Monthly Archives: January 2015

You Are Getting to a Ripe Old Age If You Miss Old Times

brother pic

Here’s another story from Changing Every Day. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your understanding!:

My Brother

Liang Yang

Currently, I have started having memories from the past. One of my friends said, “You are getting to a ripe old age if you miss old times.” One day, I was sitting on the couch and looking at the photos on the wall. There was a picture that drew my attention. In the picture, my brother and I are sitting in the desert back to back.

He is in now in England. He has been there for 11 years. He has a PhD, and he is working for a university. He likes traveling, and he has already visited a great number of different places in Europe. I think of how his real life comes from his personality and early education. My brother not only shares his goals and dreams, but also believes in himself and the ability to achieve them.

He was number one all the time in school. When we were in the same school, I was proud of him. Most of my classmates thought I had no problems with my homework because my brother could teach me at home, but he only shared his study methods with girls in his class, not me.

I didn’t interrupt him unless I got homework that I couldn’t handle alone. Once I approached his room and knocked at his door lightly, while he was thinking. When he opened it, I wasn’t delighted to see the impatient look on his face, but I knew there was nothing more important than homework. So instead of caring about his attitude, I put my homework on his desk and looked at him.

“Can you tell me how to do this?” I said. “I don’t know the process.”

He looked at me, but he shook his head. “Did you daydream during the whole 45-minute class?” he asked, in a superior tone.

I quickly stood up. This could be embarrassing. It could hurt my feelings and make me lose self-confidence. I saw he helped his female classmates in a friendly and courteous way. I felt that it was better not to be his sister. So at that moment, I spoke up.

“Listen, clever student! I admit my worst subject in school is mathematics. I don’t understand it as well as other subjects. Furthermore, it is hard for me to see the relevance of math in my life. But I think I could have been good in math if my brother had taken more time to explain it to me. But you . . . you . . . let me down!”

Then I took a deep breath and continued to be unconvinced. “Even if I don’t beat you, I know I have studied well if I have improved on my own.” I said this while I was slamming the door.

He was uncommunicative.

I remember that when my brother and I would get into a quarrel, my mom would always try to remain neutral. At the dinner table, as always, she instructed us in our relationship, and we became reconciled again.

One morning my brother and I were on our way to school. It was a warm spring day with the sun shining bright. But it was getting chilly by the time all students started for morning exercises outdoors. What a wonderful day, I thought. I walked back to the classroom where the school video was transmitting the good composition work of students. One of my brother’s essays was chosen. “Oh, no,” I whispered. The name of it was “My Special Sister.” The next four or five minutes were the longest I ever spent at that age. My face got hot as I bit my lip.

“My sister sometimes is lazy. She ignores when she makes things dirty and disorganized.”

I looked around when I heard that, slapping my pockets nervously.

“My sister has a round, red, cute face like an apple. When you see her happy face you just want to pinch her chubby cheeks.”

I was putting my hand over my eyes and saying, “Please, that’s enough” in a low voice.

When we both got home, I pretended not to see him. He slumped down beside me. “I didn’t mean it like that, Liang. Did you hear that I wrote more about your advantages than your shortcomings?”

“But you can’t let everyone know them in public,” I responded, and almost burst into tears.

“I couldn’t stop my teacher from picking this article!” he said, as if complaining of an injustice. Meanwhile, I leaned my head against him, and we tolerated each other until we went to sleep.

Childhood with him was a lot of fun. We were always together playing and exercising. Even though we fought and strived for favor with our parents, we both knew that “blood is thicker than water.” That means that “family ties are closer than social relations,” according to my mom.

As we grew up and got to be older, we still kept good memories of being little. Now we both have families of our own.


To read more stories from Changing Every Day, click here.

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Cold Feet Revisited

Here’s a song by Tracy Chapman using last week’s Idiom of the Week. Listen to the song, fill in the blanks with the words you here, then click on “Continue reading” to check your answers.

Cold Feet

by Tracy Chapman

There was a little boy once upon a time
Who in spite of his young age and small size knew his mind
For every copper penny and clover he would find
Make a ____1_____ for better days, the end of hard times
For no more cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

His clothes were always _____2_____ His face was always scrubbed
There was food on the table enough to fill him up
His house was full of life, his house was full of love
But when _____3_____ days arrived
There was never money enough to shod his cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

He grew up to be a worker determined to succeed
He made a life for himself, free from worldly wants or needs
But nobody to share the life he’d made
Nobody to keep him _____4_____ at night
When he’d go to sleep he’d sleep alone with his cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

One night he walked the streets looking to the heavens above
Searching for a shooting star, a benevolent God
When a woman passing by brushed his arm
He turned and found love
He then wished for the courage to ask this ____5_____
Who she was to not have cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

One year later he stood beside her
He vowed, “I’ll give you everything you want”
Said, “I’ll take some _____6_____ from my heart to keep your body warm
You won’t have cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet”

He thought she’d like the party life and want the finer things
So he promised more than he could buy
He promised her the sun and _____7_____ to not have cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

He worked day and night his fingers to the bone
His worried mind, guilty conscience drive him on
He can’t give her what she needs
Wants to give her what he thinks she wants
Her sad face, his empty _____8_____ drive him on and his cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

He’d struggled all his life to be an honest man
Proud that the dirt on his palms was the soil of the land
Some guys he knew from high school days
Said they had a plan to get _____9_____ real quick
And they could count him in if he don’t have cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

He thought about their offer accepted it without qualms
Dreamt about the life he’d buy
The comfort that would come without cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

He decided to drive the car, he decided to carry the gun
To take the biggest risk of all to prove his loyalty to his friends
He decided to tell his _____10_____ things would soon turn around
He said the little boy is dead
A man stands with you now without cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet
Without cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

He thought he’d set his clock right, he thought he’d read his watch
He left in such a hurry he didn’t think to wish for luck
Makes no difference if you’re early, no difference if you’re late
When you’re out of _____11_____, the flowers have been laid
You’re six feet underground
With cold feet
Cold cold cold cold feet

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No Class on Tuesday

All daytime, elective, and evening classes on Tuesday, January 27 here at the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program are cancelled due to snow.

On Wednesday, if New York City Public Schools are closed, we will be closed – and if they’re open, we’ll be open.

Click here to check the New York City Public School website.


Severe Revisited

Severe was last week’s Awesome Adjective. Here are some pictures of severe weather. What kind of severe weather do you see? Write your answers on a piece of paper, then click on “Continue reading” to see the correct answers.








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Project-Based Learning: Little Farms

Our E3 evening class recently completed a teamwork project. Read the project parameters, take a look at each farm, then let us know which group did the best job. You can vote and leave comments.


Project-Based Learning Activity: E3’s Little Farm

As toy factory employees, you must create a “Little Farm,” a high-quality toy product. The retail price for the handmade paper toy will be $19.99. Draw, color, and assemble a 2D or 3D (2 0r 3 dimensional) toy farm. This means each piece must have a front and back and be able to stand up. The toy farm must have:

– One red barn 10 inches long, 8 inches high, and 6 inches wide. It must have 4 windows and the barn doors should be open.

– Two black-and-white dairy cows, 6 inches long, standing 4 inches high.

– Two adult farmers, a male and a female, standing 6 inches tall, and three children, standing 4 inches tall.

– Three round straw baskets, each one 3 inches in diameter. One is yellow and 2 are brown.

– Two pink pigs 3 inches long and 2 inches high.

1. Create and assemble (put together) the project; use paper, crayons, scissors, tape, staples, matches, and a ruler.

2. Create a strategy (or plan) before you start working. Decide how best to use each person’s skills and talents to work on the project. For example: Who will be the team leader? Who has art skills? Who is a good organizer? Who writes neatly? Who is good with numbers or math?

3. Make sure each person has a responsibility. On a team, no one can just watch–everyone must do something.

4. Present to the class (when finished, how your team handled this activity. Discuss problems and solutions.

5. Speak in English, use creativity, and have fun!

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Idiom of the Week: Get Cold Feet

Meaning: To change your mind or hesitate before doing something.


They didn’t get married because she got cold feet.

I want to start my own business, but I’m getting cold feet. It sounds like too much stress.

He was very enthusiastic about helping us, but then he got cold feet.


Pop Quiz:

You’re going to get married. One day, your fiancé says to you, “I’m getting cold feet.” What does he mean?

A.  He means he’s ready to get married.

B.  He means he’s not sure if he wants to get married.

C.  He means he’s not in love with you.

To see the correct answer, click on “Continue reading”:

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