Experiencing Canadian Customs & Holidays at ECLC!

Experiencing Canadian Customs & Holidays at ECLC!

Here at ECLC, we love to show our students Canadian customs, teach them about holidays, and help them try things they might not have the opportunity to do on their own.

At the start of the Fall term, ECLC welcomed our new and returning students in a very traditional Nova Scotian way with a lobster and corn boil! On a beautiful Friday morning, we headed over to Point Pleasant Park. Students played games, enjoyed the scenic views, and had a good meal for lunch!

Students had the opportunity to see fresh live lobster, which is a staple in the Maritimes. They took turns holding the lobsters for fun photos and then learned how it is cooked and prepared. We boiled lobster and fresh corn-on-the-cob in the park for them to enjoy. For many students, this was the first time they had seen or eaten lobster which is very common to us Canadians. We hope it was a great memory to tell their friends and family about! Check out the awesome photos!

Last weekend, for Thanksgiving, we provided a traditional "Thanksgiving dinner" to students. We cooked a beautiful turkey, with all the fixings, like potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving is a time for families to eat together and express their gratitude and appreciation for the things they have in life. This was a great, and tasty, cultural learning opportunity for our students. Take a look at the delicious meal here!

We look forward to celebrating the upcoming Christmas holiday with students as well. We have a special extra week of class at the end of term (December 18-21) that students can choose to add to their programs where we will provide general English lessons in the afternoons and fun Christmas activities in the evening, such as turkey dinner, cookie baking, ice skating, and a play at the Neptune Theatre. If you have any questions about this week's program or pricing, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This weekend in Canada is a holiday called Thanksgiving.
It was traditionally a time when families and friends came together to celebrate the harvest that they had gathered from their farms that year. If it had been a good year, they would have food to feed them through the winter months, when nothing grows in most of Canada!

Nowadays, most of us go to supermarkets for our food, so the gathering of the harvest from the land is not such an important event. Thanksgiving in Canada these days is a time for families to get together and eat turkey and lots of other good food. In Nova Scotia this year we have welcomed many Syrian refugees into our communities. Lots of them will be celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time and Nova Scotia families are opening their homes to these newcomers to share our culture and our food.

As I was driving to work this morning, on a beautiful sunny, fall day, I was reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. I live in a beautiful, safe place, and every day I have the opportunity to come to a vibrant, friendly place of work and spend time with fantastic staff members and wonderful students. I appreciate seeing students succeed in their English classes and then go on to achieve their goals, whatever they are and whether those goals keep them in Canada or take them elsewhere. I also really enjoy working with our talented, intelligent, hard-working staff members, and I am thankful for their support.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


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How To (And How Not To) Organize Your Thoughts on the Writing Exam – Part 2 – Task 2

How To (And How Not To) Organize Your Thoughts on the Writing Exam – Part 2 – Task 2

Part one of this blog topic offered some specific strategies for tackling Writing Task 1 on the IELTS exam. This post will act as a follow-up - so it is recommended that you read both posts to get specific strategies for each Writing Task.

Strategic Preparation: Getting Feedback

Of course the best way to prepare for a basketball game is by playing basketball. The best way to practise the piano is by playing the piano. Based on this simple logic, the best way to prepare for the IELTS exam is by working with as much IELTS material as possible. However, it is not enough to write responses to IELTS prompts, you must also get feedback. Ask as many people to read your writing as possible, but remember, just like a buffet - you do not need to eat everything, and you do not need to take all advice from everyone who reads your work. Consider all feedback you have been given critically: ask yourself if this is advice that you should take or advice you should ignore?

Taking feedback can sometimes be difficult. Writing is personal - you create it, and then you must ask others to say what is wrong with it. Having someone critique your writing can sometimes feel like a personal attack, but remember, even professional writers have editors. It's best if you can remove emotion from the process of receiving feedback. Even if you don't agree with the comments of readers, thank them for their time and efforts. Some of the best feedback may be challenging to hear - that's why it is so important.

Writing Task 2

The second Writing Task will require a clear and concise essay style response. That means writing paragraphs with a central main idea and supporting details. Each point should be given equal time in the response so that the essay is balanced. If the candidate gives more importance to one point over another, the Task Achievement band score will be affected, therefore, it is very important that instructions are read and followed carefully.

Let's look at an example:

In many countries schools have severe problems with student behaviour. What do you think are the causes of this? What solution can you suggest?

There are three (3) distinct points that must be addressed in the response: severe problems with students; causes of these problems; solutions to these problems. Candidates are strongly encouraged to create an outline before writing so that they can be sure that each part of the prompt is answered. An outline will save time and improve the clarity of the writing. Instead of thinking 'on your feet', an outline will tell you exactly what is coming next and will take only a minute or two.

An example outline for the above question may look like this:

Intro: Severe problems

  • aggressive students
  • violence in media
  • teacher's ability to discipline students limited

Body Paragraph #1: Causes

  • aggression stemming from home life and mental health
  • violence in video games and on social media
  • teachers are not allowed to punish students like in the past

Body Paragraph #2: Solutions

  • programs to identify and address student's personal needs
  • school curriculum that addresses violence in the media
  • more support to be given to teachers to effectively manage problem students


  • Restatement of thesis
  • Summary of main ideas of body paragraphs
  • Concluding statement: advice and/or future situation

An effective outline will save time, and will also encourage the candidate to identify the logic in their writing. Notice that each of the points is carried through from the introduction to the conclusion. Good logic may feel repetitive to the writer, but to the reader, it just makes sense. The challenge is for the writer to make the essay interesting by using new language, despite the repetition of ideas.

It is impossible to stress enough the importance of the band score descriptors when preparing for the IETLS exam. The writing marker must follow the descriptors carefully to remove their personal opinion from the marking process. Refer to the band descriptors as often as possible and create your essay responses with the descriptors in mind throughout your IELTS preparation. When the test day comes along, answering Task 2 will be just like riding a bicycle.

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Mayor Mike Savage International Student Reception 2017

Mayor Mike Savage International Student Reception 2017

Halifax is a vibrant city that welcomes all international students with open arms!

Every year, the Mayor of Halifax, Mike Savage, hosts a reception for all international students attending universities and colleges around Halifax and Nova Scotia. Students from all over the world attend this event and get to meet and take a selfie with the Mayor.

It is very nice to see that the government of Halifax and the Mayor of Halifax is interested in meeting each one of us. It makes me feel very welcomed to this city, plus I got to learn more information about the services that the city offers.” Estefania Figueroa Hernandez, ECLC student.

Estefania got the opportunity to take a picture with the Mayor and have a small chat with him. We thank the Halifax municipality and the Mayor for taking the time of their busy schedule to meet with our ECLC students!



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Graduation Day for our University and College Pathway (UCP) Students

Graduation Day for our University and College Pathway (UCP) Students

My favourite day at the school is graduation day for our hard-working and dedicated UCP students. Last week, we had 21 students in our graduating class – and they all looked very smart in their graduation gowns!

In the summer months, the UCP class is more demanding because we provide a condensed program. Students complete the program in fewer weeks while studying for the same number of hours. This means longer days in the classroom and a more intensive learning experience.  We provide this condensed course so that students can graduate from ECLC in time to attend the orientation session at their chosen university or college. The orientation is a very important time to get to know other new students and to start to develop friendships, which will become a vital support group as students experience the ups and downs of the first year in a post-secondary institution.

On Friday, graduating students were going on to study at one of our partners: NSCAD, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, UPEI, NSCC, and Mount Saint Vincent University. Representatives from these institutions attended the ECLC graduation ceremony and welcomed the new students into their institutions. They also brought gift bags for each student. I love hearing the representatives speak so highly of ECLC to the graduating students and how they reassure them that ECLC students are very well prepared by us for their future studies. The university and college representatives also speak about the warmth they feel when they come into our college and how ECLC staff support the students so well. It makes me very proud of the wonderful team we have here.

Good luck to all the graduates!


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How To (And How Not To) Organize Your Thoughts on the Writing Exam – Part 1 – Task 1

How To (And How Not To) Organize Your Thoughts on the Writing Exam – Part 1 – Task 1

Whether writing the General Training or Academic Exam, an IELTS candidate must first familiarize themselves with the general topics, format and band score descriptors associated with both Task 1 and Task 2. Each task has specific requirements and the more prepared you are to meet the expectations of the writing marker, the better the outcome will be.

Being Strategic when Preparing for the IELTS

Of course, you should practice (with a timer) before the exam to know exactly how long it takes you to write the minimum word requirement: 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2. Set your timer for 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. You may want to practice these separately as it will help you to see the Tasks individually and to use the right approach for each.

On exam day, there should be no surprises, even though you will not have seen the prompts before the exam. For example, the Task 1 prompt for the General Training Test may ask you to write a letter requesting information or assistance from a person or business or even a letter to a friend. It's essential that all parts of the prompt are addressed and paragraphs are easily organized according to the criteria. Let's look at an example.

You play a team sport with some friends. Last week a member of the team had an accident and wasn't able to play with you on the weekend. You decide to write to him in the hospital telling him about the match.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter,

  • tell him which team won
  • describe the conditions on the day
  • say how you felt about the match

Knowing that each point must be addressed and the response must be 150 words, simple math and logic dictates that three, 50-word paragraphs will suffice. One sentence is usually 8 - 10 words, so 5 or 6 sentences on each topic should help you reach your word count. Of course, writing compound and complex sentences will show a greater facility in Grammatical Range and will mean fewer sentences are required.

Expanding Ideas

A quick brainstorm will help you save time and avoid including irrelevant information. For the first point, the response can be expanded to include which players scored the goals, how the goals were scored and the highlights of the game's winning goal. Develop each point of the prompt in a similar way and address each one equally so that your response is balanced. Test-takers should be creative but must stay on topic.

Adding a sentence at the beginning which paraphrases and summarizes the prompt in your own words will enhance the reader's experience. Perhaps you want to express sympathy to the friend about their accident. At the end, a sentence to wish them a speedy recovery in the hospital will provide the writing marker with a clear conclusion to your letter.

Task 1 on the Academic Test requires you to summarize and highlight the relevant information on a chart, graph or diagram of some type. Read the prompt and look at the diagram carefully before writing. For example:

The graph below shows population figures for India and China since the year 2000 and predicted population growth up until 2050.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

The key to Task 1 on the Academic Text is making decisions. What is important to mention about the data? There's not enough time to discuss each and every point, therefore you should choose the main features and focus the response on these.

The Fifth Skill for the IELTS Exam

Effective time management is the 5th skill needed for the IELTS exam. When preparing for IELTS, remember that Task 2 has more value than Task 1. As a result, you may want to begin the Writing exam with Task 2. However, going over the time recommendations for each Task is not a good strategy. The best way to prepare is by timed practice at home where its quiet, or even a coffee shop with some background noise when you are ready.

Getting feedback from a friend, co-worker or classmate will give you with an excellent opportunity to understand the experience of the reader. Ask them: Is it logical? Does it answer all parts of the prompt? How can the response be improved?

Getting feedback can be difficult - so it's very important to state very clearly to yourself and anyone who helps you that you have no emotions about your writing. To be effective, feedback must be as honest as possible.

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Aris in Ottawa!

Aris in Ottawa!

As a recent graduate from Mount Saint Vincent University, I was selected to participate in the Canadian En[TOUR]preneur Experience 2017, which took place in Ottawa. I am one out of 47 young entrepreneurs that were selected out of 650+ candidates and I couldn't be more thankful!

The 47 candidates for this experience got to meet for 2 days with Minister Bardish Chagger, who is the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism. I never expected to have such an important person paddling with the cohort towards Victoria Island, having dinner with us and listening to our entrepreneurial ideas. She is such an inspiration for everyone in this cohort!

Also, during this conference, I had the opportunity to meet with business owners in the tourism sector and decided to present them with some concerns that some international students (such as ECSL students) have while planning travels within Canada, and specifically Nova Scotia. I am very happy to say that I made a new connection that will allow our students to experience one of our national parks, Kejimkujik, by providing buses from Halifax to the park at a very low cost! Normally people need to rent cars to get there and that is a big challenge for underage students. I hope to see this become a reality very soon!


Activity Coordinator

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