Should you come to EC alone or with a friend?

Since EC Miami opened, we have noticed a trend of people who know each other coming to Miami together. We have had brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, co-workers, and friends study English here. Is it really a good idea to study abroad with someone you know? We asked some of the staff at EC and here are their answers. Amanda: I think it is better to study abroad alone so you are forced to meet new people and speak the new language.  In the short term, you may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of being in a new country, but in the end you will appreciate having been pushed out of your comfort zone. Reese: It’s always nice to be able to travel with someone you know well, but you should be careful. It is very easy to get lazy and only hang out with each other. This will cause you to speak less English because you both already speak the same language. If you decide to come with someone who you know, I definitely suggest that you try to meet other EC students from other countries and do activities with them. David: I think it’s better to go alone. This is especially true if you are going to learn another language. Going alone gives you more of a chance to practice the language you are trying to learn. Also, if you go alone, you will make friends with the locals as opposed to isolating yourself with the person who you came with. Elisa: I would say alone. This encourages people to branch out of their comfort zones and meet other people that they otherwise would not have spoken to. It seems like most of us here think it’s better to go alone, but now it’s … Read more

Who is the luckiest student at EC Miami?

The answer to this question is of course, our French student Aurelien. Aurelien sadly left EC Miami today to return to France, but many students were surprised to learn about his luck. Why is Aurelien lucky? Keep reading to find out or watch the video on our Facebook page! Aurelien won his trip to EC Miami because he submitted an award-winning photograph to his agency. He was able to study here for a few weeks and it was all paid for by the agency! After winning the contest, Aurelien got to Miami and was chosen as the weekly English ticket winner during his first week here! The prize for winning was a gift card to our favorite local burger restaurant, Shake Shack. He was surprised that he won the raffle, but he decided to continue testing his luck. While in Miami, he decided to go to a casino to see if he was still lucky. Surprisingly, he was! He won around $100 gambling and he played the Lotto too! After all of these things, we have decided that Aurelien was definitely one of our luckiest students at EC Miami. He is heading back to France now, but maybe his luck will continue there! We probably don’t need to wish him “good luck” for the future. He already has all of the luck he needs!

What is Memorial Day?

On Monday, EC Miami, and most schools and offices in the United States will be closed. Don’t come to class because no one will be here! But, why don’t we have school? It’s Memorial Day, which is a national holiday in the U.S. Memorial Day is a day to remember anyone who has died while serving the country. This often includes people who were in the military. People come together to honor and celebrate those people who died for the U.S. The date has been celebrated since the 1860s. As a symbol to remember and respect those people who have died, many Americans wear a red poppy (a type of flower) on Memorial Day. Although the history of Memorial Day is important, most people also consider Memorial Day weekend to be the unofficial first weekend of the summer. Often, Americans will go on a vacation to the beach or to a warm location. In Miami, there is nice weather all year, but in other states, especially in the north of the country, Memorial Day is the first warm day in a long time, so people celebrate the beginning of summer. Miami Beach is always very crowded with tourists. Other people prefer to remember the traditional meaning of the holiday by going to cemeteries to put flowers on the graves of the people who died for their country. Unfortunately, many people now forget about the traditional meaning and see Memorial Day as a time for parties and celebration instead of remembrance and honor.

Idioms about Rain

Many of us woke up today and were surprised to see a huge storm outside of our windows. It was pouring rain and some of the streets were even flooding! May has been a wet month for Miami, but this morning was especially rainy. Luckily, it is now a little sunnier this afternoon, but because of our rainy month we thought we would teach you a few idioms about rain! “It’s raining cats and dogs.” – This is one of the first idioms that many English learners hear. It is a great example of an idiom and it means it is raining A LOT. “I’ll be there, rain or shine.” – This idiom means that whether life is bad or good, I will be at some event. Rain or shine tells us that the weather or our mood will not affect our decision to do something. “Don’t rain on my parade.” – Rain on my parade means ruin my day or my fun. This idiom tells someone not to make someone else unhappy. “It’s raining men.” – This idiom is often said in a situation when there are many attractive men around. It was made famous in a song by The Weather Girls in 1982. Do you know any other rain idioms?

Learning Clothing Vocabulary in a Fun Way

There are times when a class needs to be serious and students must learn about grammar and testing, but other times a class becomes quite funny. Using active games is a great way that teachers at EC Miami encourage students to learn new vocabulary and interact with English in a different way. A great example of this is a game that Eric played with his low-intermediate class recently to help them remember vocabulary related to clothing. The EC Miami students were split into teams of two and one student from each team was the mannequin while the other student was the dresser. A mannequin is a fake person in the windows of clothing stores that wears the clothing the store is selling. In order to “dress” the “mannequin” the dresser had to put sticky notes with clothes words written on them on the correct places of their partner’s body. It was a competition to see who had the highest number of sticky notes on his/her body. In the end, it was a funny game for everyone, especially for the teacher, Eric who got to see his students covered in colored notes. The “prize”, according to Eric, was two hours of good luck for the day, but they were only available from 3-5 p.m. With a silly prize and a fun game, Eric showed the students that studying vocabulary is not always boring!

Funny Facebook Game

Everyone has that photo that they wish their parents never took of them as a child. Last week, we started a new Facebook game – Guess the Teacher. This game involves EC Miami posting a childhood picture of a teacher or staff member and students guessing who it might be. The idea for this guessing game started in EC San Francisco and EC Miami decided that was a great opportunity to get students talking more on our Facebook page. It’s also pretty funny for students to see embarrassing childhood pictures of their teachers. The first picture we did was very difficult for students to figure out. Students suggested that the picture could be Mark, Reese, or Elisa. There was a bit of a debate and finally, after a lot of confusion, we revealed that it was indeed Elisa. The next baby picture is going up today on Facebook and it is also the picture attached to this blog post. Do you think you will know who it is? Start guessing now and don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook. We only need two more likes to get to 200! If you would like to participate in the baby picture contest by submitting a baby picture of yourself, please send it to reesebottesini@ecenglish.com. It would be great to get students involved too and it’s always fun to laugh at how different or the same people look as adults!

My 9 Weeks at EC Miami

One of our student ambassadors, Rachel, left us last week to return to France. We were sad to see her go and she already misses EC Miami too! Therefore, she something to share with the EC Miami community. Keep reading to find out more about Rachel’s amazing experience here in Miami! “In 2009, my husband, my best friend and I decided to create ABEONA06, a non-profit organization which supports people in their language-related projects abroad!! The first English school we worked with was EC School in Malta. We have from the start a very good relationship with this organization and really enjoy working with them as agent. My “job” (as a volunteer) in the organization is to enable students to go and study abroad. I love doing this as this “job” gives me the opportunity to work for schools all over the world, and to practice my writing English! In November 2011, my husband, my kids and I visited Florida. On our last day, we met Amanda Ross-Gomez, the director of the future EC School, in Miami! And just after we came back home, EC gave me the amazing opportunity to study in EC MIAMI School during 8 weeks!! Of course, I said YES immediately!! Because I know that this is a real chance to improve my English, to live in the USA during 9 weeks, to live my “American Dream” in the city of Miami! I began my courses on the 5th of March 2012 and I finished on May the 4th. I really enjoyed my time at school, every activity I participated to. I like my classes, and in particular, the FCE class: it was very interesting and Reese is such a good teacher!! My first surprise was to become a “Student Ambassador” for EC Miami School!! It was really a … Read more

Human Trafficking Lecture

Last Friday, many of our classes combined to hear a lecture by a special agent from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department. The agent told us about his area of expertise – human trafficking. Many students were surprised to find out that human trafficking happens in the U.S. often and is still a serious problem. The special agent gave students tips to recognize victims of human trafficking and pointed out that many of these people do not see themselves as victims. One major tip that someone could be being human trafficked is if their passport and other important documents are being held by someone else. He then gave some details about a few of his cases he has worked on and the results of brave people testifying in court against the traffickers. After his lecture, students and teachers asked questions about human trafficking and homeland security in general. Many people asked about laws in the U.S. versus in other countries. We also had a brief debate about legalizing prostitution and/or marijuana and how this would affect crime in various cities around the world. All in all, the lecture was very informative and the students had the opportunity to listen to a native English speaker talk about a very important issue affecting the world right now.

Don’t forget your mom!

We know that you are having a great time in Miami without your parents around, but don’t forget about the special holiday this weekend. This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the U.S.!  It is a good opportunity to call/Skype your mom to say thanks for being so great and for giving you this great opportunity to study English in Miami. Today, our Chill and Chat was about moms, and the small group agreed that some people and some countries celebrate the holiday more than others. In the U.S., families who live in the same city often take their mothers out to brunch or cook them breakfast in bed. The dad and children might also try to help out around the house and do some of the housework. Young children sometimes make special cards or pictures for their moms. For adults who live far from their parents, things are a little different. Many people will send flowers or cards to their mothers, but others prefer a simple phone call to say hi. However, you celebrate your mom remember to do it this weekend! Also, don’t forget that some of your classmates at EC Miami are moms and it might be nice to say congratulations to them too, especially if they are far away from their children at the moment.

The Miami Heat Playoffs

The Miami Heat basketball team has been in the NBA playoffs for a few weeks already and they are getting close to the NBA Championship. We know that we have many NBA fans at EC Miami who have attended our previous trips to the games, but it is very difficult to get group tickets to the playoffs. Even if you can’t go with EC Miami, you can still try to buy your own playoff tickets if you have the money. You can always watch the games in a bar or on your television in your apartment. While you are watching, it is important to understand the Playoff schedule and rules. There are many rounds of the playoffs because there are 16 teams, which compete in best of seven games. The team that wins the most games out of seven will continue on in the finals and possibly go to the finals. At the moment, it is the first round of the playoffs. Right now, the Miami Heat are playing a series against the New York Knicks. They have won 3 games and New York has won 1 game. Therefore, tonight will be Game 5 and if the Miami Heat win, they have won the series. If they win, they will advance to the next round of the playoffs. They will play the Indiana Pacers. The playoffs continue like this until there is one final team in the East and one in the West. These two teams plays in a finals match (best of seven games again) to determine the best team in the NBA. It’s only the first round, but the Heat are doing well. Keep watching the games to see how much they can win and if they can be the Champions!