Writer's Block is a quarterly publication of Online English Stage 1-2. Funded by the Government of Saskatchewan.


Family Camping

Author: Irene R.
Level: 6
Instructor: Jacqueline A.

Our favorite outdoor thing to do in the summer is to go camping. This is one of our family bonding activities we do together with our friends. Here in Canada, we met new friends and we consider them our family.

All families help each other to prepare the foods. We also have games for the kids. Camping encompasses everything- the sunshine, outdoor sports, picnics, campfires and braving the elements. These simple outdoor activities have been a source of so much enjoyment, laughter, and joy for the whole family.



About Me

Author: Olena B.
Level: 3
Instructor: Jacqueline H.

My name is Olena. I am thirty-one years' old. When I lived in Ukraine, I worked in a factory for over three years. I really enjoyed my job because I worked all the time with very different and interesting people.  We talked and laughed every day!  It was a very exciting time in my life. 

I live in Canada now, and I am studying English.  My hope is that I will find a good job.  I want to try to make cakes and desserts and try to sell them.  My hobby, of course, is cooking and making desserts!  I hope it will help me find new friends and do what I love at the same time.  My family and I like traveling a lot.  When we go on holidays, we are always finding somewhere new to go all the time. We like fishing, swimming in pools and just enjoying each other's company resting together, or even having a picnic, and of course, having big barbecues! We spend time a lot of time doing interesting and funny things.  We have enjoyed finding out new things about our family in our new country!


My Journey to Canada

Author: Nhung L.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.

I am Nhung, I came from Vietnam one and a half years ago. I came here to visit my husband. My husband has studied here for 4 years. Before I came here, I lived with my kids in Vietnam for 3 years. At that time, my kids felt unhappy because they didn't have their dad with them but I tried to look after them well. I was a teacher and I tried to open a coffee shop to earn money from it. When my husband decided to invite us to Canada, I decided to give it up. 

I was born in the countryside in Vietnam.  At that time, my country was still poor. I lived with my Grandpa and Grandma who were my mother's parents from the time I was one year old to ten years old. After that, I went to live with my mother and my twin sister and my young brother. We lived with them for 5 years and one more time, I went to study so far from my home and looked after myself along with my twin sister. 

I really liked to travel in the countryside of my country or anywhere and help people. I already did that before I came here. I always loved people and wanted to help those less fortunate, when I was able to help them. So I decided to save ten percent of my money from working to do that every month. 

I also like to go swimming I learned how to swim when I was 7 years old. I often played under water with my friends in a beautiful river which was behind my Grandma's house. That was the best memory of my life. So I always like to go swimming now when I have free time. 

I like living here so much because I like the Canadian culture. Almost all the people are very kind and friendly. I am working in a restaurant full time now and in a bakery at the Superstore part- time. I like my jobs because I get money and meet a lot of people.  I hope that I learn English well to get to level 7 and then I will apply to study a course that I like, to get good job in Canada.  I am thankful for my teacher's help to improve my English.


My Life After 2009

Author: David P.
Level: 6
Instructor: Adrienne R.

It was October 2009 in Huaral, Peru. I was 25 years old and I had just started working. I remember it well.  I was at the farm and took my car to drive back home. When I entered my house, there was a surprise, it was my Aunty Dora who came to visit my family after a long time from Australia. By the time my Aunty left Peru, I was just 5 or 6 years old. It had been a long time since I had seen her.  That night I went to bed late, we were talking and talking about the family and life in Australia. My Aunty asked what I had been doing all this time.  I told her I graduated as a Zootechnical Engineer from a good Agricultural University and I was now working at my little farm with pigs and cows. This was a family business, I told her. My dad started it but he didn't know much about it and then after my graduation I started working there. My Aunty was very happy but she wanted to help me and offered me the possibility of studying in Australia. If I liked the country, I could settle there to start a new life. She told me to think about it because it was not an easy decision. She would stay in Peru for about a month but before going back to Australia she needed me to tell her what my decision was. 

To be honest it was a hard decision for me because: Australia is an English speaking country, at that time I had no idea about English; I had never left home. My mom and dad were always there to support me when I needed them to; what would I be doing for work?  In Peru, I had just started to work and build a life too; I had friends from school, and I would miss them a lot, and finally, the Peruvian food was delicious.

When the day came, my answer was going to be no, but my mom persuaded me to say yes because I was young and I had a lot of potential.  At the same time she was crying because she didn't want me to be apart from her. She had taken care of me since I was baby and it was hard for her to say goodbye to her only son. After a lot of crying we start doing the paperwork for my new life and experience there. After all it wasn't a bad choice because I had nothing to lose. If I didn't feel comfortable there I could still come back to Peru, it was just to try.

I have to say thank you to my Aunty Dora for changing my life. Without her, maybe I would still be living in Peru with my parents. She opened my mind and helped me to see the other side of the world where you can achieve your dreams and make them come true with work and dedication. After this attempt, I couldn't stay in Australia permanently so I tried to stay in the USA. I couldn't stay there either but now Canada is giving more than what I wanted. I have my baby, my wife, a house and my brand new car, what else I can ask for?  Thanks Canada for giving me this magnificent opportunity.



Celebrations Around the World

Author: Lesia P.
Level: 7
Instructor: Mona B.
Photo Credit: Public Domain

I would like to talk about the difference between Canadian and Ukrainian celebrations.  Some of the holidays are the same but they are celebrated differently in both countries. For example, Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December in Canada and on the 6th of January in the Ukraine. Each country has its own traditions.

In Canada, Christmas is usually spent at church and with family. I've also noticed that in Canada children usually go to their parents' homes with their own families to spend Christmas together in a quiet and warm atmosphere. In each home, there is a Christmas tree and on Christmas morning, people find presents from Santa Claus.  In the Ukraine, people celebrate this event a little differently.  Usually, Ukrainians receive presents from the Ukrainian Santa Claus, Ded Moroz, after New Year's night in the morning. New Year's Day in the Ukraine is a day to spend with family, friends and with beautiful fireworks at midnight. Ukrainian Christmas is the most important church holiday. People eat special cooked food with a lighted candle sitting on the table. Some people go to church and stay there the whole night.

Moving on to a different type of celebration, weddings are different these days. I would say that a few years ago Ukrainian weddings were more traditional than they are now. Now newlyweds celebrate their weddings how they wish. It just depends on a lot of factors: internet resources, dreams for the perfect wedding, and finances.  This is like weddings in Canada.  While many Canadian still have some traditional aspects from their home countries during their weddings, they have also become more modern.  In fact, some people choose not to have any of their ethnic wedding traditions and opt for a simpler theme.

Another holiday that is very similar in both Canada and the Ukraine is Easter.  People are given the day off work, just like in Canada.  Many people in the Ukraine also go to special church services, just as many Canadians do. Other similarities include a special Easter dinner with family and the famous Easter egg!  Many people in the Ukraine paint and decorate eggs just like Canadians do, however, in the Ukraine it is also common to have a painted red egg at the dinner table at Easter for religious reasons.  Easter meals in the Ukraine often include Pashka, a type of Easter bread.

In my childhood I saw foreign moves with lots of celebrations of different events from other countries and I have observed that people often borrow traditions from other nations and add even more traditions to the ones they already have. As a result, we end up with very interesting types of traditional celebrations in countries all over the world!



Learning to Drive in Canada

Author: Liping J.
Level: 5
Instructor: Mona B.

In Canada, new drivers should learn about driver's licenses, car insurance, driving laws and rules. To legally drive a car in Canada, you'll need a driver's license issued by the government of your province or territory. You must have it with you whenever you're driving. Then, you can drive anywhere in Canada.

In my home country, I didn't take my driving test.  I got my driver's license for the first time in Canada so that's why I was nervous when I drove for the first time. In Canada, if you are still a student in school, you can take driving classes in school for free. If I had a driver's license from China, I wouldn't have needed to wait for 9 months to take my road test. I would have just needed to take a writing test and then I could have driven by myself right away.  

In Canada, when you want to get your driver's license, you must first take a writing test and then wait for 9 months to take your road test. During those 9 months, you need to learn to drive on the road with a professional driving instructor for at least 6 hours. The driving instructor teaches you how to do an over-the-shoulder check, mirror check, how to park, and many more things.

I think driving is one of the most important and useful skills that I have learned in life.


My First Driving Ticket

Author: Asia I.
Level: 6
Instructor: Dragana B.

In January 2019, I was going to drop my son off in Downtown Saskatoon. I was in a rush and did not put in the antifreeze. After I drove two to three kilometers I saw that fog was building on the windows. I parked my car in the Walmart parking area; and I turned on the fan so the fog cleared out. I was on the road after a few minutes when the car was moving a little better. The fog was on my windows again and I could not see anything. I forgot how to turn on the fan properly. I wanted to go to my job after dropping off my son. I could not see other drivers. I stopped and try to get help but nobody was available. I should've turned on the emergency lights and waited for help. I did not do anything and decided to go back so my son could go school and so I could go to work. I took a left turn, but somebody called the police to report that my car was not moving well. On Circle Drive I saw the police was coming up behind me. They turned on their sirens and asked me to pull over. I told everything to the police and they turned on my fan so after ten minutes the windows were clear. They gave me the ticket worth 125 dollars because I was being a risk to other drivers.



Job Searching Tips

Author: Kostiantyn B.
Level: 6
Instructor: Zareen R.

I would like to share my thoughts related to the employment. A person can do several jobs based on his education, qualifications, or skills. Some people get 10 dollars per hour and some, 50 dollars or more. It depends on the position, education and experience. In my opinion, education is very important because it helps to find a better job with better opportunities and wages. There are several ways of finding work. 

First of all, it is extremely important to make good resume. You can write up a good resume following the information you find on the internet. Then, send it to as many companies as you can because it increases your chances to find a good job.  

Secondly, you definitely want to use job search engines such as, Job Bank, Indeed, Monster, Kijiji, etc. Even social networking can be very helpful in your job search.
Thirdly, make a profile in LinkedIn. There are many employers who look at this to hire suitable candidates and make them part of their team.

Finally and most importantly, I would strongly recommend going directly to the worksite or company and simply asking about any available opportunities. I believe this to be a very effective way of meeting the employer and talking to them about any current openings. If possible, you can also show what you can do, rather than just talk about it! 

Hopefully after all this, you can get an interview. This is where you have to 'sell yourself' to the prospective employer. Make sure you dress up in a professional manner and put a smile on your face. I believe this can help ease the tension, even if you are not hired. Smiling makes life easier; even if you are not hired, you most likely left them with a good impression of you.

At a personal level, I was looking for another job not that long time ago and I know how hard it is to find another job. In my case, going to job sites and meeting directly with prospective employers worked faster than waiting to receive responses from employers on Kijiji and Indeed. I was able to land a job with better pay because I showed confidence in my ability to do the required work. My advice to everyone is to work hard, be persistent; even if you do not find the job of your dreams, find any job that is available and when something pops up, grab that opportunity!

Good luck in the job search!


My Job

Author: Biljana D.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.

I have been working in the hospital for 7 years. My job at the hospital is in housekeeping. We clean the hospital 24 hours a day. We go from the emergency area to the OR, and all the different areas. Nine or ten people are working at a time on one shift.  Most of the people in housekeeping are from Canada. We also have people from Serbia, India, the Ukraine and the Philippines. The oldest person who is working with us is one lady from Iceland. She always thinks that she is smarter than everyone.  Sometimes we can't listen to it, she is so boring. Some new casuals are afraid of her. The oldest man who is working with us is the funniest person on the housekeeping staff. I always laugh at him when I see him in shoes two sizes larger than his feet. He is good person who never disagrees with others. The thing I like the most about my job is that I get to work all different shifts so it can be interesting. The worst thing about my job is when people complain about the job we have to do.  People who complain are usually not good workers. I have good benefits at my job and if you work on national holidays you get extra days off or time and a half. I am lucky. 



My Borscht Recipe

Author: Iryna K
Level: 6
Instructor: Ashley J.

In the 21st Century, a main enjoyment in our life is food.  Who does not like food? I will tell you, everybody loves food!  Not just simple recipes can conquer your heart, it must be an interesting, tough, complicated and an unforgettable, delicious recipe. I am not a chef at all but let me tell you the story of what happened to me a couple of years ago. I made a supper for my friends, nothing special; it was just Ukrainian Borscht with garlic buns. All my friends were impressed by the taste of the Borscht. After supper, they started to spread the word about it. One day I got a text message from a stranger and I was asked to share my Borscht recipe! First of all, I was confused because I did not know that person. Second, there are thousands of Borscht recipes on Google.
So, finally it came time to share this delicious dish, which was taught to me by my grandfather and by a friend of mine who is a professional cook. I just combined two recipes in one. The most important rule is that you have to follow the steps of the recipe exactly, do not miss or add other ingredients. It takes two hours to make this beet soup. 


  1. 5 liters of water
  2. 250 grams of pork ribs
  3. 1 onion
  4. 2 cloves of garlic
  5. 4 beets
  6. 1 can of mixed beans (if you like)
  7. 1/4 of cabbage
  8. 5 potatoes
  9. 2 carrots
  10. 1 can of tomato paste (a small can, probably 100ml, it cost $1.)
  11. A few tablespoons of ketchup
  12. Dill, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  13. Sunflower oil
  14. A lot of love

Tip: All vegetables must be fresh and raw


  1. First, boil the pork ribs in the water at least 40 minutes to make a broth.  Put in it a few pinches of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables. Peel them all and clean up in a water rinse. Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes.  The carrots and beets must be shredded. Shred the cabbage as well. Cut the onion in 5mm cubes. Use a garlic press for the garlic. Chop the dill and parsley.
  3. When the broth is ready, cook potatoes first for 10 minutes and then add shredded cabbage.
  4. Stew the onions and garlic in sunflower oil in a frying pan until it is a light golden color.
  5. Next, add carrots to the frying pan and keep stewing together for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Add beets, 1 tablespoon of ketchup and tomato paste to the frying pan, along with salt and pepper.
  7. Add all the vegetables to the broth.
  8. Finally, add chopped dill and parsley.

Please serve with sour cream and garlic buns and enjoy your meal!

Like the famous chef Gordon Ramsay said, "Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental in a way that it's too assertive is to the naked eye."

Two Delicious Recipes

Author: Binh H.
Level: 4
Instructor: Mona B.
Photo Credit: Foodista / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

I love cooking and sharing my food with others so today I would like to share two of my favourite recipes.

I am East-Asian and would love to share one of my favourite recipes with you!

Asian Salad


  • ½ whole cabbage (shredded)
  • Mint
  • Chicken breast (shredded)


  1. First, mix all ingredients together.
  2. Next, add them to baking dish.
  3. Then, deep fry onions and add them to mixture.
  4. After that, add roasted chopped peanuts to mixture.
  5. Finally, serve with fish sauce dip.

This next dish is a popular dessert in Asia.  Make sure you save some room after the Asian Salad for this delicious treat!

Coconut Jelly


  • 1 bag agar powder
  • 1 L coconut water
  • 500 mL coconut milk
  • 80 gm sugar (If you like it sweet, add more sugar).


  1. First, mix sugar and agar powder together.
  2. Second, add coconut water.
  3. Third, slowly heat; once it looks clear, add coconut milk.
  4. Next, pour mixture into plastic container.
  5. Then, keep in fridge until it is solid.
  6. Finally, enjoy!



Unforgettable Expedition in Canada

Author: Xiuzhuan Meng
Level: 7
Instructor: Jacqueline A.

Autumn is coming. The beautiful season always reminds me that my first expedition in Canada happened during the same season in 2017.

It was on a long weekend. We felt bored to stay home, then we decided to drive to the Grassland National Park with my daughter. First I called the park to reserve a fixed tent because we did not know how to pitch a tent by ourselves. Then, we bought food, refilled gas and put sleeping bags and thick clothes into our car. Finally, at noon we departed for the park according to the google map navigation.

Wow! How great the prairie grasslands are! The yellow grass was endless with golden light from under the Sun. Herds of horses and cows were wandering on it. There was not any traffic besides our own car on the road. It was a great opportunity for my daughter to practice her driving skills, so we alternated driving and took pictures.

Unfortunately, the google map navigated us to a road under construction, which was the only way to the park and only a forty-minute drive away from the park. The worker in a big vehicle told us we had to return. What? Did it mean our first trip failed? No, it was our new experience, so we all could bear and enjoy any kind of process. We decided to drive back to any intersection to find another way. I believed all roads lead to Rome. I saw an intersection and turned right. After a half an hour, a small village appeared. I refilled our gas again and talked to the owner of the gas station. He gave us a piece of paper and drew a map for us. After a short rest, we were ready to go.

It took us an hour on the grave road and then we drove on the highway at last. Another hour later, we arrived the park office and got our tent key. There was a half hour drive to the camp site. Google map was out of use, so we drove on the road by noticing all signs along the road. Eventually, we arrived at the park near dusk.

How beautiful it is! We saw lots of prairie dogs, hares, foxes and herds of bison. We met a huge bison on the road. It walked slowly so we stopped the engine and kept silent, waiting until it walked into the grassland. The bison is the host of the land and we were intruding in its field.

The park is a dark-sky preserve region as well. In the night, the dark nature brought a kind of light to us. No sound besides the wind, no light besides stars and moon. Coincidentally, it was Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. We sat in front of the tent and enjoyed the moon rise. It was big, round and bright. What a peaceful night!

The spirit of not giving up gave us a wonderful trip and unforgettable experience.



Living in Canada

Author: Furong Z.
Level: 6
Instructor: Mona B.

When people think about living in another country, Canada is the best choice. Not only is there fresh air, rich resources and an amazing landscape but the environment here is also peaceful. The quality of education is also higher in Canada. All this has attracted lots of immigrants coming to Canada. Canada is a country of immigrants with a good standard of living. People have free medical care and free education from grades one to twelve. Most people are friendly, polite and respectful. They greet each other with a big smile even if they don't know each other.

As a newcomer, how to communicate with others and solve problems are the most important things for them. Fortunately, the government offers many programs to help newcomers to improve their English, such as ESL Classes and LINC Home Study. LINC Home Study is a kind of distance education. You can meet your teacher once a week for half an hour on the Internet. Because it is one-on-one with a teacher, you must pay more attention in class and also get as much information as possible. I am a beneficiary of this distance education as I live in a small town and have a full-time job. I don't have time to drive more than an hour to attend ESL classes so learning at home is more convenient for me.

Canada is a wonderful country! I have started my new life on this land. I have made some friends and have a good job. I am enjoying my new life and am so thankful to be living here.



A Trip to Banff

Author: Yong Seok B.
Level: 7
Instructor: Carmen I.

As an immigrant to Canada, I have been asked some common questions. One of them is "What is good about living in Canada?" There are many things to talk about, but the best thing about living in Canada is the natural environment. Canada is 40 times larger than Korea but it has a smaller population. So, simply more space, and more room to relax. It is convenient to live in Korea but it is busy and there are not as many places with nature as in Canada.

In the name of development and human needs, the natural environment was destroyed and replaced by human-dwellings and buildings in Korea. Big cities in Canada have the same concerns but we can still enjoy its beautiful natural environment in many areas, especially in Saskatchewan and Alberta. So, I always love to spend my time in nature here.

The first time I went to Banff is still a vivid memory for me. When I looked at the mountains, lakes, and wild animals there I was deeply impressed by the view. It was more than saying just beautiful. The enormous natural landscape was an overwhelming image for me. Like all other 5 million visitors who travel annually to Banff and the area, I was in utter a complete awe.  

While traveling there for a few days, I had a strong feeling of 'awe and wonder' due to the tremendous natural environment. It was amazing how all this nature was created. The natural structures were much more beautiful than any other architecture which was made by human beings. The feeling of 'awe and wonder' made me humble.

The interesting thing was the literal meaning of awe is quite different from the feeling of awe and wonder that I have got from the nature in Banff. The dictionary meaning for "awe" is defined partially by the fear people perceive of something greater than themselves. The feeling of 'awe and wonder' from the nature in Banff was not a scary feeling of being overwhelmed by anything, but a feeling of respect that humbled myself and made the creatures around me even more precious. I felt all the nature there was so impressive.

One night in Banff, while looking up at the sky, there were so many stars. I felt all creatures under the sky were connected together in harmony. I was in the nature and I was a small part of the nature. I love Banff, it is where I got inspired and it gave me a feeling of wonder and awe.