Stefan Chen had to learn some English very quickly when he arrived in Canada. That’s because he was selected to play on the Clarkson Secondary School basketball team. As a star player, he needed to communicate with his teammates. Chen’s hobby has helped him make friends. Now he plays basketball at the local community centre after school, where he has expanded his social circle even further.
After just over one year in Canada, Chen can carry on a conversation in English. He says he’s learning English with the help of teachers and because he can practice speaking English with his Canadian friends.
“It’s easier to learn English when you make friends with people who speak English,” says Chen, “International students need to try to make friends with other students and not just stick together. That’s the secret to success.”
At the Peel Academy for International Students at Clarkson Secondary School in Mississauga, students have many opportunities to make friends and practice English. The school offers an orientation program when new students arrive.
International students meet Canadian students who help them with the transition to Canada. Students take a range of courses, some with other international students and some with Canadian students. Clubs and activities, like Chen’s basketball team, offer opportunities to get involved and meet new people.
Chen says students from China will notice a big difference between the Canadian and Chinese education systems. “The school day isn’t as long, so there is time to do other activities. Plus, the courses are based on your interests—they’re fun,” he explains. Chen is currently enrolled in physics, math, art and literacy, and says art is his favourite.
Chen also enjoys the independence he has in Canada. He says his family is supportive of him making his own decisions about school. He’s doing well and working towards his goal of attending either Ryerson University or Sheridan College for interior design. Like all students at Clarkson, Chen knows his teachers at school care about him, want him to succeed and will help him achieve his goals.