CultureWorks establishes partnership with China school that could lead to ‘a thousand students in the first year’

ESL school
CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax signs off on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Harbin No. 3 High School representative. CW’s Ottawa Director Trevor van Peppen looks on.

CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax is known for her big picture approach to the ESL company she originated 20 years ago.

For that matter, she also has a healthy vision of life in general.

Today, however, we will deal with her expanding CultureWorks world.

The ESL company has confirmed a new educational partnership with China’s Harbin No. 3 High School, also involving the School of Continuing Education at the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), a Top 9 school in China.

Both are in the city of Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang and China’s northernmost province. The population is close to 11 million.

With local media on hand, Tina signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the London, Ont., -based company and the Harbin high school, the top high school in the region.

Tina’s most recent trip to China

The signing highlights Tina’s sixth trip to China this year.

“What we are doing in China is in keeping with the theme that has always driven us which is trying to make education more accessible for international students,” Tina said before leaving for China.

In China, CultureWorks teachers will deliver the ESL program on the HIT site with the high school students. After completing Level 1-6, the students will come to Canada to complete Level 7 followed by entering a Canadian university or college.

learn English as a second language
Tina Bax and Trevor van Peppen take part in a media conference announcing the new partnership between the London, Ontario-based CultureWorks and the Harbin high school.

Tina left Canada for Harbin on Dec. 3 and returned one week later. She was accompanied by the ESL school’s Ottawa Director Trevor van Peppen and London teacher Karen Preston. Both are there for longer stays.

An exciting pilot project

Trevor and Karen were on hand for the pilot project of 15 students. The pilot began Dec. 10 and will extend until the end of January.

Tina said Trevor will head up the China project after having major roles in the London and Ottawa offices.

“Now, I think he is ready to spread his wings and launch the China campus and his skill set is perfectly aligned with the kind of challenges that we will face in China. That will be fun,” Tina said.

Tina said Karen has been working with the online programs and has been supporting the Amberson high school project in Toronto.

“And has been teaching this course … we’re going to stretch that now. So instead of supporting teachers (in Canada), she is going to support the ones in China,” Tina said.

Karen said she is “very excited; a little nervous” about the China project.

“As far as I know, I am going to be doing support for the teacher and I am also going to be doing some teacher testing and some lead teaching while I am there. And also be setting up all the Canvas courses while I am there and training the students and teachers in that use as well and teaching them about the program.”

A Chinese teacher — a faculty member at the university — has been hired already. Karen will go to China “at least every eight weeks” to start new eight-week terms and finish the previous term.

Helping even more students learn English as a second language

Tina said she expects 200 students within the first six months.

“And we anticipate in having a thousand students in the first year. So our current partners can’t handle all those students. We anticipate the need for more university partners in Canada and abroad, perhaps,” Tina said.

And with Level 1-6 being taught in China, Level 7 can be completed at the CultureWorks sites or with new university partners.


Huron University College has joined Brescia and King’s in working with CultureWorks. Seven Amberson high school students already have Huron offers.

Tina said Trevor is going to take over some of what she has been doing in terms of managing the relationship in China “making sure everything that has to happen, happens.”

“Karen is going to be delivering all the teacher training and most of the course, so she will be doing the heavy lifting. She will be great.”

Meanwhile, Tina said she will be doing some marketing and new business development.

And keeping an eye on the world around her.

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