How Much Should You Tip?

By Scott Sanchez at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A tip is a small amount of money for some kind of service. A tip is not included in the price or cost of something. For example, when you eat in a restaurant, you pay for the food, but you should also give the waiter or waitress a tip. It is a way to say “thank you” to a person who does a good job.

We also use “tip” as a verb. When food is delivered to my house, I ask my husband, “Did you tip the delivery man?” That means, “Did you give some extra money (a tip) to the delivery man?”

Tipping is very common in the United States for many kinds of service. In other countries, people are not required or expected to give a tip. How much money is a good amount for a tip? Are tips different for different kinds of service? When should you tip someone, and when is it not necessary? These are important questions, and many people disagree on the answers. However, here is a general guide for leaving tips.

Food Service

  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    Waiter/Waitress – Most servers in the United States receive VERY little money from the restaurant. They depend on tips to make a living. Most people leave 15-20% for good service. If your food costs $10, a good tip is $1.50-$2.00. If you have a terrible server, you can leave less (maybe 10%). If you have the worst server in the world, you do not have to tip him/her at all. If you have an amazing server, you can leave a bigger tip (more money).

  • Delivery Person – When food is delivered to your home, a 10% tip is customary. Most people give a minimum of $2.
  • Barista – A barista is a person who makes coffee. You do not have to tip a barista, but they usually have a cup or jar beside the cash register. You can put some money into it if you want to. This is true in some restaurants also. When there is no server (waiter/waitress), there is often a container beside the cash register for tips. You are not required to put money into it, but you can.
  • Bartender – You can give a bartender $1 for each drink or 15% of the total bill. If you tip the bartender at the beginning of the night, you might get better service.
  • Takeout – If you order food from a restaurant, go to the restaurant to get it, and take it home to eat it, no tip is necessary.


  • Bellman/Bellhop/Porter – This is the person who helps with your luggage. Maybe they take it to your room for you. Maybe they help you take it out of the car (or put it into the car when you leave). Many people disagree about how much to tip this person. I think it depends on the hotel. At a very expensive hotel, you should tip more. At a cheaper hotel, you can tip less. In general, $1-$2 per bag is customary.
  • Concierge – The concierge can give you information about the city, directions to restaurants, recommendations, and more. If the concierge gives you simple directions or tells you about a good restaurant, you do not need to tip him/her. However, if you receive excellent service, you can tip $5 or more.
  • Housekeeper – Depending on the hotel, you can tip a hotel housekeeper $2-$5 per day. You can leave a tip in the room each day (ask the front desk for an envelope) or leave one big tip when you pay your bill.
  • Parking Valet – A valet parks your car for you. This rule is for hotel valets, but some restaurants and even hospitals have valet parking, and the tipping rules are the same. When you get your car back, tip the driver $2-$5. You can also tip when you leave your car, but it is not required.
  • Room Service – When you order food at a hotel and it is delivered to your room, tip $3-$5. Sometimes, a tip is included in the cost of the food, and a tip is not necessary. Look for the words “gratuity included.” That means the tip is included in the price, and you do not need to pay a tip.

Personal Service

  • Barber/Hairstylist –Many people disagree on this, so you can tip anywhere from 10-20%. Again, I think it depends on the quality of service and how fancy the salon is. If you go to a barber shop and pay $8 for a haircut, the barber probably does not expect a big tip. If you go to an expensive salon and pay $90 for a haircut, they might expect you to tip the person who cuts your hair AND the person who washes your hair!
  • Manicurist – 15% is a normal tip for a manicure or pedicure.
  • Massage Therapist – We usually tip 10-15% for massages and other spa services (like facials).


  • Taxi Driver – Cab (taxi) drivers usually get a 10% tip.
  • Skycap/Porter – This is the person at the airport who helps you with your luggage. Just like a hotel porter, they receive $1-$2 per bag. They usually get $2 if the bag or item is very heavy.

Other Tips on Tipping

  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    You can always tip more than the recommended amount for excellent service.

  • If you receive terrible service, you do not have to tip.
  • If you sit at a table in a restaurant for a very long time, you should leave a bigger tip.
  • If you use a coupon or a gift card, calculate your tip based on the full price, not the discounted price.
  • In general, we do not tip public officials or government employees. If you want to offer a tip, you can, but they might tell you that they cannot accept it.
  • If someone says that they cannot accept a tip, just say “thank you” and leave. In some cases, an employee could get into trouble for accepting a tip.

American Grocery Stores

I asked some friends if grocery stores (supermarkets) are the same in every country. You already know the answer – NO. They are very different. Here are some things about American grocery stores that might be new, different, or strange for you.

Weights and Measures

In most of the world, people use the metric system, but in the United States, we use the Imperial system. This system is confusing for everyone, but I hope I can help you understand a little bit today. I will tell you the word, and then I will put the abbreviation (short form) in parentheses.

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • cup (c) – A cup measures liquids or solids. A cup of liquid is about 237 ml. In grams, it depends on the food. A cup of butter weighs about 227 grams. A cup of sugar weighs about 200 grams. A cup of flour weighs 136 grams.
  • pound (lb) – A pound measures weight. A pound is 0.45 kg. The abbreviation for pound is “lb.” This comes from the Latin word for pound – libra. These apples cost $1.69/lb. That means one pound of apples costs $1.69.
  • ounce (oz) – An ounce measures liquids or solids. An ounce is about 30 ml (liquids) or about 28 grams (solids). There are 8 ounces in 1 cup.
  • pint (pt) – A pint measures liquid. There are 2 cups in 1 pint. A pint is 473 ml.
  • quart (qt) – A quart measures liquid. A quart is 946 ml. A quart is 4 cups.
  • gallon (gal) – A gallon measures liquid. One gallon is about 3.79 liters. One gallon is16 cups. One gallon is 8 pints. One gallon is 4 quarts.
    – 1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 16 cups
  • dozen (doz) – A dozen is 12. If you buy a dozen cupcakes, that’s 12 cupcakes.

Here are some other abbreviations you might see in the grocery store:

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • ea – This means “each.” The Brussels sprouts in the picture are in bags. One bag costs $3.99. The sign says they cost $3.99/ea.
  • BOGO – This means “buy one, get one.” You might see a sign that says “BOGO 1/2 price.” That means when you pay full price for one, you can get another one for 1/2 price.


American grocery stores are BIG. In many countries, the stores are small, and you go to different stores for different things. For example, you go to a bakery for your bread and cakes, and you go to a butcher for your meat. In the United States, you can get everything in one place.

  • In the bakery section, you can buy bread, cakes, and other baked foods.
  • In the deli section, you can get meats and cheeses cut fresh for you. You can buy as much or as little as you want. Just tell the person working there how much you want.
  • In the produce section, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

In some countries, you need to weigh your produce and print a label before you go to the checkout counter. In the United States, you do not need to do this. You can take your produce to the checkout area, and the cashier will weigh it. There are scales in the produce department so you can get the exact amount that you want, but you do not need to weigh your fruits and vegetables if you don’t want to.

In some countries, you pay for different things in different departments. In American grocery stores, you pay for everything at the checkout counter (at the front of the store). You do not pay for your bread in the bakery department, for example.


In general, if a package is closed, or if several things are attached (held together), you must buy them like that. For example, if you see 6 bottles of Coke together (attached with plastic), you must buy all of them. You cannot buy only one. If you only want one small bottle of Coke, look in the refrigerator at the checkout counter.

You CAN separate bananas if you don’t want to buy a bunch.

Saving Money

Saving money on food is important to many people. Here are a few ways you can save money on groceries.

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • Price Comparison – Prices are not standard, so the same thing might cost more or less depending on the store. Pay attention to the prices the next time you go to a grocery store, and then compare them to a different store’s prices. You might be surprised.
  • Rewards Cards – Most grocery stores have some kind of rewards card to help you save money at that store. Harris Teeter has the VIC card, Food Lion has the MVP card, and Kroger has the PLUS card. These cards are free, and you can use them every time you shop. If you use your card regularly, the store’s computer will give you coupons for the things you buy or similar things.
  • Coupons – You can get coupons from the store, from inside a package, from the internet, or from the newspaper to save money on food. Just take your coupons with you when you shop, and give them to the cashier.
  • Store Brands – There are two kinds of products: name brands and generic/store brands. Name brand products are more expensive because the company pays for advertising. Store brands are cheaper. This chart will tell you the names of the store brands for several stores here in NC.
    Store Brand Names


The laws for buying and selling alcohol in the state of North Carolina might seem strange.

  • You can buy alcohol Monday-Saturday from 7:00 am until 2:00 am. You can buy alcohol on Sunday from 12:00 noon until 2:00 am. You cannot buy alcohol from 2:00 am until 7:00 am (or until noon on Sunday). If you want to buy wine for dinner on Sunday, you have to wait until the afternoon.
  • Grocery stores do not sell liquor. They sell wine and beer, but if you want tequila, whiskey, vodka, or rum, you must go to the ABC store (alcoholic beverage control).
  • You must be at least 21 years old to buy alcohol. The cashier will ask to see your ID (driver’s license). If you do not have an ID for the cashier to check, you will not be allowed to buy alcohol.
  • You cannot open your alcohol inside the store and begin drinking it.

American Time

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

In different cultures, people think about time differently. When I lived in Honduras, I went to a wedding. As an American, I was very worried because we were late, but my host family told me not to worry. They said, “The invitation says that the wedding starts at 5:00, but that just means that the wedding definitely will NOT start before 5:00.” In the United States, if a wedding invitation says 5:00, the wedding will begin at 5:00, so you should arrive before 5:00.

In Madagascar, a bus leaves the station when it is full. In the United States, the bus leaves at a scheduled time.

In some cultures, people think about time as a circle or a pool they can move around in. In American culture, we think of time as a line with a past, present, and future.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

American Time

Here is what you need to know about American time:

  • Being “on time” is very important to Americans because we think that time is limited. We have 24 hours in a day, and when the day is finished, that time is gone. Therefore, we try to be on time because we think it is more respectful. We don’t want other people to lose time. And we try to be on time because it is more efficient. We want to complete all of the day’s tasks before the end of the day.
  • Americans think about time as a valuable resource. That’s why we talk about time and money in similar ways with expressions like “save time,” “spend time,” “waste time,” and “time is money.”
  • It is considered rude and unprofessional to arrive late to an appointment, meeting, or job.
  • If you are late to a class, you might get in trouble or not be allowed to enter the class. It can also affect your grade in some cases.
  • If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late to meet a friend, you should call or send a text message to apologize and tell them when you will arrive. It is never ok to be more than 30 minutes late to meet a friend. It is disrespectful to be late every time you meet, and it can hurt your friendship.
  • Americans get upset (frustrated, anxious, or angry) when they know that they will be late.
  • Americans think about the future a LOT. We have planners (books for writing future plans), we make grocery lists before we go to the store, we check the weather forecast in the morning so we know what to wear and whether to take an umbrella with us, and we put money into special bank accounts for babies so they can pay for college when they are 18 years old. In fact, it is very difficult for Americans to enjoy the present moment because we are always thinking about the future.
  • Americans do not usually visit or call each other after around 9:00 p.m. unless there is an emergency.
  • Americans think about time in 5-minute chunks (periods/pieces). We say it takes 5, 10, or 15 minutes to go somewhere or do something. In other cultures, people think of time in 15-minute chunks, so they say it takes 15, 30, or 45 minutes. This is not a precise way to talk about time, but it’s interesting. If it takes me (an American) 8 minutes to drive to work, I say it takes 10 minutes, but someone from another culture might say it takes 15 minutes.

Your Turn

Why do you need to understand American time? Think about the following questions and discuss them with your classmates.

  1. What will happen if you are late to work every day in the United States?
  2. What time does your class begin? What time do you arrive? What happens if you are late?
  3. Why are Americans always so angry when they drive?
  4. An American friend invites you to a dinner party that begins at 6:30 p.m. What will happen if you arrive at 10:00 p.m.?
  5. Is it important to you that people show you respect? How can this information help you to show respect for your American friends?
  6. How is American time different from your culture’s time? How can this information help you not to be upset about those cultural differences?

Community Buildings and Places – Education

By Surrahwall (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Our area of NC is called the Triangle. The cities that make the points of the Triangle are Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The Triangle also includes smaller cities and towns in the area – Cary, Morrisville, Apex, etc. This area – the Triangle – is one of the most highly educated areas of the country. Both the Raleigh/Cary and Durham/Chapel Hill areas are in the top 10 most educated cities in the nation. It’s easy to see why. We have many colleges and universities. Chapel Hill has the University of North Carolina. Durham has Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and Durham Technical Community College. And Raleigh has NC State University, William Peace University, Meredith College, Shaw University, Saint Augustine’s University, and Wake Technical Community College.

Wake County also has 171 public schools, 78 private schools, hundreds of preschools, and 20 public libraries! (Click here to find your nearest library and learn how to get a library card.)

All children in North Carolina are required by law to attend school until they are 16 years old. Let’s look at the different kinds of schools we have.

Elementary Schools

By woodleywonderworks ( [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Elementary schools usually include Kindergarten and 1st-5th grade (some include 6th grade). Children usually begin Kindergarten when they are 5 years old. Most American children begin school in Kindergarten. They do not usually start with 1st grade. When children finish elementary school, they are around 11-12 years old. In elementary school, children have one teacher for all their academic subjects (math, writing, reading, social studies, geography, science, and history), and they have different teachers for music, art, P.E. (physical education), and foreign languages. They stay with their class (about 20-30 students) all day. They play together, eat lunch together, and go to art, music, and other classes together. In each grade, children will have a different teacher and be in a different class (with a different group of students). In the lower grades (Kindergarted-3rd grade), there is often a teacher’s assistant in the classroom.

Middle Schools

By Jeff Billings [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Middle schools usually include 6th-8th grade (some are 7th-9th grade). These schools are sometimes called junior high schools. Children begin middle school when they have finished elementary school, usually around 11-12 years of age. In middle school, children have different teachers for different subjects. They have a math teacher, a history teacher, a P.E. teacher, etc., and they can begin to choose their classes based on their interests. For example, students are not required to take a music class, but if they are interested in music, they can choose to take a chorus (singing) class or a band class. Middle school students go to a different classroom for each class, and they may have different students in each one.

High Schools

By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

American high schools usually include 9th-12th grade (some are 10th-12th). Children begin high school (sometimes called senior high school) when they have finished middle school (or junior high school). High school is similar to middle school. Students change teachers and classrooms for each subject, and they can choose some classes based on their interests. For example, they are required to study a foreign language, but they can choose which language to study. They can also choose to take some classes that are designed to prepare them for college and some classes that can help them get college credit while they are still in high school. When we talk about a high school student’s “class,” we might mean an individual course (a history class), or we might mean all of the students in the same grade. I graduated from high school in 1998. All of the students who graduated that year are called the class of 1998.

Public vs. Private

All public schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) in the United States are free for students to attend. It does not matter if they are American citizens or not, and they are not required to take an admissions exam. Private schools, however, require tuition (money paid for education), and they can require students to interview and take admissions tests. The things that students learn in public schools are regulated by the government, but private schools have more freedom to teach what they want. For example, public schools do not teach classes based on one religion, but private schools can teach religious classes. Also, children in NC public schools do not usually wear uniforms, but children in private schools often do.


Some parents choose to teach their own children at home rather than sending them to a public or private school. These parents homeschool their children. In NC, parents need to:

  • tell the NC Division of Non-Public Education that they will homeschool their child(ren)
  • give their school a name
  • have at least a high school diploma
  • keep attendance records
  • operate on a regular schedule for at least 9 months of the year
  • keep records of the children’s immunizations
  • give a nationally standardized test each year

A homeschool cannot teach children from more than two families. However, many families who homeschool their children get together once a week so their children can socialize, give presentations, and work on group projects.

Your Turn

Discuss these questions with your classmates:

  1. How does education in the United States compare to education in your country? How is it similar/different?
  2. What do you think about NC’s law that children must attend school until the age of 16? Do you think they should be required to graduate from high school? Do you think they should be allowed to drop out of (quit) school before 16?
  3. Why do you think some parents choose to homeschool their children?
  4. Do you think homeschooling is a good idea?
  5. Do you think NC’s requirements for homeschooling are enough? Should parents be required to have more than a high school education?

Raleigh Easter 2016

Easter Egg Hunt

photo credit: IMG_3276 via photopin (license)

Easter is coming soon, and you may want to find some fun activities to do with your family. I’m going to tell you about one activity your whole family will enjoy – Raleigh Easter.

Raleigh Easter is an annual (every year) event in downtown Raleigh. It is the largest Easter event in the city. The city of Raleigh has small events in various parks, but if you want to see a bigger event, you should check out Raleigh Easter.

What can my family do at Raleigh Easter?

Raleigh Easter has many fun activities for children. They can jump in an inflatable (filled with air) bounce house, they can play games, they can get free balloons, and they can find Easter eggs with toys and candy inside. There will be 7 different times for egg hunts and 60,000 eggs to find!

I’m worried that my young children will get hurt by older children.

Don’t worry. Raleigh Easter has special times for young children to find eggs without older children around. Your little ones should be very safe.

How much does it cost to participate?

Raleigh Easter is FREE! When you arrive, you must go to the registration table to get a wristband (a plastic bracelet like you get at a concert or the hospital). The wristband will help the volunteers to know your child’s age so that he/she is in the right egg hunt group.

When and where is Raleigh Easter?

This year, Raleigh Easter will be on March 26 at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. Halifax Mall is located at 423 N Wilmington St. The first egg hunt starts at 10:00 a.m., but go early to register and play!

Community Buildings and Places – Shopping

Every community has places to shop, relax, and play. This week, we’re going to talk about places where we buy things.

Shopping Malls

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

A shopping mall (or just “mall”) is a large building with many stores inside. There are several malls in Wake County. In Raleigh, you can go to Crabtree Valley Mall (in midtown) or Triangle Town Center (in north Raleigh). In Cary, you can go to Cary Towne Center.

Malls usually have all kinds of stores as well as a food court (an area with many fast food restaurants and tables for eating). American malls usually do not include large stores like Target or Wal-Mart. They also do not usually have a grocery store.

Shopping Centers

A shopping center is a very big area with many stores, but they are not all inside one building. Shopping centers usually have more than one parking lot, and they often have “big-box stores” (stores that are shaped like very big boxes – Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys ‘R Us, etc.), which malls usually do not have. Many shopping centers also have a movie theater. Crossroads Plaza in Cary, North Hills in Raleigh, Brier Creek Commons in Raleigh, and Park West Village in Morrisville are all shopping centers.

Strip Malls

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

A strip mall is a group of stores in a row (line, strip) with one large parking lot for all of them. A strip mall is similar to a shopping center, but it is much smaller. You can see strip malls EVERYWHERE in Wake County. There are hundreds of them. They often have a grocery store, a nail or hair salon, a small clothing store, a couple of restaurants, and several other small businesses.

Where can I find…?

This chart shows you some of the things you can and cannot find in each type of shopping place. When the chart says “yes,” that means you can usually find that type of business there. When it says “no,” that means you probably cannot find that kind of business. Of course, anything is possible, but this chart gives general rules.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Your Turn

The next time you visit a shopping mall, shopping center, or strip mall, look for the kinds of businesses on the chart. Did you find them? Was the chart correct?

Getting Involved – Organize a Neighborhood Event

In many countries people know their neighbors and speak to them often. In the United States, this is less common. When you are new to the U.S., this can be difficult and confusing. It is possible to meet your neighbors, but you must be brave and outgoing (starting conversations with many people/not shy). If you are shy or nervous about starting conversations, you can still meet your neighbors if you have a little help from a friend.

Here are some ideas for getting all your neighbors together. They require some organizing skills and some advertising, but they can be very simple.

Donation Drive – A donation is something that someone gives. A drive, in this case, is an event where you try to get a lot of something. If you want to get money for a charity, people can donate money during your event. If you want to collect food for the Raleigh Rescue Mission or the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, people can give food during your event. A donation drive is always an opportunity to help a person or charity. You could collect blankets or coats for homeless people in the winter. You could ask for book or toy donations for a preschool. People could donate crayons, pencils, and glue to a school. Think of a charity that is important to you. What do they need? You can organize a donation drive in your neighborhood! And when your neighbors bring their donations to you, you can meet them!

Fundraising Event – A fundraising event is like a donation drive, but it is only for getting money (not things). Again, think about a charity or group that needs money. Invite your neighbors to a fundraising party, and when they arrive, they can donate money. They can pay to attend the party, eat food, or play games. Use your imagination! Just make sure all the money really goes to the charity.

Eat Alberta Potluck used with permission by]Mack Male, on Flickr

Eat Alberta Potluck used with permission by Mack Male on flickr ( )

Block Party – A block party is just a party for your neighborhood. Maybe it’s one block, maybe more. A lot of people will go to this kind of party, but they don’t want to organize and plan it. If you do the work, you can meet many of your neighbors. For a truly American party, make it a potluck. That means everyone brings food to share. You can also plan activities, games, and contests for adults, children, and families! This website has several fun ideas to help you get started!

Holiday Event – You don’t need a special reason to have a block party, but if you want a reason, you can have a holiday party! Your American neighbors might be more comfortable attending a party for an American holiday. However, when you know your neighbors better, you can introduce them to your culture by hosting a party for a non-American holiday.

Your Turn

Talk to your teacher, your classmates, your family, and your friends about your ideas for a neighborhood event.

  1. Which kind of event would you most enjoy?
  2. Do you like planning events?
  3. Who could help you plan your event?
  4. Work with 2-3 classmates to plan an event for your neighborhood. What kind of event will you have? What will you need to do? How will you invite people? Where will you have your event?

Getting Involved – Volunteer

I hear the same two questions from a lot of students:

  1. How and where can I meet more Americans?
  2. What can I do after I graduate from ESL/ERV?

Many students want to know how they can get involved in the community. American communities aren’t the same as communities in other countries. Neighbors don’t always know each other, and if you don’t have a job, it can be difficult to meet Americans.

Over the next few months, we will look at several ways you can participate in your community. This month, our topic is volunteering. Volunteering is very common in the United States, and there are many organizations that accept volunteer workers. You just have to find an organization that you care about. Here are some suggestions.

photo credit: P1000275 via photopin (license)

photo credit: P1000275 via photopin (license)

Rebuilding Together of the Triangle – Do you like building things, working with tools, painting, learning construction skills, or helping people? You might want to volunteer with Rebuilding Together! This organization fixes (repairs) and updates homes for low-income people. Many of them are retired (too old to work) or disabled (not able to work, physically), and their houses have a lot of problems. Rebuilding Together uses volunteers to make these houses safe and comfortable again, and they can teach you how to do simple jobs if you don’t know how.

Wake County Public Libraries – Do you like books, reading, or organizing? The public library system might have the perfect job for you! Volunteers at the library help keep the library organized and pretty. Click here for an application to volunteer at your local library. Print the application, and take it to the library where you would like to volunteer.

Raleigh Rescue Mission – Did you know that more than 1,100 people in Raleigh don’t have a place to sleep at night? The Raleigh Rescue Mission is a Christian organization that helps these people, but you do not have to be a Christian to volunteer. You can volunteer to prepare and serve food, work with children, work in a store, answer the phone and talk with visitors, or help an adult who is preparing to take the GED test. Go here to see which volunteer jobs are available and fill out an application.

SPCA of Wake County – Do you love animals? The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an organization that protects animals and tries to find good homes for them. Click here to see a list of volunteer opportunities.

Ten Thousand Villages – Do you like shopping, sales, home decorations, talking with people, or helping people earn money to support their families? You should consider volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages. It is a store that sells fair trade products. This means that the people who make the products earn a fair amount of money for them. Many people in other countries work very hard to make products, but they receive only a little money. Fair trade means that people get paid a good price for their products.

Hospitals – Do you like helping people who are sick? Are you interested in healthcare? Maybe you should look for volunteer opportunities at one of the hospitals in the area. You don’t need medical knowledge or experience to volunteer at a hospital. They have many different ways for you to get involved. For volunteer information at Rex Hospital, click here. For information on volunteer opportunities at all Wake Med Hospital locations, go here. And to find out how you can volunteer at Duke University Hospital, visit this site.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle – Do you care about food education, feeding hungry people, nutrition, or gardening? You might be interested in the work of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. This organization’s goal is to end hunger in our area. Many people don’t have enough money to buy food for their families. There are also areas where it’s difficult to find fresh, healthy food. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle gives food to people who need it. They also teach people about food, cooking, nutrition, and gardening so that they can get jobs, make healthy meals, and grow their own food. Go here to see all the ways you can volunteer with this organization.

photo credit: IMG_0248 via photopin (license)

photo credit: IMG_0248 via photopin (license)

Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts – The Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America are two organizations for children and teenagers. Both groups teach young people about responsibility, character (being a good person), team work, and citizenship so that they can make the world a better place. Click here to learn more about volunteering with the Girl Scouts. Go here if you are interested in volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America. And if you have children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old, these organizations are a great way for them to get involved in the community!

Schools – Did you know that you can volunteer at your child’s school? Many teachers love having parent volunteers in their classrooms, but you can also volunteer in the school’s office or library. In middle and high schools, you might be able to volunteer with a sports team or club. You can also join the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) or PTSA (Parent-Teacher-Student Association) at your child’s school for more volunteer opportunities. Check your school’s website for PTA/PTSA information, or ask your child’s teacher or the school secretary how you can help.

InterAct – InterAct is an organization that helps, protects, and educates women who have been victims of domestic violence (violence, danger, harm, injury at home), rape (sex without permission/agreement), or sexual assault. If a woman’s husband/boyfriend hurts her, she (and her children) can go to InterAct for help. There are many ways you can volunteer with InterAct. You can work with the women and their children, you can help in the office, you can help with special projects, and more. Click here to see all the ways you can volunteer.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

If you aren’t interested in any of the organizations above, there are PLENTY more places you can volunteer. The following websites can help you find a volunteer job that you will love:

Your Turn

Discuss these questions with your classmates:

  1. Is volunteering common/popular in your country? Why/why not?
  2. Have you ever done volunteer work?
  3. Is volunteering a good way to spend your time? Why/why not?
  4. Why do you think there are so many opportunities to volunteer in the US?
  5. Which programs listed here would be good for people who don’t speak much English? Which programs would be good for advanced students?
  6. What kind of volunteer job would you like to do? Why?
  7. What kind of volunteer job would you NOT like to do? Why?
  8. Do you think children should volunteer? Why/why not?
  9. What kinds of volunteer projects can families do together?
  10. Choose an organization above that has group volunteering activities. Would you enjoy volunteering there with your classmates? Why/why not?

Rip Van Winkle

“Rip Van Winkle” is a short story that was written by American author Washington Irving. Irving was born in New York City at the end of the American Revolution (the war in which Americans gained independence from Great Britain). Many things changed before and after the American Revolution, and “Rip Van Winkle” is a story about those changes.

The main character in the story is a man named Rip Van Winkle. He lives in the Catskill Mountains in New York, and everyone loves him. His only problem is that his wife always nags (asks or demands again and again and again…) him to do more work around the house. He is tired of listening to her, so one day, he walks up into the mountains with his dog. He meets some men who are carrying beer, and he starts drinking with them. He falls asleep, and when he wakes up, everything is different. His dog is gone. His beard is a foot long (about 30 cm). His gun is rusty.

Rip walks down to his village, but he doesn’t know anyone, and he thinks their clothes are strange. The houses are new, and the village is bigger. His own house is old, dirty, and falling apart. Rip notices that the people seem different. They used to be relaxed, but now they are very busy. When he left, there was a picture of King George III (King of England at the time of the American Revolution) in the inn, but now, there is a picture of George Washington (hero of the Revolutionary War and 1st president of the United States). Rip Van Winkle slept through the whole war! He slept for 20 years!

After such a long time, Rip’s wife is dead, and his children are adults. Rip used to be an important man, but the people in the village do not know him now. Finally, an old woman identifies him. Then Rip’s daughter takes him home to live with her family, and he spends every day at the inn, where he tells his story to everyone. Some people find him strange and interesting. Some people are jealous because he escaped his wife and slept through the war. Some people like hearing about the old days. But everyone knows his story.

Questions and Answers about Easter

With a partner, practice asking and answering these questions about Easter. For each one, “Q” means question, and “A” means answer. Take turns asking and answering the questions.

Easter Eggs

photo credit: Merry Easter! via photopin (license)

1. Q: What is Easter?
A: This year, Easter is on Sunday, April 5th.

2. Q: What is Easter?
A: Easter is an important Christian holiday. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

3. Q: What does “resurrection” mean?
A: “Resurrection” means returning to life. Christians believe that Jesus died and returned to life.

4. Q: What do people say on Easter?
A: On Easter, people say, “Happy Easter!”

5. Q: How do people celebrate Easter?
A: People celebrate Easter by going to church, eating a special meal with family, and coloring eggs.

6. Q: Why do people color eggs for Easter?
A: The egg is a symbol of new life. In many spring festivals, people color and decorate eggs. Then they give the eggs to friends and family. Christians believe that Jesus gives them new life.

7. Q: What is an Easter egg hunt?
A: An Easter egg hunt is a game for children. Adults hide Easter eggs, and the children find them. Often, the eggs are plastic and have small toys or candy inside.

8. Q: What is the Easter Bunny?
A: The Easter Bunny is a holiday character like Santa Claus. Santa brings gifts at Christmas, and the Easter Bunny brings gifts at Easter. Most American children believe in Santa Claus, but many American children do not believe in the Easter Bunny because their parents do not tell them that the Easter Bunny is real.

9. Q: What is Holy Week?
A: Holy Week is the week before and including Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday.

10: Q: What is Palm Sunday?
A: Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. On Palm Sunday, Christians remember the day when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.

11: Q: What other important days are in Holy Week?
A: The other important days in Holy Week are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

12. Q: What is Maundy Thursday?
A: Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, Christians remember the the last meal that Jesus ate with his friends before he died. After this meal, his friend Judas took soldiers to Jesus, and they arrested him.

13. Q: What is Good Friday?
A: Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, Christians remember the death of Jesus.

14. Q: Why is school closed on Good Friday?
A: Good Friday is a state holiday in North Carolina. Government offices, courts, post offices, public schools, and some banks are closed on state holidays.

15. Q: What can I do in Raleigh for Easter?
A: You can go to a Christian church. You can also take your children to an Easter egg hunt. The city of Raleigh has plans for several Easter egg hunts in parks all over the city. (Click here for more information.)

Your Turn

Take turns asking and answering the questions with your partner. Ask your teacher to help you with your pronunciation. Make a video of your class talking about Easter!