Monthly Archives: January 2015

Meeting Canadian Friends

Often, my students have asked me about where they can go to meet Canadians. They mention that trying to meet people at nightclubs, movies, or tourist attractions is rarely successful. There aren’t shops where you can select a friend, so where can people meet?

I’m hardly a social psychologist, but I have heard some advice that I can pass on.
– Look for a sport, group, social hobby or activity that you enjoy and can do in Vancouver. Try skiing, swordfighting, an art group, or a book club, for example.
– Take a class that doesn’t focus on English. How about cooking, painting, dance, or acting?
– Vancouver has people who believe many different things. Perhaps a group where you can discuss philosophy, religions, or spiritualism could be a good place to meet people who share or challenge your existing beliefs.
– Volunteering can also be social. Vancouver has many festivals that need planning, charities that need service, environmental action organizations that need help, or political campaigns that need assistance. (This is especially good. You can add volunteering to your resumé to show that you are familiar with Canadian businesses.) Find an organization that you would like to contribute to and apply with them.

Good luck and have fun!


Actual Job Interview Questions

I received a page of questions that a popular restaurant chain uses in its hiring procedures, and I thought I’d share a few of the most interesting ones here.

The page is quite complete; it gives example questions and answers for each of the areas that the company is interested in. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no area for education or work experience. All of the questions deal with work-related situations, personality, and communication skills.

Work skills:
-Tell me about a time when you could not help a customer.
– When multitasking, how do you decide on the order of your tasks?
– How did you get along with your last coworkers?
– Describe a difficult situation at work and what you did to resolve it.
– How did you solve personality problems at work?

Personality attributes:
– Why do you want to work at [name of restaurant]?
– Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?
– How have you improved yourself in the last six months/year/two years?
– What makes a good leader a good leader?
– What did you do when you had to make a difficult decision at work?

– How do you learn what a customer wants?
– What did you do when you saw a coworker or manager doing something wrong?
– If a customer becomes angry, how do you calm them down?
– How did you help a colleague improve their work?
– How do you deal with negative evaluations, assessments, or feedback at work?

I like these questions. They really give the candidate an interesting way to explain their connections to the job, their own ideas, and their abilities. Add them to your collections of practice questions to look at your skills from a new perspective.

Saving time by wasting it…

Often, people may choose to ignore instructions that seem complex or counter-intuitive. A few days ago, I gave my students an exercise in which they have to find spelling and punctuation errors in a group of sentences. Some students “found” grammar errors – but there were no grammar errors in the exercise.

Top Tip – if you don’t understand an exercise, assignment, or task, ask your teacher or boss about what you need to do. It will save you time and energy, and allow you to concentrate on the most important part of it!

I don’t know that word…

Recently, I’ve heard several students use “don’t” before “to.” This is never correct, and it is confusing! Let’s start 2016 off right.

  • I don’t to go to school. <- I don’t go to school.
  • I don’t to want pizza. <- I don’t want pizza.

I suspect that this is because of the grammar rules in their first language. Please be careful! Remember the recipe:

subject + do/does + negative + verb in base form + object.

  • I + do + not + eat + pizza.
  • She + does + not + like + opera.