EC Says… Organize your English!

One of the most important principles for students hoping to improve their English is the everyday practice of organization. Whether you plan on taking an internationally recognized English examination or not, all students can benefit from simple organizational techniques, which can help one progress at a rate that is both natural and consistent. Getting Back to Basics Outlined below you will see the ‘TOP’ Student Model, which can help students from all over the world adopt a learning style which is surprisingly basic yet brings fantastic results. Are you a ‘TOP’ Student? T – TAKE DOWN (Be receptive and write down new pieces of language) O – ORGANIZE (Re-arrange and store new language effectively) P – PRACTICE (Use this information. Practic makes perfect!) Let’s start with ‘T’- ‘Take down’. Taking down new information doesn’t have to start in the classroom. There are plenty of resources in the outside world to assist you when learning English. Yes, most of the information you are provided with usually comes from a classroom setting. However, there is nothing stopping you from visiting a library, reading articles online, or picking up a free newspaper. ‘Taking down’ is vital when improving English. You might have the best memory in the world, but you can’t remember everything, nor should you try to. Pens and paper exist for a reason. Never forget that! If you really want to step up your language level, you will need to stay focused, concentrate and write down as much new information as possible. Getting better at something takes time, dedication and energy. As a teacher, I am satisfied if a student feels exhausted after class- this means they have been pushing themselves to work at full capacity. When I look to see how much new language my students have taken-down on paper, … Read more

Tips from EC. Have a safe St. Patrick’s Day!

If you are going out for St. Patrick’s Day, leave the house with a plan. If you’re drinking, know your limit. Have a backup plan for getting home. Having a friend with you during your night out is always a good idea. Don’t forget that St. Patrick’s Day is a popular day to go out, and local pubs (and streets) are usually over crowded. It’s easy to start socializing and drink too much before you realize that your alcohol intake has become more than what was planned. Stay safe by using these tips and have fun the safe way: 1. Plan ahead. Bring a friend. 2. Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with alcohol, so be aware that people around you will be drinking. Avoid rowdy (loud, obnoxious, crowded) places. 3. If you’re driving, have a Designated Driver (DD) who is NOT drinking. 4. Write down directions to your home or residence. 5. Bring your cell phone in case you get lost or separated from your friends 6. Find the number of a cab company and keep it in your cell phone. DeSoto Cab (415) 970-1300 Luxor Cab (415) 282-4141 City Wide Dispatch: (415) 920-0700 7. St. Patrick’s Day festivities start in the afternoon and continue into the evening. Eat plenty of food and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. 8. Go slowly. Pace yourself. 9. Wear green or you’ll get pinched!

History of St. Patrick’s Day

On March 17th, millions of people gather in green to celebrate the national Irish holiday St. Patrick’s Day. But who is St. Patrick? Surprinsingly, St. Patrick himself was not from Ireland. What? That’s right! St. Patrick was born in Great Britain (around AD. 390 to be precise) and kidnapped at the age of 16, before being sent overseas to Ireland. It is rumored that Patrick heard voices telling him to escape before he was able to escape via a ship back to the British Isles. It has been told that this very same ‘voice’ inspired Patrick to return to Ireland, where he served as a bishop attempting to spread the postive teachings of Christianity. Folklore goes on to inform us that Patrick continued to have a bad experience after returning to Ireland. For example, he was bullied by native-Irishman and abandonned by his English friends. Patrick died on March 17th, AD 461 and at that time was quickly forgotten. After years gone by, Patrick’s legacy grew stronger and he is considered today as a ‘patron saint’ of Ireland. New age St. Patrick’s Day participants wear a green clover in respect of Patrick. According to history, the three leaves of a clover were used by Patrick to explain the fundamental beliefs of Christianity, considered the ‘holy trinity’. Interestingly, St. Patrick’s Day was not an acknowledged holiday in the United States until the 1970s.Then, Irish charities would usually celebrate St. with large meals and lively parades. These celebrations mainly took place across the East Coast in cities such as Boston, New York and Chicago, whose citizens often had irish ancestory from across the other side of the Atlantic. Today, in most cultures and societies, St. Patricks Day is considered a combined celebration of both the Irish nation and the new Spring season, … Read more

Teacher Interview: Claire Rawlins

How long have you been with EC? 8 Months. I started in August 2011. In which other countries have you taught English? Japan and Peru. In your mind, what distinguishes EC from other language centres? Our environment is relaxed yet efficient. The school encourages both teachers and students to be as creative as they want. Favorite English expression: ‘Gnarly’ (synonymous with ‘awesome’) Must-see place in San Francisco Bay Area. Lands End Park! Bay Area sports team of choice. San Francisco Giants BART or MUNI? Neither, I bike! Favorite transport route? I agree with Kelly, ‘The Wiggle’ bicycle ride is great.

EC Lifestyle with Hsiang

Harrison: What pieces of advice can you give to other students, if they want to learn English like you? Hsiang: Outside school, I’ll always read a newspaper and take it with me to the BART station or MUNI. This newspaper is for free so every morning when I go to the bus station, I’ll take one. I’ll read two, three or four articles and there are many words I don’t understand. I’ll check them in a dictionary and then I’ll memorize the new words. Harrison: How do you use technology to help you learn? Hsiang: Well, I use my iPhone which has a built-in dictionary. Sometimes I listen to music because I want to know how Americans speak and sing. I know this is American culture. Harrison: So, music culture is important to you. Who are your favorite bands? Hsiang : Haha. I think Linkin Park or… Jay z. There’s also this new band, LMFAO. Yeah, I like them. Harrison: Haha. Okay, what could you tell our new students about using public transport in San Francisco? Hsiang : Public transport is very convenient. You’ve got BART, cable cars and the bus so it’s easy to get around. Harrison:Thank you for speaking with me today. Don’t worry this will all be edited! Hsiang : Haha thank you.

Let There Be Light! An Introduction to Daylight Saving Time.

This coming Sunday (March 11) at precisely 2.00am, North America prepares itself for Daylight Saving Time in 2012. What does this mean exactly? It is important to remember that on Saturday night (or rather, very early on Sunday morning!) all of us are required to move our clocks 1 hour forward. Of course, nobody likes the idea of losing a whole hour of sleep, especially before starting classes on Monday morning. Despite this minor inconvenience, Daylight Saving Time was introduced to have a positive effect on our daily routine! Lets take a look at some of the reasons why we change our clocks towards the end of March. History The idea of Daylight Saving Time was first thought up by US scientist Benjamin Franklin. In his 1907 pamplet ‘Waste of Daylight’, Franklin wrote: “Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches” From this quotation, we can see that Benjamin Franklin was one of the first scientists to point out, that as human beings, we share a natural preference to receive as much daylight as possible. Moreover, the long, light evenings of which he describes were in reference to those nights experienced during the summer, which brings us to our next point. The Start of Summer! Daylight Saving Time, also referred to as DST or ‘Summer Time’ in many countries across the globe, allows us to make better, more productive use of daylight. For those of you who live near the equator, what is classed as ‘day time’ and ‘night time’ are usually of similar length. However, for those of us that live closer to the North or South Pole, Summer provides us with more daylight. If there is naturally more daylight during the summer months, this means we also have the opportunity to ‘do’ more. … Read more

Teacher Interview: Kelly Lyman

How long have you been with EC? Since July 2011. In which other locations have you taught English? Obviously ICAE (now EC San Diego), is the first place which comes to mind. I’ve also taught in Brazil and Guatemala. In your mind, what distinguishes EC from other language centres? We have a sense of vibrancy and freshness here for everyone to experience. Favorite English expression or grammar point: Fantabulous (Fantastic + Fabulous) Must-see place in San Francisco Bay Area. Rockridge in Oakland! Bay Area sports team of choice. San Francisco Giants BART or MUNI? Both! Favorite transport route? ‘The Wiggle’ bicycle ride.