Whether it is through film, social media, entrepreneurship or improv, students in the Toronto Film School’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Gateway Program are getting out into the city of Toronto to explore and learn English through some unique arts-based activities and experiences.
“Each Friday we have a fun weekly activity: photography workshops, marketing seminars, fashion lessons, we participate in cinematography classes and take various field trips” explained Natalie Ryan, the coordinator of the ESL Gateway Program at Toronto Film School. “These activities give the students an opportunity to practice their English, get out and meet new people and it also is a fun way of challenging their listening skills and reading skills.”
These activities are always arts-based and almost always Toronto Film School related. To that end, the students in the ESL Gateway Program recently attended the Mode Canada 150 Exhibit, a celebration of Canadian fashion, the past present and future of fashion. Additionally, James Fowler, an instructor in the Toronto Film School’s Fashion Design Diploma participated in the exhibit.
“We had a full tour and had a woman go through each piece and talk about each decade of Canadian fashion and the students were able to see the cycle of how fashion works,” Natalie explained. “Even if they weren’t able to understand everything they were able to see everything, there were a few pieces they could touch, it was engaging on a number of levels.”
The Exhibit was in Yorkville Village, an interesting corner of Toronto for the students to get to visit, Natalie explained.
“They learned a little bit about the history of the area and got to see the architecture, they saw the high-end stores and famous restaurants that movie stars frequently visit when they come to the city for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Following the tour of the Mode Canada 150 Exhibit, the group then went to the Toronto Reference Library.
“The Toronto Reference Library is a beautiful space. There is a floor with film and art related resources and books as well as a floor dedicated to languages,” Natalie explained. “While there we ran into a Toronto Film School student who is studying film production who is from Japan, proof that for those ESL students who go on to study at Toronto Film School that the library will be of use to them.”
Toronto Film School’s ESL Gateway program takes in students who want to improve their English specifically through a lens of Creative Arts. Students are aspiring filmmakers, actors, designers video game developers and also people already working in the industry.
“The program is all very task-based work so they have to work together to complete projects that could include scripts, short films, movie posters, music videos and presentations to build confidence,” Natalie said. “There really is no other program like it.”
Other events that students in the Toronto Film School ESL Gateway program will take part in this year include an Improv workshop with Jack Mosshammer, an instructor in the Toronto Film School Acting for Film, Television & Theatre Diploma. They will be spending an afternoon testing games students in the Video Game programs developed. The ESL Gateway students will also have an opportunity to visit a production studio run by a teacher in the Marketing for Fashion and Entertainment Diploma, Amy Wong.