Father’s Day in the United States

Father’Happy-Fathers-Day-June-2014s Day in the United States is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. In 2014, the date will be June 15.  It is celebrated to give recognition and thanks to fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, or men who have contributed to children’s lives.

Many countries celebrate Father’s Day. It may be on a different day, but it is also to recognize fa
thers or father figures for contributing to children’s lives.

In the United States, you may celebrate Father’s Day in many ways. You may call you
r father, give a gift; such as a sporting item, clothing, electronics, or a tool he may want to use to fix the house. Many people give or mail cards on Father’s Day. In elementary school, many students will make cards or small gifts for their fathers.

Families celebrate Father’s Day in a tradition that their family has established. There may be a family get-together. Some families have a cook-out in the backyard, or go out for dinner.

Father’s Day started in 1910, because Mother’s Day became a holiday in May. It became an official holiday in 1972 when the congress passed the law.


Contributed by Beth Friedman
ACLI Instructor

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Flag Day

Flag Day is celebrated in the United States on June 14 every year. The celebration began in 1777 by the new government and country: the congress of the United States of America. In 1916, President Truman and congress passed a law making Flag Day an official annual event.

Flag Day is flagsnot a holiday when people have off from work or school. However many government buildings and companies display the flag on this day. Many Americans display the flag outside on their homes.

The first American flag was made with thirteen (13) stars and stripes to represent the original thirteen colonies, which became states in the new Unites States of America.

The current flag of the United States of America has fifty (50) stars to represent the fifty states.  Every time a new state became part of America, a new star and flag was made.  The stripes have stayed the same to remember the original thirteen (13) colonies.

Contributed by Beth Friedman
ACLI Instructor 
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How long does it take to learn a new language?

It-takes-students-with-22z4kvdRecognize that language learning is a slow and tedious process. Be realistic. Don’t beat yourself up for not learning the language very quickly. Adults cannot learn languages very rapidly. It is a scientific fact. First, you have to build a vocabulary base and know basic grammatical structure and use that for rudimentary communication practice. You will plug the vocabulary into the structure for practice. But it will take years to get really good.

A fast learner who has a high language learning aptitude can pick up enough of a language to communicate basic needs very quickly, especially when immersed in a setting where the language is spoken, but it would still take a person of high language learning aptitude a couple of years of dedicated study to become truly fluent. And for adults, does 100% fluency ever occur? Language learning is really a never ending process for the non-native speaker because there will always be contexts in which one will encounter something new to learn. You may not have  a high language learning aptitude. If you are a slow learner, it could take a long time to become comfortable with using even basic structures in the target language. That is okay. Take your time. And remember to lose your ego and accept that you will make mistakes. You will achieve your goals if you are realistic about how lengthy a process language learning truly is.

Written by Fatima Khan
ACLI Instructor 

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A Great Place to Live

Washington, D.C is a great place to live.  No matter what your interests are, there is a lot to see and do.

Here are some suggestions:

National MallThe National Mall   is a must destination for every visitor or resident.  The Mall is surrounded by the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, and various Smithsonian museums (see below).  It hosts a number of celebrations and events that are free to participants.  If you are in town for July 4th,  don’t miss the concerts and fireworks.  A Cinco de Mayo celebration, a folklife festival, and a kite-flying contest are among other annual events available to you.   It is a favorite for joggers as well.

The Smithsonian Museums offer something for everyone.  There are too many of them to describe in detail, but I will mentions a few of the favorites.  Unlike most museums, they are free.

The National Museum of Natural History is a family favorite.  It offers dinosaurs and other fossils; the Hope Diamond and other gems; a butterfly farm; and an aquarium to delight children and adults. They also have displays which are kid friendly, that is, they are ‘touchable’.

The National Air and Space Museums are also attractive to families. The original Air and Space Museum is on the Mall.  You can see the history of flight, walk in a space capsule, learn about the exploration of the moom, and enjoy a space experience in the IMAX Theater.  Closer to home is second Air and Space Museum – the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport.  This features a number of planes including the famous stealth fighter plane.   Adults and kids love these museums; you will, too.

If you are an art lover, you can try out the National Gallery of Art.  This museum has both an east and west wing.  You can find the traditional and contemporary art, prints, photographs, and sculptures here.

Panda at the National ZooThe National Zoological Park or National Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States.  Located in the Mount Pleasant area, it is perfect for a nice one-day excursion.  Giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, are favorites, but the zoo is home to great apes, Asian elephants, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, aquatic animals, small mammals, and many more!

Cherry BlossomsNot far from the National Mall, East and West Potomac parks offer a walker’s guide to American history. The full walking path is about 3 miles, but it is full of wonderful things to see and discuss. You can see the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King memorials.  You will also find memorials to US soldiers in the Korean War Memorial, World War II memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial.  This area is surrounded with Cherry Blossom trees and is the scene of the National Cherry Blossom festival.  This year it is March 20 – April 13, 2014. Don’t miss it!

Another DC park is Rock Creek Park.  It features the Carter Barron Amphitheater which offers Shakespeare in the park as part of its summer venue. Check out the website for further details.

Great Falls ParkCloser to home is Great Falls Park.  This Virginia park is a great place for picnics and birdwatching.

With so much to enjoy, the only question is, “Where will you go first?”

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To Be or Not to Be Bilingual?

Letter_brainIn many cases, people do not have a choice: They grow up bilingual. In fact more than half of the world’s population learns at least two languages from birth. Those who are monolingual may think that this could be confusing, but research has proven that it is not. Children use the two languages interchangeably and will not have any delay in learning in other areas. Moreover, speaking and using two languages regularly will improve the brain – carrying benefits that go far beyond communication.

Many times a person will learn a second language later in life when a need for it is presented such as immigration, education, politics, etc. It is not a myth that acquiring a new language after infancy is more difficult. The brain will have to undergo more changes, so that may take longer and require more effort. However, the changes that occur in the brain are equally beneficial. That is why older people are encouraged to take up hobbies such as learning a foreign language. Any type of mental or physical exercise is preferable to being unchallenged mentally and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

As a conclusion, it can be said that it is always the right time to set a goal of learning a new language. It will give you more than just something to brag about: It will give you good brain health!

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Winter Weather Driving Safety Tips

The weather forecast calls for snow in Northern Virginia. I really like snow but only the nice and fluffy kind. Usually, in our area we get the wet and sticky kind with lots of ice … not so great. Many of our student may not be used to driving in wintery conditions and around here the traffic can get crazy when it snows. Here are some driving safety tips from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office:

Loudoun County, VA:  A winter weather advisory is in effect for the area and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is reminding motorists that winter driving can be hazardous, especially in our area where we normally receive a mixture of ice, freezing rain and snow.   

The agency is advising motorists to make sure their vehicles are equipped with a well-stocked winter driving kit.

A winter driving kit should include the following items:  

  • Bag of sand or salt (or kitty litter)
  • Traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Booster cables
  • Warning devices such as flares or emergency lights
  • Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate)
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Flashlight and a portable flashing light (and extra batteries)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing, including hat and wind-proof pants, and warm footwear
  • First aid kit
  • Snack bars or other “emergency” food and water
  • Matches and emergency candles. Only use these with a window opened to prevent build-up of carbon monoxide.
  • Road maps
  • “Call Police” or other help signs or brightly colored banners.

The Loudoun Sheriff’s Office reminds motorists to stay safe in the winter by also following these driving safety tips: 

  • Always keep the gas tank topped off. When it gets to half, fill it up.
  • Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make the trip, ensure someone is aware of your route of travel.
  • Carry a cellular phone. Your cell phone can be used during emergencies and for notifying those expecting your arrival in case there are weather delays.
  • Always buckle-up. Your seat belt can be the best protection against drivers who are tense and in a hurry because of weather conditions.
  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof – before driving.
  • Pay attention. Don’t try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Leave plenty of room for stopping.
  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back a safe stopping distance and don’t pass on the right.
  • Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Watch for slippery bridges, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridges will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
  • Don’t use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster. Many 4×4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop. Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle’s traction. Your 4×4 can lose traction as quickly as a two-wheel drive vehicle.
  • Do not pump anti-lock brakes. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to “stomp and steer!”
  • Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.
  • Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  • Go Slow!

Know the current road conditions: http://511virginia.org/Default.aspx; for statewide highway information 24-hours-a-day, call the Highway Helpline at 1-800-367-ROAD or check local traffic incident information at www.loudoun.gov/traffic (www.loudoun.gov/mobiletraffic via your web browsing cell phone).


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The first American Thanksgiving is said to have occurred in 1621 with the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Wampanoag Native American tribe. They shared food with each other. The Wampanoags prayed and gave thanks for food and all blessings every day. The Pilgrims and other early colonists considered Thanksgiving an annual religious holiday. They prayed and fasted to show thanks for food and all their blessing. This may explain why nothing has been found written about this Thanksgiving until twenty years after it happened.

The food that was eaten at the first Thanksgiving was probably seafood; like lobster, clams, and oysters. This is because it was in the Plymouth area close to the Atlantic Ocean. They may have eaten deer, goose, or duck. Corn may have been on the table as well.

In 1863 Sara Hale was dedicated to making Thanksgiving a national holiday. She thought this would help unite the country during the Civil War which was going on at the time. She was successful in having President Abraham Lincoln sign a law making the last Thursday of November a national annual holiday of Thanksgiving.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated by all people living in America. We still give thanks for all the good things in our life and the food on our table. This is a major American holiday where family and friends get together. The American table usually has a turkey. Turkey started being used because it is inexpensive compared with other meat. If you are having a lot of people for Thanksgiving a turkey is a good choice as they are usually very big. Also popular on the table are mashed white potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing (usually made from dried bread crumbs and herbs), cranberry sauce and corn. Each family may have their own food traditions. Dessert is usually pumpkin or apple pie.

There are a lot of football games on TV on Thanksgiving. There is also the Thanksgiving parade in New York City which started in 1924. We can watch this great tradition on TV.

This is my favorite holiday because it does not matter where you come from or what religion you are. We can all give thanks for all of our blessings. Enjoy Thanksgiving!

Submitted by Beth Friedman, ESL Instructor

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Field Trip to Washington DC

On November 4, 2011 the American Culture and Lifestyle Class took its first field trip to Washington, DC to see some of the important sites and monuments we have discussed in class. We left around 9:30 a.m. from the front of Signal Hill. We were fortunate to have the use of the NOVA van driven by our program coordinators, Ms. Silvana Mehner and Ms. Keila Louzada.

Our first stop was to see the Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Vietnam, Korean, and the Women’s Memorial. Next, we went to see the statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Martin Luther King Memorial. This is the newest of the memorials on the National Mall. It was grand. The wall area surrounding the large statue was engraved with various quotes of all the speeches he had given. The memorial is called “I Have a Dream”, which is a quote of his most famous speech.

We had learned about all of the monuments/people in class. I explained when each was made, who made it and what is was made from. It certainly had more meaning to the students to know about the history and culture when they saw the monuments.

Later, we drove by the Washington Monument. You can usually take an elevator to the top. It is now closed because of the earthquake we had a few months ago. Then, we went to lunch at the Old Post Office. There are many places to eat there. We also took two elevators to the top of the building to get a view the city. It was windy but interesting.  This is not the original Old Post Office. That is in another museum called the Smithsonian.

 After lunch we went to the Capital. There are two main parts to the Capital building. The Capital is where the lawmakers of the United States meet to make the laws or changes to the laws of the United States. We visited the Visitors side. I made reservations in advance so we did not have to wait in line. Inside, we saw a movie explaining what we would see on the Visitors’ Tour. We had a guide that took us through some of the most beautiful statues and paintings. The paintings were on the walls and the ceiling.

Most of the students in my class had been to Washington, DC before but they never toured the Capitol or saw the memorials up close as we did this day.

It was a fabulous day. It started out chilly, but warmed up in the afternoon. I want to give special thanks to our coordinators, Ms. Silvana and Ms. Keila. This trip would not have been possible without their hard work.

On behalf of the students and myself, I want to say a hearty thank to Silvana and Keila. Great day! Great fun! Great learning! 



Submitted by Ms. Beth Friedman and the students of the American Culture and Lifestyle class.

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