New York City Your Best Tool for Learning English

Ready to customize your news source just to New York City? Want to make sure your information doesn’t go over your head if you’re learning English? I’ve got you covered!

Sometimes it may seem like living in New York City is lifestyle that some people just won’t get unless they give it a shot themselves. Our city is so unique in its own way that it can often feel as though we’re in our own little world. The great thing about this time that we live in is that there are so many ways to get our news now that it makes it impossible to be misinformed. And with all of our technological advances, we really are quite the privileged generation.

You might visit CNN, ABC, or other news networks to stay up-to-date with the happenings in the world, but sometimes maybe you just want to know what’s been going on in your area. Similar to any kind of local news area, New York City has plenty of news and journalistic outlets for you to engage with to stay current. Being in touch with these outlets is also a way to continue your ongoing exercise in practicing your English skills—you can be hear how other people refer to traffic patterns, listen to how the local sports team performed, and stay up-to-date with local events. I’ve listed out a handful of resources that will provide you with not only great specific information on New York City but will also provide you mental English practicing skills and exercise.

1. Time Out New York

You can pick one of these free magazines up in the subway to look through during your commute, or you could also download the app to read it digitally. This resource is geared more towards the social scene, focusing more on new restaurants, upcoming events, or trending habits from your fellow New Yorkers. I follow the magazine on my social media, so it’s super easy to stay up-to-date with the latest in my neighborhood. They also post a lot of cool round-ups and lists about the best places to get brunch, the hottest spots for karaoke, or the most up-and-coming neighborhoods for rents. Again, if you’re still adjusting to English, don’t worry about the language barrier—the writers for this publication are also very approachable, and you more than likely won’t feel intimidated.

2. New York Daily News

This resource is much more similar to a newspaper style kind of news delivery, but it focuses solely on life in New York City. You can search stories based on your borough or you can just scan the main page for the top stories. Be sure to also pay attention to their social media outlets, as the editors tend to circulate the most breaking news on these platforms, so you’ll be as up-to-date and informed as possible. Even though it’s primarily NYC-focuses, it also highlights breaking news outside of the city limits, so you won’t be missing out on outside news if you utilize this resource for your information.

3. New York One (NY1)

If television is more up your alley, check out this this newschannel. Easy to remember, this station loops 24-hour news on everything New York City related. During the morning and evening hours, the channel runs your basic news, covering traffic, weather, sports, and general news updates, while during the day, the channel will cover more specific genres during longer periods, like a half hour program covering the New York City theater scene and another that covers political updates. I noticed that whenever I’m at the doctor or the dentist, they’ll always have this channel on while I’m waiting for my appointment—it makes it easy to stay informed! If you’re new to English, the great part of this network is the reminder that the channel as a whole is for New York City, and it’s important to remember, as I’ve said consistently in all my blog posts, that almost everyone in NYC is from somewhere else. While you’re watching the weather report, someone from Ghana is in Queens watching the same thing. While you’re brushing your teeth and watching the evening news, someone from Taiwan is doing the same thing. With this, the channel communicates its information in an approachable and universal way. And just as I always say, when in doubt, download the app!

Category : How to Learn

As the days get longer and the temperatures warm up, you might start to feel the urge to get out of New York City for a bit and explore other areas of the country or even the world! While you’ve been in the city, you may have noticed that it’s relatively easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and lifestyle, which makes it difficult to go outside of the city limits. I know that I have to remind myself every couple of months to take a trip outside of The Big Apple, even if it’s to visit family for the weekend or just hop on a train to a different town and explore what that other area has to offer. I start to get antsy in the spring and want to visit a place full of nature and quiet, or maybe I just want to travel to a different city and get a feel for another city’s speed and life. Really, it all depends on how I’m feeling at that time!

One of the greatest parts of living in New York City is that it’s a huge transportation hub—possibly the most populated in the country. This makes getting into (and getting out of!) the city a breeze. I’ll be breaking down all your options of travel for you so you can be prepared for the next trip you might have planned in the future to take advantage of the sunnier skies and warmer temperatures. If you’re still adjusting to the English language, this will also help you approach your travel options as better prepared. Plus, once you make this trip once, you’ll be a pro once you’re ready to come back to New York City on your return trip, and other people will be asking YOU for advice!

1. Buses

We’ll start with this method, as it’s arguably the cheapest option for travel outside of the city limits. Whether you’re traveling within New York state or the Tri-State region or if you’re looking to expand to other time zones, there are endless bus options for you. The Port Authority Bus Terminals offer all kinds of routes and bus lines depending on your needs—depending on your length of travel, your comfort requirements, or your time constraints, you can find anything that matches your bus wish list. Luckily, this terminal is so widely used, so if you find yourself having trouble translating or understanding what you need to do, there are endless booths and employees there that will help you find your destination and will explain the process to you. Again, if English isn’t your native language, New York City is the ultimate melting pot, so they’re used to hosting people from other areas of the world.

2. Trains

If you’re traveling somewhat locally, I’d recommend looking into NJ Transit for getting around the immediate outside regions of New York City. These routes are reasonably priced and offer quite a bit of variety when it comes to routes and times. If you’re traveling a bit farther away from New York City, Amtrak has got you covered. This is primarily how I travel when I go to visit friends or family in my hometown—it’s quick, reasonably priced, and very reliable. More than likely you’ll be leaving out Penn Station, located right next to Madison Square Garden, so you will be right in the center amongst other travelers, both locally and internationally. There will be many people there that are willing to help you translate if you’re struggling with English or if you’re having a hard time figuring out the process.

3. Planes

Again, since New York City is such a large transportation hub, you have great options when it comes to flying in and out of the city. No matter where your ultimate destination is, you are more than likely to find options at either La Guardia Airport or JFK Airport, both in Queens. Even if you can’t find anything that suits your needs at these two locations, I’ve also flown out of Newark, NJ a few times, and this airport has been a pleasant experience all around. Obviously, being at an airport should be a comfort to you if you’re adjusting to learning English since there will be many workers there willing to help you find your way or help you along with your translation.

Category : Stay in New York

Last month, I shared some great ideas for spending time outside in New York City as the sun stays out longer and the temperatures become warmer and more comfortable. Because there really are so many options, I’ve decided to build off a previous post and share more exciting activities for the warm weather!

1. Frieze Art Fair

I wanted to include this one first because this takes place at Randalls Island Park—a destination that I love so much because I think it’s NYC’s best-kept secret. It’s a quick walk via footbridge over the East River, and once you’re there, it’s like being on a private little island, a perfect getaway from the speed of the city—which makes this event at the top of my list. Another great aspect of this event is that it has an international touch to it, displaying artwork from galleries all over the world. You may not need help translating your way through this event if you’re new to the English language!

2. South Street Seaport

This is another one of those locations in New York City that will make you pinch yourself. If you ever feel like you can’t get nature while living in NYC, then you’ve never been to this destination. Because this location is right at the bottom of the island, you have stunning views of the water with your choice of incredible restaurants, unique shops, and pretty spectacular spots to just hang out and chat with your friends. This spot is heavily detailed with signs and directions, so if you’re new to English, it will be simple for you to navigate and provide you time if you need help in translating.

3. Five Boro Craft Beer Fest

If you’re a huge beer fan like me, this should be right up your alley. This is the chance for more than 100 kinds of beers to be exposed to other beer enthusiasts. This is a great opportunity for you to sample all kinds of brews without having to commit to a full 16 oz. glass, and what better way to meet other people that share similar interests? This kind of event garners all kinds of people all over the world, so you will most likely be exposed to other languages other than your own native language and English!

4. Cinco de Mayo

You might hear this phrase starting to come up around the date of May 5th, as it’s a Mexican holiday in which the United States has recognized this date to celebrate Mexican-American culture. This is a great day for many restaurants and bars to whip up their best Mexican-inspired dishes and cocktails. So if you’re in the mood for a killer margarita or some high-quality tacos, this is the perfect time to wander into your local Mexican place—and maybe pick up some Spanish phrases and take a break from learning English for a day!

5. Bacon and Beer Classic

This is one that’s on my personal list of things to do this season. Again, I’m a huge beer fan, and who doesn’t love bacon? Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach and make sure you pace yourself while you wander from sample to sample, trying out the best in bacon and beer. This is another chance to test our your English skills by looking up all the sponsors on social media and joining the hashtag conversations—you might also learn about other spots in the arena that you didn’t even know about!

6. Spring Concerts

As you can imagine, another one of the greatest reasons for living in New York City is the proximity to so many great entertainment venues. Some of the biggest and most celebrated musical talents from all over the world ensure that they include New York City in their tour—they know they’ll guarantee ticket sales in these venues, and they know their fans hail from all over the world, so they’ll get the best of the best in their fan base! Whether you’re looking for a huge venue like Madison Square Garden or if you’re looking for a more intimate arena, like a local bar, you’re sure to find some of the most entertaining musical shows you could ever ask for—and as I mentioned in a previous post, music is one of the best vehicles to practice your English skills!

Category : New York

It’s a fairly common understanding that the arrival of spring is one of the most satisfying times of the year. The snow begins to melt, the sun stays out a little bit longer each evening, and the birds seem to sing louder and longer. You’re probably ready to get out of your apartment and take in the fresh air. While you’re out and about, you might overhear some odd English phrases related to spring that may not make literal sense to you. I’ll help you understand these phrases and at the same time, get you ready for spring weather in New York City.

Spring Fever

This is the feeling you get each time this year when you notice that winter is on its way out and spring is just around the corner. You get antsy, you feel eager to spend time outside without feeling miserable, and you start planning activities to do in the warmer weather. Here’s an example of how you might use this phrase:
“I think I have spring fever—all I want to do is spend time outside, look at the beautiful, new flowers, and dust off my sunglasses that have been tucked away all winter!”

Raining Cats and Dogs

As you know, not all spring days bring warmth and sunshine. In order to allow the flowers and trees to rebloom and flourish with new life, frequent rain must take place to provide nourishment for the green to reappear. As you prepare for this frequent rain, you might overhear someone refer to the precipitation to “raining cats and dogs.” Simply put, this just translates to heavy and long-lasting rain. Here’s how you might hear it:
“I can’t believe how heavy this rain is! It’s raining cats and dogs out there!”

April Showers Bring May Flowers

This is along the same lines as “raining cats and dogs:” in order for the May flowers to bloom and display new life, the rain must come down often and frequently. April is generally known for a month that rains quite frequently, while May is traditionally regarded as the official launch of spring. Here’s an example of how you might hear this phrase in a sentence:
“Even though I’m so tired of bringing my umbrella with me everyday, I have to remind myself that April showers bring May flowers.”

Have a Green Thumb

As spring comes back in full force, you start to see more green around you, even in New York City! You might pass people tending to their planters on their balconies, or you might see landscapers tending to the boulevards on Park Avenue. These are the people that understand plant and gardening maintenance, which means they have a “green thumb.” Not everyone has that skill or intuition, but it’s a phrase of reference for those that do. Here’s an example of how you might overhear someone use this phrase:
“She’s got the best green thumb! She can grow the best vegetables in New York City, better than anyone else I know!”

When It Rains, It Pours

Have you ever had a day when it seems like nothing is going your way? Maybe you start your day by getting caught in the rain, then you miss your train, and then maybe you slip and fall on the stairs? We have a phrase for this: “When it rains, it pours,” which simply means you can’t quite catch a break, that everything that could possibly go wrong, DOES go wrong. Here’s an example of how you might overhear someone say the phrase in a sentence:
“What a horrible start to my day. First I lost my MetroCard, then I missed my connecting train, and then my purse got caught in the revolving door! I guess when it rains, it pours!”

A Spring in One’s Step

This is kind of the opposite of “when it rains, it pours.” Have you ever had one of those days when you’re just in a fantastic mood, and the sun is shining, and you’re feeling jovial and excited about everything? When you’re in this mood, do you ever notice that you might walk lighter or feel like you’re walking on a cloud? One way to say this is that you’ve got a “spring in your step.” Here’s an example of how you might use it in a sentence:
“Everything was going my way that day, and I was simply in the best mood. Even when I was walking around in the streets, I had a spring in my step, and it felt like I was almost skipping!”

Category : How to Learn

One of the coolest things about this time in technology is access to all kinds of music at our fingertips. Over the years I’ve discovered so many different artists and songs that I never would have been exposed to if it weren’t for applications like Pandora and Spotify. More specifically, for only $9.99 a month, you can download an unlimited number of albums and playlists from Spotify, and I have to admit that it’s worth every penny. One of the coolest features is the ability to make your own playlists: I have one that I use when I work out to get my blood pumping, one that I use when I’m trying to wind down after a long day, another that I use if I’m feeling down in the dumps, and so on.

New York City has such a rich cultural history which includes timeless celebrity influence and presence, both from the past and present day. The Big Apple has bred so many of our musical talent over the decades, and many of them have penned their love for the city by means of song.

If you don’t already use Spotify, I highly recommend you give it a shot and create a playlist with songs that have a New York City influence. Not only will this remind you that you’re a part of one of the best cities in the world, but it will give you an idea of how English has evolved over the decades—AND how beloved New York City really is. The songs reference famous sites, popular neighborhoods, general slang and phrases, and of course, their endless love for New York City.

I’ve included some of MY favorite songs about New York—they pump me up, fill me with New York City pride, and always remind me how lucky I am to be here. And if you’re adjusting to English, this is also a great way to practice your English—in a much more “rhythmic” way!

“Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

This is a super popular song, and it’s incredibly catchy. Both Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were born and raised in the city themselves, so their ode to the Big Apple shines through. If you ever listen to the song while you’re walking down Madison Avenue or riding the subway on your way to work, I can guarantee you that it will remind you of how lucky you are to be a part of such a magical city.

“New York, New York” – Frank Sinatra

You actually may already be familiar with this one, as it’s quite timeless, and if you’ve spent more than three months in the city, chances are you’ve already heard it in a store or a restaurant. Frank Sinatra is another timeless New York City native, and in this particular song, he sings about his love for the city and being a part of the city “that doesn’t sleep.” You can almost FELL his passion if you listen to the song while walking along 34th Street or stare up at the Empire State Building.

“New York, New York” – Ryan Adams

This is a fairly modern song by an incredible singer and songwriter. While Ryan Adams isn’t a native New Yorker, he still sings of his lasting love for the city despite losing a girlfriend. In fact, his ode to the city sings as though New York City will ALWAYS be his girlfriend. The tune is catchy, his voice is smooth, and if you listen while you’re wandering the streets, you’ll realize you feel the same way.

“New York State of Mind” – Billy Joel

This song is a New York City classic, just like Frank Sinatra’s ode to New York. Chances are you’ve heard this one before. Go to any piano bar, and you can count on the pianist playing this song, and before long, the entire place will be singling along with every word. This is another timeless ode to the city, and if you can learn a few English phrases from the lyrics, you might easily get mistaken as a native New Yorker.

“The Only Living Boy in New York” – Simon & Garfunkel

This one is another classic ode to the city. Sime & Garfunkel is a musical duo that is celebrated wildly as legendary and timeless, and in this tune, you’ll feel the celebration of New York City with the simplicity of their melody. The song praises life in the city, and listening to the tune will absolutely remind you how lucky you are to be a part of it. The lyrics will help your English skills, as the song is timeless and legendary.

Category : How to Learn

As the weather gets warmer and the sun stays out longer, you’re probably ready to get outside and feel the fresh air on your face. You also might find that it’s tough to decide what to do, especially if you’re new to New York City and if you’re still adjusting to the English language. I’m including some great ideas for you to participate in to get outside and mingling with other New Yorkers. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the best way to practice your English is interacting with other English-speakers! Plus, the weather is gorgeous this time of year, so you’re guaranteed to have a great time! Here are a few springtime activities you can only get in New York City, sure to satisfy your spring fever.

Coney Island

This is a timeless attraction to the New York City population. At the bottom of Brooklyn, this entertainment spot provides an outlet from the hustle of the city, complete with rides, a beach, an aquarium, and endless food and souvenir shops. It’s easy to get to, financially reasonable, and a perfect escape from the speed of the city. When the weather warms and the birds start to chirp, head down to Coney Island with some friends and really soak up the season change! Don’t forget to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to anyone you meet—it’s the perfect opportunity to practice your English! And don’t forget to pick up a legendary hot dog at Nathan’s!

Central Park

This one is almost a no-brainer, as by now you’ve probably been in the park a handful of times already. Spanning dozens of blocks in the heart of Manhattan, there’s plenty to do on a warm, spring day. Rent a bike and spin through the gorgeous scenery. Look into renting a boat on Central Park Lake and take in the skyscraper sights from the center of the park. Check out the Central Park Zoo and make some new furry friends! Or maybe just find a nice spot on the lawn, pull out your favorite book, and relax with words under the sun. The park has maps and signs all over the paths, so you’ll also be able to practice and utilize your English skills, even when you’re having fun! The springtime options are endless!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This is another perfect springtime activity in New York City. If you’re craving some green and nature in your life after enduring a long and cold winter, head down to Brooklyn for the perfect solution. For scenery that will take your breath away, check out the 200+ cherry trees in the garden, worthy enough for its own Instagram account. If you’re looking for other specific scenes, there are a handful of other specific gardens, sure to appease any cultural taste you’re seeking. The gardens will surely rejuvenate your spirit, and with all the history that comes from each location, you’ll learn something too, all the while you practice your English!

Macy’s Flower Show (3/26-4/9)

This is pretty much the annual New York City kick-off to spring. Every year for two weeks, Macy’s puts on a flower show, a series of arrangements with all sorts of stunning flowers to put you in the springtime spirit! If you’ve got a Saturday afternoon off, head down to Herald Square and check it out. Here’s an English phrase you can try out on someone while you’re there: “What a beautiful day! This display is a perfect way to remind a New Yorker to take a break every once in a while and smell the roses.” This basically means take a break from time to time and just slow down and enjoy the simple things—try it out!

Tribeca Film Festival (4/19-4/30)

Are you looking for a little cinematic culture this spring? Every year, the Tribeca Film Festival takes place in lower Manhattan, highlighting some of the year’s best documentaries and films. As I mentioned in a previous post, watching American films and television is one of the best ways to understand English and its slang, and what better way to pick up on the latest language trends than watching some of the hottest movies of the year? Rich with culture and timeless names, you’ll pinch yourself while you’re there when you realize you’re surrounded by incredible talent and well-recognized names and titles. You’ll leave feeling enriched and perhaps a new English phrase you can take to the streets with you!

Category : New York