All posts by ICLS

Meet the Staff: Adam McConnell

Meet the Staff: Adam McConnell  

I started my ESL career in Vienna, Austria, where I worked at a school for wine production for two years. It was an exciting experience because Vienna is so beautiful and working with those students was a lot of fun. I’ve worked at ICLS for 7 years, first as a German teacher and then as an English teacher. ICLS is an exciting school because we meet students from all over the world.

Four Questions for Adam:

What do you love most about your job?

I love working with international students. I always feel that I learn as much from them as they do from me. International students are often the most well-traveled people you can find and it’s very exciting to learn about their backgrounds, countries, languages, and travels!

What is your favorite food and why?

I love food! I think my favorite food is chocolate or hazelnut desserts.

What do you like most about living in or near Washington DC?

I like the fact that Washington DC has many great international restaurant because I love food! Because I like to bike, I enjoy having so many bike trails throughout the area.

Why is learning English important for achieving global success?

English is a global language and knowing English gives students communicative access to the world. Students are able to travel anywhere more easily, and knowing English gives individuals an advantage in the workplace and at the university.


ESL Thanksgiving Writing Contest

What Are You Thankful For?

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, we have asked our current ESL students and alumni to share with us what they are thankful for this season. Today, we are proud to announce three winners whose essays we are excited to share with you! ICLS would like to thank all of our students for participating in the contest. We are touched by your stories.

Meet the winners

Advanced Category: Cesmel Meledje


Cesmel’s Essay

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed
On this day of joy, it is with a heart full of happiness that I would like to share my gratefulness for having the opportunity to live in the United States. However, I would first like to reflect on the meaning behind the celebration of Thanksgiving, which is a famous tradition held on the 24th  of November when people gather together, enjoy each other’s company, and share food in a familial atmosphere [editor’s note: Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, it fell on November 24th]. This custom began in the early days of British colonies in America four hundred years ago. The Pilgrims’ immigrated here and they had trouble adjusting to the new land. They had arrived too late to grow many crops, and their plants were not suitable for the climate. Most of them died of diseases the first year, but they received help and training from the native inhabitants, the Wampanoag tribe. The Wampanoag brought with them a man named Tisquantuman, who knew some English and helped translate for the Pilgrims. Throughout the year, the Wampanoag held festivals to thank the earth for its many gifts. The Pilgrims had much to be thankful for, so they planned a feast of thanks and special day of prayer. According to the legend, the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag and there was a big turkey banquet that became the symbol of conviviality. I can relate to this story because just like the Pilgrims persevered through their hardships in immigrating to the United States, I faced a similar situation. With the help of locals, I have overcome my own difficulties in getting used to the life here. This reminds me of how I should be grateful for being so lucky to wake up every day and live in this the United States. I need to embrace every single moment with merriment and a smile because tomorrow may never come, but at least I would have lived to the fullest.

Intermediate Category: Shotaro Ishigaki


Shotaro’s Essay

I am thankful for people all over the world because I experienced a major disaster five years ago in Japan. It was a very big earthquake. Also, the earthquake caused a tsunami. The tsunami destroyed many houses and many people died. Fortunately, I stayed away, so I was safe, but my colleague lost his house. At that time, people around the world helped by donating money and saving people trapped in the rubble. In addition, volunteers came to rescue a lot of people. Today, many buildings have been rebuilt in Japan, and we returned to the life we had before the earthquake occurred. However, I will never forget their assistance. I want to give back to people all over the world, and I hope the world will help each other more.

Intermediate Category: Mark Kim

Mark Kim

Mark’s Essay

I’m thankful for the people in my life. Upon reflection, they always provide me with opportunities. When I was young, my parents always helped me and, when I went to elementary school, my teachers always taught me how to appreciate a good friendship. Also, my friends appreciated me. I had a beautiful childhood. When I went to middle school, I really liked that because I had five friends. I still keep in touch with them today. When I had a problem they came to me immediately. Whatever, whenever. When I went to high school, life was hard because I had to study and train. I graduated with the help of my friends and instructors. When I served in the Air Force, a lot of comrades helped me. Now, I’m living in Washington, DC. Thanks to all the people in my life, I’m able to study English at ICLS. I’m really happy. I’m going to help other people in my life as other people have helped me.

Meet the Staff: Connie Lee

Meet the Staff: Connie Lee

Connie Lee is the Director of the ESL Division at the International Center for Language Studies.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and holds a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she holds two certificates: Teaching a Second Language for Business Communication and Training & Assessment.  She has 15 years of experience as an ESL/EFL teacher and program administrator in university-based intensive English programs, education companies, and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and China. She has also provided curriculum development consulting to English language programs in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.  She is an active site reviewer for CEA (The Commission on English Language Accreditation) and a regular participant at TESOL conferences.

Three Questions for Connie:

What do you love most about your job?

I enjoy every aspect of my job, but my favorite part is working with students and teachers who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It is fascinating to learn about various cultures although I can’t seem to keep up with all the superstitions from different countries!

What is your favorite food and why?

Food is my passion and I love exploring new cuisines, which makes this question a very tough one! But if I must choose only one, I would say sushi because of its simplicity and elegance.

Why is learning English important for achieving global success?

We live in a time where degrees alone won’t get you far. Living in an increasingly global world, practical skills are needed in addition to degrees and cross-cultural experience, and no matter what your goals are, good communication plays a critical role in your success. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively in English will give you an edge you need to get ahead – academically and professionally.