Table of Contents
Greetings from the International Student Program Team!................................ 3
International Student Program Contact Information……………………………. 4
Welcome to Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board! ……………..5
Study Permit and Renewal
Promoting Positive Student Behaviour
Arriving at Your New Home…................................................................................8
A Tour of Your New Home
A Tour of the Neighbourhood
Household Rules and Routines
Telephone and the Internet
Communication and Compromise!.....................................................................13
Adjusting to Life in Canada…..…………………..................................................17
Life Outside the Canadian Home........................................................................21
Climate and Clothing
Drivers Licenses and Driving
Alcohol and Drugs
Shopping and Restaurants
Money and Valuables
Canadian Culture and Community.……………...................................................26
Privacy and Personal Boundaries
Roles of Men and Women
Personal Grooming and Hygiene
Holidays and Important Dates ..………………………............................................28
New Student Airport Pick-up…………………………………………………………..30
Returning Students-Airport Options…………………………………………………31
Learning the English Language……………………................................................32
School-Sponsored Extracurricular Activities
Code of Conduct
School Resources and Support…………….….....................................................38
English Language Learners…………………………………………………………..42
In Conclusion-Enjoy your Time in Ontario!.........................................................44
Greetings from the International
Student Program Team!
We would like to welcome all of the new international students attending school in the Hastings
and Prince Edward District School Board! We look forward to meeting you and supporting you
with this exciting new journey!
This Orientation Handbook has been prepared to help you get the most out of your time here.
Reading this handbook will help you to be ready to learn and enjoy your stay. If you are
unsure of any material in this handbook, make a note of it and ask your homestay parent or
an International Student Program staff member. In addition to reading this Orientation
Handbook, we urge you to read any other material sent to you by your school to become
familiar with the rules and policies at your school.
We have an exiting year planned with lots of activities to enrich your experience. We wish
you a happy, productive and highly educational experience with the Hastings and Prince Edward
District School Board!
Yours in international education,
Carol, Janet, Lynn and Wendy
International Student Program
156 Ann Street, Belleville, Ontario, K8N 1N9
Hours : 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Phone: 613-966-1170 ext. 2415
International Student Program Manager
(613)966-1170 ext. 2416
Emergency Cell 613-921-3153*
(613)966-1170 ext. 2236
(613)966-1170 ext. 2389
(613)966-1170 ext. 2415
*Note: The emergency cell number should only be used in a true emergency such as:
• a serious illness or injury;
• a missing student or late-to-arrive;
• an unresolvable serious problem that is disrupting the home;
• a situation that requires the homestay to leave the city immediately and an
alternative, temporary placement cannot be found
Please use the other office contact methods for all other inquiries or concerns.
Welcome to Hastings and Prince
Edward District School Board!
Thank you for your interest in the International Student Program!. You are about to
begin a wonderful learning experience in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. Belleville is a
vibrant city, a great place to study and an even better place to call home. With 8
secondary and 46 elementary schools, our school board covers a wide geographical
area of 7,221 square miles. Situated on the beautiful Bay of Quinte, Belleville is
centrally located with easy access to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Belleville, with an
area population of under 100,000, has all the conveniences of a large city with the
security and comfort of a small city. The population is 98% English which offers ISP
students every opportunity to develop their English language skills.
Our area is known as a destination for outdoor fun, including skating, skiing, boating,
fishing, hiking, and camping. We have several museums, cultural organizations, shops,
restaurants and a thriving arts community. We are surrounded by numerous
universities, such as University of Toronto, McGill, McMaster, Queen's University,
University of Western Ontario and several community colleges.
The goal of the International Student Program is to provide students and community
members with the opportunity to experience and appreciate diversity through contact
with other cultures. It also is to provide international students with an opportunity to
improve their English language and to experience Canadian culture. We strive to offer
excellence in education to prepare our students to meet global challenges.
The Manager of the ISP, Carol Goerke, is the legal custodian for our international
students. Citizenship and Immigration Canada requires that all international students,
under the age of 18 who enter Canada alone have a custodian in Canada to act in the
place of a homeland parent in times of emergency, such as when medical attention is
Students must be able to provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada with proof of
custodianship, in the form of notarized declarations, one signed by the custodian in
Canada and one signed by the parent or legal guardian in their country of origin. The
purpose of the declarations is to ensure that a responsible adult in Canada has been
identified to provide care and support for the student. The ISP Manager will provide this
document to you prior to departure from your homeland.
Study Permit Renewal
From the day you arrive in Canada, check and REMEMBER when your Study Permit
expires! Each year between March and May the ISP office will ask you what your plans
are for the next year. If you are returning next year we will assist you in renewing your
study permit. You may have to wait several months to get a new Study Permit once you
have applied. Please remember this when you are making plans to travel in the
My Study Permit Expires: __________________________
Promoting Positive Student Behaviour Hastings and Prince Edward
District School Board prides
Growing with Character itself on being a system of
character and communicating the district core values: caring, cooperation, honesty,
humour, integrity, respect, responsibility
and trustworthiness. All schools and
buildings the district now proudly display
the following character banner:
Arriving at Your New Home
Every homestay family, or host, is different—just like every student. What our hosts
have in common is that they want to provide a safe, caring environment for you. We
choose hosts who will provide the same comfortable, healthy and supportive home life
they would ask a host family to provide for their own children. Why do we trust our
hosts? Because we’ve met them in person and toured their homes; we’ve talked with
them about their experiences in the world and in Canada, and we’ve helped them adjust
to being hosts. If you are experiencing a problem with your host family, tell us. You can
call or email us. You can also speak with your coordinator when they visit your school.
We are always glad to hear from you.
Your homestay experience will largely depend on your own attitude and friendliness.
How can you make the most of living in Canada? Come with an open mind and be
ready to embrace the ways in which Canada and the people you will meet here are
different and unique. Your host family will be eager to help you adapt to their family and
Canada. The more you get involved in your new life the happier you will be.
The first few weeks living in a new country with a new family can be difficult. You may
feel homesick and frustrated with your new environment and the language. This is
natural. Give yourself time to adjust to your new surroundings. We’ve found that doing
the following things when you first arrive will help you feel settled. Please remember:
you’re not alone, we’re always here to help.
A Tour of Your New Home
Make sure you meet all members of your host family. Repeat their names so you can
Please ask for a tour of your house when you first arrive. Your host should show you
where everything is, with special care to point out your bedroom and bathroom; the
kitchen and dining area; the laundry room; the linen closet (or wherever clean linen and
towels are kept); and so on. Please make sure you understand how to use:
• The bathroom, including the bath/shower, toilet and sink;
• Appliances and entertainment items, like the TV, microwave, etc.;
• The fire extinguisher, as well as what to do in the event of a fire (for example, suitable
exits and emergency phone numbers).
You can treat this house as your own but do respect everyone’s right to privacy and
quiet. Always knock and announce yourself before entering someone else’s room, and
be considerate when using common areas.
A Tour of the Neighbourhood
Ask your host for a tour of your new neighbourhood, including directions to and from
your school and any local attractions or meeting places. Ask your host to help you write
a list of important contact numbers which you can keep with you at all times. As a
courtesy, the homestay family may drive you to an appointment but they do not provide
daily transportation to and from school.
Household Rules and Routines
Your host family will have certain rules concerning daily life in the house. These include
when to have baths and showers; where food can or cannot be eaten; how to do
laundry; curfews; limits on the use of the television/stereo/DVD and other family
property; family schedules and bedtime hours; when it is OK to have friends over, and
so on. There may be areas of the house your host will ask you not to use. Please
respect their wishes. All the rules or guidelines that apply to their other family members
also apply to you. We ask our hosts to arrange a family meeting to go over the house
rules at the beginning of your stay. It is your responsibility to understand and observe all
household rules. If you are having any difficulty doing so, please contact the ISP office
Students should ask for permission before going out or making plans. When you do
go out, please tell your homestay family where you will be going, and how you
can be reached (include all relevant phone numbers); when you will be home
(remember your curfew!) and who you will be with. Students should be reminded
that if their plans change and they are going to be later than anticipated, they should
contact their homestay family immediately! They will worry if you’re not home on time
and this information is important for your safety. Good communication between the ISP
student and the homestay family is important to prevent confusion, misunderstandings
and will develop a good relationship. Please do not assume your homestay family
knows where you are, or remembers plans you have discussed in advance. Always
review your plans with your homestay family on the evening you’re going out. When you
do get home, please enter the home quietly!
Homestay families and students need to discuss curfews based on your age and
maturity and the nature of the activity. Make sure that you always communicate to your
homestay parent so that they always know where you are going and who you will be
with. Students are reminded to respect the individual rules of the household. The ISP
supports a 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. curfew from Sunday to Thursday, and a 12:00
midnight, curfew on weekends for older students and on special occasions a 1:00 a.m.
curfew may be appropriate.
Your host parents will welcome you into their home as a member of the family. Very few
Canadians employ maids; therefore, all members of the family are expected to share
the chores around the house. As part of the household, you will be expected to do
some assigned chores. For example, you will be responsible to keep your room tidy and
clean, and other areas of the house if you use them. You should also be prepared to
help with meal preparation, cleaning of dishes, and doing your own laundry. In many
cases, you may also be an older brother or sister to your homestay family’s children.
We hope you set a good example for them, however, you will not be expected to babysit
Please check with your host at the beginning of your stay to work out a laundry
schedule. They may ask you to do your own laundry. Please ensure that you have a full
load and are not washing a few items every few days.
Your bedroom will include a window and smoke detector nearby; bed and bedding; a
dresser, desk, chair, and lamp for studying; a closet; and adequate heat, light and
ventilation. Please ask your host to show you where to find extra blankets if needed.
Your homestay family will discuss with you what you can put on bedroom walls and how
to attach items. As a courtesy, and to conserve energy, please turn off the lights before
leaving your room.
Please try to leave the bathroom clean and dry after you use it. Your host will explain
when the best times for using the shower. Most students will share their bathroom with
one or more family members or other students. If there are several members of your
household, please be considerate with the use of hot water, which might run out before
everyone has showered!
Telephone & the Internet
For students studying far from home, computer and telephone connections are an
important way of keeping in contact with family and friends. Email is very useful,
because it allows regular communication without the expense of long distance
telephone calls. Please make sure you know how to use the telephones in the house. A
discussion about the use of the telephone and long distance charges should take place
early in the relationship. You will need to understand any rules regarding the use of the
telephone, especially with reference to the length of calls and calls made or received
late at night. Be aware of the difference in time zones. Collect calls, calling cards or
personal cell phone are recommended for long distance calls. Students are required to
pay the homestay family prior to the bill due date for any phone related services
incurred by them.
The ISP homestay program does not approve of overnight visitors or visits. If you wish
to have a guest then you must ask for permission from your host. You are not permitted
to bring guests into the homestay if the homestay family is not at home. Someone of the
opposite gender is not permitted to visit private areas/bedrooms.
Everybody likes different foods. Part of the fun of homestay is learning what Canadian
families like to eat, and teaching your host family what you like to eat. Now is your
chance to prepare a traditional meal from your home country for your host family. This
will be a treat for you and them!
Your host family will always provide your meals—but this doesn’t mean that your meals
will be served to you. Sometimes your hosts will not be at home for every meal—and
sometimes they will have different customs from you for certain meals.
Here is what you can expect in a typical Canadian home regarding meals:
• Breakfast. Each host family has its own unique morning schedule, so it is important to
decide on a routine that will work best for everyone. Weekdays, breakfast is usually a
quick, light meal. On weekends, families may prepare breakfast together. Some families
eat a hot breakfast; others prefer to have something cold, such as cereal or toast, and
juice. Your host family might leave it up to you to decide what to eat in the morning—
please ask them to show you where the food is kept and how to prepare your own
breakfast if this is the case.
• Lunch usually is eaten at noon, and consists of a light main course (soup, a salad, or
a sandwich), a drink (water, milk, or juice), and a dessert of fruit or cookies. Your family
will either provide you with a lunch to take to school or may ask you to make your own
lunch. Sometimes you may be able to take some dinner from the night before that you
can heat up at school if there is a microwave.
• Dinner/Supper. Your host family will try to have a sit-down dinner—which is usually
the largest meal of the day and may consist of a main course, with or without a salad—
as often as their weekly schedule allows. It is very important that you communicate with
your family when you will be home for dinner which is usually eaten between 5:00 and
7:00 pm. To be considerate, if you will not be home for dinner, you MUST phone
your family and tell them before dinnertime. This way, they will not expect you, they
will not worry, and they will leave some dinner for you. Please try to be at home for this
family dinner hour as often as possible as this is the best time for families to talk about
their day and for you to bond with your host parents and host brothers and sisters.
It is important that you are happy with the food prepared for you. If you have concerns
speak to your host parents or, if you prefer, we can do so. Let us know. If you have
special dietary needs—if you have extreme likes or dislikes, or any allergies—please
discuss them with your host family as soon as you arrive.
Communication and Compromise!
Living with a host family will be a new experience for you and them. As in any home
around the world there are bound to be problems or challenges from time to time.
Almost every difficulty students face in the homestay is connected with poor
communication. It’s not surprising—in your first weeks in Canada, you may have a hard
time making your hosts understand what you need and how you feel—and your hosts
may have a hard time making you understand them. This is totally natural and to be
Sometimes the difficulty communicating can result in either the student or the host
seeming rude or insensitive—or both. Sometimes we can all just become frustrated and
unhappy. But we’re here to help. We know it can be hard at the beginning, but you are
not alone! We’ve helped lots of students like you get through the first days and weeks.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you adjust:
• We know that the hardest thing for you to do is complain. We know that lots of
ordinary things about your homestay may feel strange at first, and we know that
you won’t want to seem ungrateful or unhappy. But it’s okay to ask for help.
Please don’t say things are “fine” if they aren’t, but don’t make insults, either!
Please be patient and try to be as specific about your needs and feelings as
• Ask specific questions, whether you’re concerned about laundry or dinner.
• It’s okay to need some quiet time to yourself—but sometimes the best way to
grow more comfortable at home is to keep busy and involved, to meet people,
and most of all to talk. Your hosts have welcomed you into their home because
they want to know about you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or even a little
homesick, then why not practice your English by telling your host family all about
life at your home!
If you experience any problems the following process is helpful; please try it:
Speak with your host family immediately if you are upset by something. Most
families will be happy to talk to you and to find out what can be done to resolve
If the problem cannot be resolved by speaking with your family, please call your
homestay coordinator for help. Do not call your parents or Agent before you
speak to us. We can help you better and more quickly if we hear about the
problem from you directly. You can always call them later if you are not happy
with our solutions.
If a problem comes up again between you and your host, the first thing we ask you to do
is to contact us for assistance. Our goal is your and your host’s happiness, health and
safety. We’ve found that most problems can be resolved when we listen to one
another’s feelings and thoughts.
EMERGENCY (medical, fire, police, poison treatment, etc.) call 911 from the
nearest phone. This is a toll-free call that will send medical, police, or fire services to
you immediately. If you call 911, a trained emergency operator will ask you if you need
police, fire or ambulance. You will then be transferred to the correct service. You will
be asked for your full name, address and type of emergency. After calling 911 you
must immediately call the emergency telephone number for the ISP program
All students must carry a Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
International Student Program Information Card (white card) along with an Ingle
Insurance Card in your wallet at all times. You are also encouraged to carry your
School Student Card with your picture as another form of identification. In the event of
an emergency the ISP office will contact homeland families, homestay families and
We care about your safety during your stay with us. The Hastings and Prince Edward
District School Board purchases medical insurance for each international student.
Information will be provided to you upon your arrival at orientation. You will be given
instructions on forms and procedures. Students should keep their insurance card
with them at all times. Quinte Health Care has hospitals in Belleville, Trenton and
Picton. Treatment will be provided when you present your Medical Insurance Card.
You will need to complete the Medical Claim Form with the assistance of your homestay
family and International Student Program Coordinator. The completed Medical Claim
Form and all receipts are to be submitted to the ISP Office as soon as possible.
Options for health care treatment include going to a walk-in medical clinic or to the
emergency department at the hospital. We encourage students to go to the walk-in
clinics first, unless it is a medical emergency. The local medical clinics see patients on a
first come, first served basis. Students who attend the clinics should expect to take a
number and wait their turn to be seen by a doctor. These wait times are not predictable
and students are encouraged to be patient while waiting. Students who visit the
emergency rooms at hospitals are seen on a priority basis. Emergency room doctors
will see the most severe patients first. Unfortunately, this can make for long wait times
and again students are encouraged to be patient.
Treatment at a local medical clinic or a hospital outside of QHC’s jurisdiction will
require you to pay the cost of treatment. Complete the Medical Claim Form, attach
all receipts then submits the form to the ISP Office or Coordinator for reimbursement.
Reimbursement generally will be received within two weeks if forms have been
completed completely and correctly and signed by the attending doctor. Homestay
families should keep a copy of the policy and a claim form on file. Some medical
services may not be covered, such as holistic practitioners. Any extra costs are the
If you get a prescription at the drug store, you will be expected to pay. Submit
the receipt along with a claim form to Ingle International. You will be provided with a
medical claim form. Additional claim forms can be downloaded from the Ingle website:
Adjusting to Life in Canada
As a newcomer to Canada, you will go through a predictable sequence of stages in
adjusting to your new circumstances. The adjustment phase usually takes 3 to 4
1. Arrival and first impressions
You will be excited to be in a new environment and everything will seem new and
2. Culture Stress/Shock
You may become less optimistic as you find it difficult to make friends and learn
English. You will miss your friends, family and everything that was familiar. There
may be times when you feel sad and long for home.
3. Recovery and optimism
You feel better because you are experiencing success at school and making
friends. You feel more confident about fitting in at school.
You become more comfortable in your new surroundings and can balance the new
culture with your own culture. You can appreciate what the new experience is
bringing to you.
Do you think each person who comes to Canada to study feels stress? If you said yes,
you’re right! Each person will feel some stress because of the differences between their
home culture and Canada. Some people feel very stressed! Some people feel very little
stress! Everyone is different.
What do you think might be some signs of culture stress (shock)?
Anxiety, confusion, withdrawal from people and activities, silence/unresponsiveness,
fatigue, distractibility, resistance to change, feeling disoriented and feeling depressed
are all real signs of culture stress! Some people will become physically ill after a month
or two – especially if they are from a different climate. Some people get headaches,
stomachaches, or colds. Recognize that these symptoms are real and are a sign that
you need to take care of yourself and talk with somebody who understands. There are
many places in the community to talk with people who have undergone the same
experience. Anyone in the International Program would be very glad to help you through
your transition and assist you in finding a cultural contact.
What do you think is the biggest difference between your culture and Canadian
If you answered food, you are among the majority of students. Food, weather,
language, and different ways of behaving, are the top 4 things that students find very
different from their own culture.
What qualities do you need to adjust?
• A sense of humor: You need to be able to laugh at some of your problems.
• A sense of adventure: Be willing to try different things even if you discover you
really don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again.
• Have an open mind to other cultures. Canada is a multicultural country and there
are international students from many different countries. Establish relationships
with people both in your own culture and others!
• Participate, participate, and participate! Get out and join a club, go swimming.
Make Canadian friends.
• Find out how to solve problems that come up. Talk to someone as problems
come up. It may be an ISP staff, a teacher, a guidance counselor, or your host
mother and father.
• Expect change. Traveling and studying in another country brings about personal
change, so expect yourself to change. This is the cycle of change you will
experience while you are here.
*Stress *Change *Learn & grow *Adapt
How do I know I am experiencing culture stress?
Before you left your home country and came to Canada, you probably felt a mixture of
excitement and fear! You did not know what you would see and experience when you
got here. When you arrived, you might still have felt nervous and afraid – but many
people at that point feel very excited and have a high level of interest because life
seems exciting and full of new experiences. After a while, you may have begun to feel
worried – many new students are worried about their English abilities and are mostly
concerned about not understanding what people are saying in English. They may be
concerned that they cannot keep up a conversation in English. Perhaps you often feel
sick to your stomach or have headaches. One day, you may feel really ‘up’ – then the
next day, feel really ‘down’. Reactions to your new culture are different from person to
person – but everyone will experience cultural stress.
Remember – some stress is good for you! It helps you to learn about your new culture,
your new language, and about yourself. Culture stress is the extreme feeling of being
alone. Some people may experience depression (negative feelings about themselves).
But many people have negative feelings about their new culture.
Examples of experiencing culture stress:
• If you ……
• Stay in your room more often than being
with your host family. You are probably
• Feel like you are alone in the world. experiencing culture
• Cry and are not sure why you are crying stress.
• Have a constant headache.
• Refuse to change anything about yourself
and are angry, especially at your new
What should I do about culture stress?
Talk to your family and with any other international students/parents that have been
here for a while, they truly understand about culture stress.
It is important they you also talk to the ISP Coordinator when they visit you at
school. They are there to help you. Here are some suggestions:
• Ask yourself what you know about Canadians. Do you know about Canada and
Canadians from television and movies? Perhaps you expected something else
before you came here.
• Can you laugh at yourself when you make a mistake? Don’t get angry with
yourself or other people. A sense of humor will help you through stress.
• Can you talk about your feelings to someone? Again, talk to your host family, a
school counselor, the ISP Coordinator, or a friend when you begin to feel lonely,
homesick, or discouraged.
• Are you critical about Canadians because they do things differently than you do
at home? Be open-minded. Try to understand why things are done differently in
Canada than in your home country.
• Can you change and adapt to your new culture? This does not mean you
completely give up your own culture – but listen when people talk about your new
culture. Learn as much as you can about your new culture.
• You will not like everything you do or see in Canada. It is natural for you to feel
that your own culture, customs and beliefs are the best.
• Accept that different does not mean better or worse. Judging Canadian culture
as being of lesser value than your own will create a block to your learning.
• Be respectful. Think about relationships with family, teachers, and friends.
By trying to follow these suggestions, you can enjoy your learning experience in
Note: You may not understand everything you hear and see and you may not agree
that everything you hear and see in Canada is right! That’s OK it is normal to feel that
your customs and culture are the best. But remember KEEP AN OPEN MIND! Different
does not mean wrong. Positive thinking and talking can create greater understanding
with your host family, your school life and new friends. Have responsible fun! Think
Life Outside the Canadian Home
While academic study, growth and development are the principle goals of the
International Student Program, group interaction and socializing are also important
elements for a successful stay. Education is important, but it’s important to have other
things in life in addition to school work. Canadian families spend a few evenings each
week engaged in leisure activities and relaxation. We encourage you to spend some
time with them. However, it’s perfectly alright to spend a few evenings out with your own
friends from school and to participate in extracurricular activities at your school as well
(clubs, sports, and activities). Making friends and taking time for recreation allows you
to balance your lifestyle. You will have more energy to learn and you will find your
English improves more rapidly if you take part in recreation with your fellow students or
in the community.
Climate and Clothing
Ontario has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Late summer and
early fall, August through September, are periods of cool evenings and warm days.
Snow and freezing weather usually arrives in November and remains until March or
even April. During the coldest periods of winter, temperatures can reach minus 30
Celsius and feel even colder because of the effect of wind chill which makes it feel even
colder. However, many people enjoy winter activities and with appropriate clothing, it
can be a very enjoyable season.
Appropriate winter clothing includes:
• a warm hat and gloves or mitts,
• a warm winter jacket,
• warm insulated boots.
For some outdoor activities such as snowmobiling or skiing snow pants are strongly
advised. You may not be able to buy clothing in your home country that is warm enough
for a Canadian winter. In this case plan to buy a coat, boots, hat and gloves when you
arrive.They are available at any major clothing store and your homestay parents will be
able to help you find what you need
Spring can bring mild weather, and often rain showers, so umbrellas and rain jackets
are a good idea.
Summer temperatures in June, July and August can reach 30 degrees Celsius. Most
people dress casually in shorts and short-sleeved shirts during the hot months.
Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat to prevent sunburn. Occasionally hot days will
lead to powerful thunderstorms. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance in Ontario during warm,
moist summers so students are advised to use mosquito repellent if you are outside
during the peak mosquito times of day (evening and night) or taking part in outdoor
activities such as hiking or canoeing. Your homestay parents will be able to advise you
on how to dress for Ontario’s climate.
Sleeping over at a friend’s house during the week is not permitted by the ISP, as it
typically distracts from the learning process. However, there might be circumstances
when the homestay family may need to make alternate sleeping arrangements for you.
In such cases, the ISP Homestay Coordinator should be notified and provided with
details on your whereabouts. On weekends if you wish to sleep over at a friend’s home
then you must provide your homestay parent with the name, address and telephone
number of the friend. Your homestay parent will then contact the friend’s parents to
ensure there will be appropriate supervision during the visit.
You may have opportunities to travel and experience Canadian and North American
culture during your stay in Belleville. Any travelling you do should not interfere with
school and should be planned during school holidays. The International Student
Program must be informed of your travel plans and receive written permission from your
natural parents. You will be given “Permission to Travel” forms at your orientation.
Unapproved travel is a serious matter and may result in being expelled from the
The International Student Program will not be responsible for your actions while you are
traveling. Your parents must sign the Homeland Parent Permission to Travel form
which states this. All students must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 25
years of age or have an adult at least 25 years of age who will be responsible for them
at their destination. Your natural parents must also provide this information on the
signed form. While traveling, all students must abide by the laws of Canada and the
province or state they are visiting.
The Travel Consent Form must be signed by the homestay parents then submitted by
fax or e-mail as early as possible and ideally a week before any travel occurs. No travel
will take place without the signed approval of the ISP Manager. (Note: Travel
Consent Forms are available at each school, and are available on the website.)
Homestay parents will be notified of the final decision.
Homestay families may want to include the international student in their travel and
holiday plans. Students are encouraged to participate. Please note that travel within
Ontario with the host family does not require parental permission but the ISP Homestay
Coordinator should be informed. Travel outside of Ontario does require homeland
parental permission. The ISP takes no responsibility for students during travel holidays.
Remember, if you have any difficulties while traveling please call the ISP
emergency number at (613) 921-3153.
Drivers Licenses and Driving
The legal driving age in Ontario is 16 years of age. Driving without a license at any age
is illegal.If you are travelling as a passenger with another driver, remember that Ontario
law requires all passengers to wear a seatbelt. You should never get in a vehicle
with a driver who has been drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs.
Canadians observe strict rules about smoking. It is illegal to buy cigarettes in Canada if
you are under the age of 18. Students under the age of 18 in the ISP program are not
allowed, under any circumstance, to smoke in Canada—at home, at school, or
elsewhere. Students who are over the age of 18, and who smoke, are not allowed to
smoke inside their home and are also expected to observe all municipal rules about
smoking. This means: no smoking in public buildings, on public transportation, or in
public places, including bars and restaurants.
Alcohol and Drugs
Drinking alcohol and the use of drugs is strictly prohibited and may result in expulsion.
Shopping and Restaurants
Belleville and other communities in Ontario have a wide variety of stores in malls,
downtown and neighbourhood shopping areas. A wide variety of restaurants offer fast
food, casual and formal dining, serving food from many cultures. Information on local
restaurants will be available from your homestay family. It is customary to leave a tip
when eating at restaurants where you are served by a waiter or waitress. Generally
Canadians add 15% of the total amount of the bill (not including tax) as a tip; however,
note that some restaurants add the tip amount to the bill before it is presented for
payment. Usually there is no tipping at fast food or cafeteria-style restaurants, although
some may have a tip jar. Your homestay family will have more information on
attractions and events. Listings of cultural events are also available through the daily
newspaper. Your homestay family will likely have their own favourite local attractions.
Money and Valuables
$5.00……blue $0.01…..brown (penny)
$10.00…..purple $0.05…..silver (nickel)
$20.00…..green $0.10…. silver (dime)
$50.00…..red $0.25….silver (quarter)
$2.00….Silver with a bronze core
In Ontario two taxes are added to the sale price of most goods and services; federal
(Good and Services Tax (GST) and provincial (Provincial Sales Tax –PST). Currently it
is a total of 13%.
Students are asked to bring an adequate amount of money for extra expenses such as
meals out of the home, movies, extracurricular school activities and so on. Homestay
fees do not cover these costs. Also, your Homestay fees do not include costs of major
family outings. If you choose to participate in family holidays and/or travel where there
are extra costs, you should expect to pay.
International students are discouraged from carrying or displaying large amounts of
cash. While theft is not common in Canada, it can and does happen. Displaying wealth
can also lead to uncomfortable situations among your peers: money attracts attention,
and if other students think you have a lot of it to spend, they may start expecting you to
pay for their meals and activities. You should not be expected to lend money to, or
borrow money from, other students or members of your host family household. Do not
allow other people to talk you into buying their meals or paying their admission to
events. When going out in the evening, only take as much money as you expect you will
need For example, $20 will pay for a movie and snacks plus another $20 as emergency
money, in case you need to take a taxi home.
The homestay parent should assist you to set up a personal bank account and then
discuss banking and how to use the bank/ debit cards. The CIBC Bank at 237 Front
Street in Belleville is used by the ISP Program and is familiar with accounts for
international students. For security purposes, we recommend the use of an automated
teller card (bank card/ debit card). It’s also convenient: for you to access your funds at
ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), even pay for meals, retail purchases and tourist
attractions with your bank card.
Canada is a safe country by international standards. Well-trained police and fire
departments, safely designed and built roads, brightly lit streets, and high-quality
building construction mean that danger from crime, fire and accident is reduced.
However, you should still take steps to protect yourself and your belongings during your
stay in Ontario. By preparing in advance and discussing safety with your homestay
parents, you will be in a better position to do something if an unexpected problem
occurs. The following steps should help to keep you safe.
• Get to know your fellow students, staff at your school, etc.
• Pay attention to your belongings.
• Only carry a small amount of cash with you when you go out, and keep your
passport safe at your residence.
• Know where you are going and how you will get there and discuss your plans with
your homestay parents.
• When you go out, go out with friends. Try to avoid going out alone.
• Do not walk alone at night.
• Never get into a car with a driver who has been drinking alcohol or has consumed
• Do not hesitate to say “stop” if somebody is bothering you or encouraging you to do
something you do not want to do.
• Remember that the emergency telephone number for police, fire department or
medical emergencies is 911. The emergency contact number for the International
Student Program is located on page 4 of this handbook, make sure that you
always keep it close for quick reference.
• Remember that in Canada, the police are there to protect and help all people.
• It is a good idea to make two copies of important documents (such as airline
tickets, health insurance forms, and your passport): one for you to keep with you,
and another for your hosts. Keep the originals in a safe place—they should not
stay in your school bag or suitcase.
Canadian Culture And Community
You will enjoy your time in Ontario the most if you are aware of some facts about
Canada’s culture. This will ensure that you get along well with your homestay family,
your classmates, and your teachers and in general, Canadian people you meet.
International students and their homestay families are expected to treat each other with
courtesy and respect.
Open and clear communication is the best way to avoid misunderstandings. You are
encouraged to ask teachers, homestay families and other people questions. If you do
not understand an answer, it is very acceptable to ask for an explanation. Generally,
communication in Canada is informal. A simple “hello,” “good morning” or “how are
you?” is a common greeting. Unless you are speaking to a health professional, family
member or close friend, the person who asks “how are you?” is not usually asking about
your health. Normally Canadians will respond to “how are you?” with a simple “fine,
thanks.” In conversations most Canadians prefer to make eye contact while talking. If
you are still learning English and have trouble finding the right word, do not worry. Most
Canadians will be patient and try to help you find the word you need.
Privacy and Personal Boundaries
Canadians generally value their privacy and personal space. Many Canadians are
uncomfortable talking about personal matters such as family, income, and religion
unless they know a person well. Canadians also like to keep a physical distance (about
one arms length) between themselves and other people as a form of respect and
Roles of Men and Women
In Canada roles of men and women are less strongly defined than in other countries.
That means women may work in positions that traditionally were thought of as “men’s
work” and men may work in positions that traditionally were thought of as “women’s
work.” In some households, men do much of the work at home, such as cooking,
cleaning and caring for children while women work outside the home. You may see this
in your homestay family. You may also see these changed roles for men and women at
your school and other places you go. There are many women in management positions
in Canadian society. Women play many sports – such as ice hockey – that traditionally
were considered men’s sports.
Canada is a democratic society and Canadians believe in equality of all people. Race,
heritage, gender, age, or disability, do not hold any social hindrance.All members of the
society are to be treated with respect, whether highly educated professionals or workers
in the service industry.
Canada takes it seriously when it comes to acts of violence or of dominance over
another person, and so no person has the right to place their hands on another
individual unless given direct permission to do so.
In many Canadian homes and workplaces people speak to one another using their first
name, instead of saying “Mr.” and “Mrs.” At school, however, all students are expected
to address teachers and principals using their last name and a title such as Mr., Ms. or
Mrs. The term Ms. is a relatively recent creation that is used for a woman who is
married or unmarried, just as Mr. is used for men who are married or unmarried. Some
women prefer to be addressed as Ms. and others prefer Miss or Mrs. In family settings
some older adults, such as homestay parents, let young people address them by their
first names and some prefer the more formal style of address. Find out which style your
homestay parents prefer.
Canadians are typically very polite to each other and to those of other origins. They
tend to say “please” and “thank you” as well as other respectful notions and responses.
Canadians show respect to each other by waiting in lines and if they accidentally bump
into each other. In Canada, citizens walk and drive on the right side of the streets, and
try to make an effort not to interrupt the flow of traffic by standing on the far right as well.
Personal Grooming and Hygiene
Most Canadians shower once every day, usually in the morning before school or work.
Canadians also shower after exercising. If you are taking a Physical Education class,
you may find that the students are encouraged to shower before their next class begins.
Public swimming pools require all swimmers to shower before entering the pool.
Most Canadian homes have machines for washing and drying clothing and so most
Canadians wash their clothing regularly (especially in hot weather).
In matters of grooming, such as hair styles and facial hair, Canadians follow a variety of
tastes and fashions. There will likely be a hair stylist near your school or your homestay
home. Most hairstylists serve both male and female customers.
Holidays and Important Dates
Learning how Canadians celebrate holidays is an important part of your experience in
Ontario, and therefore as an international student you are encouraged to join your
homestay family in these celebrations. Keep in mind that on many Canadian holidays
few services are available and only essential services, such as hospitals and
emergency services, are open. Most banks close on these holidays; be sure to check
Following is a list of holidays in Ontario:
Labour Day - This marks the creation of the labour movement and is dedicated to the
social and economic achievements of Canadian workers. It is regarded as the last
weekend of summer since most years, most schools begin classes the day after Labour
Thanksgiving Day-October- Celebration of the harvest. It is a school holiday. Families
gather and have a festive meal, usually with turkey and pumpkin pie. Canadians
celebrate Thanksgiving in October and Americans celebrate at the end of November.
Halloween-Always celebrated October 31st. Children dress up in costumes and go
door-to-door, collecting candy. Teens and adults may dress in costume for dances or
Remembrance Day-Always celebrated November 11th. On this day Canadians honour
the soldiers who fought for Canada in the wars and during peacekeeping missions. It is
a time when people wear poppies, the flower of remembrance. It originally was a
reminder of the blood-red flower which grew in the fields where many Canadian soldiers
were buried in Flanders, France.
Christmas Day- December 25th. Celebration of the birth of Christ, and it is a time for
family gatherings and gift-giving. People generally take several days away from work.
Boxing Day- December 26th, the day after Christmas. Families may celebrate the
season together. The malls are filled with people either exchanging gifts or buying
reduced priced gifts.
New Years Day- January 1st
The final exams for the first semester are held during the third and fourth weeks of
The second semester starts the first week of February.
Family Day-3rd Monday in February- Holiday to celebrate family and activities where
families can spend time together.
March Break-School break for one week in March.
Good Friday and Easter Monday-School holiday. This religious holiday
commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Easter is usually in April.
Victoria Day- Monday in May- School holiday. Originally the birthday of Queen Victoria,
the Queen of Great Britain from 1837-1901, it is now a more general celebration of the
monarch’s birthday and a time for a spring holiday that gardeners call “planting
June - Final exams for second semester. Students should find out when their last exam
is before booking flights home.
Canada Day-July 1st. The day to celebrate Canada becoming a nation. Parades, large
gatherings and fireworks are common.
While students are encouraged to explore and experience Canadian culture
through travel during their stay here, it is expected that travel will not interfere
with your academic studies and should be limited to designated school holidays.
New Student Airport Pick-up
• If requested on the invoice, new students will be picked up by an ISP driver.
• Arrangements will be made by ISP staff and details will be sent to you, your
homeland education representative and your new homestay a few weeks prior to
• Once through Customs, you will exit into the Arrivals area and look for a person
holding a sign with your name on it; this is your driver. Please note it may take
up to 2 hours in Customs.
• He/she will deliver you to your homestay - it is approximately a 2 hour drive from
Toronto to Belleville.
• Second semester arrivals please note that weather conditions in Canada may
delay your flight and/ or driver.
• Remember- If you do not make contact with your driver within 20 minutes,
please call 613-921-3153.
There are three options available for students who require transportation to or from the
1. Personal Pick up and Delivery:
The International Student Program has a number of drivers who will deliver or pick up
students. They are able to accommodate multiple or individual students. Should a
number of students arrange for transportation together, a group discount may be
offered. Please call for pricing details. Our drivers are also available throughout the
school year to provide transportation for (pre-approved) trips and other drop-off
locations. Returning students can call Mr.Heinz Markmeyer at 613-968-4006 or e-mail
at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange return transportation pick-ups. Mr. Markmeyer is
also available, for rides to other locations.
2. Ontario Coachways 613-968-2058
Cost is approximately $80 from home to airport delivery.
In June: Students may arrange to be picked up from their homes in Belleville and
dropped off at the airport. To arrange a pick up in advance call (613)968-2058 or
www.ontariocoachway.com. Students should make arrangements at least 2 weeks
in advance. Have your flight number, date and time available when you make the
In September: You may book a seat in the spring if you know your return flight
number, time, and date. Otherwise you will need to contact them during the summer
once flight arrangements are made. Upon arrival in September students go to the
Ground Transportation Counter in the airport and ask for Ontario Coachways.
Payment is made directly to the driver on the day of pick up/drop off - exact cash
orVisa/MC/Amex. Students may also provide a Visa/MC/Amex number with the
expiry date and parent’s name on the card.
3. Coach Canada 613-967-4938
Cost is approximately $50 for bus from Belleville to airport.
June: There are several daily pick-ups from Belleville going directly to Toronto’s
Pearson International Airport. The trip takes approximately 2.5 hours. The pick-up
location is the Belleville Bus Terminal at 169 Pinnacle Street. Students may
purchase tickets onsite or if the ticket offices are closed, may pay cash only to the
September: There are usually several departure times daily from the Toronto Airport
Terminals 1 and 3. Arrival in Belleville is 3 hours after departure. Students should
report to the Airport Express Kiosk either on the Arrival level or the Ground level in
Learning the English Language
You have come to Canada to improve your English skills. Over time you will become
more confident in English, so be brave! Do not worry if you make mistakes. Keep
Try to use English in as many simple daily activities as possible, such as:
• Conversation, especially at dinner and relaxation time
• Setting the table, meal preparation, family gatherings, etc.
• Looking at family photo albums and videos
• Playing cards/board games
• Planning holidays and weekend outings
• Accompanying your homestay family on outings and errands. A trip to the
supermarket is an interesting event for both of you, to identify and describe your
• Exercising such as running, walking, aerobics, swimming, etc.
• Watching TV (programs which stimulate conversation and the sharing of ideas)
• Joining school clubs (e.g. choir, drama, band) and/or sports teams
• Going on school trips
• Getting involved in community activities outside of school at:
– local community centres
– community groups or clubs
• Consider getting involved in activities in a variety of ways:
– act as a volunteer
– take part in sports
– take courses in art, crafts, music, French
Accept invitations to talk about yourself—don’t be shy! Try to give full answers to
questions—explain how you feel and why, rather than simply saying “yes” or “no.” Offer
lists of things you like and don’t like. Ask your hosts to explain expressions you don’t
understand and slang. These can be hard to understand at first—and lots of fun to use.
For example, “hang on” is equivalent to “one moment, please” or “please wait.” If
someone asks, “Do you understand?”, be honest! Don’t just say “Yes” for the sake of
harmony! Instead, ask for help. Ask if your host understands you. Try to rephrase what
you’ve said, or what you’ve heard. It can take effort—but it will always be worth it. Smile
and laugh a lot.
Conversation may be very difficult at first—but you must keep trying! As you go along,
keep in mind that it helps to:
• Speak English at all times.
• Speak slower, not faster, if you’re having trouble making yourself understood. Try
rephrasing the same ideas using different words.
• Listen to the expressions your hosts use in English, make sure you understand them,
and try to use them, too.
• Use charades, pointing, and body language!
• Try writing your ideas—sometimes your reading and writing skills will be ahead of your
verbal skills. Make the most of them!
• Purchase an English dictionary.
If all else fails, call the homestay coordinator for assistance! We have interpreters
available and can arrange to get you extra help at school.
The English that you learn in the classroom may differ slightly from the English your
friends and classmates speak. That is because slang expressions are continually
created. The best way to learn to speak English is to combine your classroom studies
with lots of casual conversation. Please ask your homestay family if you have any
confusion or questions about Canadian sayings or phrases.
Most high schools in Ontario use a semester system, which divides the school year into
two parts. In schools that follow the semester system, a student will take 4 courses
during the first semester, from September to January, and a selection of another 4
courses in the second semester, from February to June. Elementary schools are not on
the semester system and so courses run from September to June.
School-Sponsored Extracurricular Activities
Extra-curricular school activities are an important part of the Canadian school
experience. The term “extra-curricular” means that these activities are not part of the
required course of study, but they can be very educational, especially for a student who
wants to improve his or her English language skills. Activities vary greatly from school to
school, and include a large variety of sports, drama, music, clubs, and committees.
There may be extra fees required for some activities. Find out what opportunities there
are at your school and what you need to do to participate in these activities.
Trips away from school may be taken as a part of an academic course or for extra-
curricular reasons such as to take part in a sports event. Rules for field trips are
required to ensure safety. Schools may have a code of conduct for field trips, which all
students are required to follow. Field trips may be for part of a school day or may be
overnight trips. Generally, to participate in a field trip, a student must have a permission
form and/or waiver signed by his or her legal custodian. A waiver is a legal document
that states that the person signing is aware of the potential dangers of what he or she is
agreeing to do. For example, before a child can go on a school’s ski trip, the parent or
guardian would sign a waiver stating that he or she is aware of the potential dangers of
skiing. There may also be extra fees for participating in some field trips. Field trips can
be an excellent way for international students to see more of Ontario outside of their
school and homestay home.
High school students will receive four reports each year, two per semester: a mid-term
report card given approximately half way through the semester and a final report card.
Parent-teacher interviews are also held so that guardians/parents may ask questions
about their child’s progress. Homestay parents are invited to parent-teacher interviews
so that they are better able to support their international student academically and
emotionally, as needed. Report cards will be sent to the student’s agent in their home
country who then distribute to parents.
The school board has a dress code that sets out rules for appropriate clothing to be
worn at school. In general, schools have rules against wearing clothing with offensive
wording, revealing clothing, or wearing hats indoors. Schools also require proper
exercise clothing and shoes for Physical Education class. These rules vary from school
to school, so learn the rules at your school. Only one district school, Quinte Secondary
School has a school dress code.
Plagiarism is defined as the submission of words, ideas, images, or data of another
person as one’s own in any academic writing, essay, theses, research project or
assignment in a course or program of study. It is not permissible to have someone else
write tests, examinations, essays, or laboratory reports for you. If you are caught
plagiarizing someone’s work, there will be consequences and you will be suspended
from school. If you are unsure if you are allowed to use notes or textbooks during a test
or exam, ask your teacher.
Regular school attendance is expected of all ISP students. Your first obligation in
Canada is to attend school every day and go to all your classes. You can have fun, too,
but your main job is to do well in your studies. Please ensure you know your daily
schedule and learn the location of your classrooms. Classes missed due to illness must
be documented by a phone call to the school from the homestay family. A note should
be handed in when returning to school. Unexcused absences will be reported to the
homestay family and should be discussed with the student. If a pattern of absences
develops the Homestay Coordinator is to be notified. Excessive absences may result in
a loss of credit(s) or expulsion from the International Student Program. Arriving late to
class is not acceptable and frequent lateness may lead to disciplinary action.
CODE OF CONDUCT-STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOUR
RESPECT, CIVILITY, AND RESPONSIBLE SAFETY
CITIZENSHIP All students, parents, teachers, and staff members
Responsible citizenship involves appropriate participation in have the right to be safe, and to feel safe, in their
the civic life of the school community. Active and engaged school community. With this right comes the
citizens are aware of their rights, but more importantly, they responsibility to contribute to a positive school
accept responsibility for protecting their rights and the rights climate.
ALL MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL
ALL MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY COMMUNITY
MUST: MUST NOT:
• Must respect and comply with all applicable federal, • Must not engage in bullying behaviours.
provincial, and municipal laws.
• Must not commit sexual assault.
• Must demonstrate honesty and integrity.
• Must not traffic weapons or illegal drugs.
• Must respect differences in people, their ideas, and
• Must not give alcohol to a minor.
• Must not commit robbery.
• Must treat one another with dignity and respect at
all times, and especially when there is disagreement. • Must not be in possession of any
weapon, including firearms.
• Respect and treat others fairly, regardless of, for
example, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, • Use any object to threaten or intimidate
ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, gender, sexual another person.
orientation, age, or disability. • Must not cause injury to any person with
• Must respect the rights of others. an object.
• Must show proper care and regard for school • Must not be in possession of, or be under
property and the property of others. the influence of, or provide others with
alcohol or illegal drugs.
• Must take appropriate measures to help those in
need. • Must not inflict or encourage others to
inflict bodily harm on another person.
• Must seek assistance from a member of the school
staff, if necessary, to resolve conflict peacefully. • Must not engage in hate propaganda and
other forms of behaviour motivated by
• Must respect all members of the school community,
hate or bias.
especially persons in positions of authority.
• Must not commit an act of vandalism that
• Must respect the need of others to work in an
causes extensive damage to school
environment that is conducive to learning and
property or to property located on the
premises of the school.
• Must not swear at a teacher or at another person in
a position of authority.
School Resources and Support
If you need help, ask for it. Studying far from your home in a language that may be new
to you can be difficult. Your school or division has many professional staff members
who can help you with academic or emotional needs. The International Student
Program staff are also an important resource if you have any concerns with your studies
or with living in Ontario. The friends you make during your time here and your
Homestay parents can also help you enjoy your time in our province. There are many
other resources you can use as well. Make sure to get an English dictionary and use it
to look up unfamiliar words.
The Homestay Coordinator will visit the school on a regular basis to meet with students,
one on one to discuss adjustment to homestay, academics and personal/social issues.
At this time the Homestay Coordinator will also meet with school staff for academic
School Staff are eager to help international students adjust to the new learning
Principal - The principal is in charge of programs at the school and works closely with
staff, students and parents.
Vice-Principal - The vice-principal assists the principal in running the school and looks
Teachers - Students have different teachers for different subjects. Do not hesitate to
speak with your classroom teachers about difficulties you are experiencing in their
course. Not only will they have some useful recommendations, they will usually be
happy to see that you are taking control of your learning needs and getting involved with
the course content. You can call the teacher Mr., Ms. or Mrs. as appropriate and the
person’s surname (e.g. Mr. Smith), rather than “teacher”.
ESL teachers - They help students learn English and strategies for success in their
There may be school specialists who work with teachers and help students learn.
These people include:
Teacher-Librarians - help students access resources on the Internet and learn about
books,tapes, videos, and magazines.
Guidance Counselors - assist in planning students’ timetables and applying to
university. They can tell you about other programs in the schools and in the community.
Office Secretaries - assist in registering students, do the school’s office work and
answer phone calls.
Teaching Assistants - help teachers in the classroom.
Resource teachers - help students who require additional assistance.
Custodians - keep schools clean and make sure the building is operating safely and
Child and Youth Counsellors - help students who are experiencing social, emotional
or behavioural problems.
A student who enters Grade 9 in Canada will need to earn a minimum of 30 credits to
graduate and qualify for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Each credit
requires 110 hours of instruction. Students must also pass the Literacy Test (OSSLT)
and complete 40 hours of community service or volunteer work.
Note: International students coming to Ontario part way through high school will have
an assessment done on their previous education. This will determine how many credits
they will need in order to graduate from high school in Ontario. For example, a student
who has completed and passed Grade 9 in their home country may be given credits for
his year when he provides proof with an official document from his home country
If you are planning to attend university or college you must make sure you have all the
courses and prerequisites you need. Careful planning in Grade 10, 11 and 12 with the
help of your guidance counselor will ensure you meet the requirements. All universities
require that students have 6 courses at the Grade 12 academic level to apply. Your
school’s guidance counselors can help explain what courses you will require for
graduation or to enter university or college.
High school graduation in Canada is usually a time of celebration. Most schools
organize a formal convocation ceremony and a dinner and dance for graduates.
12 optional credits
18 compulsory credits
Subject Area – Minimum Credits
Mathematics 3 (1 credit in grade 11 or 12)
Health and physical education 1
Canadian history 1
Canadian geography 1
French as a second language 1
Career studies 0.5
Additional English or French, or third language or social sciences and the humanities, or
Canadian and world studies, or guidance and career education, or cooperative
Additional credit in health and physical education, or the arts, or business studies, or
cooperative education 1
Additional science or technological education or cooperative education- 1
Provincial literacy test required
Community involvement 40 hours
40 Hours of Community Involvement
Students must complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement as a
requirement of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. International students coming
to Ontario part way through high school will be required to have 10 hours of community
involvement for each school year in Canada. These 40 hours may be completed at any
time during the student’s high school years and may take place in a variety of settings,
including not-for-profit organizations, businesses, public sector institutions, and informal
Students, in collaboration with their homestay parents, will decide how they will
complete the community involvement requirement. Students may complete any number
of eligible activities as outlined in the School Board Community Involvement pamphlet
available from the school’s guidance department or on line at
Activities must be completed outside of normal instructional school hours, may not be a
part of a credit program and students may not receive pay for their community
involvement activities. Students will maintain a record of their community involvement
activities on their Community Involvement Completion Form. The purpose of community
involvement is to encourage students to develop an awareness and understanding of
civic responsibility and of the role they can play to contribute to their communities.
Examples of community involvement activities include: activities within the school such
as Student Council committee work, helping an elderly neighbour, volunteering at a
local hospital, helping at a community event and tutoring an elementary school student.
For further information on graduation requirements, go to the Ontario Ministry of
Education website at www.edu.gov.on.ca
ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
An important goal of international students is to improve their English while attending
school in Canada. Several of our schools offer special second language support
classes for all levels of learners. These courses help students become proficient in
When students first arrive in Belleville, they are assessed for their language abilities and
are placed in certain English classes based on the results.
Students with a strong foundation in English are placed in regular English classes.
Students who need to develop one or more of the skills of reading, writing, speaking or
listening are placed in the most suitable English as a Second Language (ESL) class.
Here is a list of our ESL levels from beginner to advance. These courses form a
progression from the beginning level to regular English.
ESLAO Beginner - This course builds on students’ previous education and language
knowledge to introduce the English language and help students adjust to their new
cultural environment. Students will develop the ability to use oral and written English for
daily needs, acquire basic conversation skills and vocabulary, and use simple sentence
patterns. Students will also acquire basic orientation information related to their needs
as newcomers to Canada.
ESLBO High Beginner - Many international students who have studied some English
in their own country are placed in this level when they first come to Canada This course
expands students’ essential English communication skills and cultural knowledge and
introduces the language of classroom studies. Students will develop oral classroom
skills and reading strategies, expand their vocabulary, and use more complex sentence
patterns. Students will also learn how to use some school and community resources.
ESLCO Low Intermediate ESL CO - This course is designed to improve students’
accuracy in using English in classroom situations, for personal and career planning, and
to understand the changing world around them. Students will study and interpret a
range of texts and produce a variety of forms of writing. Activities will also help students
to develop their oral presentation skills and acquire study skills (including note-taking
and summarizing skills) that will enhance their ability to learn in all subjects.
ESLDO High Intermediate ESLDO - This is considered a crucial course in a
students’ language development and must be taken. It cannot be skipped.
This course prepares students to use English with increasing accuracy in most
classroom and social situations and to participate in society as informed citizens.
Students will develop the reading, writing, and oral presentation skills required for
success in all subjects. Students will study and interpret a variety of grade-level texts,
develop oral communication skills through participation in informal debates and
seminars, and extend their range of research skills.
ESLEO Advanced - This course prepares students for secondary school English and
other courses at the college and university preparation levels. Students will be
encouraged to develop independence in reading literary works and academic texts, in
writing essays and narratives, and in applying learning strategies and research skills
effectively. Students will also learn to respond critically to print and media works.
ENGLISH Grade 10 or 11 After ESL
• Each ESL course is worth one credit and is included in a student’s overall
• ESL courses are not connected to a grade level. Students progress through the
levels at different rates depending upon their motivation and work ethic.
• Students can count 3 ESL credits towards their compulsory 4 English credits.
• To graduate from high school in Ontario a student must pass a grade 11
compulsory English course.
• To apply to college or university in Canada a student must also pass a
compulsory English course at the grade 12 level.
• Students who study in Canada less than 3 years and want to attend university in
North America must take an English language proficiency test in addition to
passing grade 12 English. Such English language tests include TOEFL, CAEL,
IELTS and CanTEST. ISP offers after school tutorials during the fall to assist
students in their preparation for one of these tests. It is the responsibility if the
individual student to book a time to write one of these tests. The ISP guidance
counselor or the Homestay Coordinator can assist the student in finding times
and centers (usually outside of Belleville) for the tests but it is the students
responsibility to make necessary travel arrangements. Students should book a
time early in the fall as slots fill up quickly.
Enjoy your time in Ontario!
Thank you again for choosing the International Student Program with the Hastings and
Prince Edward District School Board! Your time in Ontario will be very educational and
rewarding. You will make new friends, try new experiences and learn about different
cultures. You will also work hard and there will be times when you feel homesick, tired
and confused. You can make your time here a positive experience by asking for help,
seeking information and learning to understand Canadian society.
We all want to make sure that your time with the Hastings and Prince Edward District
School Board is happy and productive. Your teachers and the staff of the International
Student Program, your fellow students and your homestay parents want you to enjoy
your time in Ontario. They want you to feel comfortable here.
Use the information in this handbook to help you learn and grow, both as a student and
as a human being. Have a wonderful time!