Immigrants’ Day at the State House

by Hongri Zhang

April 18 was Immigrants’ Day at the State House. It’s an advocacy day organized by the MIRA coalition. Many people and social groups went to the State House to attend some events and some of them submitted their recommendations to legislators.

Our Career Readiness class (ACR) at BCNC decided to take a field trip to the State House on April 18 and wanted to bring some issues to the legislators. We prepared three issues for this trip. They were: 1) Adult ESL or Adult Education, 2) Raising the Minimum Wage, 3) ESL Classes for Children. Everyone had an assignment and special role on the trip. Some of us would deliver the recommendations to the legislators. Others would act as a team leader to introduce our purpose and everyone to the legislators. In order to get a good result, we practiced several times before we went to the State House. The legislators we wanted to meet were Representative Michlewitz and Senator Petruccelli.

We arrived at the State House at 10:30 in the morning, April 18. Many people and social groups were all over the house. Some of them organized meetings to deliver their recommendations to the public; others went to the offices of legislators to do advocacy.

Picture of students at the State House

Our class in the State House


We reached the offices of the two legislators. We met the secretaries at the entries of the offices. They said the legislators were very busy and had no time to meet with us, but their assistants were available. I acted as a team leader to introduce us to the assistants, and other classmates talked to the assistants one by one to deliver our recommendations. The assistants who met us were friendly and promised that they would transfer our recommendations to the legislators. The atmosphere of the meetings was peaceful and quiet. Finally, our teacher Kim gave some flyers that introduce BCNC to the assistants.

After the meetings, we took some photos in the lobby and auditorium. At 12:00 o’clock, we finished the trip to the State House.

Through this trip, we learned the structure of the United States government and how to contact the legislators in the United States.


Publisher blogs – free teaching tips

Even if you are not a member of TESOL, receiving ESL/EFL newsletters as part of your membership, you can still find plenty of free articles on the Internet that are helpful for improving your teaching skills and knowledge of education issues. Many English teachers around the world have their own blogs, with advice and links to other resources. The quality varies among blogs, so you can spend quite a while sifting through sites to find ones worth coming back to.

Three of my regular go-to education blogs are run by professional operations, so their quality is pretty reliable. Blog topics range from specific teaching techniques to broad social trends, incorporating research reports and innovations in technology. The first two blogs below, hosted by publishers of ESL materials, are generally about adult education and ESL. The KQED blog at the bottom contains more K-12 and college topics.

Heinle/Cengage (publisher)

Pearson/Longman (publisher)

KQED Mindshift (public broadcaster)

Creating Opportunity

Perhaps you didn’t see President Obama’s State of the Union address last night or Governor Patrick’s State of the State speech. If you did, then you probably noticed a striking similarity in their message, because both were focused on creating opportunity.

Opportunity is an interesting word. One online dictionary defines it as, “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.” Some of us have lived lives with pretty favorable circumstances. We grew up in a loving, supporting home, we had access to a great education and lived in an environment that allowed us to use our talents and skills and be rewarded for it. Others of us have lived life with some unfavorable circumstances. We grew up in a violent environment, or had to take care of our parents instead of them taking care of us, or we moved to a different country where everything felt strange and we had to start over. Obviously, the more favorable your life circumstances, the more opportunities you have had in life.

However, even if your life hasn’t always been favorable, there are always steps you can take to change your circumstances and begin creating more opportunities for yourself. That’s exactly what you’re doing by studying English and improving your job skills and learning how to connect with the many supporting institutions that are available. You’ve worked hard to get yourself to this point and there is more work to be done, but take pride in what you’ve already accomplished, and look ahead to the opportunities yet to come.

Saying Thanks

For many students at BCNC, November was their first time experiencing Thanksgiving in America.  After learning the history of the holiday, students and teachers took a moment to think about what they’re thankful for.  The answers now adorn a festive turkey hanging on the third floor bulletin board.

Answers included:

-“I’m thankful for meeting everyone!”

-“I’m thankful for my life every day.”

-“I’m thankful for being in America which lets me go to school even though I’m old.”

-“I’m thankful for my patient teacher.”

-“I’m thankful for the big dinner my parents will make for me on Thursday.”

What are you thankful for?


Have You Tried College?

Students come to BCNC to study English for many different reasons. Some students want to become citizens, while others want to get into job training programs or go to college.  Whatever a student’s goal is, the advisors and teachers are ready to provide them with the tools to succeed. At BCNC, we have an ESOL program (intermediate to high intermediate level) called Pathways to Success. In this program, we offer two classes: Career Readiness and Academic Success. In those classes, we not only provide students with the English skills they need to get to their “Next- Step” toward success, but we also provide them with the knowledge and options they need to make informed decisions.

Earlier this month, we had a representative from Bunker Hill Community College to come talk with our students about the benefits of getting a college degree in a workshop titled “HAVE YOU TRIED COLLEGE?” Yolonda Tolbert, BHCC’s College & Career Navigator, talked about the benefits of going to college for further studies. There are many different of programs available to fit students’ needs. Programs range from 9 months to 2 years, with flexible schedules. Many programs equip students with skills necessary for entry-level jobs in different fields within 9 months, so students may enter the workforce as soon as possible (with the options of continuing further studies if they choose to!).

ImageStudents came prepared with many questions! 



ImageTaylor Liss (Academic Skills class instructor) and Yolonda Tolbert ( College and Career Navigator) 

If you have questions or know someone who might benefit from this program, please contact or leave a message! We are currently accepting applications*.

* For Foundation classes, we will begin accepting applications on Nov 4th, 2013. 

Teaching Abroad- Tom’s Experience IV

One of our tutors, Tom Riordan, moved to China in May and is now teaching English there. He has been very gracious in agreeing to write about his experience there. Be sure to tune in for more of his entries! Read his first installment here

I had to renew my visa yesterday and for anyone in China this means a trip to Hong Kong.  I went there with my wife yesterday and we decided to do a couple of fun things while we where there.  The first thing we did was go see the Tian Tan Buddha Statue which is on Lantau Island.  At 26 meters tall this is the world’s largest seated Buddha statue.  It took us a long time to get there.  First we took the subway to the bus stop and then we took the bus up the long road with many twists and turns until we reached the monastery.  Once you arrive there are some steep steps to climb to reach the Buddha.  There is an area to walk around below the Buddha where there where three smaller statues of other deities.  You can’t get eye level with the Buddha, you are always looking up at him.

There was no entry fee to see this but there where several gift shops and I wanted to buy something to support them but I couldn’t find anything I liked.  The Buddha statue was beautiful but for some reason the stuff they sold in the stores looked tacky to me.  On the bus ride back I again enjoyed the view of the ocean and the many small islands so I taught Danielle the word “picturesque”.

Continue reading

Developing health literacy skills

Health is a prevailing issue of our concern. Understanding health issues gives us the abilities to improve our health and the health of our family members. In April 2013, we focused our class activities on health issues. Here are some pictures to show what activities we did to develop health literacy skills.
Class B1 (FY 2013)

I am sick. My partner is listening to my heart with a stethoscope.

I am sick. My partner is listening to my heart with a stethoscope.

We are using pictures to talk about  health problems.

We are using pictures to talk about health problems.

I am telling my partner what health problem I have.

I am telling my partner what health problem I have.

We are working in small groups on a chart about common health problems.

We are working in small groups on a chart about common health problems.

I am playing the role of a doctor. I am using a stethoscope to listen to my partner's breathing.

I am playing the role of a doctor. I am using a stethoscope to listen to my partner’s breathing.

I am learning to make a doctor's appointment on the phone.

I am learning to make a doctor’s appointment on the phone.