Looking for something fun to do that’s close to downtown Vancouver? Check out Granville Island!Granville_Island_Public_Market

There are a lot of little shops to check out that sell things like: jewelry, food, produce, jams, meat, breads and many more! There are also lots of different craft workshops in the island, so you could have the opportunity to watch some artists at work! Why not see if you can watch people make pottery or blow glass? You can also visit lots of art galleries and see art produced by local artists.

Granville Island also has it’s own brewery. You can go and taste their different beers, as well as buy some beer for yourself. If you have a growler, they can also fill it up for a small fee.

You can also watch plays and other shows. They have many different theatres that hold different shows. Vancouver Theatre Sports is a popular comedy show with inexpensive tickets. They often do improv comedy shows, which means every night is different, because they don’t have a script to follow. They get comedy ideas from the audience!

The Kids’ Market is also a fun place to check out. Its filled  with stores like, toy stores and others, and it also has an interesting building.

Granville Island is a great place to practice your English and has things for everyone to do, so why not check it out?

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15853636044_cb76f7db2c_oIt’s not surprising that Canada has its own currency, but there are still some things about Canadian money that may surprise you.

First, it is very colourful. We have bills for $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100, and each is a different colour! This makes it easy to tell how much each bill is, and it’s also beautiful.

As for coins, we have 5ȼ, 10ȼ, 25ȼ, $1, and $2. In the past, we used to have 1ȼ, but we don’t anymore. Now when you pay in cash, the price is rounded to the nearest 5ȼ, but when you pay with card, it’s not so that you don’t have to use 1ȼ coins.

16454450011_ec8afcfbdc_oAn interesting thing about Canadian coins is that they have nicknames! Our $1 coin is called a “loonie,” and our $2 coin is called a “toonie.” Do you know why?

It’s because on one side of the loonie, we have the Queen’s head, and on the other side, there is a bird. This bird is called a loon, so we nicknamed our coin the loonie! A toonie is “two-loonies!” So cool right? If you say loonie and toonie, you’ll sound just like a Canadian!

In Canada, you can use cash or a credit or debit card wherever you go. Some Canadians carry cash all the time, but others don’t, that’s why in restaurants and stores, you can pay with cash or card. There are only a few times where it will be cash only. For example, you need cash/coins to ride the bus, unless you buy a Compass card.

For Canadian money, I recommend having cash, so you can see how beautiful our money is, but if you don’t, it’s completely fine to use a credit card.

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Do you love to read? I sure do, and one of the questions I love answering for my students is ‘what books do you recommend?’ Over my time as a teacher I have come up with a pretty comprehensive book list for English Language Learners.

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One of the things I have noticed is that often English Language Learners will want to read popular books like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, and I have to tell you, stop! Many of the words in these fantasy novels aren’t real words, it’s confusing and you’ll spend half your time with your head in a dictionary, ruining the fun of the story. As a general rule, fantasy is the hardest genre to read. Science-fiction is a little easier because most of the invented words are based on roots you may recognized, but I highly recommend reading Young Adult books in either action/adventure, romance, thriller or something similar. Why Young Adult?

Because the plot lines are tighter, the language is simpler and the pace is faster so even though you’re reading at a slower pace, you won’t get bored of trudging through hundreds of pages of poetic and confusing language.

So without further ado, here are my top five books for three levels

Low Intermediate

General Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
General: Boy by Roald Dahl
Romance/ Comedy: Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Georgia Rennison
Action Adventure: Survival: Alpha Force by Chris Ryan
Horror: The Gone Series by Michael Grant
Intermediate

General: Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin
General: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Romance: Matched by Ally Condie
Action Adventure: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
Horror: The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn

High Intermediate

General: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
General: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Romance: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Action Adventure: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Horror: This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs

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In 2005, Canada legalized gay marriage and we pride ourselvesRainbow_Crosswalk_(10569042683) on being an accepting country. The legalization of gay marriage was another step to being even more accepting. We do not tolerate discrimination against people, especially for their sexual orientation and so it has become normal to see same-sex couples walking together in the street.

Vancouver is also proud of its gay community. For instance, Davie Street in the west end of downtown, is the center of the gay community in Vancouver. There are gay pride flags along the street and the crosswalk at Bute and Davie is painted with a rainbow. There are many gay-friendly bars, pubs and stores along Davie street as well as many delicious restaurants. If you’ve got time, go check them out!

To celebrate the gay community, every summer, we have “Pride Week.” The gay community has experienced (and still does) huge amounts of discrimination, and one of the reasons we hold gay pride is to celebrate the progress we have made. During the week before August, there are a lot of events celebrating the gay community, including free ones. The biggest example of a free event is the parade at the end of Pride week. This year, on Sunday July 31, Vancouver will hold their 38th Annual Gay Pride Parade. The parade starts at 12pm and lasts 3 hours. You will see all sorts of different floats, people in costumes, and everyone will be celebrating all day. It’s one of the biggest parties of the year!

If you want to join in the festivities and help Vancouver celebrate its Pride, check out some of the events!

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Vancouver usually has a fireworks show for Canada Day on July 1st, but there are other fireworks displays that happen in the summer! Usually near the end of July and beginning of August, Vancouver hosts a firework competition called the Celebration of Light. Usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a different team puts on a firework show choreographed to music at English Bay each night. This is a very popular festival with as many as 500,000 people attending. This year, the nights are July 23, 27, and 30.Honda_Celebration_of_Light_-_Canada_Aug_1st,_2015_(20211593382)

Each night, the fireworks show starts right at 10pm and lasts for about 25 minutes in sun or rain! But before the show starts,
there is a lot to do on the beach. The radio station LG104.3FM hosts events at English Bay, which include ShoreFest, free concerts right on the beach, and the Sunset Beach Festival, more free concerts and giveaways at Sunset Beach. On top of having lots of free stuff to do, there are always a lot of food carts at English Bay with delicious food to try! And there will be vendors giving away free things at these events, so it is worth checking out!

The beach at English Bay starts to fill up really quickly in the afternoon with people reserving the best spots to watch the fireworks. Its best to get there early to make sure you have a good spot. Don’t forget to bring a blanket, sunscreen and/or an umbrella; the show happens even if its raining! It’s also a good idea to bring a beach ball or something else to do on the beach. Card games are fun too! If you don’t want to go to English Bay, you can also watch them at Vanier Park, Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach, and Kitsilano Beach.

7722575904_c1ce4d34fb_bThis year, teams from the Netherlands, Australia and the United States are competing! Its very special this year because the team from the US is actually Disney! This promises to be a good show! Since the fireworks are set to music, the radio station usually plays music on its speakers so you can hear it while you watch, but if you don’t get a seat close to the speakers, its a good idea to bring your own radio.

The Celebration of Light is a really fun fireworks festival in Vancouver! It’s a good opportunity to see beautiful fireworks shows, and you get the chance to sit in the sun and enjoy the view at English Bay! Be sure to go see it!

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Another free event this summer! Saturday July 9th, in Kitsilano, there’s a free street party that will have free music, food trucks and more!

Khatsahlano is a street festival celebrating local artists! Along with many musical performances, there will also be market stalls for local artisans to sell their products, as well as street performances. There will be lots of things to see and do.

The celebrations starts at 11am until 9pm on July 9th on West 4th Avenue between Burrard and MacDonald.

Go check it out for some free fun on the weekend!

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With Canada Day  on July 1st, let’s learn more about Canada! It’s important to know that Canada is a multicultural society.

This means that Canadians are people that come from different places. You will find a lot of people who are from countries like China, India, Brazil, Japan, France, and the Philippines living in Canada that are Canadians. When someone moves to Canada, they do not have to give up their cultures for Canadian culture. Many Canadians have parents that were not born in Canada, or were not born in Canada themselves. Multiculturalism makes it easier for new Canadians to adapt to their life in Canada and allows others to experience different cultures than their own. Because we have so many different people living together, we have a large variety of food/restaurants, and different festivals all year. It’s never boring in Vancouver!

FoodMillennium_Gate,_Vancouver's_Chinatown_National_Historic_Site_of_Canada,_WLM2012

In Vancouver, you can get almost any type of food you want. There are so many different restaurants, so you can always find something new! The best part is that often, the restaurants are run by people from that country, so you get the best food, and you may learn some new words! Also, throughout Vancouver, there are many different grocery stores you can visit that will have food from all over the world. If you ever miss a food from your home country, there may be a place to buy it somewhere here in Canada!

Canada's_fireworks_at_the_2013_Celebration_of_Light_in_Vancouver,_BCFestivals

In Vancouver, throughout the year, there are many different festivals that take place around the city. Everyone is welcome and it is a great way to get out and have some fun! For example, in February, there is a big parade for Chinese New Year, and in April, there’s Vaisakhi, an Indian spring festival, as well as a Cherry Blossom Festival. In May, there’s the Victoria Day long weekend, and July 1st is Canada Day! Throughout the summer we have fireworks and other great festivals. These are just some examples! Be sure to check them out!

It can be shocking to come to Canada and see all kinds of faces, but our differences are what makes us Canadian. We hope you feel welcome and enjoy your time in Canada 🙂

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Whistler is famous for its winter sports and beautiful snow covered slopes. However, it can be a wonderful place to visit in the summertime too!

There’s something for everyone to do, including hiking, golfing, zip-lining, shopping, swimming and bear watching. You can also ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and see how beautiful Whistler is in the summer months.Aerial_View_Bike_Park

If you book a tour with ClubEsl, you’ll get to enjoy the scenery along the Sea to Sky Highway and stop at Shannon Falls and the Tantalus View Point.

Shannon Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in BC and when you go, you can take a short hike up to the view point and get a good look at the falls.

Whistler is beautiful all year-round, so why not take the opportunity and go see it this summer? I promise you’ll have a great time!

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translinklogoWe have plenty of transportation options here in Vancouver. There are lot of busses and the Skytrain to get you where you need to go. Here is what to expect when you ride the bus, Skytrain or Seabus.

Depending on where you are, busses come at different times and it is important to know when to catch the bus. You can find bus schedules and other information at: http://www.translink.ca/

This is the website for all of Vancouver’s transportation. It can tell you where to catch a bus, or if there is a major delay.

Riding the Bus or SkyTrain

If you ride the bus or Skytrain, you will need a ticket. We have a re-loadable card called the Compass card, and you use it to tap in and out of the Skytrain, or onto the bus. You can buy Compass cards at any Sktrain stations, or at any store that sells translink tickets, like convenience stores. If you don’t have a Compass card, you can still ride public transit, but you will need to buy a ticket. On the bus, you must insert the correct change (cash) as you get on the bus. A paper transfer will be printed for you.

Vancouver_TransitUnfortunately, you cannot use that paper ticket on the Skytrain, so you must buy another ticket at the ticket machine at the station. You can buy one use tickets at the Skytrain if you don’t want a Compass card. The ticket you buy at the Skytrain station can be used on the train or on a bus as many times as you want for 90mins.

The Skytrain has different zones, and you pay depending on where you are and where you’re going. If you travel anywhere in one zone or on any bus, you pay $2.75. If you’re on the train and you travel into a different zone, you must pay different amounts depending on how many zones you travel to, so be careful and make sure you buy the correct ticket. There are signs at every station and workers that can help you.

 Usually, Vancouver’s busses are on time, but it is still important to get to your bus stop early. You can never be quite sure when your bus will come because they are not always on time. It is also not unusual for busses to be 3-10 minutes late. Despite this, public transportation is actually quite reliable in Vancouver. The Skytrain usually runs every 5-7 minutes, so if you miss your first train, the next one will soon follow.

What to Expect on the Bus

On Vancouver transportation, there are some things you should expect that may be different from your home country. For example, you can eat, talk on your phone and even bring a bike! When you do these things, it is important to be polite to the people around you.

Make sure your food is not too messy. You do not want to spill food everywhere. Also make sure it is not too smelly. It can bother other passengers.

When talking on the phone, try to speak quietly. Do not yell into your phone. Because it can be hard to hear the person you are talking to, it is best to use your phone before you get on the bus, or after you get off. maxresdefault

Also, people are allowed to bring strollers or bikes onto public transit. Busses have bike racks on the front. So if you want to take your bike on the bus, you first put your bike on the rack, then get on the bus and pay your fare. There is no extra cost.

You can also bring your bike on with you on the Skytrain, but not during rush hour. On Mondays to Fridays, between 7am to 9am heading west, and 4pm to 6pm heading east, you cannot bring your bike on the Skytrain because it is too crowded. On the weekends, you can bring a bike with you at any time. Perfect for heading downtown to Stanley Park. 🙂

Taking public transportation in Vancouver is usually very safe, but it is best to be careful. If you ever feel threatened by another person while on the bus or skytrain, talk to a transit staff member. They will be able to help you.

Public transportation like busses, Skytrain or Seabus are great ways to see the city of Vancouver and are quite reliable. How does it compare to the transportation at home?

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maxresdefault (2)Canada is known for its stunning natural landscapes and British Columbia has its fair share of these beautiful sights. If you want to get out and see just how beautiful Canada is, I suggest visiting the Rocky Mountains!

Not only are the Rocky Mountains some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, but they’re easy to get to from Vancouver!

There are a few different companies you can go on tours with to see the Rocky Mountains, including clubesl and West Trek. These tours will allow you to fully enjoy the Rocky Mountains in a safe way! The tours are usually 4 days, which is the perfect amount of time to see this beautiful area!

You get a chance to see smaller cities like Kamloops, Banff, and Kelowna, and see what life is like in these smaller cities. Besides the mountains, you get to see Lake Louise and the Okanagan region on your journey as well!

Why not experience the full beauty of British Columbia for a few days! There are plenty of tours in the summer, so see the pamphlets in the student lounge, or the reception for more information!

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