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., bpl.org.

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  https://www.timeanddate.com/live/ 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 http://commshakes.org/performances 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


Vanishing Voices

Hi Everyone,

What languages do you speak? We opened up today’s conversation with this question, and as a group we speak 11 different languages. We discussed what is language, what are it’s forms, and what is it used for. According to the dictionary language is the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. A linguist is someone who studies, speaks, and teaches languages.

How does language identify us? Does it make us who we are? Related imageWe talked about important aspects of language like culture, tradition, history, psychology, and unique characteristics each language has – different intonations, fluencies, vocabulary and rules.


We talked about world languages, how many are there? What languages are spoken in what countries? What languages are studied the most? Here are some graphs to answer these questions.Image result for world language 7 maps and graphics






Image result for world language 7 maps and graphics

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Today’s topic was vanishing voices or endangered and dying languages. These languages are no longer being spoken for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons are that speakers of the languages are dying and it is not being handed down to younger generations. Certain populations are in danger due to natural disasters, war and genocide. Globalization and technology have led to a use of fewer languages to facilitate communication around the world. Here is a world map of endangered languages:Image result for world language 7 maps and graphicsSo, what happens when a language dies or goes extinct? We discussed the loss of history, culture and traditions. Take a look at this video which discusses this question: 

The video talked about the significance of preserving languages, and that language is more than communication, it is a way of thinking.  

There are lots of projects and activities going on to protect and preserve these dying languages and technology has helped a lot in this area. Listen to this radio interview  on Digital Technology and Dying Languages from NPR. After listening we talked about how relevant are these languages in the modern world? Some of them don’t have the vocabulary to communicate in today’s world.

But, still, there is a passion to save these languages and to keep them alive, even if it’s just for a small group of native speakers. One woman, Marie Wilcox, showed her devotion to keeping her Native American language, Wukchumni, alive by writing a 156 page dictionary of the language. It took Marie 7 years to write the dictionary, but with the help of her daughter and grandson, she hopes to pass down Wukchumni. Take a look at Marie’s journey in writing the Wukchumni dictionary: 

After watching it was easy to understand Marie’s passion and devotion to the dictionary, and the roles that her daughter and grandson played in it. For Marie it became a life project, but, the future is uncertain if no one continues to speak Wukchumni.

Lastly we talked about the possibility of everyone speaking one universal language and some of the advantages and disadvantages.Related image Most of us agreed that our native languages are what we identify with, but, English provides a way to communicate globally in today’s modern world.




Words of the day

get the hang of (idiom) : {informal} to learn the skills that are needed to do something                                                                                                                                 After a few weeks of practice, she was finally getting the hang of driving.

peachy (adjective) : like a peach : {informal} very good : fine or excellent                      For the first few years of their marriage, everything was peachy. But lately they seem to be drifting apart.                                                                                                               

obstacle (noun) : something that makes it difficult to do something                                  They had to overcome a lot of obstacles before they could adopt a child.

Remember to relax and practice!

Happy 4th of July Clipart



Fear Of Rejection

Hi Everyone,

Today’s conversation was about fears and phobias – what are they and how do we express them.Related imageWe talked about vocabulary related to fears like scared and afraid which are general words to describe fear. Frightened is a sudden fear, terrified is an intense overpowering fear, and horrified involves a state of shock. Then we discussed some common idioms used to describe fear. Take a look here at the exercise we did together. 

Next we talked about fears and phobias, what makes them different. We reviewed some common phobias and one unusual phobia – hippopotomonstrosequipedaliophobia (fear of long words)! Here’s a list of some common phobias and their meanings.

We discussed some of our fears and then focused on the very common fear of rejection. We all face rejection every day and it can make us feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, shameful, and bad or mad with ourselves. But, none the less we have to deal with it. Rejection is the opposite of acceptance and we all want to belong, it’s just human nature.

Well, Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur was faced with a life long fear of rejection and he took on this fear in a very unusual way. He decided to take on a project where he faced rejection every day for 100 days. Here is his list of daily rejections. Watch his talk as he describes his rejection project: 

After watching his candid and funny talk, we reviewed some of Jia’s tips on how to deal with rejection: 1.) turn a no into a yes by asking “why” 2.) use empathy to break down barriers 3.) persistence often turns a no into a yes 4.) rejection never defines you, your reaction following rejection defines you , and, 5.) we can use rejection to fuel our determination to succeed. We all agreed that we can handle rejection better by using some of Jia’s tips!

Words of the day

blazing (adjective) : very hot, fast or powerful                                                                     At the beach last summer, the blazing sun made it uncomfortable to sit on the sand.

blast (noun) : a mass of air, water, gas, heat, etc., that moves very quickly and forcefully: {informal} a very enjoyable and exciting experience                                       We all had a blast at your wedding last weekend!

up to par (idiom) : good enough : as good as expected or wanted {- usually used in negative sentences}                                                                                                            His teacher said he’s an okay student, but, his math skills are just not up to par.

Have a great weekend and remember to relax and practice!

And don’t let fear of rejection get in your way, just Image result for turn yes into no

Everyday Life

Hi Everyone,

Today we started off with a quick review of “Both….and….” “Both of them…” and “Neither….nor….” “Neither of them….” , where both subjects do or feel the same way about something.

For example : 1.) Both Pete and Sam enjoy playing tennis.                                              2.) Neither Alice nor Sally wants to come to the party.  

The only rules you have to remember is to always use the plural form of the verb with Both…and….     But, with Neither…nor…. the verb depends on the subject (singular or plural) closest to the verb! Take another really quick look at this 6 sentence practice we did together!  Then we held a team competition, where you all split up into 3 teams and some of you asked yes/no questions which were answered and you had to make a sentence using Both…and…./Both of them and Neither..nor…/Neither of them. Great job everyone and congrats to the winners, Team C,with a total of 9 points!!!

Now, onto today’s topic : Everyday Life.Related image

Image result for everyday life  Image result for everyday lifeImage result for everyday life

Image result for everyday lifeRelated image

We split up into pairs and each person asked the other 5 questions about their daily life. After each person had time to get to know a little about their partner’s daily life, we shared what we found out, and tried to imagine what life is like for each other. We concluded that our days are fairly routine with chores and schedules, and activities like school and work and working out, and household duties and time with family and friends.

BUT….. what if you had an extra day in the week, what could you do??? We discussed and brainstormed possibilities for this extra day. Then we watched the film, Everyday, in which a couple Amie and Daniel (below)Image result for everyday gustav johansson script have a conversation about this idea of an extra day in the week, and what they might do. Watch the film here: 

After watching we talked about the activities Amie and Daniel could do on their extra day, and used the both…and / neither…nor forms to describe their feelings about their ideas. 

Lastly, we came up with some ideas of what we would call our extra day, great job coming up with some imaginative and inspirational names for your extra day!!

Words of the day

herbivore (noun) : an animal that only eats plants                                                               My rabbit is a herbivore, who eats lettuce and grass!

at a loss for words (idiom) : unable to think of anything to say                                           I was so shocked when she told me about her divorce, I was really at a loss for words.

delighted ( adjective) : made very happy : full of great pleasure or satisfaction               I am delighted to meet you, and hope to see you again soon.   

 This weekend is the Sail Boston celebration in Boston Harbor for more information about the schedule of events go to Sail Boston . Please be careful if you go, they are expecting big crowds.

Liberty ClipperGuayas

Image result for sail boston 2017

Remember to relax and practice!