Hi Everyone,

Image result for rene descartes

Rene Descartes

Today we started with the quote “I think, therefore I am” said by Rene Descartes, a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher, in 1637. 

We talked about what the quote means and how does it relate to our lives today.

Next we defined the meaning of the verb to think : to believe that something is true, that a particular situation exists, that something will happen : to have an opinion about something or someone : to use your mind to understand or decide something : to have thoughts about possibly doing (something) : to remember something.

We discussed uses of thinking – to process information; to solve problems; to make decisions; to create new ideas; to organize information; to ask questions; to make connections; to make plans; and to decide what to do.

And we discussed different types of thinking – logical, analytical, fact based, detail oriented, organized to creative, emotional, impulsive, abstract, visual, innovative, and intuitive.

Image result for the thinker by rodin

The Thinker by Rodin

For today’s discussion we focused on two types of thinking – convergent and divergent. Here is a diagram of the differences:
Image result for divergent and convergent thinking

We discussed the many uses of the simple paper clipImage result for paper clip , using divergent thinking and did the same with an ordinary cardboard box.Image result for cardboard box

We came up with some pretty innovative and interesting uses of these two items. 

Next we watched this short video about a young boy who uses a cardboard box in lots of different ways, but, really treats the box like a friend and member of the family. Watch it here : 

We discussed all the many, many different uses of the cardboard box, and saw him using extreme divergent thinking. We talked about his attachment to the box, and his reaction at the end.

So, speaking of boxes, how about thinking outside the box” , where your thoughts are not limited or controlled by rules or tradition, and you have ideas that are creative and unusual.Related imageWe challenged ourselves to think outside the box, by solving certain problems, and sharing our thoughts.

We also did some puzzles, including the nine dot puzzle, where the goal of the puzzle is to link all 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once.  Here’s the puzzle with two solutions: Related image

Great work on thinking!! (especially outside the box!!!)

Words of the day

emulate (verb) : to try to be like (someone or something you admire)                               She grew up emulating her parents.

look you best (idiom) : to look very good : to look as attractive and pleasant as possible                                                                                                                                       Try to look your best when you go for that job interview next week.

peppy (adjective) : full of energy or enthusiasm                                                                   At 80 years old, he is as peppy as ever!

Remember to relax and practice!





Luck, Superstition, and Karma

Hi Everyone,

We began today’s class with a simple game, in pairs, using one die (remember the plural is dice).

Related imageThe object of the game was to be the first player to reach 50 points. On their turn a player rolls the die over and over until either a 1 is rolled or the player chooses to hold (stop rolling). If a 1 is rolled that players’s turns ends and no points are earned. If the player chooses to hold, all of the points rolled during that turn are added to the player’s score. Well, we had some winners and some losers, but what made the winners win? Was it strength? Was it smarts? Was it skill? Nope, it was LUCK!

So, what is luck? Luck (noun) : success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. Lucky is the adjective, and luckily is the adverb. Luck is a word that is used a lot in everyday English. We reviewed some common expressions and idioms with luck – like, good luck!; better luck next time; and try your luck. Click on  this practice of idioms using luck we did together.

We talked about whether or not we are lucky and shared some examples. We talked about lucky and unlucky symbols, which vary from country to country and culture to culture.  Related image
Image result for bad luck symbols







Then we watched this short film “Jinxy Jenkins and Lucky Lou” and after watching identified all the good luck and bad luck symbols we saw. Take a look here: 

You all got all the symbols, including the 4 leaf clover in Lou’s hair!

Well, the next part of today’s conversation was superstitions. What are they? What are some examples? Do you believe in them? Take another look at this worksheet we did on good and bad superstitions, and some examples of superstitions and their meanings.Related image
Lastly, we talked about karma.Image result for karma Karma means different things to different people, but, it is basically the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person. For some people, it is how you behaved in a previous life and that will affect your current life. Most of us agreed we believe in some form of karma.

 We watched this short film about an interesting concept in restaurant dining. The Karma Kitchen is a restaurant based on the idea of generosity and paying it forward. Take a look to learn about the concept here:

It is an interesting concept and we all agreed we like it, and would feel comfortable eating at Karma Kitchen with the other diners! So from the volunteers who serve you your meal, to the chefs in the kitchen cooking your meal, to the dishwashers who clean up, and to the diners who pay for your meal and the others you pay for, this is a big circle of karma. Image result for karma

Remember to relax and practice!

Climate Change

Hi Everyone,

Matthaeus Seutter (1678-1756) Tabula Anemographica seu Pyxis Nautica, Vulgo Compass: Charte Ventorum … [Augsburg, Germany], 1760.

This morning we had a tour of the BPL’s Regions & Seasons, Mapping Climate Through History exhibit. The maps in the collection range from the 15th to 19th century, and are based on themes, like temperature, agriculture, oceans, climate zones, and beautiful antique maps of the seasons and the winds (see above). There were also maps projecting future sea rise levels and the impact on Boston, like this one showing downtown Boston with 36 inches of sea level rise!Map_DowntownTo take another look or explore further, go to the Map Center’s exhibit website and you can even take a 3D tour! We appreciate the folks at the Map Center who gave us a great tour of the exhibit!!

Well, this led into our conversation about climate, climate change and climate refugees. We talked about how weather affects us in out daily lives, and what type of weather we prefer. Next we discussed climate change – what is it? what causes it? What effects does it have on the global environment and planet? Image result for climate change

Then we talked about whether climate change is just naturally occurring cycles, or is it man-made? We agreed that it is a natural cycle, but, man-made activities are accelerating and amplifying the climate change events.

Climate refugees was a new term to some of us. National Geographic defines climate refugees as “people who must leave their homes and communities because of the effects of climate change and global warming.” Here is a world map of potential climate refugees:Image result for world climate change refugee map

In the past disaster relief from a hurricane or tornado or other catastrophic weather event was handled with short term disaster relief. Today, these weather events, real and potential, are more frequent and having more permanent effects on populations around the world.

There are climate refugees in Bolivia as a result of the drying up of Lake Poopo, Image result for lake poopo boliviaand climate refugees in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, due to widespread, severe flooding.Related image

People and their communities are being permanently displaced from their homes and livelihoods. 

So climate change is real and happening now, we briefly discussed some solutions and ways to cope with it.

Climate change affects the polar ice cap melt, and National Geographic made some projections on what the world would look like if all the ice melted. Here’s their map of North America.Related image

Lastly, we watched the movie trailer from An Inconvenient Sequel, take a look here:

We all share this planet, and we need to respect and treasure it.

Remember to relax and practice!

Who Are We, Really?

Hi Everyone,Image result for ethnicity vs nationality

Today we discussed countries, nationalities, citizens,and languages. Forming the nationality adjectives and nouns from country names can sometimes be tricky in English. So, for example, She lives in Japan (country). She is Japanese (origin/nationality/adjective). She is a Japanese person (citizen/noun). She speaks Japanese (language). Here is a comprehensive list of countries (geographic location), nationalities (adjective), and people/citizens (noun). Try to practice your pronunciation of some of these nationalities. Don’t forget this also applies to cities, people who are from Boston are Bostonians, just like people from London are Londoners. And people from Paris are Parisians. Image result for bostoniansNext we talked about the difference between ethnicity and nationality. Although these two are used as the same, there are some key differences.Image result for ethnicity vs nationality

So, on to today’s topic : Who are we, really? We discussed our family nationalities and/or ethnic groups. We are a very diverse group with varying nationalities, ethnicities, languages, cultures, religious and political views, to name a few.

Next we watched this short film, The DNA Journey, which is based on a  2016 contest by the online travel company, Momondo. The contestants wrote a 250 word  or less essay describing how travel could help to break down barriers among people. And the 68 winning contestants were given a free DNA test, and the opportunity to travel to some countries. Take a look at the film and watch the contestants reactions before they took the DNA test and after they got the results. 

One of the surprising moments was when the Kurdish woman finds out she has a Turkish cousin in the same room! We discussed the film and it’s quote at the end “An open world begins with an open mind.”How can we open our minds??? Lastly, another quote from the film “You have more in common than you think.” A couple of us thought it would be interesting to take a DNA test. How about you?

Image result for flags of the world
This Monday , August 21st, is the solar eclipse!!!

Boston Viewing Location for Monday’s Solar Eclipse

  • Boston Public Library:Three city branches plan on hosting viewings and the Central Library at Copley will have activities and a live stream of the path in its courtyard. One of the more popular eclipse events, the library tweeted out that their public supply of glasses is already gone, and the rest will be at the event.

Free, 2 p.m., Boston Central Library, 700 Boylston St.,

Image result for solar eclipse 2017

If you can’t make it to a viewing site on Monday try this live streaming of the eclipse at and track this incredible event!

Relax and Practice!

Ordinary Moments

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday’s topic was all about life’s ordinary moments. A moment is a very short period of time: a particular point in time: a time of importance or success. Related image

We talked about types of moments including, happy, sad, embarrassing, awkward, routine, simple, special, real, emotional, life changing, dangerous,scary and lots more. Moment is used in a lot of idioms and expressions here is a link to some of them, and just click to find the meaning.

When talking about “at the moment” we use the present continuous verb tense. Here’s a fast review and practice we did on the present continuous.

We watched this short film , Moments, which is a series of ordinary moments in life. Take a look here:

After watching we talked about all the different moments in the film and which ones were significant or important to our own lives. We talked about the emotions of the moments, and the message of the film. What makes an ordinary moment extraordinary??

Image result for moments radiolab  Image result for moments radiolab

Image result for moments radiolab   Image result for moments radiolab

Words of the day

sass (verb) : {informal} to talk to (someone) in a rude way that does not show proper respect                                                                                                                         Her kids sassed her whenever she asked them to do some chores around the house.

irritate (verb) : to make (someone) impatient, angry, or annoyed : to make (part of your body) sore or painful                                                                                                       He can act so obnoxious when we are out with friends, it really irritates me!

stomachache (noun) : pain in or near your stomach                                                            Eating too much chocolate may give you a stomachache.

Remember to relax and practice!

Newbury Street will be closed to traffic this Sunday, August 13th, from 10am to 6pm. Take a stroll on Sunday, shop, eat, and people watch! Enjoy!

Have a magic moment!!

Image result for open newbury street boston

Apologies, Arguments and Forgiveness

Hi Everyone,

We are human, we all make mistakes. So, when we make mistakes we can either ignore them; stress out over them; apologize; make excuses; and make promises. We talked about whether it’s important to apologize. Does it matter the way you apologize? Is it hard to apologize? Or does it depend to whom you are talking? And lastly, how do you feel when someone does not apologize for something wrong they have done?

We did a quick review of expressions to apologize and make excuses, and then did a listening to 6 mini-dialogues of apologies and determined what they really meant. Take a look at the apology exercise with answers and click on the link to listen to those dialogues again.

Ok, now on to arguments – what do most couples argue about?Image result for couples arguing

We came up with a list of things including money, love, communication, household chores, children, jobs, family, habits and behaviors, and differences in tastes, politics, friends, activities like trips and vacations, and money…oh, we already said that!

So, what expressions do people use to express disagreement in an argument – are you kidding??, absolutely not, listen to me, calm down, shut up, I don’t believe you, how can you say that, get lost……

Next we watched this film about a couple, Jack and Lauren, who are at a restaurant having an argument, and there is a surprising turn of events at the end. Take a look here at the film “Table 7” 

After watching we talked about the argument between this couple, what was it about? What was with the guys in the basement? And what was the message of the film? Basically we all argue and when we are in a relationship it can sometimes be hard to forgive one another.

At the end of the film, Jack gets a fortune cookie with the message: A simple sorry between lovers can prevent life-long regrets and Lauren’s message in her fortune cookie is: To blame is Human, but to forgive is Divine. We discussed the interpretations of these two fortunes and whether we agreed or not.Related image

So, apologizing or saying sorry is asking for forgiveness and receiving forgiveness. Forgiveness(noun) means the act of forgiving, and to forgive (verb) means to stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong : to stop blaming someone. 

Forgiveness can be difficult sometimes, but, here is the true extraordinary story about a woman, Mary Johnson, who forgave the man, Oshea Israel, who murdered her only son. Take a look at their story 

It’s hard to believe this is a true story and it was hard to understand how a mother could forgive her son’s murderer. But forgiveness is a two-way street and can often be very complicated. So, forgive and forget, which is easier to do? Do we need to do both to move on?

Words of the day

mishap (noun) : a small mistake or small amount of bad luck                                             Their wedding ceremony proceeded without mishap, despite the rainy weather.

rambunctious (adjective) : uncontrolled in a way that is playful or full of energy            The playground was full of rambunctious children, all having fun on the slide and swing set!    

zilch (noun) : {informal} nothing at all                                                                                    I know zilch about that new guy she’s dating.Where did she meet him anyway?

Remember to relax and practice!

Image result for forgive and forget

This is the last weekend for the free performance of Romeo and Juliet on the Boston Common click for performance times and other information. 




Hi Everyone,

On this warm, breezy, sunny day in July, we had the beach on our minds! What better way to spend a day like today than at the beach. So,we are taking a virtual day at the beach!Image result for cape cod beachesBut first we needed to review some vocabulary related to the beach, here are the images and vocabulary for  By the beach Beach Clothing and Accessories, and  Beachside activities. We talked about what we like about the beach, and what we like to do at the beach.

Today we discussed what are the important resources of the 21st century, which included energy sources, food, land, water, air, people, data and more. Today, however, many consider sand to be one of the most valuable resources being used today, behind water and air. Sand?? Well, this wasn’t something we think too much about, but, it plays an important part in our lives beyond just enjoying it at the beach.

We watched this talk by Denis Delestrac , “Let’s Talk About Sand”, in which he answers questions about what is sand used for; where does it come from;  why are we running out of sand; and what can we do about the disappearing sand. Take a look here:

After watching we reviewed some of the major points of Denis’ talk and were surprised about the worldwide condition of the supply of sand. The depletion of sand resources has an adverse on marine life; is shrinking our beaches; is increasing the cost of concrete used in most buildings; and has resulted in a “war” for sand. The underlying theme is that we need to respect our sand resources and think about alternatives and options to protect it. 

Image result for rachel carson quote in every grain of sand

We talked about 2 expressions using sand , bury your head in the sand which means don’t hide from problems, don’t ignore them (like an ostrich). And the other was “the sands of time” which refers to sand in an hourglass which passes through it as a metaphor for passage of time in our lives.  Image result for don't bury your head in the sandImage result for hourglass

So sand is valuable in nature, and is also a fascinating art form. We watched  this beautiful and amazing video made by sand artist, Yan Junjie, and his creation called “World of Conceptions”. This sand painting is very clever and is basically finger painting with sand. Enjoy the video here: 


As Vince Beiser wrote in the New York Times in his article titled “The World’s Disappearing Sand” 

One of the 21st century’s most valuable resources is sand.

Hardly anyone thinks about sand, where it comes from or what we do to get it.

It once seemed as if the planet had such boundless supplies of oil, water, trees and land that we didn’t need to worry about them. But of course, we’re learning the hard way that none of those things are infinite, and the price we’ve paid so far for using them is going up fast. We’re having to conserve, reuse, find alternatives for and generally get smarter about how we use those natural resources. That’s how we need to start thinking about sand.

Remember to relax and practice!


Hi Everyone,

We started off today with a review of some casual phrases and expressions used in daily short conversations. By looking at some illustrated situations we focused on key expressions and their meanings . Here are the illustrations with answers we did in class.

Next we moved on to today’s topic : literacy – the ability to read and write.Image result for literacyWe talked about what age we started to learn to read; who taught us; and how were we taught. In small groups we looked at a few images and wrote our own stories or narratives titled “The Reader”Image result for bell's the reader film by greg gray .

Your stories were very descriptive and thoughtful and also very creative!!
Image result for bell's the reader film by greg grayImage result for bell's the reader film by greg graySome of the common themes were the man’s age, his passion and dedication to reading and learning.

Next we watched the film “The Reader” and compared our stories with the film. Take a look here:

After watching we discussed the struggles the man had to overcome to learn to read and the various techniques and strategies he used to be a successful reader, including reading the cereal box.We talked about the relationship between the man and his son. And the social issues related to an older person challenged by learning how to read.

One surprising thing at the end of the film, is that this is an advertisement for Bells Scotch.Related image

An extra special scotch for an extra special man!


We talked about the issue of illiteracy – not being able to read and write. Why does this happen, and what are the problems that an illiterate person may face in life. Although illiteracy rates have declined significantly in the last 25 years, it still exists in some parts of the world, due to poverty, civil and social issues, and limited or no access to education.

Photographer, Laura Boushnak started a project “I Write. I Read” which raises the awareness of women in Arab countries that suffer from high rates of illiteracy.Image result for laura boushnak i read i writeRelated image

Take another look at her talk about her project and what we can all learn through her photographs and travels –

We all agreed that this is a great way to expand knowledge and awareness about the issues with illiteracy around the world.

Enjoy a nice summer weekend in Boston!Related image

Remember to relax and practice!



Hi Everyone,

Yesterday’s conversation was about physical appearance, intelligence, and persistence, or grit. We talked about which of these 3 traits were important to us, and as a group decided that intelligence was number 1, followed by physical appearance and then persistence. We described these two men in terms of physical appearance:Image result for 3x3 nuno rochaRelated image

Then we expressed our opinions about each man’s intelligence and persistence based on the photographs. Both the men are in the film we watched “3×3”.  We tried to guess what was the relationship between the men and what would happen in the film. Take a look at the film here: 

After watching we talked about the themes of the film – not to judge someone by their looks, and that persistence pays off.Image result for try try try again

We discussed personal instances in our own lives when we have been faced with a challenge but didn’t give up. 

A popular word used to describe persistence today is grit.Image result for grit

Grit is persistence, stamina and passion for long term goals. It is popular in education, psychology and business, as a measure of success. We watched this news report about grit, which features the author of a book on grit, Angela Duckworth. 

In the video Angela Duckworth talks about grit as “passion, perseverance, and payoff”, and that it is considered more important than intelligence, leadership, and physical fitness. But, the bottom line is that grit is as important as empathy and kindness.Related imageWe all agreed that we are gritty!

Words of the day

hesitant (adjective) : slow to act or speak especially because you are nervous or unsure about what to do                                                                                                        She seemed hesitant about accepting the job in London.

smack-dab (adverb) : {informal} exactly or directly                                                             In the movie theater, a very tall guy sat smack-dab in front of me! I could barely see the movie screen! 

prepare (verb) : to make (someone or something) ready for some activity, purpose, use, etc.                                                                                                                                     Our teacher prepared us for tomorrow’s math test.   

Remember to relax and practice!

Move Learn Eat

Hi Everyone,

We began with a review of modal verbs which are :Image result for modal verbs

Today we focused on modals of speculation – must, might, may, and could.

Modals of speculation are used to express degrees of certainty. In other words, they describe a fact or situation that is definite, probable, possible or impossible.

For example:  Mary must not have done well on the test. She looked so sad.

To speculate about present situations or facts:Related image

To speculate about past situations or facts:Related image

We practiced using modals of speculation with 5 different scenarios. Good work everyone!

Today’s topic was Move Learn Eat. These 3 verbs can be used to describe activities at school, at work, at home and when travelling. Then we discussed if you could travel to 11 countries in 6 weeks, which countries would you visit? What would you do in each country? Where would you start your trip and where would you end it? Each group presented their itinerary, and they were each well presented and very unique.

Well, a guy named Andrew Lees actually did this trip and made 3 one-minute films, Move Learn and Eat. In each film we see where Andrew went; what he learned; and what he ate. Image result for move learn eatAndrew traveled to these 11 countries : Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Thailand, Myanmar, and United States. We used modals of speculation to guess what Andrew learned and what he ate.

Take another look at the three short films, and see what you can speculate about Andrew’s adventures!

After speculating about where Andrew would go, and what he would learn and what he would eat, we talked about what does travel mean to us. We agreed that the more you travel the more you become connected to the world. When we are experiencing different cultures we gain an insight into other people’s lives, and can appreciate all our differences. Our view of the world expands and this helps to create a global mindset. Travel is a good thing, for sure!

Remember to relax and practice!

Let’s Move Learn and Eat , where ever we are!Image result for move learn eat