October 18, 2011

Interesting Places in Portland: Nordstrom Rack

Category: Interesting Places – admin 10:45 pm

PELA student Hyun Suk Min shared this report about a favorite Portland location with her Integrated English class.

My favorite place in Portland

So far, my most favorite place is Nordstrom Rack, which is a shopping mall located in Hillsboro and downtown Portland. Here are some particular reasons why it attracts my interest.

First, it always provides genuine designer items to customers at lower prices than marked. So my wife and I usually get very good bargains there at all times. The prices of items are usually lower here than at comparable stores in Korea. In addition, if I can grab a chance to get items with an extra discount, I can save much more money when buying must-have items. Probably, every student from Korea can be attracted to that shop, if he/she visits there more than once.

Second, I can learn the way native speakers deliver their messages to customers by being exposed to a lot of English expressions related to shopping, such as “return policy”, “advertisement”, “lists of items”, and soon. Whenever I go there, I pay attention to the most frequently used expressions in signs. Such a habit makes me feel confident in comprehending English idioms because the more I visit there, the less time it takes to understand what the signs say.

October 4, 2011

Home Country Festival: Sports Day

Category: Home Country Festivals – admin 10:26 pm

PELA student Hirotaka Aoji presented to his Integrated English class this report about a festival celebrated in Japan.

Sports Day

I want to introduce Sports Day. Nowadays, Sports Day is the second Monday in October because the Japanese Government made a 3-day weekend. Sports day was October 10th, which has the highest probability of being sunny in Tokyo. The 18th Olympic games (1964) began on October 10th, 1964, in Tokyo. The Japanese government commemorated that day and established a holiday.

September 27, 2011

Interesting Places in Portland: Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Category: Interesting Places – admin 10:19 pm

PELA student Seunghyun Kim shared this report about a favorite Portland location with her Integrated English class.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of my favorite places in Portland. This place was erected in memory of the people who were killed or remain missing-in-action in Vietnam. I don’t know exactly what the problems in policy were about the Vietnam war at that time, but I think everyone who rests in this place had lived an honorable life. They didn’t fight for themselves. They did it for someone else or for what they believed. Anyway, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in the Washington Park, so it is easy to access from downtown. If you take the Max Blue or Red line and get off the Max at the Washington Park station, you can arrive the Vietnam Memorial by foot within 4 or 5 minutes. It’s situated in the Hoyt Arboretum near the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Children’s Museum, but it is little far from the Japanese Garden or the International Rose Garden. The reason I like this place is that it makes me calm unlike the other places like the zoo or Rose Garden which look splendid and lively. Because of the nature of the place, the Vietnam Memorial gives me a feeling that is peaceful and comfortable. If you enter the Vietnam Memorial, you can see a sign which recognizes the Vietnam Memorial.

Also, at the starting point of the winding trail, there is a smaller monument that says “So long as we are not forgotten we do not die, and thus this garden is a place of life.” Then, following the winding path, there are monuments which name the soldiers who were killed or missing on the left side of the way. At the top of each monument is the specific year and at the center of the top is written the history of the Vietnam War. Maybe this place is not as popular with people who like the Japanese Garden or Rose Garden, but if you want a peaceful and calm time, I think the Vietnam Veteran Memorial will be good choice to you.

September 24, 2011

Classroom Activity: What is in your dreams?

Category: Classroom Activities,Interviews – admin 11:24 pm

Last week, Diane’s Integrated English class conducted a survey on dreams.  In this activity, students asked Americans (teachers, office staff, conversation partners, even people they met at a coffee shop!) about what kinds of dreams they have. 

After collecting a large number of responses from both men (M) and women (F), the students created posters to display their results. 

Some of the results surprised Yoshie, a student from Japan who has been studying at PELA since February. ”I had always been told that men do not dream in color,” she said.  “But a majority of the men we interviewed said they sometimes did dream in color.  I was also surprised that people said they dreamed every day.  And it made me laugh to see that almost all the women dreamed of finding money, but not that many men did.”

“I enjoyed doing the survey,” Yoshie added.  “I got to talk with people I didn’t know and learn something about them.  The first time I asked someone to do the survey, I felt shy.  But after that I was able to talk with anyone! It was a great feeling, using my English in public.”

September 20, 2011

American Culture: American Public Restrooms

Category: American Culture – admin 10:08 pm

PELA student Jenny Jin shared this report about a an unusual American phenomenon with her Integrated English class.

The Secret of American public restrooms

American public restrooms have really strong construction, but why do I feel they are imperfect? In every American public restroom, the stall have cracks between the doors and the walls. I can see people through the cracks. I think that the U.S. is the only country in the world where such a lack of regard for privacy is displayed in the construction of a public restroom stalls. However, Americans think privacy is very important.

I was very surprised and embarrassed when I saw it for the first time. The gap is so wide that I can’t even close the door. The walls of the stalls go all the way to the floor in Korea. They’re very different in Korea and the U.S. I couldn’t understand why there were cracks, because most Americans care very much about ‘privacy” and “social distance”. American public restrooms don’t express such “boundary” and “concerns”. Instead, American public restrooms provide information on accessibility and visibility. They want to make sure they are safe by being able to check through the cracks. Consequently, they don’t need to knock on the door. I think that it’s very rational. Nevertheless, I’m still uncomfortable when I use American public restrooms.

September 13, 2011

Studying English in Portland: Where to talk with Portlanders!

Category: Studying English – admin 6:49 pm

PELA student Maiyaporn Limpraphawat shared this report about a favorite Portland location with her Integrated English class.

Bus Stop or Streetcar Stop

A good place that I would like to recommend you to practice English is at the bus stop or streetcar stop. It may sound strange, but people in Portland are very nice and open. I saw it many times. People talk to the strangers who are waiting for the bus or streetcar at the same time, You may feel somewhat nervous about your English skill but it is a good chance for you to practice your English communication skill. It is a very simple and easy way to improve the English skill. You can do it almost everyday or every time when you go to the bus or streetcar stop. When you see someone, just say hi or good morning to them. They may talk to you back about the weather or news. Otherwise, you may start the conversation with them first and see how much you can talk to them. Fortunately, they may correct you to help you to speak English as a native speaker.

September 6, 2011

Home Country Festival: Chusecok

Category: Home Country Festivals – admin 6:31 pm

PELA student Dongwoo Lee presented to his Integrated English class this report about a festival celebrated in Korea.


We have a Thanksgiving Day like America which is called Chusuk. Our Korean Thanksgiving Day is not fixed, so, sometimes, it can be in September, or be in October, because we are using the lunar calendar when we set the day.

When the day is Thanksgiving Day, the whole family and relatives come together at the house which the parents live in. We go to the ancestors’ grave to thank them. Also we make a rice cake which is called songpyun, along with some Korean traditional foods, and we eat the food and talk.

In the evening, many children hang out with fireworks, or do some playing, and also, families and relatives hang out to do traditional Korean games.

The Chusuk gives Koreans a lot of meaning. Families and relatives can bond through coming together and spending time together on Chusuk, and also we can remember what ancestors did for our family, and thank them.

PELA student Jongwook Park also presented to his Integrated English class this report about the same festival.


In Korea, there is Chuseok. It is one of the famous Korean traditional holidays. It is also called “han-gawi” and it is a day similar to ‘Thanksgiving Day’ in America.

This harvest festival is on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.

A long time ago, it was a very important harvest festival because most Korean people mainly lived on rice and at that time there was only one chance to harvest rice per a year.

As a celebration of the good harvest, people wore traditional clothes, ‘hanbok’, and performed an ancestral sacrifice.  Also, there is a special ceremony for this harvest festival.  At night under the full moon, people take each other’s hands and make a circle and they spin with rhythm and sing a song called “Gang Gang Sul Re”.

August 30, 2011

Interesting Places in Portland: Mt. Hood

Category: Interesting Places – admin 6:25 pm

PELA student Angela Park shared this report about a favorite Portland location with her Integrated English class.

Mt. Hood

You can’t miss it in Portland. Mt. Hood is the most beautiful place that I like and want to discuss in Portland. I heard that Mt. Hood has different views every season–I want to see that, but I have only visited it in the wintertime to ski. Every season is different, which means it has lots of nature and beautiful views where we can enjoy nature. Mt. Hood is a typical place in Portland. People usually do outdoor exercise there. Also, people can ski, hike and camp there. It’s a very good place to do outdoor exercise. For example, if you can ski or snowboard very well then you should go there in the summertime, because there is always snow on the top of Mt Hood. You can camp in the summertime, or hike in spring or fall. It’s really good for your health and you can have a happy experience on Mt. Hood.

Classroom Activity: Thank you, American Conversation Partners!

Category: Classroom Activities – admin 5:37 pm

Last week, students from Christie’s afternoon Integrated Skills class made “Thank you” cards for their American Conversation Partners

These Conversation Partners are American students from local universities which come in once a week to work with PELA students one-on-one. 

Conversation partners are a great way for PELA students to interact with Americans, practicing their listening and speaking skills, and improving their confidence in using English!

At PELA, we feel that one of the best ways for our students to learn English is to interact with Americans, speaking and listening and sharing ideas and fun. 

To do this, we have invited local Portlanders to come and conduct Conversation Hours almost every day after school.  During these Conversation Hours, students get to learn about Portland culture, American English idioms and expressions, and use their English in a relaxed non-class setting.

August 16, 2011

American Culture: Portland Festivals

Category: American Culture – admin 6:20 pm

PELA student Seung Hyun Lee wrote about the fact that Portland has a festival almost every week of the year!

Why do Portlanders have festivals every weekend?

My first weekend after arriving here, I was very excited because of the festival “Bite of Oregon”. It was my first street festival in America. Moreover, I thought that it was an unusual chance to participate in a festival. However, after that, there have been a lot of festivals here!

These kinds of festivals are not common in Korea, so I’m wondering why do

Portlanders have so many festivals. One of my American friends says that Oregon is a small state, so many people need the excitement of things such as festivals.

Moreover, Americans all over the country really enjoy their free time and weekends. People make several kinds of festivals to meet people’s needs.

Actually, as I said, street festivals are not familiar to Koreans. In Korea, there are only a few annual festivals. So, at first, I was just a visitor and outsider who just watched people. But, these days, I can join with people and truly enjoy the festivals. I think that participating in festivals is very good way for foreign students to meet new people. We can talk a lot with Americans. If you have chances to participate in festivals, just do it without hesitation. You can learn many things about American culture from festivals.