What’s Your Salary?

By Hina

There’s this couple I’ve known for many years. The wife graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and had taught English for many years. The husband, on the other hand, was a doctor. Having research experience abroad and about 30 years of experience on the field, he had high credentials and did well, although he was sometimes a little socially awkward.

I was talking on the phone the other day to the wife, who was complaining about the lack of her husband’s English ability. “I was so ashamed when we went out for dinner with that doctor from Taiwan. All he could ask in his bad pronunciation was how much [the Taiwanese doctor] earned and what he did in his free time.” “He asked how much he earned?” “Yes, and that was all he could ask.” “Oh… Well, that’s too bad.” “I was mortified. I can never go out with him!”

…everyone, meet my wonderful parents.

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In Multicultural and Multilingual Classrooms, What Should I/We Do?


ESL: English as a second language

EFL: English as a foreign language

Having been studying at McGill for more than one year, I really enjoy my learning and daily life in Montreal. However, considering my classmates and friends are from different cultural backgrounds, I find that communicating with them is not easy. In particular, I notice that interactions related to cultural issues and sensitive topics can be even more difficult.

  1. Is That My Own Culture? I Fail to Introduce it to My Friends!

I believe that my English proficiency supports my academic learning and some simple daily communications in Montreal. However, introducing Chinese culture to my non-Chinese speakers in English can be very challenging. For example, last semester, we decided to visit Chinatown, preparing our posting assignment. When I tried to illustrate Xian (鲜), one of the Chinese special flavors to my Canadian classmates, I failed to explain it because there is no equivalent word in English. I felt even more stupid when I attempted to elaborate on it by telling them how this flavor could be tasted in some soups. Considering my poor explanation, even I would never try these soups. Furthermore, when I turned to my Chinese students for help, they also found this term really difficult to be clarified. That is why it is really embarrassing when my foreign friends want to learn some Chinese culture but I am not capable of explaining it clearly in a language (i.e., English) that they are able to understand.

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Let’s Go Change Some Lives!


This summer, I worked for seven weeks with a company called LbE Japan. This company works with the Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) and Guy Healy Japan to provide intensive 3-day English summer camps for students. By inviting about 40 university students from America, they aim to give Japanese students the experience of living in America. The students got the ultimate ‘American’ experience – complete with American carnivals, dance parties, and campfire. By the end of August, we had undergone 30 USA Summer Camp sessions, and had had over 1000 attendees. “Let’s go change some lives!” was our unofficial motto – we were ready to help the kids learn to love English.

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Is Montreal Really Embracing Immigrants and Their Cultures?


Last week, we talked about language, space and the influence of globalization on languages. And we had discussions and activities in terms of dealing with the immigrant children depressed by French learning in Montreal and their culture loss. I can’t help asking myself this question: Is Montreal really embracing immigrants and their cultures?

When I first came to Montreal last August, I was surprised by its multilingual environments. I can hear people speaking various languages in the street: French, English, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and others. People of different complexions greet each other at schools and workplaces. I thought that this city is embracing immigrants and welcoming people from all over the world. However, after a year, I felt that I am uncovering its veil gradually and there is a known secret, in which we are all a part of that: Montreal is not as friendly as it’s tagged.

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Factors That Influence Language Acquisition

By Jia Pu

Inspired by one of the class discussions, I’d like to share my first post with you about the factors that influence my acquisition of a foreign language. Before that, I’ll briefly introduce my language biography.

I was born in southeast China, with Mandarin my first language. As the official language, Mandarin is taught by teachers since I entered kindergarten. But in fact, I speak Chengdu dialect more often, especially in my daily life because both my parents are local Chengdunese and they have a deep affection for our dialect. Then later, when I was in elementary school, English became a compulsory course from grade 3. Ever since then, English has always been an important part in my life because under the influence of globalization, Chinese government is making increasingly more efforts to popularize English nationwide.

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Social and cultural factors effects on language learning

Faten Alzaid

Hello everyone. It is nice to share ideas in this blog area. Hence, I would like to share with you and write my first comment.

I am originally from Saudi Arabia. I speak three languages; Arabic, English and a little bit of French. Arabic is my first language and most of my educational life was in Arabic too. Being immerse with Arabic all the time, I always have a desire to teach a new and different language than Arabic. Hence, I decided to specialized in the English language teaching field in my bachelor degree. Since then, English became my favorite and second language. Honestly, I have never been fluent in English and satisfied until I arrived to Montreal four years ago and started learning English language from the zero again. The reason behind that was due to the fact that when I was at my hometown, I was not able to match the language with its cultural content and applied it out side the classroom. I also never practiced speaking in English out side academic contexts due to two reasons; 1) I was not confidant of my language ability at that time 2) there were not enough daily contexts to practice in real life, out side the classroom.

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Native vs non-native teachers: Accents and culture

Simon Desmarais – Blog post 1

Over the course of my life, I have devoted a lot of time to learn languages. I come from a small town in Québec, so my first language is French, but since about 2009 I have been living my life mainly in English (as a result of frequent traveling and studying at McGill). I have also spent some time learning Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Even though by linguistic definition I am a L2 speaker of English, I am now at a point where I consider myself even more than near-native: I have a slight accent, but I possess the same language intuition as native speakers.

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