Saturday, November 29, 2008

Land of Liberty

Land of Liberty is a new text book that prepares low-level ESL students for their Citizenship interview.

Land of Liberty can be customized to include your own Governor, Senators, & Representatives! No additional charge! Click here to find out how!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This I Believe: Sharing Food with Family

This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. Here are the Thanksgiving stories for 2008.

Special Feature: Sharing Food with Family
Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season, with the attendant gatherings of family over food and drink. Regardless of the context, sitting down to share a meal can affirm our connections, our roots and our traditions. Click the links below to partake of these beliefs about food and family.

Rice for Thanksgiving
Doing Things the Slow Way
Remembering the Past at Waffle House
A Home-Cooked Tradition
Finding Acceptance in Macaroni and Cheese

Monday, November 24, 2008

This I Believe: Thanksgiving

This I Believe is a national media project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives. NPR airs these three-minute essays on All Things Considered, Tell Me More and Weekend Edition Sunday.

Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season, with gatherings of families and friends, and the sharing of food and drink. During the festivities of the coming weeks, we hope you take time to reflect on the beliefs that guide your life, just like these essayists have done.

Family Blessings, by Meghan Guinnee
Joy Beyond Measure, by Linda Balestracci
Hope Dished Out in Plenty, by David Cowen
You Can Go Home Again, by Victoria Higle
Baking by Senses and Memories, by Emily Smith
Click here to read previous Special Features

Saturday, November 22, 2008 Update

My students constantly ask me for more listening exercises. In my opnions, is one of most valuable ESL sites on the internet.

You can download the mp3s or subscribe to ESLPod's podcasts for free. Here are some recent examples of ESLPod's features:

ESLPod's Blog: Secret Service Handles
The president of the United States has his own special security protection, special police officers who are responsible primarily for protecting the president and the vice president from any danger.

ESLPod's Podcast: ESL Podcast 427 – Planning a Protest
Planning a political protest can be a lot of work. Learn more about it in this episode. Download Podcast

ESLPod's "Variety Show" English Café 164
Topics: Naming Rights; Famous Americans: Cesar Chavez; Why Americans have middle names; future perfect tense; American versus U.S. as an adjective. Download Podcast

ESLPod's Premium Course: Interview Questions Answered This course is for anyone who wants to learn business English and how to communicate better with American business people. Course Price: $24.99. Listen to a free audio sample

Since Thanksgiving is next week, let me suggest one of their most popular podcast:

ESLPodcast 91 - Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful, but for a lot of people, the holiday also means a weekend of eating a lot and watching football...Download Podcast

**Check out USCitizenPod's 06/29/08 post which links ESLPod shows with the different sections of the N-400.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History Reopens Nov. 21!

Come Celebrate with Us! Reopening Festival Nov. 21-23 The Museum will officially reopen to the public after a two-year renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony (Friday, Nov. 21, 8:30-10 a.m.).

NYTimes: America’s Attic, Ready for a Second Act:
When the National Museum of American History reopens, it may begin to shed its reputation as one of the more cramped and confounding corners of the Smithsonian Institution.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Freedom of Assembly

Sign spotted on the 680N 10th St Exit.
Most people who pass by are on their way to SJSU.

ESL Podcast 427 – Planning a Protest Planning a political protest can be a lot of work. Learn more about it in this episode. Download Podcast

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Citizen: Xu Shang Xia

Yang Baoyu and Xu Shang Xia

Xu Shang Xia was born in Canton, China in 1930. He became a psychology professor and taught in universities in Beijing and Guangzhou. He suffered terribly during the Cultural Revolution, but refused to compromise his intellectual freedom.

Professor Xu and his wife, Yang Baoyu, immigrated to California to help take care of their grandchildren. He and his wife would alternate babysitting duties during the day so that the other could go to ESL class in the morning. In the evening, they would walk over a mile to school to attend citizenship classes. They were diligent and faithful students, true role models to other students and inspiration for their teachers.

On the evening before his Oath Ceremony, Professor Xu and Mrs Yang attended the Citizenship class to talk about their Citizenship interviews. Mrs Yang passed last year, but Professor Xu delayed his inteview for health reasons. They both passed the interview easily because they had made a tremendous effort to study, understand, and practice English and Civics questions and answers.

Most citizenship interviews follow the N-400. The following exchange, however, was a surprise:

Examiner: Have you travelled outside of the United States in the past five years?

Professor: No.

Examiner: Have you travelled outside of the United States during your permanent residence?

Professor: No.

Examiner: If this is true, why do you have so many "stamps" in your (PRC) passport?

Professor: I was a visiting scholar before.

Examiner: What was your field of study?

Professor: I studied psychology.

Examiner: Were you a psychiatrist?

Professor: No, I was not a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a doctor; I was a psychology professor.

Examiner: What schools did you visit?

Professor: University of California at Los Angeles.

Examiner: UCLA?

Professor: Yes.

Examiner: What did you do at UCLA?

Professor: (Universities) exchange teachers. I studied psychology.

The USCIS Examiner seemed satisfied with the answers--he immediately moved to the 96 questions which Professor Xu easily aswered.

I am so proud of Professor Xu because he answered the "surprise" questions clearly and calmly.

  • USCIS examiners are not trying to trick people. The USCIS examiner asks more questions to make sure that everyone follows the law.
  • Review your N-400 and supporting documents (passport, marriage/divorce certificate, etc).
  • Think about what kind of surprise (or embarassing) questions you could be asked.
  • Practice these questions and answers.
  • Stay calm. Answer each question simply and truthfully.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008 Barack Obama

Famous People English Lesson Plan on Barack Obama

Famous People has many, many biographies, but here are a couple more to check out:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

VOANews: Change

Election 2008: 'Change We Need' or 'Country First?' 03 November 2008
MP3 - Download

Election 2008: 'At This Defining Moment, Change Has Come to America'
Barack Obama won a historic presidential race, and his Democratic Party increased its majorities in Congress. Now comes acting on the changes he promised. Transcript of radio broadcast: 10 November 2008
MP3 - Download (MP3)
MP3 - Listen to (MP3)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

EASY English Video Series

Some students need extra help with English in preparation for their Citizenship Interview. One of the very best video resources for basic English is EASY English, available in multiple formats: VCR, DVD, CD-ROM, and broadcast television (PBS, HITN). EASY English videos and workbooks are also availabe through local libraries and Distance Learning programs.

Here is a list of the first and second series of Easy English:

  1. The Basics: Alphabet, number, colors, calendar, To be.
  2. Interactions: Greetings & introductions; Wh?’s, to be, pronouns.
  3. Feelings: How are you? Small talk.
  4. At School: People, places and things in a school. More "small talk."
  5. At Home: Intro to family relationships and a tour of home.
  6. The Time: Telling time & daily activities.
  7. Your Community: DMV, Form-Filling, Money & Directions.
  8. Health Care: The Body, Family Health & Medical Visits.
  9. Personal Finance:Banking, Budgets & Shopping.
  10. Around Town: Driving, Housing, Govt. & Phone Skills.
  11. Education: People, Services & Parent Involvement.
  12. Employment: Finding, Getting & Keeping a Job.
Here are some sample video clips:
Video sections that are very important to Citizenship students include
  • Filling out Forms: 7/1:03(DMV), 10/47:08 (Rental Application), 12/15:43 (Job Application)
  • Community resources (library, police, city hall) 7/55:15, 10/1:04:48
  • Government 10/1:09:47

For further information about the First, Second, a *NEW* Third Series (Hotel Work), visit EASY English.

Congratulations to recently naturalized US Citizen, John Dicker, President of Greenfield Learning and Executive Producer of Easy English, on the release of EASY English 3. KUDOS!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

VOANews: Names Are Read to Mark 25th Anniversary of Vietnam Veterans Wall

ARVN Veteran Do Ngoc Xuan
proudly displays his US Citizenship Papers

(reposted from 11/11/07)

Last night, I listened to the VOA's Names Are Read to Mark 25th Anniversary of Vietnam Veterans Wall. All of a sudden I thought, "I wonder what happened to my POW/MIA?".

When I was freshman in high school, the Viet Nam war was coming to the end. A classmate, Molly Olds, who was an "army brat", convinced me, a Catholic "peacenik", to wear a POW/MIA memorial bracelet. The name on my bracelet: Richard R. Perricone. I never knew what happened to this POW, so I "googled" Perricone. There he was on the POW Network--free and alive--living in New York with his wife. Wow! I hope he is in Washington DC this weekend with his fellow vets. I hope he knows peace.

(Update; many people wrote to say Stff Sgt. Richard Perricone is alive and well).

The VOA story also brings to mind one of my students, Nguyen Kiem Long, formerly of the South Viet Nam Air Force and the Milpitas Adult School Senior ESL Class. He is currently in New York attending to family business, and I and his classmates miss him so much. He is a living example of a free and prosperous Viet Nam.

I also honor Do Ngoc Xuan, a farmer forced to flee the South and join the army. After working the night shift, he comes to the Senior ESL class every day in preparation for US Citizenship--the ticket to freedom for his relatives still in Viet Nam. His goal is shared not only by the Vietnamese students at our school, but by the immigrant communty at large.

On Veterans Day, let us remember the US service men and women, and our allied commrade-in-arms, fighting for the freedom of their own country.

More Resources--

Monday, November 10, 2008


Follow a diverse group of immigrants and refugees as they leave their home and families behind and learn what it means to be new Americans in the 21st century.

Lesson Plans

More Video Clips about Immigration from Independent Lens

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Interview

New Citizens: Mai Anh & Hoanh!

Election Day Interview

Today we will listen to our twelfth practice interview (plus election prediction) with Chau Hoanh Chieu (Saigon, Vietnam). The questions are based on the N-400. Here's a link to the pdf. of the Basic Interview.

Monday, November 3, 2008