A Great Debate

Hi ECSF students and readers, I hope you are all ready for a short week, as this next week will see only three school days due to the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m sure you’re all very broken up about it. I thought I’d take this chance to tell you about what could be the best class session I’ve ever had at ECSF. Last week the students of the Intermediate class I teach with Karl held an Oxford style debate. For those of you who are unfamiliar Oxford style debates, they are entertaining, passionate, and always lively. This debate format is featured in the hugely popular NPR program, Intelligence Squared. The debate motion was “the world should have an official language.” You can imagine how polarizing this idea was. The class was divided into three groups. There were two teams who debated “for” and “against.” The third group was the audience, all of whom were polled for their opinion both before and after the debate. The team who changed the most minds won. The arguments made on both sides were compelling and convincing. The students tackled issues such as the challenges the world would face in protecting the “non-official” languages, making language education affordable and available to everyone, and also how the world would decide what language should be chosen. The audience was professional and objectively considered all the arguments. Likewise, the debaters were engaged, honest, and did a thorough job of researching and developing their arguments. In the end, the team “for” managed to win the debate but everyone in the class came out as winners and had a great time. It was a truly wonderful experience that I plan to repeat again very soon. To the students involved in this debate, you all did a great job.  Teacher Tim Good … Read more

Pronunciation help suggestion from EC San Francisco

At EC San Francisco, we work to help students develop all aspects of their understanding of English, so that they can fully participate in the World English community.  Naturally this includes Reading, Writing, Listening, Grammar, etc., but for effective communication, pronunciation must be an ongoing aspect of Speaking.  If you know the words, but don’t say them right, nobody will understand you. Nowadays, if you have a SmartPhone, you don’t need to take your English teacher along with you when you go out.  Pronunciation help can be just a click away.  However, there are a lot of “helpful” sites out there, and they are not all equally accurate.  I’ve found www.forvo.com to be quite useful  –  and not just for English!  Their claim is “All the Words in the World Pronounced.”  I’m not convinced about that claim, but it’s a great site to check out. While you are at it, if you want to work a bit on vocabulary, you can always spend some time on www.freerice.com, and help fight world hunger as you develop higher-level vocabulary.  The site was designed to help US students develop vocabulary for the SAT (college exam), but if you have a good memory, you can develop sight recognition of a lot of words you probably didn’t even know were words.  And for every right answer, a small amount of rice is donated to the United Nations to help feed hungry people around the world.  So your gain is their gain as well. We love to provide you with helpful suggestions and study hints, but we would even more like to see you in San Francisco.  Come by and visit us.

Weird American Activities in the Eyes of Our Intern, Kanami!

Weird American Activities –GO SHARKS!-   Hi ECSF students and blog readers. My name is Kanami. I have been working at EC San Francisco since the beginning of October. This is my first time to write a blog and I am really excited about it. Today, I want to talk about an American hockey game I saw a couple weeks ago as my first article. I went to watch the game of San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes at the SAP Center in San Jose on November 2nd.  When I first got there, I was totally amazed by the scale of everything around the stadium. It was so huge and there were so many advertisements around. Both teams have a mascot and they are so entertaining. People just really loved their team. The majority of people there were Sharks fans of as it was their home game. People were screaming for Sharks and waving their arms up and down as if they were sharks biting people. A guy sitting next to us spilled all his beer on my friend’s new jacket because he got into the game too much.  I was too shy to scream like the Americans but I ended up being so enthusiastic about the game. Honestly, I did not know that ice hockey is really famous here and I didn’t know the rules before I went to see it but I found that I really enjoyed myself and liked it even if the Sharks lost the game in sudden death. I found out that if you are a really good player on the team, it is like you are you are a Hollywood celebrity. Watching sports always make us one big group even if we are complete strangers which is really good for especially international students like us. … Read more

Halloween at ECSF Was Scary This Year

  Hi ECSF students and readers, We are well into November but I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you all just how great Halloween was this year at our school. The halls were filled with zombies, mummies, vampires, dead cheerleaders, and many other great costumes. The staff looked great too, as many of us were zoo animals answering to our zookeeper, Center Director Cindy. The classes did a great job of carving some very scary jack-o-lanterns for the pumpkin carving contest. I was especially proud of my class, as they won the contest and were treated to coffee and doughnuts the following week. The highlight of the day’s events was the costume contest at the end of the school day. As I walked around and showered students with chocolate and candy, I was pleased to see that many of the best costumes were on display for the whole school to see and vote for their favorite. The winners were Jose, Laura, and Camilo. I know I speak for everyone when I say it was the best Halloween yet at ECSF and we can’t wait for next year! Teacher Tim  

Writing Class Blog Posts for November!

This week the writing class had the option of choosing one of three topics for their blog posts. With the three day weekend coming up, there is a lot of opportunity to explore. Here were their options: 1) What to do with a three day weekend in the SF Bay Area 2) Cool things to see outside of San Francisco (and how to get there!) 3) The most interesting thing you have seen in SF that is not something that is easy to find, or very common for tourists to see.   Read on to see what you can learn from our students about the best way to spend your free time in the lovely Bay Area!   1) Gabriela San Francisco is a city where people are not able to be boring, and in a three day weekend you can have so much fun.  I have chosen three things to do in my last weekend in this amazing city. –          First day – Sandcastle contest on Ocean Beach: Northern California’s largest sandcastle building event , is a spirited competition between teams of architects, engineers, contractors, designers and local elementary school students. It’s a different activity to do in SFO Bay area , people can go there, see how they build the sand castles,  having a relax time at beach and at the end of the day just watching the beautiful sunset.   –          Second Day- Napa Valley: One of the most important things that you have to do when you visit San Francisco is going to Napa Valley to visit the most important vineyards of California and to taste some of the most delicious wines in the world, enjoying breathtaking and romantic views. If you want to go there by the most american way you can rent a Mustang, … Read more

Off the Beaten Track: Yosemite in the Autumn

It sounds odd to talk about Yosemite as “off the beaten track,” since this world-class park is a destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.  But most people thinking of Yosemite think of thundering waterfalls along with towering cliffs, and in the fall, although the cliffs still loom, the water is largely silent.  The long dry summer takes its toll on the rivers and streams, and in a dry year (such as this one), smaller creeks like Bridalveil may be dry, or nearly so.  And so, many people choose not to visit at this time of year. And that is part of the charm.  The Valley is winding down, cooling off, and preparing for winter.  You may see more bears and coyote in the valley, looking for food among the red and gold fallen leaves, or the golden grasses and ferns.  The shadowy edges of the Valley may be chilly all day, as cold seems to radiate from the cliffs, while the central areas will still be warm.  In the morning, you may see ice on the edge of the river. This is the best time to have the Valley as much to yourself as is ever possible.  It’s a great time to hike the “Mist Trail” beside the largest (although not tallest) waterfall in Yosemite, Vernal Falls.  In the Spring, it may be too wet, and the trail is sometimes closed because of the risk to hikers, but at this time of year, you can climb near the waterfall, and not feel like you are in a massive cold shower. Late October through mid-November is a great time to visit this park, one of California’s great natural wonders.  You can reach the park easily by car (or Amtrak) from EC San Francisco in around … Read more