you find volunteer positions by filling out your interests, skills and location. Once you fill in the necessary information, the website lists positions you might be interested in. Then you simply click on the ones you like and contact them by e-mail or phone. It’s a very easy process and one of the most effective ways to find volunteer positions. Before you begin your search make sure to sign up so you can create a profile, which will be kept on file. Once you have found a position it’s important that you take full advantage of the opportunity. You can do this by asking lots of questions and once you feel comfortable in your volunteer position, you can ask for more responsibility. Try to pick positions that will help you to practice your English and get you more involved in the community.
2 – Participate in Festivals and Events: Toronto and Vancouver have a wide variety of festivals and events throughout the year. There are many ways to stay posted on what’s happening. NOW newspaper, available, for free every Thursday, is a great source for upcoming activities, concerts and parties. You can also ask your teacher or visit www.toronto.ca / www.vancouver.ca and www.torontolife.com / www.vanmag.com/. These websites include lots of information. Another website that I use all the time to find out what’s happening in Toronto is www.shedoesthecity.com. I joined the mailing list and every Thursday I get an e-mail of the weekend’s events and parties. If you prefer to use your phone to stay connected, there are many apps that keep you up to date on what’s going on in the city.
3 – Join a Sports Team: This is a great option for meeting new people, practicing your English and staying active. I’ve joined a baseball team and ultimate Frisbee team in the past and I had the best experiences learning a new sport and making friends. There are many websites to help you find the perfect sports team but the one I like the best is the Toronto Sport and Social Club. They offer an array of sports for beginners, intermediates and experts. This organization is not only great for finding a sports team but they host events and parties for all their members, which gives you another opportunity to meet new people and have some fun. They have built quite the sports community and I definitely recommend joining this organization.
4 – Make New Friends Easily: I have recently discovered a new website created for the sole purpose to make new friends with similar interests, who live in Toronto. It’s called Toronto Friends Organization and regular events are scheduled, giving you a chance to meet new people. This is a great opportunity for students who are staying in Toronto for 6 months or longer. Whether you use this website or make friends through ILAC, it’s a good idea to branch out to other nationalities and not just hang out with people from your country. This way you can speak English and learn about new cultures and countries.
5 – Participate in ILAC Activities: ILAC staff have done a great job in organizing fun trips around Toronto/Vancouver and to other cities. Not only do they have some of the best deals but you have the opportunity to meet fellow ILAC students. So take advantage of as many activities as you can. If you need a calendar or have any questions visit the activities department located in your building.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to enjoy your time in Canada Both cities have so much to offer and it’s all about taking advantage of as many opportunities as you can!
– Erin Casper