Summer English Explorer offers unique educational program


"What's rewarding about our program is not only seeing the students make the global connections with Canadians, but also with each other."

- Constantine Ioannou, Program Director, Ottawa International Projects and Exchanges

Summer English Explorer students pose in front of the Peace Tower following the daily
Changing of the Guard Ceremony on Parliament Hill


OCENET’s Summer English Program is renowned for offering students an exciting and engaging approach to developing English language proficiency. Each summer over 100 students from many different countries travel to Ottawa to study English and enjoy the numerous social and cultural activities that the Ottawa region has to offer. Students range in age from 12-18 and are assigned classes based on age and level of English.

 At the end of their program, a class gathers outside the Albert Street Education Centre to proudly show off their Summer Explorer “Memories” books

 Representing four different countries — Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, and France — summer students visit Ottawa’s historic Byward Market

 Students enjoy all of the afternoon activity programs and learn new skills while practicing English

What is very special about the Summer English Explorer program is its focus on the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for language study. According to the program’s director, Constantine Ioannou, using the CEFR is “really important from a pedagogical side because our program provides a basis for organizing classes by level, which is something that is recognized globally.” The program is very task-oriented, and emphasizes practical use of speaking and listening skills to encourage students to become proficient and confident with the English language. For example, activities require students to interview Canadians about issues, and participate in team scavenger hunts which require students to ask directions as well as seek answers about Ottawa’s historical and cultural landmarks.

This popular program is celebrated its 15th year in the summer of 2016!

The program has run for 14 consecutive years and is continually evolving and updated. While the CEFR provides a foundation, the team of summer teachers, led by Lead Teacher Sue Boudreau, has developed an interactive and relevant curriculum, with units of study on topics of interest to young adults. This summer a new unit on “Anti-bullying” was introduced and well received by the students. Students attend English classes in the morning and activity coordinators lead the students in a wide variety of afternoon activities such as canoeing, museum visits and urban art workshops.

Most students live with Canadian homestay families which reinforces the use of English while building global friendships. Over the years students have come from many different countries, including Argentina, Belgium, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and Venezuela. Many students attend as part of a group and increasingly students are coming individually. Many return to the program over the course of several summers. For example, a few years ago a Colombian student attending the program became good friends with an Italian student and by staying in touch via social media, coordinated their return visit to include sharing the same homestay.

According to Ottawa International Projects and Exchanges Director, Constantine Ioannou:em>“When you start to see kids attend the program or return with such enthusiasm, you realize that they appreciated and valued both the cultural and linguistic learning experience here.”


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