Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday image is of one of our favourite EC Montreal activities; the traffic light party.  We host these parties several times a year.  It is a simple activity to put together and it is an excellent ice breaker.  It is a perfect way to get to know your classmates.  In addition to creating very effective small talk, students have an opportunity to practice their language skills, make friends and sometimes even make a love match! The idea of the traffic light party is to discuss your relationship status.  The drink colour you choose identifies whether you are single and looking, in a relationship or if the situation is complicated. If you choose the green drink, it means you are available and ready to “go”. You are sending the message that you are single and interested in meeting someone.  If you choose the red drink, it tells everyone to “stop”!  You are in a relationship and taken.  If you choose the yellow drink, it means “slow down”!  You are letting everyone know that it is complicated.  Maybe you are single but not looking for a relationship or it could mean that you are in a relationship but you are still looking because you are not happy.  The yellow drinkers always have the most entertaining things to say. It is hilarious for the EC Montreal staff who are pouring the drinks.  We act as the “bartenders” and students end up sharing their problems or relationship woes with us.  It is also funny to see students change their drink colours when they come up for seconds.  They decide to go from yellow to green or from red to yellow after making new acquaintances. Many entertainment events host these type of outings, however, instead of serving different coloured drinks, they give … Read more

Quebec’s Back to School Plan Revealed

Today, the Quebec government revealed its back to school plan.  EC Montreal will be applying some of these safety measures to our reopening, so we are on the same page of the recommended guidelines. The first thing thing that was discussed was mask wearing.  They are making masks mandatory for all children who are 10 years old and older in the classroom and in all common areas. The second guideline is for students to remain in bubbles at all times.  All students will remain in their own class at all times with their classmates. The classes will also have staggered break times to avoid congestion in the hallways and school yard.  Online classes will remain available to vulnerable students or students with vulnerable parents. Schools will have an information campaign prior to the start of the school year with information on the safety guidelines.  Parents will be notified immediately if there is a declared test from the school or from the classroom.  The communication will include a self-care guide.  The most important phone number students and parents will need is 1-877-644-4545.  This is the number you call if you suspect you have the virus or if you need instructions on what to do if you have come in contact with the virus. If for any reason, the school or class is required to shut down immediately because of a covid-19 outbreak, online classes will resume within a 24-hour time period.  We are relying on technology to help us get through any temporary school closures. EC Montreal will be holding training sessions with our students on Microsoft Teams before our August 31 start date. We will be going over all of our safety measures including screening, social distancing and all the personal protection installations made at the center. Any students who … Read more

Recipe of the Week!

There is a lot of talk this week about back to school.  The Quebec government has rolled out the back to school plan today.  They have announced that we are going back in September and there are a few safety measures in place.  We are thrilled to hear that we have been given the green light to return.  With all the back to school commercials on television, we are starting to think about the fall, even though we are still right in the middle of summer. I am thinking about busy school nights and lunch preparation for my family.  Preparing our favourite meals will be key in getting the kids to eat their lunches.  As our time will be limited, I am also thinking about one pot meals that can last several days and can be easily taken for lunch. My family loves chilli!  A beautiful mix of vegetables, ground meat and beans in a delicious tomato sauce.  They love to sprinkle cheddar cheese over top and crushed tortilla chips.  We don’t waste a drop of this delicious meal.  Even when there is a little left, we pour it over tortilla chips and cover it with cheese and jalapeno peppers for an indulgent treat that we love, nachos! So, in honour of back to school prep and the upcoming fall season, I am delighted to share my version of Chile con carne.  For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients: 1 pound of lean ground beef 1 large white onion 1 garlic clove 2 bell green peppers 6 fresh jalapeno peppers 2 large cans of red kidney beans 1 litre of chicken stock 2 large cans of tomato sauce 2 tablespoons of tomato paste 3 tablespoons of olive oil 1 pouch of chilli flavoured spice (you can replace with … Read more

Italian Week Starts Today!

Every August, Montreal’s Italian community celebrates Italian Week!  There are festivities all over the city, especially in Little Italy and Saint Leonard.  The festival celebrates everything Italian!  They showcase Italian cuisine, fashion, music, theatre, cars and its very rich culture.  Montreal has a very active and thriving Italian community.  They hold on very tight to tradition and are so proud of their culture and how far they have come from some very humble beginnings. Montreal’s Italian population is very large.  It is the second largest ethnic population after the Irish.  Many of Montreal’s Italians immigrated in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  This large wave of immigrants came to the new world for a better life for their families.  My grandparents and parents were among this wave of Italian immigrants.  They worked hard, sacrificed a lot, learned two new languages and became a very important part of Montreal’s history.  My father worked in construction all his life.  He came here when he was eighteen years old from Italy, via Germany where he worked as a welder.  He immigrated to Canada as a skilled worker and worked for the same construction company until he retired.  Anytime I am in a car with my dad, he is so proud to point out all the buildings, highways and structures he helped build. Italians are known to be very hard workers.  There are so many success stories from Italian Montrealers.  The famous jeans company Parasucco, for example, is such an inspiring story.  The founder of the jeans company came to Canada with fifty dollars in his pocket.  He began dying jeans in his bathtub and now his family owns a very successful franchise that employs thousands of people. Montreal is made up of many other successful Italians from many different industries.  Italian week places a spotlight … Read more

Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday image is of EC Montreal’s annul corn festival.  August is corn season in the province of Quebec.  Quebec has many local farms located close to the city center, a short 30 minute drive.  Corn grows really well in Quebec and when you drive from one town to another, you are surrounded by the most beautiful corn fields.  Quebec corn is different from corn you are used to eating.  It has white and yellow kernels and the whiter the corn, the sweeter it is! Every August our center director, Elisa, takes a drive to a local farm to purchase corn for our annual corn festival.  There is something very special about bringing freshly picked produce to the table.  The corn festival consists of a corn roast as well as tables and tables of corn products like chips, popcorn and Elisa’s delicious corn salad, which is made from corn, red bell peppers, green onion, cilantro and lime juice.  It is such a fresh and yummy treat! EC Montreal decorates the tables in the student lounge with corn husks and baskets of corn goodness. These types of activities really bring our students together, giving them an opportunity to interact with one another, practice their language skills and have fun.  Giving our students a taste of Montreal is really important to us.  We want them to experience all the local flavors and traditional dishes.  We also like to give students information on local farms they can visit during their stay.  It is nice to escape the busy city and enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside.  One of our favourite farms is Quinn Farms which is located in the West Island of Montreal and is accessible by public transportation.  Depending on the season, you can pick your own produce like berries, … Read more

Recipe of the Week!

This week’s recipe is three, three ingredient cookies to start the week.  Showers are in the forecast this week, so spending time outdoors will be impossible.  How can we enjoy the indoors as much as possible while we are in a lock down?  We can get through the gloomy weather by baking and enjoying sweet, comforting treats. I love to bake cookies.  I bake them mostly during the holiday season and I give them away as gifts in beautifully decorated boxes.  I also love to bake for EC Montreal’s different charity bake sales. You don’t always need a purpose to bake.  You can simply do it as an activity.  This week, I will share three of the easiest cookie recipes I know.  Two of them are no-bake as well!  All three recipes only require three ingredients to make as well!  You have no excuse not to try these! The first cookie recipe is the peanut butter kiss cookie.  For this recipe you will need: 1 cup of peanut butter 1 cup of brown sugar 1 egg chocolate kisses Combine the peanut butter, brown sugar and egg together and mix until smooth.  Form into small balls and place on a baking sheet.  Press one chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie.  Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and leave on sheet until cool.  This will ensure the cookies keep their form.  Enjoy! The second recipe is for chocolate covered marshmallows.  For this recipe you will need: 24 marshmallows 1 package of milk chocolate chips 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil sprinkles (optional) Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl with the vegetable oil.  Stir the chips to ensure all the chips are well coated with the oil.  Place in the microwave … Read more

July Virtual Teachers of the Month!

EC Montreal announced its winning virtual teacher for the month of July today!  We are thrilled to report that Olga is the English teacher of the month and Shahrzad won for French!  We are thrilled for both of them!  This is not the first win for either of them.  They have both won several times since we moved all our lessons over to EC Virtual. Olga and Shahrzad have both stepped up during this crisis.  Olga has been giving of her free time to offer support to her students.  She has been a shoulder for them to lean on and has really gone above and beyond to ensure her students remain motivated and engaged.  Shahrzad has also put out all the stops during the pandemic.  She delivered a free French for Beginners workshop to all the English virtual students in North America to help increase visibility for our French programmes in Montreal.  Her workshop was so well received that students have been asking for more!  Shahrzad also takes the time to send us videos from her online lessons as well as summaries of what the students are working on in class, so we can share all these success stories on social media. It is therefore no surprise that these two teachers received the most wins for July’s teacher of the month campaign! We are proud of our entire team of teachers at EC Montreal!  They have truly been our heroes during this difficult time.  August will be the last month that we will be working remotely.  We are going back to our school on August 31!  We can’t wait to welcome our team of teachers and students back!  We have missed our EC Montreal family so much! Until then, we look forward to teaching you English or French online on … Read more