Mr. Ben’s non-traditional field trip: Making a traditional Angolan meal

Mr. Ben’s Level 11 class did something different last week. They gathered at a student’s home and prepared a traditional Angolan meal. This allowed the students to learn more about each other’s background, culture, and cuisine, and to build a strong class community. It also allowed people from all around the world the opportunity to speak English together.

We strongly believe at CCB that students and teachers should see each other as human beings, to respect one another, and to learn from one another. When this happens, students feel more relaxed and comfortable in the class, and they are willing to use their English more and not be worried about making mistakes. It is also fun!

Here is the recipe video they created, and pictures of the fun time they had.

 

 

 

Volunteering at Annandale Village

We had an incredible time volunteering with residents at Annandale Village, a community which supports individuals with developmental disabilities. Afterwords, we had some delicious brunch at Egg Harbour Cafe near CCB School in Duluth. Here are the wonderful pictures taken by our Level 8 student Dan Do.

 

How Americans Wish Each Other Happy Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.)

Over 70% of the American population identifies itself as Christian. Therefore, there is a strong cultural tradition in the U.S. of Christians (and even some non-Christians) saying “Merry Christmas” to others during and around Christmas time (December 25). This may extend even into the New Year holiday, and some people may say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Image result for happy holidays

However, over the years the United States has become more diverse, with citizens and residents practicing all the world’s religions. Also, there have been non-Christian communities in the US for a long time, such as Jews from Europe, and Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucians from China.

Image result for christmas merry santa    Image result for hanukkah

Usually some time in December, there is a Jewish holiday called “Hanukkah” which arguably started over 2,100 years ago. There is also an increasingly popular American holiday celebrated by some African-Americans called “Kwanzaa” from December 26 – January 1. It celebrates different moral principles from African cultures and religions.

Image result for kwanzaa

Because of the great diversity of religions and cultures we can find in America today, as well as the various holidays different Americans celebrate, some Americans today choose not to say “Merry Christmas.” In order to include everyone, they might just say, “Happy Holidays!” It is good to be respectful of people’s unique backgrounds but it is probably also true that when people say “Merry Christmas,” they are really just trying to be friendly and because they are excited about the holiday and special time of year.

Whatever you celebrate (or maybe you celebrate none of these holidays!), we hope you have a great winter and hope you’ll come learn more about American culture at our school!

What does “A Dime a Dozen” mean?

“A dime a dozen” is a phrase which is used in reference to anything which is common and/or cheap. A dime is an American unit of money equal to ten cents (a small amount of money), and a dozen means twelve of something. In other words, the thing is very cheap, less than a penny each.

dimes

Examples:

“Experts in this field are a dime a dozen.” (It means experts in a certain industry were very common and/or didn’t make much money.)

“Smiles were a dime a dozen at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.” (It means smiles were very common.)

What does “Hear it through the grapevine” mean?

If you hear something “through the grapevine” it means that you have heard a rumor about someone or something. If you use this expression, it also helps you protect the name/identity of the person who told you the rumor.

Have you heard something through the grapevine recently?

grapevine

Example:
-David: I heard it through the grapevine that you are looking for another job. Is it true?
-Bob: Wow, how did you know that? I only told a few people. But yes, it’s true. Please don’t tell anyone else.

You can also say “I heard it on the grapevine.”
A similar idiom: “A little bird told me.”

TOEFL: 10 INDEPENDENT WRITING TOPICS (FOR PRACTICE)

The TOEFL exam allows 30 minutes to complete the “Independent Writing” section. This should usually be 4-5 paragraphs in which you defend a position (viewpoint) you choose on an assigned topic. We will post something soon which breaks down how much time to spend on different activities during this time to complete your essay (e.g. brainstorming, writing, editing & proofreading).

toefl write

To begin practicing writing essays, here are 10 writing prompts which have appeared on ACTUAL (real) past TOEFL tests.

(These are also good for practicing independent speaking questions, too — just give yourself 45 seconds to talk on these subjects.)

1. People attend college or university for many different reasons (for example, new experiences, career preparation, increased knowledge). Why do you think people attend college or university? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents are the best teachers. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

3. Nowadays, food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

4. It has been said, “Not everything that is learned is contained in books.” Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

5. A company has announced that it wishes to build a large factory near your community. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this new influence on your community. Do you support or oppose the factory? Explain your position.

6. If you could change one important thing about your hometown, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

7. How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

8. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television has destroyed communication among friends and family. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

9. Some people prefer to live in a small town. Others prefer to live in a big city. Which place would you prefer to live in? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

10. “When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success.” Do you agree or disagree with the quotation above? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

What does it mean to be “mad as a March hare?”

We are already into the month of March! Before you know it, the weather will be sunny and beautiful again here in Duluth, just outside the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Next week, we also start a new session of English classes. Good things are happening!

There is an expression in English — it is not necessarily very common — but it is funny, which goes: mad as a March hare. This expression may be 500 years old or even older. In this case, mad doesn’t mean “angry.” It means, silly, crazy, wild, ridiculous. 

Now, what is a March hare? A hare is a wild animal very similar in appearance to a rabbit.

This is a hare:

In March, the weather is warming up and hares become more active socially, physically, etc.. In England, the frantic behavior of hares in the early spring led to the expression “mad as a March hare,” and we can apply this expression to a person to indicate that they are acting extremely silly, ridiculous, or insane. Someone who is mad as a March hare might look like this:

Of course, in the U.S., use of phrases and idioms is extremely common in everyday speech. So, if you have a friend who is being strange or absurd, it’s okay to ask them: “You are mad as a March hare, aren’t you?