student writing Yushin

Writing about Stereotypes

    A stereotype makes people give a definition of other persons who they meet for the first time. We easily decide who people are from their appearance, race, gender, where they were born, what kind of families they grew up in, or if they are rich or not. Some stereotypes can bring some advantages for us. We are able to make good impressions on someone who knew about us before. On the other hand, there are still some shortcomings about stereotypes and it will bring some influences occasionally in our lives. For example, we think that Japanese are polite, French men are romantic or British men are gentlemen. When it comes to gender, most people think men are stronger, the women are careful about details and thoughtful of others. When we talk about race, white people are strong and have higher social status. Sometimes we will automatically think rich people are beautiful, fashionable, handsome and elegant. All of these are the benefits of stereotypes, and it can make people easier to give good impressions to others. In contrast, there are not just good points to stereotypes. There are still lots of people who are affected by stereotypes. For instance, most people believe women are bad at driving or need to be cared for and men have a responsibility to work and earn money for families. Poor people usually have worse performance at school and they become criminals more easily. The person who is from a developing country has lower quality of life. When we walk o the street, we will be careful around black people. Nowadays, people get information from newspapers, TV or movies and we can use these media to change the situations. The stories of successful black people should be reported in newspapers. We can plan TV … Read more

ESL storyboard activities

ESL Storyboard Activities for Writing: Marc’s Story

Using ESL storyboard activities, such as the free website software from, can help students visualize and create their stories. Storyboards are especially helpful in writing using sequential transition signal words and increasing descriptive adjectives. Using storyboards in the classroom will help motivate students to write their best story yet. Everyone in the park stopped their activities and stared into the sky because NASA started a secret moon rocket project. The big white rocket started miles away from the park but it was very high in the sky, and all the people could see it. Meanwhile, there was a very loud noise in the city because of the rocket. Not long after, the people saw that the rocket began to burn. Finally, it crashed into a house. Next, the people were screaming and it started to make the public panic. Also, the earth was quaking. Children were crying and the parents felt scared. Eventually all astronauts died in this crash, as well as the people who lived in the house in which the burning rocket crashed. Then, I heard an alarm clock and I got up from my bed. Now I realized it was just a dream. Marc-Andrae Alt studies General English at EC San Francisco. Have fun and learn English in USA!

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 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, 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.

Get Some Extra Academic Support at ECSF’s New Guided Study Program

Hi students and blog readers, The busy summer season at ECSF is rapidly winding down but for many of our students, the work is far from over as they continue towards their goal of expanding their English language skills. While many of ECSF’s after school activities are geared towards using English in a laid back and social setting, we also like to offer our students more support with their academic work. Students wanting more support with their homework should come to ECSF’s Guided Study Program. Guided Study is a study hall we are offering to our students who are interested in getting help with their homework and writing skills. Guided Study is in Lombard classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:15 pm-3:45 pm and offers students the chance to work alone or in small groups in a comfortable setting that is academic centered. Teacher Tim runs Guided Study and is there to offer students assistance with their assignments. Space is limited so sign-up in the activities binder at the front desk to reserve your seat. Drop-in attendees are welcome based on available space.  Teacher Tim  

How to meet Americans in San Francisco- Tips by Student Ambassador Misa Komine

    How to Meet Native English Speakers Hi everyone! This is Misa, one of your classmates and Student Ambassadors at EC San Francisco. I’ve been staying in San Francisco for 7 months now. I want to ask you some questions. Are you really satisfied with your ordinary life? Does anybody look for beginning something new? One of the things I’m really enjoying lately is talking with native English speakers. Normally, there are hardly any chances to meet people who can speak English very well and have a conversation with you as a friend. However, it is a great chance for you to improve your English skills. I want to talk about my story of how I met a native English speaker, Matt, and introduce his “meet-up” group, SF Babel. At the beginning of June this year, I met Matt on a muni bus as I was going over my notes.  I had a presentation the next day so I was trying to memorize the sentences. Suddenly, someone behind me asked me “Are you Japanese?” in Japanese.  I was startled and turned around. There was a person whose appearance was totally American. I thought “Oh, I might have misheard,” but he asked me again if I was Japanese or not. I was very surprised and answered “Yes”. Then we started chatting.  We talked a lot and he taught me various English words and phrases. Then he invited me to join a meet-up group. He said he was one of the organizers of SF Babel language exchange meet-up group. Then I joined the “Babel” group and I have since met many people. Meet-up is one of the world’s largest local networking groups. There are a very large number of groups. Not only groups that aim at language exchange but also there are groups … Read more

Writing development, from your friends at EC San Francisco

Writing is considered to be the toughest of the four major language skills.  In many cultures, there is relatively little expectation that people will ever do much original writing, and the expectation for students to write is limited.  However, in the US, writing is one of the primary ways that students are expected to demonstrate subject knowledge, and no student, even in Math and Science, can be expected to graduate without at least some skill in writing. Obviously, to develop ones writing skill to the level needed to get into an American university, and to succeed there, requires time, dedication, and the help of professionals (such as the staff at EC San Francisco).  You can learn vocabulary on your own, you can study grammar from a book, but to develop the needed facility with language that skilled writing requires, you need some trained outside help.  You can’t learn what you are doing wrong in an essay simply by writing a lot of them.  You need someone to read them. That said, there are some simpler approaches that can get you more comfortable with writing in English.  I had one student who made hugely effective use of a journal.  Every day, whether he felt like it or not, he wrote in his journal.  It might be as simple an entry as a description of the weather, or as complex as a heartfelt expression of his homesickness, and depression about his “slow” progress.  Once a week he let me read it, and make suggestions for improvement. This was a challenge for both of us.  I was faced, essentially, with multiple genres, from pure descriptive writing through narrative autobiography, and into the fringes of self-analysis of personal psychology.  For him, he had to write every day, even if he didn’t want to, or … Read more

Developing Your Reading

Of the four primary language skill areas, reading is the most demanding.  In fact, it is so demanding that many people never become proficient readers in their first language.  If you don’t like to read, you don’t read, which means you don’t get better.  It’s one of the big problems in American education, and the problem has spread to Europe and Asia as well.  Smart Phones and the Internet haven’t helped matters either. The real problem is not that people don’t read well, but that, even with electronic technology, reading remains the key to learning, to developing many types of job skills, and to accessing detailed information.  For students who want to attend a college or university, skill in reading is a must.  Yet this is hard to develop in a second language, even if you like reading in your first language.  If you generally never read, it’s even harder.  So what can you do? Well, there’s no easy fix, no magic pill you can take to make reading in English come easily.  If you like to read, developing English reading will still be a chore.  If you don’t like reading it will be harder still.  But if you are really serious about your future, you move forward.  And it can be done. The most common two mistakes are to attempt to read something that is too difficult, or to read something that doesn’t interest you.  Of the two, I think interest is more important.  If you really want to read something, you will, even if it is a challenge.  When the third Harry Potter book was coming out in Britain, children and parents were lined up outside bookshops in London.  The stores were going to open at midnight, just to sell the book.  I saw an interview with a … Read more

Grammar Help is available (without calling 911)

Most students would say that the core of learning a language is to be able to use the grammar.  As a result, almost all ESL schools focus, to some extent, on the basics of English grammar.  Sometimes, however, the work in class just isn’t enough to make the idea clear to you, or you want to know now not later, but you don’t want to interrupt the teacher.  Don’t fear  –  the “Grammar Doctor” is here. One of EC San Francisco’s weekly free classes, the Grammar Doctor is ready to help you with grammar (or other) questions, assist with homework, or just make you feel more confident about what you are doing.  As with our program as a whole, our goal is to make learning English as positive and productive an experience as is possible.  (And this isn’t just EC San Francisco  –  the same is true for all EC centers.)  So drop in on the Grammar Doctor for “a checkup.”  It’s painless  –  and it’s free.

Filling your English stockpile of stock phrases, from EC San Francisco

Among all the challenges of vocabulary development, phrasal verbs and what are called “stock phrases” in English are one more level of necessary knowledge.  You can find an endless supply of books and online sources that can help, with a variety of organizational approaches.  One approach I like is to take a key word (either in a phrasal or a phrase), and see what changes can happen around it.  For example, with phrasals, if I learn “look up” (Look it up in the dictionary.), I want to know about “look down,” “look out,” “look in,” etc., changing the preposition (sometimes called a “particle” now) to see 1) Is this a possible phrasal?  and 2) What does it mean?  So, here are some phrases using “end.”  (The choice is random.) to be at a loose end: to have nothing particular to do Toby found himself at a loose end once all of his friends had left the playground to leave something on end: to leave something upside down The waiter put the tables on end before cleaning the floor at/towards the end: when something is close to finishing The plot got surprisingly complicated towards the end of the movie to end up: to arrive somewhere by chance We got lost on our way to Golden Gate Park and ended up in Chinatown to make ends meet: to have just enough money to get by Emma was finding it difficult to pay rent and make ends meet The end of the line: the end of something  –  for a living thing (including a human), death or total defeat.              Waterloo was the end of the line for Napoleon. the end justifies the means: if your goal is good, you can do anything to reach it.                                                               The end of creating a nation that stretched … Read more

REALLY SIMPLE ENGLISH GRAMMAR – a gift from EC San Francisco

In general, ESL courses tend to focus on the big issues in English  –  Past Tense, compare/contrast essays, READING COMPREHENSION!!!!  And students need that, and learn from that.  However, you can also improve your English by steadily mastering one little thing after another.  This ongoing feature will try to help you do that, as long as I can think of easily-mastered “little things.” “Bored” and “boring” are one such easily-learned minor point.  They are a pair of “participial adjectives” (called that because they look like the present and past participles of verbs).  Many (but not all) verbs will allow you to make a pair of adjectives in this way.  (Some will only let you do one, but forget that for a moment). The problem students may have is that they don’t mean the same thing.  “I am boring in class.”  What do I mean?  What I WANT to say is, “I don’t find this class interesting.”  But did I say that? In fact, no, I didn’t.  What I said is that the other people in class do not find me interesting.  What I SHOULD have said is “I am bored in class.”  (Side note  –  this NEVER happens at EC San Francisco [LOL].  –  Well, not for students who really want to learn English in classes taught by dynamic and creative professionals, which is the EC San Francisco staff in a nutshell.) So, how do you remember not to make this common mistake?  Really, you just have to learn one thing.  The -ed ending is HOW I FEEL.  The other one is something else (actually, it’s why you feel that  –  “I am tired [how I feel] because my Zumba class was tiring [WHY I feel tired]).  But if you just remember the one thing  –  “tired is how I … Read more