Tag Archives: “ESL”

Una carta a mi mismo

27 Jan

Spanish below English:

Una Carta a Mi Mismo

Se supone que esta sería una carta a mí mismo, pero como no tengo la menor idea de cómo mandarme una carta la convertiré en una especia de memorias, de sueños frustrados y metas logradas. Aquí voy:

Cuando tenía 16 años tenía la gran idea o sueño de ser piloto de helicópteros de la F.A.M. o de la naval de mi país. Me gustaba mucho ir a ver estos aparatos a un campo militar que estaba cercano a mi casa. Pero como todo joven, rebelde e indisciplinado, no quise pagar el precio para lograr esta meta, ya que se requiere un alto grado de disciplina y dedicación para lograr ser piloto calificado. Después quise servir a mi país a través del servicio militar voluntario. Lo cual disfruté muchísimo ya que conocí a mucha gente y a casi a todo lo largo y ancho de mi país. De lo cual tengo muchos recuerdos agradables. Aaaah, y conocí muchísimas mujeres, jejejeje…

A Letter to Myself

This is supposed to be a letter to myself, but as I don’t have the slightest idea how to send myself a letter, I will convert it into a collection of memories, of unfulfilled dreams, and achieved goals. Here I go:

When I was 16 years old I had the big idea or dream of becoming a helicopter pilot for the air force or the navy of my country. I liked going to see these contraptions at a military base that was close to my house. But as all things young, rebellious and undisciplined, I didn’t pay the price to achieve this goal, since it required a high degree of discipline and dedication to become a certified pilot. Afterward I wanted to serve my country through voluntary military service. I enjoyed that a lot since I met many people and saw almost everything throughout my country. I have many good memories from then. Oh, and I met many, many women, hehehehe…

Cambiando mis Habitos para Mejorar mi Vida (Changing my Habits to Improve my Life)

11 Jan

photo by gcobalt on flickr

Spanish below English:
Unos de mis propositos para iniciar este nuevo ano es cambiar mis habitos alimenticios y he decidido perder peso haciendo una dieta balanceada pero efectiva.

Creo que esto seria muy importante para mi, ya que me servira para mantenerme con buena salud, tambien para resistir algunas enfermedades y por supuesto estar en buenas condicionas fisicas para realizar los trabajos que se me encomienden. Una de las primeras cosas que hare son los ejercicios matinales porque sera un gran complemento para la dieta balenceada que voy a seguir y que hara que mi proposito pueda cumprirse. En lo referente a los alimientos comere mas verduras ya sea en saladas etc, frutas frescas y mas carne de pescado que no tiene grasas y son una gran fuente de nutrientes para mi organismo.

Tambien he decidido comer menos pastas, carnes rojas saturadas en grasa, harinas, dulces, y menos azucar.

Con voluntad y predisposicion de parte mia espero cumplir mi cometido.


Photo by Ed Yourdon

One of my resolutions for this new year is to change my eating habits, and so I have decided to lose weight through a simple but effective diet. I believe this is very important for me, as it helps to keep me in good health, and also fight off illness and of course, to be in good shape to carry out the work that I’m given.

One of the first things that I will do are morning exercises as this will complement the balanced diet that I will follow in order to achieve my New Years resoultion. As far as food goes, I will eat more vegetables (such as in salads), fresh fruits and more fish, which doesn’t have much fat, and is a good source of nutrients for my body.

I have decided to eat less pasta, less fatty red meat, “enriched” flour, sweets and pure sugar, etc.

With determination and willpower I hope to achieve my goal.


Celebrando el 15 Aniversario

22 Nov Maria cheers at the soccer match.

Soccer match at Anniversary festivities

Spanish below English

La semana pasada se celebro el 15 Aniversario del Day Worker Center de Mountain View California, se realizaron varias actividades para comemorar esta fecha tan especial. Unos de los eventos se realizo el dia sabado 12 de Noviembre en el CSMA Finn Center de Mountain View, CA. Se proyecto un documental sobre las historias de algunos inmigrantes que cruzaron la frontera para venir a los EEUU para mejorar su calidad de vida y cumplir su sueno americano. Otras de las actividades se realizo el dia domingo 13 de Noviembre donde hubo actividades deportivas y de esparcimiento.

Desde que se establecio en Mountain View el Day Worker Center hace 15 anos esta organizacion fue y es de gran ayuda para los inmigrantes, especialmente de los paises latinos que cargados con todos sus suenos y anhelos llegan a este pais para darles todo lo mejor a sus familias.

Tengo relativamente poco tiempo en los Estados Unidos pero se que desde que se instauro esta institucion ha ido creciendo en el transcurso de los anos, incluso siendo emulado en otras ciudades y estados a lo largo de toda la nacion ya sea por su organizacion y estructura y especialmente gracias al gran manejo de su directora ejecutiva la Sra. Maria Marroquin y sus colaboradores.

Como se sabe el objetivo del Day Workers Center es basicamente servir a la comunidad, ofreciendo personal calificado para realizar trabajos en diferentes actividades como carpinteria, construccion, jardineria, plomeria, pintura y otros.

Los trabajadores en el centro toman diaramente clases de ingles para mejorar su comunicacion. Adicionalmente se dan clases de computacion, blogging, costura y tambien reciben capacitaciones en diferentes temas relacionados con el trabajo.

Feliz 15 Aniversario! !!!!SEGUIMOS EN ACCION!!!!


Celebrating our 15th Anniversary

Last week was the 15th Anniversary of the Day Worker Center of Mountain View, California, there were various activities to celebrate this special occasion. One of the events took place on Saturday November 12th at the CSMA Finn Center in Mountain View, CA. A documentary was shown about the stories of a few immigrants who crossed the border to come to the US to improve their quality of life and achieve the American dream. Other events took place on Sunday November 13th such as sports and other fun activities.

Since the Day Worker Center of Mountain View was established 15 years ago this organization was (and still is) a big help to immigrants, especially to those from Latin America, who laden with all their dreams and desires come to this country to provide the best for their families.

I haven’t been in the U.S. for very long. But since this institution was established, it has grown throughout the years, and has been emulated by programs in other cities and states throughout the nation due to its organization and structure, especially thanks to the wonderful guidance of the executive director, Mrs. Maria Marroquin and her collaborators.

As you know, the objective of the Day Workers Center is basically to serve the community, offering qualified workers to provide various services like carpentry, construction, gardening, plumbing, painting, etc.

The workers at the center take daily classes in English to improve their communication. Additionally, there are classes for computation, blogging, sewing, and also workers receive training in different work-related topics.

Happy 15th Anniversary !!!!SEGUIMOS EN ACCION!!!!


It Just Takes Practice

24 Mar

I am continually amazed how spending time with the workers at the Day Worker Center challenges me to rethink my opinions and see things in a new light.

For example, let’s take a look at one young man I’ll call Ricardo. He looks like one of those tough guys with his beanie and hoodie covering part of his face. He tends to have headphones in most of the time, and generally looks like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. But what some people don’t know about Ricardo is that he’s very artistic. He’s been accepted into art school and would like to go if they give him financial aid. I caught a glimpse of him the other day helping some of the kids who come to the center with art projects. He knows how to fold beautiful paper flowers, and evidence of his works lies concealed in small corners or tiny vases around the center.

Or how could I forget how Edy, when I told him I didn’t know how to dance, taught me cumbia there on the spot. “Es facil,” he told me. And it turned out that it was easy. We danced to the music on someone’s portable speakers, much to the amusement of those around us.

Lastly, I think of Andres, a handyman who does all kinds of labor. But he also helps with sewing projects. One volunteer named Naomi comes in every so often to help orchestrate art projects in general; the latest thing has been helping sew patches for a beautiful quilt. The patches themselves are quite impressive, but the quilt as a whole is stunning. Andres was talking about how he learned some English from a friend, but that it still took a lot of effort for him to advance. I told him that it just took practice and that he would get it eventually. When the conversation eventually turned back to the current project, he asked me if I sew. I told him I didn’t. “Por que?” he asked me. Lots of reasons, but the main one was that I just didn’t like it, it took too much time, and I get frustrated.

“It just takes practice. Practice and you’ll get it eventually.” Who knew that I would get my words thrown back at me?

Teaching English is hard, even for the English Teacher

23 Mar

I teach a two hour block on Tuesdays of relatively advanced students. Having a two hour time slot has its challenges. We have time, yet I want to squeeze in as much as possible to make it worth their while. It never works that way.

I’ve been on this homonym kick lately (you remember those, right?). At the level of this particular class, where they can have a basic conversation at least, they’re more aware of English. Which means they’re more aware of its idiosyncrasies. Which means my 30 minute homonym lesson becomes a one hour and fifteen minute homonym lesson.

I got to the center today willing myself to keep it short and move on.,

I began with a basic: to, too, two

This reminded someone of the number four and its counterpart, for. I wrote on the board, “for, four”.

Have you ever tried explaining the meaning of “for”? They started throwing out examples for “for”. Like, “for example”, “for sure”, “I have something for you”. The dictionary didn’t help much; it had about ten different explanations for “for”. And it told me for is a preposition and a conjunction, which is great, except that is a whole other lesson, two in fact.

I went back to my list and we made it through “band” and “banned” without incident. Well, except for the minor set back of using the past tense of banned in a present tense sentence like, “It is banned to smoke here”. Again, several grammar lessons packed into that one sentence.

Another student said, “I read in a book the word “bank” and it wasn’t about where you keep your money.” We put up the words and talked about the place you put your money and a river bank.

“Like the picture on the wall?” he asked.

I said, “No, that’s a cliff. See how high it is? And that body of water is the sea, not a river.” I added “body of water”, “cliff”, “sea”, “ocean”, “shore” to the board. Tangent number three.

Just when I thought we could move on, a student said, “Bank means trust.” I said, “I don’t think so.” He said, “Yes, for example, I bank on the Day Worker’s Center to give me work.” Oh. Teacher gets taught.

So you can see why a simple English lesson is never simple. Even for the English teacher.

Day Workers and ESL Teacher Learn a Lesson about Stereotypes

30 Jan

Last week, near the end of a two hour class, the students were grammar-ed out. I still had fifteen minutes before the end of class and I found myself telling my students about my upcoming trip to Pakistan.

A flood of questions followed. Would I be wearing a…they gestured to their faces, making a window around their eyes.

A burqua, no.

Would I be wearing a…they circled their head with their hands.

A hijab, no.

I drew on the board my wardrobe options, the traditional shalwar kameez, a baggy pant and shirt outfit. I tried explaining that the burqua and hijab are traditional outfits worn by Muslims, and that I wasn’t one.

This prompted another student to ask, are you uncomfortable with our questions? I smiled. No, I explained. Are you offended by them? No, I said. I like talking about these things, they help me create awareness and understanding.

He was thoughtful. You know, he said, when people see us they make assumptions. He didn’t elaborate, he didn’t have to. That’s why I talk about it, I said. To break those stereotypes. He nodded. He liked this.

In the very next breath, another student joked, will you bring me back seven wives.

And there we have it. Those cultural stereotypes, our way of seeing a whole group of people in this very “lowest common denominator” way seems to be the norm these days. We jump to those stereotyped images right away. Which was why at the same time as someone lamented on being stereotyped as day worker, someone else jumped to another culture’s stereotype.

My own preconceived notions are broken every day that I volunteer at the Day Worker’s Center. I now see not a group but individuals, individuals who, through the resources offered to them at the Center, are doing their best to make the most of things. Ruben can always be found scribbling furiously into his notebook words that have similar meanings: slink, crawl, creep, snake. It is my job to explain (or more often mime) the subtle differences. Mauricio very shyly shows me pictures of himself dressed up in a suit and tie, playing guitar with his church band on the weekends. And Ana’s toddler, Anavaleria, chants the ABCs right along with the rest of the class, her voice often rising confidently above other people’s.

I knew working at the Center would allow me to give back to my community. I didn’t expect it to give back to me as profoundly as it does.