Thursday, March 16, 2017

Newsletter March 2017

Language Systems Newsletter


Sports and intro to Basketball Tournament
By Ty Mussack, Program Coordinator at OC

          What do you think is the most popular sport around the world?  Which sport is played by more people around the world?  The answer is probably soccer.  In Spanish, and in most languages,soccer is called “football.” Now if that’s not confusing enough, the most popular sport in America is actually football, and by that we mean American football where the players hardly ever use their feet to kick the ball.  Still confused?  Well, the second most popular sport in America is basketball.  I think everyone knows what basketball is.  In China it’s becoming more and more popular, probably due to the amazing career and life story of Yao Ming.  Basketball is also very popular in Europe.  If you look at America’s NBA league, there are many players from Europe, and some of them are very famous, like Vlade Divac (born in Serbia).  Every year students from Language Systems - Orange County make a couple of trips up to Los Angeles to see the Clippers or Lakers play.  Language Systems also has its own basketball tournament every March.  At this tournament all four school compete against each other for a trophy.  It’s a lot of fun.  This year it falls on Friday, March 10.  We hope to see you there!

Language Systems Life Style 

Valentine’s Day Party
By Ty Mussack, Program Coordinator at OC

          Valentine’s Day is celebrated differently all over the world.  American kids grow up in school learning certain traditions like writing Valentine’s Day messages to their classmates and sharing candy and chocolate with their friends.  At Language Systems, we have students from all over the world, and when they are here on Valentine’s Day, it is an opportunity for them to participate in American customs.  At some Language Systems campuses, students are given material to write messages to their teachers and classmates.  At all campuses there is always enough candy and chocolate to go around.  One campus, downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), there is even a chocolate fountain into which students can dip things like strawberries and pretzels.  At the Orange County campus, students play the dating game, where they get to practice asking and answering silly questions like, “If we were feeling sick, what would you bring me to make me feel better?” The winners of this dating game were awarded free movie tickets.  Valentine’s Day at Language Systems is always a lot of fun! 

Discover LA(OC)

The Observatory
By Ty Mussack, Program Coordinator at OC

          If you enjoy going to concerts, you should check out the Observatory in Orange County.  This is a venue that is well-known among locals, and if you like getting up-close and intimate with the bands on stage, you really need to give this place a try.  There are actually two “rooms” for concerts: the Observatory, and the Constellation room.   Both places are super intimate, and you can basically just walk up to the stage; you’re that close!  There is a wide range of bands and singers too.  Last year students from our Language Systems Orange County campus attended a Simpkin Project concert (reggae music) there because one of our teachers is a member of the band.  It was really cool.  Ticket prices depend on who you go to see.  Well-known bands charge more than the lesser-known artists.  If you love live music, go to their website and take a look at all the options for enjoying a concert in Orange County.

Free in LA (OC)

Cherry Blossom Festival
By Ty Mussack, Program Coordinator at OC

        If you find yourself in Orange County in March, you should visit the Cherry Blossom Festival in Huntington Beach, CA.  Cherry blossoms are famous in Japan, where they are called “Sakura,” and Huntington Beach is fortunate to have a sister city in Japan, Anjo (Aichi Prefecture).  This city in Japan donated dozens of cherry trees to the city of Huntington Beach, and every March there is a festival to celebrate the blossoming of the cherry trees.  At this festival, you can enjoy Japanese food, music, and art.  It is free to attend the festival, and it is located in Huntington Beach’s central park.  It is a great place to have a picnic with friends as they do traditionally in Japan.  This custom is called “ohanami.”  It is a very special time of the year.

Language Systems Faces 

Interview with teachers (OC)
By Interview conducted by Ty Mussack, Program Coordinator at OC

Meet teacher Shane. 
Q: How long have you been working at Language Systems and what do you mostly teach?
A:I’ve been working at Language Systems – Orange County for over 10 years now. I mostly teach grammar in the mornings, and then in the afternoon I teach the conversation program.

Q: Do you like teaching grammar? If so, why?
A: Yeah, I like teaching grammar. I want to help students avoid making mistakes. I don’t want my students to be misunderstood when they speak English with Americans.

Q: Some students think grammar is boring, how do you make your classes interesting, or is it “interested?”
A: Or course the correct word is “interesting.” I try to relate the grammar we are studying to their real life. I try to make it practical and show them how they can use grammar in everyday life. I also like to tell stories and joke around with my students. It helps keep the class fun for them.

Q: What aspects of English grammar do a lot of students have trouble with?
A: Well, they have a hard time using articles like “a/an” and “the.” Personal pronouns are also hard for them. They mix up “he/she” and “his/her.” Even though I teach grammar, I still try to help them improve their pronunciation because English pronunciation is pretty difficult too.

Q: When you are not at work, say on Saturday night hanging out with your family or friends, do you think about English grammar?
A: No, not at all… not at all! Actually, when I’m off work I talk like a caveman. My students would have to cover their ears too, because I tend to use a four-letter word every now and then.

Student Articles

Student Article 1 
By Tony

I am a student at Language Systems - Orange County, and this year I went to an NBA basketball game for the first time in my life.  I was very excited.  We had to drive to Los Angeles, and the program coordinator Ty had me and three other students in his car.  Traffic was bad.  It took us more than one hour from Orange County to Los Angeles.  Parking was easy, and there were many fans of the Clippers basketball team.  When we entered the Staples Center, we got free hats.  That was very cool! The Staples Center is very nice, and the game was exciting.  The Clippers won the game.  We saw players slam dunk and make many 3-point shots.  We also saw the cheerleaders do special dances and routines.  It was a good experience for me.  I could feel American culture.  I think a lot of American people are crazy about basketball. 

Student Article 2 
By Richard

I think the greatest basketball player in America is Lebron James.  He plays on the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He is big and strong, and it is sometimes impossible to stop him.  He can shoot, he can slam dunk, and he can even play well on defense.  Usually big players like him cannot play defense.  He is famous in America.  He is from Ohio, and played for Cleveland before.  But then he joined the Miami Heat.  Many people in Cleveland were angry when he left them.  In Miami Lebron James won his first NBA championship.  Now he is back in Cleveland, his “hometown.”  Now the people love him again.  When he came back to Cleveland, he promised that he would win a championship for that city.  Last year he kept his promise, and the Cavaliers won the NBA championship.  I think he is the best player in American basketball.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Newsletter Febuary 2017


What is Valentine’s Day?
By Iain McConnell, APC at DTLA

          According to legend, there was a Roman priest named Valentine who performed marriage ceremonies while Rome was at war. This action was forbidden by law, but Valentine continued to marry couples. Supposedly, when the Roman ruler discovered this, Valentine was killed. Whether this legend is true or not is unclear. However, in the year 496, the Pope declared St. Valentine’s Day a national holiday. 

          In the 1850’s, an American greeting card maker began mass producing and marketing Valentine’s Day cards, effectively bringing the celebration to the United States. Over time, other companies began to realize the value of marketing Valentine’s Day to men and women. Now many candy makers, flower sellers and restaurants report that couples spend more money on this day than many other holidays. People buy lots of these kinds of gifts for their Valentines. Yes, Valentine’s Day can be an expensive day for the average person. But it doesn’t have to be…

What is Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day on a Budget
By Iain McConnell, APC at DTLA

          Have you got that special someone but no money to make him/her feel special? Well, don’t worry. I have some ideas for you! 

          First, explain to your Valentine that you want this day to be the best and most romantic Valentine’s Day ever. For that reason, you decided NOT to reserve a table at an OVERCROWDED restaurant because that’s too ordinary and not special. This will save you money and make you look good. 

          Next, research a few simple meals online. and are two websites that offer lots of recipes. Once you find the perfect recipe, simply follow the directions and cook the meal – and don’t forget dessert! Of course you’ll need to decorate your dinner table. Candles are a must. You can buy candles cheaply at any store – perhaps the most cheaply at the Dollar Store or Ross. 

          After you’ve finished dinner and dessert you’ll want to suggest a movie. If you have the money to go to the cinema ($16-$20 per ticket!), you could suggest La La Land, a romantic musical. But if you’re looking to save money, you could tell your Valentine that it’s a cold February evening and you want your Valentine to stay warm and safe INSIDE with you! Here are a few streaming movie suggestions: (classic) Annie Hall, The Apartment; (old) Groundhog Day, There’s Something About Mary, Amelie, Shakespeare in Love; (more recent) Man Up, Silver Linings Playbook, The Lobster. 

          After the movie, you’re on your own. Have a great Valentine’s Day!

*Check answers on the last page.

Language Systems Life Style 

How to get your drivers License

As an international student you can get your driver’s license here in the U.S.! If you are interested in driving in Los Angeles, below we have included information to help you get a driver’s license. 

  • Visit your local CA DMV office. There are many offices in and around Los Angeles. Consult to find the office nearest you. I recommend making an appointment once you locate the nearest office. Often the DMV is very crowded and you could wait a very long time to speak to a worker. 
  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application (Form DL 44). You will find this form only at the DMV office – not online. 
  • Provide proof of your identity. You will need a valid (current) form of identification (a document that has your date of birth and photo, like a passport), a document that proves you are in the country legally, and document (like a utility bill) that proves you are a residing in Los Angeles. 
  • Pay the $33 driver's license fee. 
  • Pass the written test. You will need to make an appointment for this. 
  • Pass the road test. You will first need to pass the written exam before you schedule the road test. 
For more information about obtaining a California driver’s license, visit or call 1-800-777-0133.

By Ligia Andersen, Program Coordinator at DTLA
Two great American presidents were born in February. For that reason, we celebrate Presidents' Day on the third Monday in February. Let's learn a little more about these two former presidents: 

George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. He was born on February 22, 1732. He grew up on a farm in Virginia. His father died when he was 11 years old. He joined the army to fight against England for freedom because America was a colony of England. The colonists won the war and formed a new country called America. After the war, he was elected as the first president of this country. He was president for eight years. He went back to Virginia before he got sick and died on Dec 14, 1799. He was 67 years old. We can see his face on the one dollar bill and quarter coins today. 

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. He was poor and he loved reading books. He became a lawyer, and he fought for the poor and sick people. He fought against slavery, and he gave a speech called “The Gettysburg Address”. 

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States and on April 12, 1861 the Civil War started. Abe was a great president for America, leading the country through its most difficult time. He remained president until he was assassinated on April 14, 1865 while attending a play. Abraham Lincoln’s love for humanity is still in our hearts. Today you can see him on the five dollar bill and the penny.

Free in DTLA

The year of the Rooster
By Ligia Andersen, Program Coordinator at DTLA

LA has many interesting events going on in February! A few of them are FREE! Here is one of them: The 118th Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year Festival in Downtown Chinatown! This traditional celebration will take place on Saturday, February 4th, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. You will be able to enjoy the parade as well as some traditional music, kung fu demos, great food, storytelling, face painting and much more! 


Check out this website for more information:

Language Systems Faces 

Interview with staff Vinicius
By Interview conducted by Iain McConnell, APC at DTLA

Meet the new Assistant Manager at the LSI Downtown campus: Vinicius Martins. 
Iain interviewed him and in between answering phones, questions, and helping students, this is how their talk went…
Q: How long have you been with the LSI family?
A:I worked at the LSI South Bay campus for about two years, and I have just started working at the LA campus.
Q: What do you like most about Los Angeles?
A: When I first arrived I was really into skateboarding. When I was young, I almost went pro, but I hurt myself. Most of my favorite skateboarders are from LA. I have been able to meet many of them. In terms of skateboarding, in the 1980’s-90’s, everything started here. Of course I like many other things about LA like the weather and beaches, but skateboarding is my favorite thing!
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: Hopefully I will become the LSI downtown manager in a few months and after that I want to be successful in my job as a manager and build a career at LSI.
Q: What do you think makes a successful manager at a language school?
A: Well, first I would say a successful manager needs to be comfortable with people from a variety of cultures, and he or she must also make those people feel comfortable with him or her. Also, a successful manager must be prepared for many difficult situations. Finally, a successful manager must work hard and provide a good example for his or her employees.
Q: What part of this new job are you most looking forward to?
A: I can’t wait to interact with all the new students here at the downtown campus and help them get the most out of their experience in Los Angeles and, specifically, at our school. I’m also really looking forward to making new friendships and great working relationships with all the staff and teachers.
Well, Vinnie, on behalf of the Downtown campus, welcome aboard. We’re happy to have you!

Student Article 1 

Touring Los Angeles
By Anna from El Salvador

L.A. is one the most visited cities in the U.S. Many travelers from different countries come every day. There are so many places and things to do in L.A. For example, one of the most visited places is Griffith Park. It has an amazing view of the downtown and surrounding areas. Also, there is the Observatory. It is a place to learn a little more about Astronomy and related sciences. Another popular tourist spot is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is a boulevard that has stars with the names of many actresses, actors, directors, singers, writers, and other famous people. People walk around and look for their favorite figure. Others take pictures with the stars or with the imitators of famous personalities like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe, to cite a few examples. 

Those are just a few of the most fun and interesting places and things to do in L.A., one of the most visited cities in the U.S.

Student Article 2 

Valentine’s Day
By Palm from Thailand

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you have any plans for this year? In my country (Thailand), we celebrate Valentine’s Day too, but the activities that we do depend on the people who we want to celebrate with. On this day, we can express our love to our companion through flowers, gifts, chocolates, cards, or just say something nice to them. Some people who have their Valentine usually plan to have dinner or spend their time and make something special for their lover. It’s a good thing to do. We can see a lot of decorations that are symbols of love, like flowers and hearts, on this day. Many restaurants have a special promotion or food, allowing couples to enjoy some quality time together. 

To conclude, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate your love. It’s not only for couples, but for everyone. If you have anyone you love, this is a chance to express your love to them! Written by Palm from Thailand



2. Flowers
5. Chocolate
6. Love
7. LSI
8. Cupid


1. Date
3. Reservation
4. Romantic

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Newsletter January 2017

Editorial  - New Year’s Resolutions 

By Sylvia Sunada, Program Coordinator at SB

New Year's Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It's a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.
Here are the ten most common New Year’s Resolutions in the United States. Do you have some similar promises?
  1. Start Exercising - After a season of too many cookies, candies and holiday parties, it's only natural that a vow to lose weight and get fit would follow. Each January, fitness clubs offer deals and promotions to those who want to keep their promises. 
  2. Quit Smoking - So you want to quit smoking? Good luck. Only an estimated 15% of people who try to quit manage to stay cigarette-free six months later. 
  3. Learn Something New - You'd love to play the piano. How great would it be to really know how to cook? Resolving to learn something new is exciting: the world is full of fascinating facts, skills and talents. And the process of discovering them, not just the end result, is enjoyable and rewarding.
  4. Eat Healthier and Diet - During the holidays, everything we eat is pretty much awful for us:        eggnog, fudge, chips and dip, cheese balls. It's time to eat healthy. We promise to swap eggs and bagels for granola and oatmeal breakfasts; eat lean, protein-rich salads (nonfat dressing on the side, please) and fruit for lunch; cook fish and brown rice for dinner and serve it up with a side of spinach. It all sounds so good and possible on Jan. 2.
  5. Get out of Debt and Save Money - After a difficult financial year (and the always budget-unfriendly month of December), consumers might try to stop spending and promise to manage their debt more effectively. Some tips are to allow yourself to eat one dinner out a week. Take a sack lunch to work most days. 
  6. Spend More time with Family - Everyone's busy these days. But family is important, and the beginning of the year is an ideal time to reconnect with family that you haven't seen in a while. 
  7. Travel - A new year and a new world of opportunities to explore — and places, too. Travel of some sort is on almost everyone's agenda, and some of the first things we tend to think of in a new year are those exotic destinations we'd hope to seek out. Take that road trip to rugged Nova Scotia, ride a hot-air balloon over the strange terrain of Cappadocia, or go on your first ocean cruise. 
  8. Be Less Stressed - It's not a bad idea to resolve to be less stressed. Less stress can make you healthier and happier.
  9. Volunteer - It may be a new year, but there are still old problems in the world. To start out on the right foot, you may resolve to lend a helping hand. You can help build a house, care for an animal, distribute food to the hungry, tutor a student. Volunteering could be the resolution that keeps on giving — to yourself and to others.
  10. Drink Less - After the morning of Jan. 1, it's not surprising you probably wish you drank less. Drinking less is undoubtedly good for you: it's better for your health, your wallet and probably your reputation.

Language Systems Lifestyle - Torrance Art Museum 

By Sylvia Sunada, Program Coordinator at SB

Last week, students joined teacher Corey for lunch at Wahoo's and walked over to the Torrance Art Museum. Here's what happened: 
It was the first time for most of the students to try Mexican food & they loved it! Wahoo's is a great "gateway" Mexican restaurant since it's sort of a fusion on Mexican, Hawaiian, and Asian style foods. There's something for everyone there!
After lunch we walked over to the Torrance Art Museum. It's so close to our school! I can't believe we've never been here before! We saw the South Bay Focus exhibition featuring local professional and amateur artists. We had our own private tour & learned a lot about the local art community.

Afterwards, we went to the nearby Pine Wind Garden to relax & see the koi fish (the Japanese students were surprised that we also say "koi" in English). It was very peaceful, and a great place to unwind after our tests.

Discover South Bay L.A. 

By Sylvia Sunada, Program Coordinator at SB

The Madrona Marsh Preserve, located in Torrance, California, is the last vernal marsh remaining in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and one of few wetlands located within an urban landscape.

Formed eons ago when the mountains of the Palos Verdes Peninsula rose to the south, Madrona Marsh is a shallow depression fed by wet season (spring) storms as the name "vernal" indicates. After the rainy season, evaporation, percolation and transpiration reduce the water depth by about one-quarter of an inch (6 mm) per day. By the end of August, the wetland is dry and remains so until the following rainy season. Situated on land that was set aside for oil production in 1924, Madrona Marsh was never developed—unlike the surrounding city—and remains a valuable natural habitat for birds, reptiles, insects and even small mammals.

Ongoing efforts are restoring native plants including wildflowers and butterfly species. The area has long been popular with bird watchers and The Audubon Society has used Madrona Marsh for their annual bird census since 1967. El Camino College uses it as an outdoor biology and botany lab. Public access to the Madrona Marsh trails is offered Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and guided tours can be arranged by calling the Nature Center (310) 782-3989.

Activities include bird and nature walks, natural history classes and workshops, habitat restoration, science and astronomy programs, art exhibits, and children's nature programs. The center opened in 2001 and features exhibits about the plants, birds and animals of the marsh.
The marsh and nature center are closed to the public on Mondays. (From Wikipedia)

Free in South Bay L.A. Candy Cane Lane 

By Sylvia Sunada, Program Coordinator at SB 

Taking place for over 40 years, the Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza (also known as Candy Cane Lane) is one of the largest holiday decoration displays in the country. You can walk or drive through the neighborhood reveling in the sights, sounds and scents of the season. It’s a wonderful way to spend the evening and one the entire family will enjoy and remember for years to come. The wildly extravagant decorations are on display from December 1 through January 1 from about 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. You don’t want to miss this!

For additional information and directions, visit the website:

Student Article 1 My Christmas in America 

By Anonymous (Level 6)

I’ve been living in American for one year, but I’ve never celebrated the real Christmas. This Christmas is going to be my first time celebrating. I’m extremely excited and I’ve been preparing everything to get ready for my Christmas Day. 

In Thailand, my country, Buddhism is the main religion so we don’t celebrate Christmas. Consequently, I really want to feel the real Christmas because I’ve never been in the country that celebrates Christmas. Last year, I lived with my sister but she didn’t have time to take me out and it was the time that I just arrived to America so I was afraid to go out alone. But this time I won’t miss it anymore.

I’ve decorated my house with lights and a Christmas tree. I have my house ready for my family to celebrate Christmas together. I can feel that we will have a really wonderful time and we are really excited to see each other. We will have dinner together and I have a Christmas gift for everybody in my family.

After Christmas day, I have a trip to go meet my boyfriend’s family in Mexico City. He bought me tickets to go to Mexico as my Christmas gift and that fulfills me a lot! I can feel the real Christmas atmosphere around me.

I really love Christmas time even though I’ve never touched the real “Christmas.” I hope I will have a wonderful time with people who I love and who love me and I wish everybody will have a great time on Christmas day this year and forever. 

Student Article 2 My Resolutions for 2017 

By Caroline (Level 6)

Resolutions are about things that you want to change or improve, starting on January first and usually given up on January second. This is a stupid concept. Why do we need to wait until January first to get better? However, like everybody, I have my resolutions for 2017.

My first big important resolution is not to do boring things anymore. I want to choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, and who I want to do it with. I don’t want to depend on other people’s choices and be denied the opportunity to say what I really want. For example, my Thanksgiving dinner was very boring because I didn’t choose the people that were invited. Of course, it’s not my house and I am only a host student so of course, I don’t have any choice or chance to share my thoughts and feelings. But what a chore it is to be with people you don’t like for a special event!

My second resolution is to be more independent. I have to work hard to earn enough money to live by myself, because it’s my own fault if I live with people I don’t like. I need to do my part and rid myself of my current situation.

One other annoying thing I often do and want to stop is sulking. I don’t know why but I sulk easily and a lot. At least, that’s what people say. I do not agree with them all the time because I think that when I am sulking, it’s for a right and justified reason, but that’s ok. For them, I am going to try sulking less. I promise, but just a little because of course I cannot stop sulking for the rest of my life.

These are my main resolutions for 2017. There are only three, but I think three is already too ambitious, so I think I am going to focus on the second one first and continue to sulk and do boring things for a while or maybe why not keep it for 2018? Let me think about it.

Language Systems Faces Interview with Teachers (SB) 

By Sylvia Sunada, Program Coordinator at SB

We've got some wonderful teachers here at Language Systems South Bay campus. Here are just a few of the awesome teachers you'll find when you come visit us in Torrance. We asked some of them about their New Year's Resolutions, too.
From left to right: 
  • Brandon is our morning TOEFL teacher. He has taught English in Korea and China and has excellent baking skills. He recently brought some of his amazing homemade cookies to share. His New Year's Resolution is to quit eating processed sugar and to cook more.
  • DJ has been an LSI teacher for about 7 years now! He was an English teacher in Seoul, Korea and Okinawa Japan before coming to LA. DJ has taught almost every subject and level, but he especially enjoys helping students improve their writing. His New Year's Resolution is to go to the gym more often.
  • Amanda has taught English in Japan before coming to LSI a year and a half ago. She is an excellent athlete and has coached our LSI soccer and futsal teams in our annual tournaments. Amanda's New Year's Resolution is to be less wasteful: waste less food, time, money, etc..
  • Steven has been a teacher at LSI for about a year. This term, he is teaching reading, listening, and advanced conversation. Like Brandon, Steven also has excellent baking skills! If you have a chance to taste his rum cake, don't pass it up! We hope his New Year's Resolution is to bake more cake for his co-workers! Steven's advice for everyone in the new year is to "balance your responsibilities with fun!"
  • Corey is our newest teacher at LSI South Bay. He has taught English in China and Korea and brings his expertise to our Levels 3, 4, and 5 Grammar classes! Corey's New Year's resolution is to cook MORE and to eat LESS at In-N-Out Burger! 
  • Scott has been a teacher at LSI for almost 2 years now. He is currently teaching grammar in the mornings and TOEIC in the afternoons. Scott's New Year's Resolution is to "continue to strive for excellence!" 
It looks like 2017 will be even better for LSI South Bay's teachers! Cheers to all of you and we thank you for all your hard work!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Newsletter December 2016

Editorial - Christmas and Holiday Season
By Carlos Takashima, Program Coordinator at NELA

          Halloween is over. That means the holiday season is upon us. It’s the time of the year when you start to prepare your calendar for social and family events. It’s the time when people act a little nicer and are more thoughtful toward everyone. Not all people celebrate this time of the year, but there are plenty of festivities for different cultures that happen during this time. If you have the opportunity, take the time to experience the different events going on in Los Angeles that can help you enjoy and learn about different cultures’ celebrations.
          I remember living in Japan and discovering that Christmas was about couples and Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was interesting to see how people in a different country interpret their own version of the holiday. You never know what you can discover when you take the time to learn and adapt to a new culture. So rather than stay home and wait for the season to fly by, make a friend from a different culture and see what new adventures or customs you can discover. You won’t regret it. At worst, you’ll have an interesting story to tell your friends and family when you see them again. Make the best out of this time because you may not have the opportunity to live it again. Take a chance and enjoy every second of your life. That’s what the real holiday season is about; being grateful for life and those around you.

Language Systems Lifestyle Thanksgiving Celebration
By Carlos Takashima, Program Coordinator at NELA

          What are you grateful for? What makes you happy to be alive? Who do you love to be with? These are the questions that I think about just before Thanksgiving. The reason it’s a special holiday is because it doesn’t matter where you come from or what spiritual belief you may have. I think it’s easy for us to lose track of the things that matter most when we have so many things to consider on a daily basis. 

          I like to live my life like it’s my last day always. I always live in Thanksgiving. But for those that haven’t taken the time to reflect, it’s important that you take some time to think about what matters and what doesn’t. Focus on what you do have. Because most of the time, we have everything we need; we just forget to appreciate having it. And you won’t know how much it really means or matters until it’s gone. So would you rather wait until then? Or would you rather tell that person that you love them, or feel grateful to be healthy? Priorities matter and days like Thanksgiving give us a sense of direction.

Discover L.A. (Northeast L.A.)
Dodger Stadium
By Carlos Takashima, Program Coordinator at NELA

          One of my favorite places in the world is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I can’t talk enough about this place, but I’ll tell you some of the coolest things you can take advantage of for next season. Dodger stadium was built in 1962 when the team moved from Brooklyn, New York, to what is now the coolest city in the West coast of the U.S. Okay, okay. Clearly, I’m an Angeleno and I’m biased, but if you’re living in, or visiting, Los Angeles, you should try to watch a game. 

          The stadium can boast about one of the coolest views in the city. It’s not too far from Downtown, so you can take advantage of your time and visit several places before a game. One of the coolest things you can do is bring food into the stadium without any problems. However, drinks are strictly monitored and visitors are only allowed to bring sealed water bottles. If you want to watch a game, I say you try the pavilions, as they offer the best chance at catching a ball, and the proximity to the players for the price is unbeatable. 

          Dodger stadium is one of the three oldest baseball stadiums in all of Major League Baseball. It has a long history and an even better team. It’s always best to go in groups and the best way to buy tickets is online. There are many apps available to get great deals. You can get tickets anywhere from five to twenty dollars in the All You Can Eat Area depending on the time and day of the game. So take advantage of the situation next season and enjoy a good day at the ballpark.

Free in L.A. (Northeast L.A.)
By Carlos Takashima, Program Coordinator at NELA

School Night
Stay out late on a school night with this series of free Monday night concerts in Bardot's sumptuous courtyard lounge. Though the sets are short, the price is certainly right, as is the lineup curated by resident DJ and KCRW tastemaker Chris Douridas; expect a mix of local bands and touring acts like Miguel, Eleanor Friedberger, Odesza and Father John Misty. 

Bardot, Hollywood
Monday November 7 - Monday December 26 2016

Comedy Palace
This weekly comedy showcase in Los Feliz hosts one of the most stacked lineups of stand-ups this side of the 101. Located above a Chinese restaurant, the free Comedy Palace attracts a steady stable of late night show regulars every Thursday as well as surprise guests—you never know when Patton Oswalt will drop in or Maria Bamford will mount a month-long residency. It's worth every penny... if it actually cost you any to begin with. 

The Palace, Los Feliz
Thursday November 3 - Thursday December 29 2016

Language Systems Faces 

Interview with teacher Andrew Pak (NELA) 
By Carlos Takashima, Program Coordinator at NELA

1. How long have you been working at Language Systems? 
I’ve been working in Language Systems for a year.

What part of your job do you enjoy?
I like the interaction with students, faculty, and front desk staff.

3. What is the most difficult part of your job? 

Explaining things in a way that everyone understands.

4. Where are you from originally? 

I’m originally from Ogden, Utah.

5. What do you miss about your home country? 

I miss the four seasons.

6. Do you speak any other languages?
I speak Korean

7. What is your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.

Student Article 1 
Christmas is coming
By Yu Fu (Lesley)

Christmas is coming soon. For me, I get really excited about the many NBA Basketball games on TV. You can watch games all day long as the first game starts at 9:00 AM and the last one begins at 7:30 PM. 

The first game involves two of the biggest East Coast cities in the USA: The Boston Celtics versus the New York Knicks. There is a lot of pride between these two cities. This brings out even the most casual observers. The final game involves the two Los Angeles teams: The Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers. If you have the time and money, you may want to consider going to this game on Christmas Day. 

Still, the most exciting game will be the NBA Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. These two teams are considered to be the top two teams in the NBA. They are also both favored to be in the Finals once again. 

No matter where you go, you should watch these games with your family and friends. It will be a wonderful time and a good way to spend your Christmas Day.

Student Article 2 
December: My Favorite Month 
By Eaint Thiri (Angela)

December, to me, is the most beautiful and joyous month of the year. Although I love the holiday season and winter fashion, they are not my favorite things. My two favorite things are the lights and setting new goals for the New Year. 

December is the month of Christmas celebration. Families come together and decorate their homes with lights and songs. I love how the season brings out generous and forgiving feelings out of people. 

December is also the month of planning. Since it is the last month, many people plan their goals for the new year. Everyone is excited and ready to start fresh and new. I feel that the month of December brings the best out of people. Thus, it is my favorite month of the year.

Monday, November 28, 2016

From a teacher to a student: Where Should I Study?

Finding the Right English School

When I was a teacher in Tokyo, I saw advertisements everywhere for English language schools. My Japanese friends would visit several schools before deciding which one to attend. Now that I’m a teacher in Southern California, I see many English language schools trying to recruit international students from all over the world. However, there is a challenge facing international students coming to study English in the United States. Which school should they choose? International students do not have the ability to visit several schools in person to see which schools would be best for their needs. If you are planning to study English in the United States, here are a few tips on helping you choose the right school:

·              Do your homework. Google some schools in the geographic area you want to study. Go through the school’s website. Look at the school’s social media activity on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Many schools now have multiple ways you can contact them including What’s App and other messaging apps. Don’t be too shy to ask questions.

·              Look for accreditation. While doing your research on prospective schools, make sure the school has federally recognized accreditation (see for a list) and U.S. government approval to issue I-20s for student visas.  

·              Look on the school’s website and social media. Are there a lot of postings of student outings and events? Is there information that is beneficial to students? Are there relevant blogs for students to follow or English tips posted regularly?

·              Know your goals in English.  Does the school have a variety of programs to suit individual students’ needs (i.e. TOEFL, Conversation, Business English)?  Look for a school offering classes that will closely meet your goals in English.

·              Ask about the qualifications of the teachers. Do they need to have a degree? Do they need teaching experience? The school should be able to answer questions about their teachers’ qualifications and experience.

·              Ask about the teaching method and curriculum. Is it student-centered? Are there scheduled starting dates for classes? Schools that have a clear methodology and specific starting dates are generally higher quality than schools that offer classes starting anytime with no specific curriculum or prerequisites for enrollment.

·              The old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is generally true. If a school is unbelievably cheap, chances are the classes will not be high quality.  As a general rule, it’s always best to stay in the middle and not buy the most expensive or cheapest commodity or service. The cheapest things will often fall apart because of low quality, and the expensive things are just not worth the price, even if they are good.  Look in the middle and find English classes that are good quality and suitable for your needs. Also, remember that there is a lot of competition among schools. Ask about promotions and other incentives for enrollment.  

Doing a little homework and asking the right questions will really help you when deciding where to study English in the United States.