Category Archives: Did you know?

Fun facts about Canada that will be useful for applicants to know and learning during the process. Intriguing easily repeatable knowledge during conversation.

International Schools Teach the World in Canada

Which one is true?

1) International private schools in Canada teach the children of foreign professionals temporarily posted here.

2) International private schools teach the children of Canadian parents looking for more of a globally conscious education.

3) International private schools attract children from outside Canada specifically to attend international Canadian schools.

It turns out all are true.

Canadian private schools that offer international curricula are as varied as the students and their motivations for attending.

“I don’t think I would say that there’s any one type of family that sends their kids to TFS,” said Khalil Mair, a Grade 12 student at the Toronto French School. “Just with the people I know, there’s an insane amount of diversity.”

Mr. Mair grew up in Toronto. His father is Jamaican and his mother has an Indian background and is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The main draw of the school was not just to learn French, but to study the French national curriculum, which TFS also includes in its classwork, along with the Ontario curriculum and International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework.

“The French curriculum stresses a lot more the humanities and looking at the world through the lens of cultural changes, not necessarily political ones,” Mr. Mair said.

The added French national classwork includes a French accreditation process for the school and visits by French education inspectors, said Josep Gonzalez-Medina, TFS’s new head of the school. In Grade 9, students take the Brevet exams (the same as in France) to receive the Diplôme National du Brevet des Collèges, he noted.

It’s a deeper inclusion of international coursework than, say, a typical French immersion program. And that is the difference international private schools are emphasizing.

At the German International School Toronto, there is a mix of Ontario and German curriculums. “The Canadian system is largely a content, goal-oriented system, whereas the German system certainly has its goals, but it’s process-oriented. It teaches a child how to do something within a big paradigm,” said the school’s vice-principal, Manfred von Vulte.

In language classes, for instance, the focus is less on reaching the goal of a student writing a full paragraph by a certain age. It is instead on the process of planning and ordering thoughts to come up with a piece of writing.

For a German child coming to Canada and attending a Canadian school for a few years, it can be difficult to reintegrate into the German system, given the differences. So it helps to have both.

And because of its small size, the German International School Toronto only extends to Grade 8 for students who will integrate into the Canadian school system, or up to Grade 10 for students who continue solely on the German educational track and plan to attend a school in Germany or another German school abroad.

It is an example of how much international private schools can vary from traditional Canadian schooling.

Another different kind of international school is Pearson College UWC in Victoria, a senior secondary program that generally takes students who would be entering Grade 12. The program is two years (effectively Grade 12 and Grade 13 or gap year), and the students are typically between 16 and 19 years old. A quarter of the students are Canadians, but the rest come from 100 different countries.

Pearson is one of 15 United World Colleges and one of only two in North America. The organization was among the first in the world to institute the International Baccalaureate, now commonly offered at many schools.

“We are a combination of the IB and experiential learning, including outdoor education, which was very much a part of the philosophy of [German educator] Kurt Hahn, who founded the United World College movement,” said Désirée McGraw, the president of Pearson. The aim is for the schools to be a force in uniting people.

In practice, that means students work closely together, with an emphasis on being able to communicate their cultural views and understand others. They may not always agree with each other, but the onus is on communication.

“It’s a very forward-looking, idealistic mission,” Ms. McGraw said. Along with the academic work, there is a co-curriculum dubbed CAS (creativity, action, service) in which students can do community service, outdoor activities and pursue the arts.

Students are chosen through national committees around the world, and the one-tenth who are accepted from many thousands of applicants get dispersed throughout the 15 United World Colleges, Ms. McGraw said. In Canada, there are committees in each province and territory to vet candidates.

“There is a sense that we are part of an international community with international connections ,” Mr. Gonzalez-Medina said.

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Education in Canada

Kid_studying

Over the last few weeks millions of students around the world have received GCSE O-Level and A-Level results. With this highly sought-after credential in hand, a large number of ambitious students are seeking to continue on to higher education, with many looking abroad for the best opportunities. Canada, as ever, presents some unique advantages. For individuals interested in studying in Canada in 2016, the big question is how to best leverage their O- or A-Level results for entry into a quality Canadian college or university.

Below we have some great considerations when opting for a Canadian International education;

Things to Remember:

  1. Many universities and nearly all public colleges have January intakes. The deadlines begin as early as the end of September, 2015, so all candidates should begin the research and discovery process immediately.
  2. International students will have wait for acceptance letters arrive before applying for a study permit, which can take considerable processing time (depending on the visa office).
  3. In addition to general admissions requirements, each faculty (Science, Arts, Business, for example) will have its own specific entrance averages and on occasion, supplemental requirements, such as essays or an interview.
  4. For families investing in private A-Level boarding school education in their home countries, it may be more sensible financially to fast-track an entry to Canadian post-secondary through one of a number of high school completion programs.
  5. Language Proficiency:  GCSE O-Level English (or GCSE English Language B) is commonly used to meet the English language requirement.
  6. Always submit certified true copies when perfecting your application. However, many schools will accept PDF scans for the basis of initial acceptance, so students should start with those.
  7. Canada presents some unique post-graduation advantages over other developed countries, including the three-year post-graduation open work permit and options for permanent immigration.
  8. Each institution may chose to arbitrate foreign credentials differently. Schools will be the final arbiter of what’s accepted for credit in Canada.
  9. Within Canada there are regional differences in the delivery of education. Notably, Quebec uses its own Senior Secondary and College/Pre-University system, while each of the other provinces has slight variations on the delivery of senior secondary coursework.
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Canada; The Worlds Nicest Place.

Every August my family embarks on that great American ritual: the road trip. And we always head north. Canada may not be the most exotic of destinations, but sometimes, exotic is overrated. Canada tempts us with familiarity, blissfully cool weather and, most of all, a deep reservoir of niceness.

We experience Canadian nice as soon as we reach customs. The US border guards are gruff and all business. The Canadians, by contrast, are unfailingly polite, even as they grill us about the number of wine bottles we’re bringing into the country. One year, we had failed to notice that our 9-year-old daughter’s passport had expired. They, nicely, let us enter anyway. The niceness continues for our entire trip, as we encounter nice waiters, nice hotel clerks, nice strangers.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police celebrating Canada Day. (Credit: George Rose/Getty)

Canadian niceness is pure, and untainted by the passive-aggressive undertones found in American niceness (have a good day, or else!). It’s also abundant. Canada is to niceness as Saudi Arabia is to oil. It’s awash in the stuff, and it’s about time, I say, the rest of the world imported some. (France, Russia and the UK topped one recent list of rude countriesas perceived by travellers.) Researchers have yet to analyse Canadian niceness empirically, but studies have found that Canadians, perhaps in an effort not to offend, use an overabundance of “hedge words”, such as “could be” and “not bad”. Then there is the most coveted of Canadian words:  “sorry”. Canadians will apologize for anything and to anything.

“I’ve apologized to a tree that I walked into,” confessed Michael Valpy, a journalist and author, noting that many of his fellow citizens have done the same.

Scenic Vancouver, Canada. (Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty)

Traffic in Toronto and Montreal may be awful, but “you almost never hear a horn, even in the most frustrating traffic jams”, said Jeffrey Dvorkin, a Canadian journalism professor at the University of Toronto. Horn-honking is regarded as unnecessarily aggressive. And murder rates in Canada are low, he said, partly because “it’s quite rude to murder someone”.

The Canadian press is rife with examples of niceness in action. For instance, the National Post reported that in Edmonton, a law student, Derek Murray, left his headlights on all day. When he returned to his car, he found the battery drained and a note on his windshield. “I noticed you left your lights on,” it read. “The battery will probably not have enough charge to start your vehicle. I left a blue extension cord on the fence and … a battery charger beside the fence in the cardboard box.” The note went on to explain exactly how to jump-start the vehicle. “Good luck,” it added. In Ontario, a thief returned the goods he or she stole with $50 attached to a letter of apology. “I can’t put it into words how sorry I am,” the thief explained. “Please find it in your hearts to forgive the stranger who harmed you.”

Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers honoured in Parliament in October 2014. (Credit: Jason Ransom/PMO/Getty)

Canadians aren’t only polite; they’re incredibly humble too, and reluctant to take credit for even plainly heroic acts. When a gunman attacked the Canadian parliament building in October 2014, Kevin Vickers, Canada’s sergeant-at-arms, responded quickly and calmly by shooting the assailant with the handgun he keeps in his office.And while Vickers was glorified in the Canadian media, it was his humility, not his marksmanship or bravado, that was celebrated. (Canadians take great pride in their humility, an oxymoron that bothers no one.)

What explains this blizzard of humility and politeness? Taras Grescoe, a Montreal-based writer, believes Canadian niceness is born of necessity. “We’re a small group of people, spread across the second-largest national territory in the world,” he said. “We’ve always known that, in order to survive – or just stay sane – we had to watch out for one another. The old lady down the street, the teenager at the bus stop who forgot to bring a scarf when it’s 5 below. Hence our general willingness to proffer assistance rather than aggression.”

Another explanation for Canadian niceness stems from the “fragment theory”. First posited by the US scholar Louis Hartz, the theory states that colonial societies such as the United States and Canada began as “fragments” of the European nations they were escaping from. These new nations remain, in effect, frozen in time. Thus, Canada retains a conservative, Tory streak – that is, with a more deferential, “nicer” nature than the one embraced by the feisty US founding fathers.

Not everyone believes this is a good thing. Valpy sees Canadian niceness as a defence mechanism, one that “stems from inferiority and an awkward awareness that our clothes don’t fit properly and we always have bad haircuts and really don’t do anything great.”

Canadian athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics. (Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty)

Also, in the land of nice, problems sometimes fester because everyone is too nice to say anything. Manjushree Thapa, a writer who recently moved to Canada from Nepal, recalls sitting in a movie theatre when the screen grew dimmer and dimmer as the projection bulb slowly burned out. The screen was almost black but no one spoke up. Exasperated, she finally prodded her Canadian partner to alert the management, which he did, reluctantly. “Niceness can silence people here,” she said.

Overall, though, she’ll take nice any day. And so will I. Life is hard enough, with plenty of jagged edges and pointy bits. Why not coat it with a glaze of politeness and humility? Politeness, at its best, is a way of honouring others, especially strangers. Politeness is the lubricant that makes social interactions run smoothly and reduces the risk of conflagrations. The world, I think, would be a better place if we were all a bit more Canadian.

Fortunately, Canadian niceness is contagious. On my annual northern migration, I find myself slowing down, saying “thank you” and “please” more often that I usually do. Maybe I go too far and cross the line from polite to unctuous. If I do, I can only say, in true Canadian fashion, I’m sorry.

Eric Weiner is a recovering malcontent and philosophical traveler. He is the author of, among other books, The Geography of Bliss and the forthcoming The Geography of Genius. Follow him on Twitter.

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Canada Internationalization

AUCC-institutionalpriorities

A significant majority of Canadian universities – 82% – now place internationalization among their top five strategic priorities, says a new survey of Canada’s degree-granting institutions. This represents a 5% increase over a previous survey in 2006, and leads a broad set of findings that all clearly point to an increasing emphasis on international programmes and services among the country’s higher education institutions.

When asked to identify their main reasons for prioritising internationalisation, 53% of Canadian universities say that “preparing internationally knowledgeable and interculturally competent graduates” is their top motivation. The other most-cited reasons are “building strategic alliances and partnerships with key institutions abroad, promoting an internationalised campus, increasing the university’s global profile, and generating revenue.”

The survey was carried out by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) in May 2014 and generated an 80% response rate among the 97 universities and degree-granting colleges within the AUCC membership. AUCC released its detailed findings in December 2014.

“Not since our last survey in 2006 has there been such a comprehensive view of AUCC member institutions’ engagement with the world beyond our borders,” said Paul Davidson, AUCC’s president and CEO. “The responding institutions together represent more than 85% of all Canadian university students and perform roughly 92% of the university research funded by federal research granting agencies.”

The big picture

As the following chart reflects, boosting student mobility – both inbound and outbound – remains the top priority of Canadian institutions. A full 45% of respondents indicated that undergraduate recruitment was their top priority, and a further 7% noted graduate recruitment as their top international goal. While “expanding outbound mobility” was noted as the top priority by only 4% of respondents, a notable 74% of responding institutions also cited it as a top-five priority.

Building international partnerships, whether for joint programmes, collaborative research, or otherwise, is the second broad priority focus of many Canadian institutions. The preceding chart shows a number of different categories of collaborative initiative that, in combination, make up the top priority for 37% of survey respondents.

Internationalisation priorities of Canadian higher education institutions, 2014. Source: AUCC

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Moving Forward

The Canada International Student Strategy is aiming to double its current international student population by 2022

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Did you know?

In 1962, Pincher Creek, Alberta experienced the fastest, biggest temperature change ever recorded in Canada as a result of a Chinook (a warm, dry wind that comes off the Rocky Mountains). The temperature rose from -19C to 22C in just one hour!

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Did you know?

Canada is home to the longest street in the world. Yonge Street in Ontario starts at Lake Ontario, and runs north through Ontario to the Minnesota border, a distance of almost 2000 kilometres

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Did you know?

Canada’s official languages may be French and English, but our geese have their own language: scientists believe that Canada geese have as many as 13 different calls for everything from greetings and warnings to happiness. #Canada #factoftheday

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