Spectacular Sunday: Art- Consumption and Production

Artwork in Government House

Artwork in Government House

Summer weekends are usually a time for me to get outside the city to be active.  However, I needed to be in town this weekend, and I found some very interesting activities.  In the morning, I enjoyed a 5K race, organized by MEC , followed by brunch at The Sugar Bowl where they have the most delicious cinnamon buns and an excellent beer selection (not before noon, thanks!).  Because my friend and I had some “time to kill” before our afternoon activity, we decided to visit the Royal Alberta Museum.  When we arrived at the parking lot, we were surprised to see an unfamiliar sign: Government House was open for tours (only on Sundays, 11-4).  Normally, Government House has only been open to the public on New Year’s Day (January 1) for the Lieutenant Governor’s levee, an annual reception.  I’ve always been interested in attending but never have.  The building is over 100 years old and was used as a residence by the province’s 6 first lieutenant governors (the province’s representatives of the Queen).  It was vacant and used for other purposes between 1938 and 1975 when it was restored to be used for private government meetings, as well as to host foreign dignitaries.  I was very interested in seeing what the inside of the building looked like, but I was very pleased and surprised to see how much art the building contained.  By the way, tours are FREE!

There were several works of art by a couple of my very favourite artists, Alex Janvier, of Cold Lake First Nation, and William Kurelek, born in Alberta, of Ukrainian heritage.  Both artists have very distinctive work, which I recognize immediately. I don’t think that our tour guide expected to be spending so long taking us around the building, but my friend and I, and 2 other people who joined us, spent a great deal of time looking at many of the different works of art in the building.

As well as the amazing artwork, the architecture and design of Government House is quite interesting.  The lower 2 levels have been restored to their turn-of the century design and style, with some of the original furniture having been recovered.  The top floor is very different, but equally interesting since it’s very representative of the style in the 1970s when it was restored.  The meeting room is huge and comfortably appointed so that the government in power (NDP now) can have private meetings every Wednesday.

We stopped to check out the giftshop and cafe in the museum.  Almost everything in the giftshop is 15% off right now, and the cafe also has good prices and selection.

After this visit, we continued on to our original destination, Calder Library in the Northwest section of Edmonton.  June 21 is National Aboriginal Day and the Edmonton Public Library is celebrating with special events all month.  I saw that another of my favourite artists, Aaron Paquette  was giving an art class (FREE) at a time when I could attend. This was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.  Aaron’s artwork is on display in the Grandin/Government Centre LRT Station.

Aaron showed us a lot of tips and tricks, and I really like the walnut ink and Grey’s Paper that he showed us how to use.  We got very interesting effects from using both, and neither of these art materials is very costly.  The paper is especially low-cost, and I preferred it to the heavy watercolour paper that we used for later work.  He is a very nice, and enthusiastic man, with a very good personality for teaching.  His twin, 15-year-old sons also joined the class and did excellent paintings.


Discover Program | Snow Valley: only $60: rentals, lessons, lunch, day pass!!

Discover Program | Snow Valley.

This is a fantastic deal to try out a new winter sport at a very nice local area.

Snow Valley is a lovely local ski hill, and a very safe environment to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time.  It’s very popular on the weekends, so it will probably be crowded, but you will enjoy yourself and feel confident if you start here.  If you don’t have a car, there are busses that go nearby.


Learn English expressions, idioms, and phrases

Many times, you’ll hear people using idioms and expressions in conversations, and you won’t be able to understand them by translating.  Using Google to check meaning can help you, but there are some websites that can really help you to understand the full meaning.


Advanced English Lessons – English Activities for Upper Intermediate Level Learners

Advanced English Lessons – English Activities for Upper Intermediate Level Learners.

The ESOL Courses site has many different listening and reading activities, for various levels.  There are many activities here that will help a lot if you’re preparing to take the IELTS test.

Resources for students of English

This page has links to many excellent learning resources for English students!

English resources for students

This section features English language resources which we think are genuinely useful for students. The listings will grow weekly, but we plan to include only the best sites. We hope you like the sites we’ve featured so far. You can browse all the sites listed, or sort them by category. For a full description of a resource, click on its image.

via Resources for students of English.

Basic English Grammar: The Verb “Be” in Present Tense


Quiz for using

Basic English Grammar: The Verb “Be” in Present Tense.

I read recently about how important it is to practice, practice, and over-practice a new skill, so that it becomes something that you can do easily, without even having to think about it.  Here’s a quiz to help you with our #1 verb in English.  There are many other English quizzes and practice pages on this webpage.  All of them include a lovely artwork.

Reading passages for ESL language learners in Canada


Reading passages for English language learners in Canada

Reading ESL

Although there are many language resources available online for language learners, it is difficult to find good materials for practicing reading for comprehension.  This site has reading passages on many subjects, especially related to Canada, so it will be useful for preparing for the citizenship test, as well as for improving your reading skills.  Click the link and let me know what you read about!

10 things ESL students can do with Evernote on their tablets

This is written for teachers, but you can easily see how you can use your tablet, laptop, and/or smartphone, along with Evernote to document your progress in using the English language. I also recommend that you put together a portfolio of any of your work in your field of study!

Oxford University Press

Tablet in handsMohamed El-Ashiry takes a look at how Evernote can be used in the classroom

Portfolio assessment in the ESL classroom offers many benefits. On the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ website, a portfolio is defined as ‘a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas of the curriculum’. Brown & Hudson (1998) have also described portfolios as a ‘family of assessments’. Some of the benefits of using portfolios, as described by Brown & Hudson (1998) include: (1) focusing student attention on learning processes; and (2) increasing student involvement in the learning processes. I have always been a fan of such ‘alternatives in assessment‘ because of the fact that they focus a lot more on the ‘process of learning’ as opposed to the ‘product of learning’ (Brown & Hudson, 1998).

Now that iPads and tablets are spreading into many…

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Irregular Verbs Made Easy: The 5 Best Ways to Learn Irregular Verbs Online

Many students have trouble learning and remembering irregular verbs, but it’s one of the most important lessons to learn. The most common verbs are often irregular verbs. Also, it’s far more common to use simple past verbs, instead of simple present. Take some time to visit these different sites, and try some new, fun ways to memorize some important words in English!

Irregular Verbs Made Easy: The 5 Best Ways to Learn Irregular Verbs Online.


More listening practice!

There are many great listening resources available online.  Often, you can download the podcasts, to listen to on your phone or computer.  Also, there’s often a transcript or lesson plan, to help you learn even more.  Let me know what you think!