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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Is it hard for me to blend with my classmates? 

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“Dear Ai,
I am 45 years old and I am planning to go to Canada to study for one month. I have heard that there are many students who are in their 20s. Is it hard for me to blend with my classmates? Do you think I can meet my own age people at school?” Maggie – Taiwan

“Hi Maggie, thank you for your e-mail. I am very thrilled to talk with you! In a recent trend, there are more adults (over 40s) who come to Canada to study English, so I am not too surprised to meet a student like you. Some of them come to Canada with groups, with their children or by themselves.

Most ESL schools do not divide their classes by age or nationality. Students are assigned in their class according to the English assessment test. You might be studying with a 18 year old student or the same nationality as you. One of the advantages is that you can improve your English skills efficiently and make friends beyond your age group or nationality.

I know of one senior man who comes back to Vancouver every spring. Mr. Sato retired when he reached 60; however, his company was afraid of losing him and his extensive knowledge about the company, so he keeps working there as a mentor. He takes a one week vacation every spring to refresh his life, away from a busy life in Japan. Mr. Sato studies in full-time classes, while younger students take part-time classes because they are too exhausted to consume their classes and homework. Sometimes, he takes a nap during the lunch break, but he has never missed his afternoon classes. He even joins all the activities after school. He said “It is certainly inspiring and I feel younger spending time with younger students.”

Every now and then, I meet senior students, but not during the same period of time. If it is hard for you to meet in your school, you should start looking for hobby classes in a community centre. They have excellent classes, such as cooking, pottery or yoga. It is also a great chance to meet local people too!

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