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.

 

5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST SCRATCH PAPER

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. Needing more paper is a GOOD sign that you are taking advantage of this resource.

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up! Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for most test-takers. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books — to practice taking notes. For the speaking sections, write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have. Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

These Five Points Should Cover Most Ways You Can Use the Scratch Paper:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!

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!

11 Tips to Help You Learn English Faster

We didn’t write these, but we totally agree. A great resource! If you have questions about English – grammar, slang, idioms, etc., please let us know. We are happy to help.

http://english-tonight.com/learnenglishquickly/

Image result for learn english

Business Idioms are Fun and Useful

English is well-known for being a very idiomatic language with lots of old expressions and new ones being born all the time.

Let’s take two quick examples and at the bottom we’ll provide links to some good sites.

Cash cow: A cash cow is a product which has a low investment cost for the company but easily brings in a lot of money. Sometimes people say slot machines at casinos are a type of cash cow.

Go back to square one: This is an expression which means to start over from the beginning. Example: After weeks of negotiations everything fell apart and we couldn’t come to an agreement. We’ll just have to go back to square one.

There are many business idiom sites out there. All of these looked good to us:

http://www.idiomconnection.com/business.html (has free quizzes too)

http://www.businessenglishresources.com/31-2/student-section/business-vocabulary/most-common-business-idioms/

http://www.learn-english-today.com/idioms/idiom-categories/business-work/bus-work1-ace-bricks.html

When do you get a second wind? More idioms from sports

Last week we discussed how many English idioms come from sports (. This week’s idiom — “getting a second wind” — is originally from sailing but many people today use it in connection to running.

A “second wind” was an extra wind for a sailboat that helped to win a sailing race. However, today, most people associate this idiom with RUNNING. This is because, after getting tired in the middle of a race, many racers see (or think about) the finish line and it BOOSTS their MOTIVATION and energy. Even though they have been running for a long distance and are tired, they suddenly find the energy to run as fast as they can to the finish line.

But we can also use this idiom today for any activity or situation in which you became tired but then found the strength to push on and finish up STRONG.

Example: I worked a huge 55-hour work week and by Friday night when I got home I was EXHAUSTED. But after eating a good dinner, I got a second wind and was able to clean up my entire house.”

WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES WHEN WE WRITE A BUSINESS E-MAIL?

maildude

This video makes some excellent observations about differences in emails between members of different cultures. For example, business emails written by Americans might be quite a bit longer than emails from Germans or Swiss business-people. Becoming fluent in a language is not just about knowing the vocabulary and grammar, but major cultural features as well based on where the language is spoken. At CCB School in Atlanta (Duluth), Georgia, we focus on language AND culture.

WATCH HERE: http://www.videojug.com/interview/cultural-differences-in-business-e-mail-2