‘Twas 3 Weeks Before Christmas…

What do these three images have in common?

With Christmas right around the corner, most American children are worrying about what Santa is going to bring them.  In fact, most people around the world picture Santa Claus when they think of Christmas, and when most people think of Santa Claus, they think of the man who is making the child cry in the picture above.

But all the pictures above are versions of Santa (from left to right, Father Christmas, Saint Nikolaos, your weird Uncle Jimmy).  The question is why do we in America have the Santa with the funny clothes, the sleigh, and the reindeer?

To get us all ready for Christmas, I’ve posted a classic reading of the poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,“ first published in 1823. This influential poem gave America many of its ideas about Christmas Eve and Santa Claus. Listen for the sleigh full of toys, the reindeer, the stockings, and the chimney.

A Visit From Saint Nicholas

(‘Twas the Night before Christmas)

by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Reverse Dictionary:

Find a word in the poem that means the same as the words below.

1. moving; making noise (v, stanza 1)

2. a really big noise (n, stanza 3)

3. the foot of a deer (n, stanza 8)

4. stained or made dirty (adj, stanza 9)

5. to fear (v, stanza 12)

Expansion Questions

1. Describe the reaction of the speaker to Saint Nick. Was he afraid at all?

2.What adjectives could we use to describe Saint Nick?


The Truth about Cinco de Mayo – Listening Practice


Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) has come and gone. Did you celebrate it? If you did, maybe you ate tacos or had a margarita with your friends. But what were you celebrating? A lot of people think they are celebrating the day of Mexico’s independence from Spain and France, but in this short interview from NPR, Lesley Tellez explains who really celebrates this interesting holiday and why.

Click Here to isten to the interview



Why we love a film that makes us cry

CLICK: Why we love a film that makes us cry

Do you like happy movies or sad movies better?

In this listening practice, BBC Learning English talks about why we all like to cry at the movies.

Study the ten vocabulary items and impress your teacher with all the idioms you know!

Christmas Party 2012

Are you sad that winter is over? Do you miss Christmas? Are you humming Christmas carols alone in your room right now? Well say no more, because just in time for spring, AOI’s Christmas Music Party Video is here!

For those of you who weren’t at the Christmas party, this video may surprise you. But even if you were there, you may have forgotten just how much fun you had–enjoy again.

Yes–it really was that cool.

Valentine’s Day at AOI

AOI’s Valentine’s Day Potluck was a big success. If you have any situation where you combine great food from around the world (mostly from Trader Joe’s), a handsome and clever host, and fun games with prizes, it’s going to be fun. BUT if you take all those things and add a little Romance, you’ve got a real party on your hands.

Here are some of the highlights:Image

Ron made sure the party didn’t stop—and he looked good doing it.

ImageKimkim and Mika sample some of the sweets and treats at the potluck.

Image“Psssst!” What would Valentine’s Day be without secrets? Lots of secrets…

ImageEveryone had fun—it was really crowded!!

ImageThe Men relaxed and talked about manly things—not about girly things like Love…

The games were great fun. People had cookies on their face, were stepping on each other’s feet, sitting on each other, and everyone was laughing a lot.

What was your favorite part of the party? Tell us below!

AOI and Azusa Pacific University agreement!

AOI College of Languages has signed a transfer agreement with Azusa Pacific University. AOI students who have successfully completed Level 6 will be able to apply to the undergraduate program at Azusa Pacific University (APU) without the TOEFL requirement.

Students will receive priority review of your academic records and early admission notification. APU counselors further assist students in the admission process by providing specific guidance about major preparation and general education coursework including transferable credits for transfer students.

Overseas students who apply to AOI in conjunction with APU admissions will receive a letter of support from the university and can be submitted as part of visa supporting documents.

Corona Del Mar Beach BBQ!

AOI students went to Corona for a fun day in the southern California’s sun. We had a BBQ on the beach with the beautiful beach on one side and picturesque view of beach houses on the other. It was a great way to unwind from all of the studying. It was a great experience of California’s beautiful beaches.



Hope to see you here soon!