•  Below please find some writing samples created by students from the Advanced ESL Grammar and Writing Class.


     My Resolutions for 2012

            I promised myself to keep three important resolutions this year...First of all, I should practice yoga regularly in spite of the fact that I am busy and a lot of things are out of my control. Secondly, I must learn English every day. I will watch TV, especially talk shows and cartoons, listen to audio books, and read English books and magazines. Finally, I want to realize what I am going to do in the future as a professional. I need to find the answer as soon as possible because my goal is to enroll in a certificate course this year.



    My Best Memory

    One of my best childhood memories that I will always keep is going on road trips with my family. I would wake up very early to help my mom make some sandwiches for the trip. We went to many places, such as national parks, lakes, and beautiful beaches.  I remember I would tell my dad to find the most adventurous place we could go to and he would always find one.  He would drive for hours nonstop, and my sisters and I would sing our favorite songs in the car.  We had such a great family time during those trips; however, the only thing I did not like was that my dad wanted to see the landscapes while driving.  For instance, he would say things, like, “Look at the view, girls!” and we would say, “Dad, please, watch out for the road!” Anyway, now I have a funny story to tell. I will always keep those memories with me.


    The Best Part of the Day – Topic Sentence Practice

    The best part of the day is the last hour before sleep.   At that time, we are used to sharing funny things that happened during the day and discussing problems in order to find solutions.  After sharing,we usually read books quietly without much thinking, or worrying, or talking; we just enjoy reading, with the time passing by quietly. But life is not always beautiful, and sometimes we have disagreements and don’t want to talk; then we just go straight to bed without spending that one precious hour, and we feel as if we missed something the next morning.


    Tom’s Typical Day

    Yesterday was a typical day in the life of Tom, a software engineer. Since he knew he would be in a rush in the morning, he had cooked his breakfast in the slow cooker the night before. So he was able to have everything done in forty minutes before leaving for work.

    As soon as he arrived at the office, there was an interview scheduled by his manager. He had the applicant finish a paper test and talked with him for about an hour. Then he finished the interview report and submitted it to the HR. After the interview, he got a chance to go over his email and cleaned his inbox in one hour.  Time was short, so he decided to get his lunch delivered from a restaurant nearby.

    After lunch, he started to revise the design document which he had had reviewed by his colleagues last week. At 4:00PM, he walked out for a short break. He went to the post office to mail the check to his landlord.

    When he came back to the office, one of his colleagues asked him to take a look at an issue. In half an hour, they had the problem solved. Then he continued to write the code which was left over from the day before until 7:00PM.

    On his way home, he stopped by the gas station and refueled his car. When he arrived home, a delicious dinner cooked by his wife was waiting for him. After dinner, they had a walk around the neighborhood and came back to play with his iPad. It was another normal day and there was not much excitement. But Tom likes his job and his life, and he enjoyed the day.



    A Quick Account of our English Class


    Our English class is dynamic, enjoyable and useful. It consists of teacher Yelena and a group of students, who meet in Room 8 every Tuesday and Thursday night to learn English as a second language, in order to improve our communication skills to integrate successfully in the American society.   

               The class is conducted in a multicultural environment,with friendly students who come from many countries. Even though our cultures, beliefs, expectations and life goals may be different, we all have something that unites us: our enthusiasm and interest in learning the best way of expressing our thoughts in the language of the country that has welcomed us, the U.S.A! In this fascinating process of learning, we all have the opportunity to share the experiences of our lives, learn more about the American culture, and get feedback from the teacher and other students.

                Special mention deserves our teacher Yelena, who is always guiding and encouraging us to go forward, stimulating our creativity and believing in our potential; fortunately for us, she never lets up! We all are glad to be part of this great team!


    The Value of Friendship

    We read an article about friends on Thursday, and I have tried to identify what types of friends I have. I was really surprised because I found out that I have at least one of each of the six types of friends that the writer mentioned in his column. What really caught my attention is that I don't think I have the best friend. I always think there is something about friendship that makes this relationship very special: “you only know who your best friend is when you go to the hospital or jail." I'm not saying that friendship doesn't have value for me; it is just that I see life in a realistic way. In conclusion, the value of friendship for me is in appreciating people not for what they have, but more for who they are. However, it is still hard to attach a value to something that comes naturally.

    Won Jeong
    Comparison and Contrast Paragraphs: Opera and Musical
                 Fundamentally, both an opera and a musical are collaborative forms of art. Both are based on a play and use live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before audiences in a specific place. The other way in which these two art forms are similar is that the performers communicate with the audience through combinations of gesture, song, music or dance. Even though their composition is quite similar, there are also some differences. The most prominent one is the style of music. An opera uses classical music, but in a musical theater, you will hear modern popular music. Another difference is from where the story comes. Most opera plots are based on literary works, historical events or persons. On the other hand, a play used for a musical is written in a more popular and even folksy style. In addition, we rarely hear dialogue or speech in the opera but performers of musicals narrate the story not only by singing, but also by reciting a lot of lines.



    Our Elders

              Elders are very important members of a family because they are the most experienced ones.They know the most of the world and can set you in the right direction.  If you need any help, just go to them with your thoughts and you will get the most valuable advice.   We should be responsible for our elders.  If they are in good health, we should keep them at home, but if they need nursing assistance, we should leave them in good hands, meaning senior homes.
               We, as children of elders, hold the responsibility for taking care of them and their needs.  All their lives they have been helping us to succeed, and they continue to support us until their dying day.  We are happy to learn from our elders. They gave us lots of love when we were children and now it’s our turn to give back. They also help us taking care of grandchildren.  We don’t have to entrust our children to a stranger or day care.   If elders live with us, they also protect our house while we are away at work. Even if we don’t have time, we should make time to spend with them because now they need us the most. 
                  Sometimes our elders have some health challenges. In that case, our responsibility is to take them to senior centers or nursing homes and take care of the expenses. At the nursing home, they get help 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  We don’t have to worry about their meals, medicine and doctor appointments.  They also get new friends at nursing homes and spend time happily together. Even if they are at a nursing home, we should visit them regularly and bring them home when they feel better.
                   In the USA, retirees get some benefits from work and government such as pension, social security, and Medicare. With all these benefits, our elders enjoy their golden years. Even though they are getting all these benefits, we still have the primary responsibility for taking care of them.      
                I believe we should be more polite and respectful to our elders.  Just as they have treated us all our life, now it’s our responsibility to take care of them. 



    My Way to English  

           When Iwas a child, I never thought that one day I would live to speak English. Although learning English has always been considered “very important” in Taiwan, I had never really put much effort into learning it until I moved to the U.S. 
          The parents of my generation who grew up in the after-war time were barely English-educated. However, educated parents were convinced that the more English their children knew, the more competitive and successful they could be in their future. My mom was no exception. She sent me to an English class recommended by her friend. Since English was a totally new world to both of us, my mom sat in the back of the class and took notes while I was learning. That was my first step on the way to English.
              My learning went smoothly and the teacher liked me for being a good student even though I found that English had nothing to do with my real life. To me, it only meant one of the subjects which I had to study, and I just followed the good student’s rule: learn, repeat, memorize, and do homework on time. In class, we spent most of the time learning grammar and vocabulary, but we rarely had a chance to read and talk. Regardless, I could leave English behind right after I stepped out of the classroom.
              Then, I encountered a setback when I was in high school. For some reason, many people had a stereotype that music students had no talent for mathematics but had an aptitude for English, and so did our school. We were both lucky and unlucky to have the best English teacher in the school. The teacher had known nothing about the music class before she took over our class, and she didn’t want to understand us later, either. She controlled us as if we were in a military school and we could never satisfy her high standards. Her demands decreased my interest sharply, and my inner voice started to question why I should learn English. Studying very hard to get a few more points on the exam to please my teacher seemed to make no sense to me. Eventually, I refused to do anything related to English even after I was admitted to the University of my dreams. My aversion made me resistant to traveling to any English speaking countries for many years. I even turned down the opportunity when I was accepted by the Royal Academy of Music in London by the time I graduated from high school.
           At the university, I worked hard and with a passion; meanwhile, like other students, I also dreamed about studying overseas to broaden my world outlook. There didn’t seem too many options left for me if I didn’t want to apply to any school in the U.S. or in England. I decided to start over learning a new language and planned to continue my education in Germany. At that moment, I completely departed from English and stepped on the unknown path toward German, a language considered to be a difficult foreign language for Chinese speakers  and, consequently, much less popular than English. Therefore, I had very limited resources learning German.
            Fortunately, my progress in German was slow but encouraging. I met some dedicated teachers and experienced very different learning styles. The German language has a much stronger grammar structure than English; therefore, it took me a long time to be able to speak out a sentence correctly, putting all learned knowledge together. Now I can still remember the first time I tried to explain something to my German roommate which he could understand. It almost shocked me; I was so excited that Icouldn’t help jumping. All of a sudden, the door to the new world was opened to me, and I realized that when the second language was not for school grades, but for communicating with people, it was much more motivational. The most interesting part for me was being able to see how the language was related to the people’s way of thinking and to their behavior.
          There is a Chinese saying: “You can never escape from what you want to escape; the only way to get rid of it is to face it.” I found it to be so true! Last year in Germany I met a friend’s friend who had just arrived without any knowledge of German. (Was he an English speaker?) In my friend’s absence, I felt responsible for helping him settle down, and the only way to communicate was to use English. Mentally, I didn’t resist speaking English anymore, but practically, I didn’t think I would be able to make it due to lack of practice for years. However, I still tried my best based on all my experiences learning German. Gradually, I could catch the rhythm and feeling of English, and, to my surprise, I remembered some vocabulary dormant in my brain. It was the first time English was fun and not stressful for me.
          Thanks to this experience, I was more willing to return to my road towards English. Although my English still needed a lot of polishing, I was not afraid of speaking. Back in Taiwan, since my neighborhood was close to the Taipei American School, I got a few piano students from there. They either spoke poor Chinese with a funny accent or didn’t speak Chinese at all, and, for their sake, I also preferred teaching them music in English; therefore, I had to learn all of the material in English by myself before each lesson. Sometimes my little students corrected me and taught me new words.
             In September 2009, I moved to California because of my husband’s job. I felt as if I had to make up for those years I neglected English, and that is what I have been doing. Teaching the piano was not a challenge, but listening, writing, and speaking to Americans were truly challenging experiences at the beginning. Thanks to the ESL classes offered by the Fremont Adult School, I could review and enrich my English.  There I met a good teacher who intrigued and energized me.  It is said that a good teacher is a student’s great fortune, and I believe it wholeheartedly.   
              Every time I recall what I have gone through on my way to English, I admit I should have taken English more seriously when I was young. However, regrets don’t help me to move on, and I am already facing the reality that learning English will be an endless fun-filled journey in my life.


    The Expectation Syndrome: But It’s a Success Story!

       At last, he has got achance. The producer directing ‘Laugh,and the world laughs with you’, which is the most famous comedy program on Korean TV, has just cast him. The producer has told him that the program will be broadcast live tomorrow. It means he’s going to be busy tonight because he couldn’t get the script until late afternoon. He reminded himself to practice all through the night. If he could play his role successfully, then he would be a comedian, which is his long-cherished dream. 
              For a long time, he has wanted to be a famous comedian. As a child, he lived with a big family.   He always played with an uncle who was about his age.  They were jolly naughty boys in town and everybody liked them. They had a special talent which provoked people to laugh endlessly. When people laughed, he was happy, but his uncle was embarrassed. He had no doubt he would be a comedian. The time flew so fast while he tried hard as an aspiring comedian, and now he was already thirty years old.     
              At six in the afternoon, he got the script with a flutter of hope. Although he would come on the stage just in one scene, he was happy. His role was that of a doctor. In the script, he enters a patient’s room, approaches the patient who is lying with his eyes closed, opens the patient’s eyelids, and just says, “I’m sorry, he went flat line.” That’s all. It’s very simple but he practiced thousands of times all night.This is a golden opportunity after a long wait, and he must take it.  
            The show had just begun. He was on standby behind the curtain watching the other comedians act. He felt his heart about to burst; his heartbeats grew faster and faster. Finally, it came his turn and suddenly he went white. He leapt onto the stage and lifted the wrong person’s eye lids and shouted “You went flatline!”  
             He said in his mind, “Oh my god!” and he ran away as fast as he had gone onto the stage. Then he felt as if the sky had fallen.
    He screwed up his first stage and lost the golden chance. Seeing the producer running toward him, he almost cried. He heard the producer yell, “How did you do that? That’s so funny!” He came back to earth as the applause mingled with laughter.
    A Comparative Essay: Two Parenting Styles
            Parents play a critical role in raising children. Many people have heard and read about the Yale law professor Amy Chua’s book titled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, which brought about a lot of debate regarding  Asian parenting and Western parenting.
    Asian parents have been stereotyped as advocates of authoritative parenting. They are demanding and like to control their children. They don’t respect what their children need. They want their children to fulfill what they need them to be. They monitor their children’s homework as well as the completion of any other school assignments and projects. They drill their children in thousands of tests to make sure they succeed. They demand that their children be high academic achievers to secure their children’s success in the future.
    Western parents have been labeled as advocates of permissive parenting. They stress that academic success is not the most important goal for children and they foster the idea that learning is fun. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and try to raise their children’s self-esteem. They try to respect their children as individuals. They encourage their children to pursue their true interests. They support their children in making own decisions to create their own complacent, happy life. 
           I have never doubted that all parents love their children. Authoritative and permissive parents just do it in different ways. In my experience, raising children is much harder than it looks; it is a never-ending job. I am facing challenges in raising my children. I keep adjusting myself to find my own way, which would also work for them. Basically, I want my children to be honest and cooperative, have good manners, and, most importantly, exert themselves. I hope my children’s future jobs reflect their interests, so they can enjoy their work and life. When we become  parents, we realize that every child is unique.  Some children need looser reins and less pushing, and others need more supervision, direction, and constant involvement.Any parent’s job is to find solutions that work for their children.
    A Memorable Gift
             In Taiwan, at the end of 12th grade, students have to participate in the national university entrance exam and are assigned to universities based on their scores. When I was 18 years old, I got a bad score on the entrance exam, and I felt so depressed and guilty. My father understood my feelings and bought a gift for me. I returned it to him at first because I didn’t think that I deserved it. Later it became a memorable gift for me. It reminds me how I went through that tough time.
             When I was in high school, I studied very hard every day. There was only one goal in my life: to score high on the national university entrance exam and to attend the top university. What shocked me was the fact that my score at the entrance exam was way below my expectations. I knew that I had messed up and felt very disappointed. I stayed in my room and didn’t want to talk to anyone while my classmates were celebrating their success on the exam. My father tried to help me get through the hard time. Instead of blaming me, he gave me a gift. It was the most expensive gift I had ever received. The gift was a small black box. Inside the box was a pen which had an 18k gold nib; the barrel and cap were made of black resin with a Montblanc emblem on the top, and gold-plated clip and rings. Montblanc was a very famous top ranking pen brand in Taiwan. There was no doubt that the pen was very expensive.
             Giving a reward to a loser was a kind of sarcasm, especially such an expensive one. That was my first feeling when I saw the gift. I returned it to my father because I hadn’t done a good job. I asked my father why he had bought me a gift, and he said that I deserved it whatever the result of the exam was because I had studied very hard for a long time. He also mentioned that my having accumulated a lot of  knowledge and having built good study habits were more important than my score. His perspective didn’t convince me but I took the pen to avoid aconflict.
              I had never opened the box until the time I was moving to a new place after many years. When I was packing house, I saw the box and opened it. I recalled the conversation with my father and realized that his message to me was: “The process is more important than the result”. His encouragement really helped me in dealing with my frustration. Now I will always consider what I have achieved in the process even if I fail in something.

    MyThanksgiving Poem

    I am thankful to my parents for giving me birth,
    raising me when I was a child,

    caring for me when I was ill
    and supporting me when I needed it.

    I am thankful to my teachers for their hard work.
    For correcting me when I was wrong,
    encouraging me when I felt challenged,
    and guiding me when I got confused.

    I am thankful to my friends for being with me:
    laughing with me when I was happy,
    listening to me when I needed to vent,
    and staying with me when I was sad.

    Those whom I love and who love me
    have been the best part of my life.
    Because of your company,
    I have never felt lonely.

    This is what I am thankful for.