New York City Your Best Tool for Learning English

It’s always intimidating coming to a new city and not knowing your way around, but it can be even scarier when English isn’t your native language. Luckily, we live in a time when technology is on our side and can help us when we need guidance. There are several apps that will make your time in New York City much easier, and you’ll find with enough experience with these applications, you’ll be an expert in no time!

Getting Around

The first app I recommend downloading is Google Maps. You may already be familiar with this on your desktop, but I’ve found that while you’re on the go, this version can save you in a pinch! If you need to find out how to get from point A to point B, the app will provide several options for you to take depending on how you want to get there. Since I don’t have a car, I skip the driving option and instead opt for the subway or the bus routes. The app will also tell you how long it will take to get there, inform you of delays or construction, and will also give you voice-activated instructions if your route takes you by foot. Plus, Google Maps offers your choice of language, so if you’re more comfortable in your native language, you can choose to navigate in this form; and if you’re feeling confident, switch it over to English and practice! That way, you can learn how to pronounce street names, learn distance and length vocabulary, and get used to the overall pace of the city!
There are also several purchasing options for riding these public transportation systems. I highly recommend putting funds on a MetroCard, which can be used at any subway station or any bus stop. Keep this in a safe place, as you will be using this often! I recommend investing in an unlimited monthly (30-day) pass (this will cost you $116.50)—this gives you unlimited rides on the subway or the bus for a whole month, and you won’t need to think about adding money, running out of time, or using up all your rides before the end of your monthly allowance. Every subway station has a purchasing kiosk that will add value or time to your card. If this price intimidates you or if you feel you won’t be using it to its most potential, you also have the option to purchase an unlimited 7-day pass for $31.00. And if this is still too steep for your needs, you can pay per ride for $2.75. This quickly adds up, especially if you plan on travelling a lot, so I always recommend purchasing “in bulk!”

Things to Do

Another app I highly suggest is Yelp. One of the greatest things about New York City is the endless options for everything, from food to shopping to sightseeing. The options are endless! If you need help narrowing things down, this app will give you ratings, reviews, and photos of all the destinations in your options list. If you’re not sure of what you want, you can search by location, type of destination (i.e., restaurant, salon, concert venue, etc.), or even by rating! Plus, for those that are adjusting to English, this application provides language settings so just like Google Maps, you have the option to choose!


Lastly, this one may seem a bit odd, but I highly recommend The Weather Channel app. In all the locations that I’ve lived, I realized I’ve used this app the most while living in New York City. Since I don’t have a car, I can’t just keep my umbrella in my backseat “just in case!” If it’s warm in the morning but is supposed to snow later in the day, I have to be prepared and bring my boots. I pull this up every morning so I know what to expect each day with minimal surprises. New York City is always an exciting place to be, and the weather is only part of that reason!
Of course, always remember that at one point, most people were new to New York City at some point, too, and we were all a little lost and confused! I’ve had to ask strangers how to get to places, I’ve gotten onto the wrong subway, and I’ve ended up in the wrong neighborhood—it’s all a learning practice, and we’ve all done it! It looks much more complicated than it is, but once you start doing it a few times, it becomes a breeze, and soon you’ll be a New York City expert!

Category : How to Learn

7 Pieces of Advice to New New Yorkers while Learning English:

When I first came to New York, I read all the blogs, books, columns, and articles about moving to the big city. I was a mix of excited and nervous, but I adapted quickly, and I’ve come up with my own list of wisdom nuggets, especially if English is a language you’re still working on. Remember, New York City is a giant melting pot, and we’re all a little bit different, all learning together, and all coming together in this great city.


1.Learn to take in the city:

These days, everyone is connected to their smartphones and often miss the allure of the city that surrounds them. It’s so easy to rely on our devices to navigate, research, and communicate; one of the great things about being in New York City is the multicultural presence and its openness to cultures beyond the US borders. This should absolutely remind you that you are welcome, and the city is designed for amazing sights to see—it’s meant to nourish the curiosity that you might have as a foreigner. Additionally, what better way to learn the English language than immersing yourself within the diverse city limits?

2.Invest in a set of headphones:

You’ll be spending a lot of time walking, waiting, climbing, and riding during your morning and evening commutes, and having a soundtrack for these times of the day can make these mundane tasks that much more tolerable. Plus, this would be a perfect opportunity to listen to some great podcasts, audiobooks, or even an English language-learning audio tool! However, don’t forget to sometimes remove your earbuds so you can take in all the outside conversation happening around you—this is another easy way to adapt to the English language!

3.Get used to walking—and invest in comfortable shoes:

Gone are the days that you can just hop in your car, drive to work, and be done with it. Now you have to walk to the subway station, climb a few flights of stairs, hop on the subway, maybe transfer to a different subway, climb some more stairs, walk some more—all before 9 am. Great for your cardio, but not for those brand new pumps you were so excited to wear. You may feel silly wearing sneakers with your work outfit, but your feet will thank you!

4.Pack your lunch:

It’s expensive to buy your lunch no matter where you work, but in New York City, it can be robbery. And if you get into the habit of buying a couple times a week, you could be looking at around $50 a week—and I’m rounding down! Trust me, hit your closest Whole Foods—you can thank me later. You’ll be saving tons of money, and it’ll be a great acclamation to the wide varieties of foods that the city can offer. Bonus: grocery shopping is another perfect English vocabulary learning tool, and learning basic recipes from the internet will make you a whiz in the kitchen in no time at all!

5.Take advantage of a toilet when you have one:

I know this might sound silly, but most establishments require you to be a customer before they hand over their restroom keys—so I always recommend taking advantage of a stall when you have one. I always make a stop right before I’m leaving work for the day, or right before I’m leaving the bar for Happy Hour. My apartment might just be the next time I have a free toilet, so take full advantage of it! Maybe while you’re waiting in line, chat with the person next to you and practice your “getting to know you” communication skills!

6.Let the people OFF the subway before getting ON the subway

This one is easy, but it’s still surprising how many people still don’t follow it. We can fit MORE people on the subway if we let MORE people off. You’ll get on, I promise. And if not, there’ll be another train right behind it. You might be a little close to people, more than you thought you might be, but it’s a proximity that you learn to adjust to. This is also a wonderful way to practice asking questions about the tracks, stops, and frequencies with other riders once you get on the train!

7.Don’t forget to look up and pinch yourself

Ultimately, never forget that you are in fact strolling along the sidewalks of the greatest city in the world. You are not alone as a newcomer, and there are so many people just like you, getting used to the language, the United States, and the city itself. It’s so easy to get lost in our phones, in our conversations, in people-watching, but when you can, try and look up every once in awhile, and remind yourself: This is New York City, baby. AND YOU’RE HERE!


Category : How to Learn