New York City Your Best Tool for Learning English

New York City is not cheap by any means—your rent will tell you that right off the bat. Winter is one of the most expensive times of the year for a New Yorker, so I’ve come up with some incredibly helpful (and already experienced) tips on how to get through the season without hurting your wallet. You won’t sacrifice your comfort or your health, so don’t worry! And each opportunity will keep your English practice going and will keep you challenged!

woman in restaurant

Depending on how long you’ve been in New York City, you’re probably familiar with the brutal winters we can have here. While in the beginning of the season throughout the first couple of snowfalls, it can be beautiful and mesmerizing, it can also be exhausting and annoying by the time February comes. You start to crave warmer weather and ache for the time when you could leave your apartment without ten layers! Regardless, the winter is tough on all of us, and it can be especially hard on your wallet if you’re not careful. This is my third year in New York City, so I feel prepared and ready to face this season without any surprised. I’ve come up with some of my best advice on ways to save money and not be surprised with high bills.

  1. Grocery shop

Let’s face it. We tend to hibernate in the winter as much as we can. Sometimes I have to practically talk myself into leaving my apartment just to get essentials. I noticed that during the months of December until March, I ordered food delivery several times a week just so I wouldn’t have to leave my comfortable little living space! But then I realized $15 here and $20 there started to add up, and before I knew it, I was spending quite a large chunk of my income on food just because I was lazy! Let me tell you—I learned VERY quickly that a trip to the grocery store once or twice a week did quite a favor to my wallet—and my guilt also disappeared! Plus, the more you go outside, the more likely you are to mingle with others—this is a great time to practice “Wow, it’s a cold one today!” or “Certainly makes you miss those hot summer days!”

  1. Be mindful of your heat

This is more than likely the biggest contributor of your winter expenses. While it’s nice to feel warm and cozy in your apartment, be careful about what you set your thermostat to. Consider turning the knob down a few degrees before you leave for work each day. It sounds silly, but throw on those layers while you’re home—pull out those hideous house slippers that your parents got you but were too “cool” to wear. Pull out those throw blankets that are only ever used for decoration for bedtime. Invest in under-the-door snakes that will keep any kind of draft entering your apartment—and will also protect your heat from escaping. You’d be surprised how these little details will make a huge difference in your monthly bill! Dust off your English reading skills and look at your paper statement the energy company sends you—they actually send you tips on how you can lower your bill each month! Take their advice—they know what they’re talking about!

  1. Check out free activities

Another place my money was going to each winter was the bars. After work or on the weekends, my friends wanted to spend as little time outside as possible, so we didn’t know what else to do but hit up our local pub. Not only was this just sucking the money out of me, but I was also drinking a lot more—not good! So before you automatically just jump to a bar for the first idea, do research on what kind of free shows or museums you can hit—this way, you save money, still stay indoors, AND you won’t wake up the next morning regretting your decisions! While the bar is a great place to meet new people and practice your English, eventually you might find that you’re using the same phrases or even running into the same people. By changing up your routine, you can expand your vocabulary, meet new and totally different people than bar frequenters. Plus, you’re in New York City! There’s so much more to see and do then just the same old bar and pub!

Category : Stay in New York

In the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the most treasured holidays of the year. Not only does everyone travel to be with loved ones all over the country (or in other parts of the world), but it’s a time in which everyone reflects on what they’re thankful for and takes a moment to appreciate all the blessings in their lives that they might simply overlook or take for granted on a daily basis. This is also when a huge feast is prepared with lots of turkey, side dishes, and endless desserts. Because this is such a widely celebrated holiday in the country, you might find that New York City tends to empty out a bit with everyone travelling to their hometowns. If you plan on staying in the Big Apple during this holiday, here are a few things you can do to either celebrate the day yourself or otherwise keep yourself occupied when it seems that everyone else is away!

thanksgiving day

  1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Ironically, this is a Thanksgiving Day staple event appreciated all over the country. Families in all 50 states will tune into the massive parade the morning of November 23rd starting at 9 am. Since the parade’s inception in 1924, it has since turned into a massive event that shuts down several streets and avenues for this monumental event. If you feel like attending in person, you sure can, but sure be sure to arrive hours early to ensure a decent viewing spot—and make sure to dress warmly since Thanksgiving can be quite the frigid day at that hour of the day! Oh, and this is a great way to practice your English, too, since you’ll be surrounded by thousands of other New Yorkers or even tourists, so feel free to ask questions or share your excitement with your fellow viewers!

  1. Feeding NYC

As I mentioned above, part of the sentiments behind Thanksgiving is noting appreciation for all the blessings you may have in your life, and this reflection often triggers inspiration to give back to others less fortunate and in need. This particular movement starts working together two days before Thanksgiving to help provide a Thanksgiving meal to local communities within the city limits. Here, thousands of volunteers come together to help give back and provide food to dozens of families in need. Check out all the ways you can help, either by donating money or food or volunteering yourself, and you’ll be amazed at how humbled you are and how much more appreciative you are of all your advantages. Here, share your own story about coming to New York City and how much you’ve learned as a newcomer both to the country as well as to the language—you will more than likely connect with others that share a similar story to yours.

  1. Prospect Park Track Club Turkey Trot

Is running kind of your thing? Check out this seasonal 5K and prepare to have a blast—this notorious run allows attendees to dress silly, whether they’re dressed up as Thanksgiving turkeys or even to unofficially kick off the Christmas season dressed up as Santa Claus. It’s also an ideal location to view the stunning fall foliage of Prospect Park and get some fresh air into your lungs, so lace up your running shoes and track down a goofy turkey hat, and you’ll fit right in! Dressing up this way is a great conversation starter, so be sure to keep an open mind and test out your English skills on other runners around you!

  1. NYC Pilgrim Pedal

Running not your thing and maybe looking for a calming bike ride instead? This 24-mile (round-trip) bike ride on Thanksgiving morning takes you through Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. This event also encourages you to dress up in fun costumes, so this is a great chance to use that same turkey headpiece costume! The best part? Halfway through the ride around mile 12, the tour makes a stop at a Brooklyn diner for a casual breakfast refuel before heading back on the tour. If you feel you’re not physically up to par with those *crazy* New York City bikers, fret not, because the pace is kept at a leisurely pace, so feel free to take your time and enjoy the scenery! What better way to make friends and practice your English?

Category : New York

As I mentioned in my previous post when I was sharing information about New York City’s two professional hockey teams as well as some basic terms for your reference, here we’ll discuss the city’s two biggest basketball teams as part of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since this is another winter sport, you’ll notice a lot of coverage of this sport and these teams in the coming months. As is with all the other major league sports in the United States, fans take their teams very seriously, so it should be helpful to keep that in mind when you’re practicing your English social skills with these fans!

basket ball

  1. New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan

This team (whose full name is actually the New York Knickerbockers) was founded in 1946, so they’ve definitely been around for quite some time. Their fans will stand out to you since their colors are blue, orange, silver, black, and white—very similar to baseball’s New York Mets and hockey’s New York Islanders—are you noticing a theme yet?? The team has performed only mildly in the recent years, yet despite their less than decent performance, you’ll again notice that their fans simply don’t give up on them. The Knicks also share this venue with hockey’s New York Rangers, so you might notice some game and sport crossover during the winter months in this neighborhood. It’s pretty cool to see the mixture of different fans crossover during this season. (Plus, if you remember, football season is also going strong during the beginning winter months, so you’ll probably see some New York Giants and New York Jets fans mixed in with the crowds!).

  1. Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center, Brooklyn

This is a new name for the team, who until 2012 used to be called the New Jersey Nets and before that the New York Nets. This is also a fairly newer team overall, as they weren’t founded until 1967. Their home arena is the Barclays Center, so again, you might see some overlap in the Nets fanbase with hockey’s New York Islanders fanbase if you spend some significant time in Brooklyn. Simply, the Nets’ colors are black and white, so they offer a distinct color difference from the Knicks’ colors. The Brooklyn Nets haven’t seen that much success either in the most recent years, though approximately ten years ago they showed some amount of consecutive success with a few divisional and conference titles.

As I mentioned in my previous posts about practicing your English with these fellow fans, the same can be said with the basketball fans. For the most part, they’re pretty friendly and willing to chat about the game or certain players, so just keep the conversation light by asking them why they’re Knicks or Nets fans, who their favorite player is, or even about the importance of their legacy. Trust me, they’ll be more than happy to chat about it!

To help either guide these conversations or to simply help you understand the game and the terms you’ll hear if you attend a game, I’ve included a brief glossary of common terms and phrases that you can keep in your back pocket to make understanding it all that much easier. This is also a great time to use your translator apps, as these games move quickly, and you may not have the chance to look everything up!

  • Airball: a missed shot that doesn’t hit the rim or the net
  • Brick: another missed shot that actually does hit the rim but still doesn’t go in
  • Dribble: this is the move the players make when they’re bouncing the ball with their hands and also running down the court
  • Dunk: this is a scoring shot when a player puts the ball through the basket with their hand hanging from the rim
  • Travel: this is a penalty call if a player is moving his legs without dribbling the ball; this happens quite often, so you’ll probably get familiar with it quite quickly
  • Swoosh: this is more of a sound made by the fan if a ball goes directly through the net without hitting the rim—making the sound is a version of light celebration


Category : How to Learn

If you’ve been following my blog up until this point, you’ll notice that I’ve included major league sports and when their season starts. If you haven’t noticed by now, New Yorkers take their professional sports very seriously, so I felt obligated to include an overview of these season openers so you’re fully prepared!

ice hockey

The next sport I’ll be touching on is hockey (basketball will be covered in the next article). This sport is notoriously known as a winter sport since it’s played on ice, so it’s only fitting that the teams play during the cold months. Every once in a while a game will be played outdoors (in a geographically cold area, of course), but for the most part, these games are played indoors inside large arenas. Even though it’ll be indoors, the venue itself will stay quite chilly, so if you find yourself ever attending one of these games, be sure to dress appropriately!

New York City has two professional hockey teams, and you might notice depending on where you are in the city that the island itself is pretty divided when it comes to their fanbase! A great way to practice your English in this instance is to start up a friendly conversation with someone who is clearly a fan of one of the teams and pick their brain about an upcoming game, their favorite player, or why they love hockey so much. For the most part, you’ll probably find that New Yorkers are pretty easy to chat with as long as you stay friendly, so make sure you smile and approach gently! Here’s a quick rundown of the two famous New York City teams as well as some helpful lingo so you’re confident with the basics before heading out to catch one of the games!

  1. New York Islanders, Barclays Center, Brooklyn

This team has been in action since 1972, so while they haven’t been around as long as other teams in the country, they’ve still made quite a name for themselves over the years. With their colors at royal blue, orange, and white (similar to the New York Mets baseball team if you remember!), they’re hard to miss on the ice, especially since they have 4 Stanley Cups under their belts (which is the ultimate championship win, like the World Series for baseball or the Super Bowl for football). While the team has struggled over the past 30 years or so, their spirit is still alive, as you will very easily see in their fans! Be sure to make your way down to Brooklyn this winter to check out a game for yourself and interact with the passionate fans!

  1. New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan

It could be argued that this team is slightly more popular in fandom than the New York Islanders—but never say that to an Islanders fan of course! Founded in 1926, the New York Rangers are one of the oldest teams in the league, existing as part of the Original Six teams along with the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Since the team considers their home venue Madison Square Venue, you’ll find it quite easy to run into Rangers fans if you’re anywhere close to Times Square or Penn Station. With their colors as blue, red, and white (like football’s New York Giants), the Rangers match the number of Stanley Cup wins as the Islanders at 4, but they’ve also seen more recent success over the years, which tends to show a spike in the team’s popularity when they’re playing well. Since the team is more locally based in the city, it might be easier for you to track down a game to attend. Again, don’t hesitate to initiate some English practice by striking up conversation with some Rangers fans, and ask them about their favorite players or even what their favorite snack is at the concession stands.

Terms to know:

  • Biscuit: this is simply another word for the puck
  • Fighting: you’ll notice this is very common and actually encouraged during a game, so worry not if it happens
  • Goal: if the puck enters the net, this will be shouted from the stands in celebration

Category : How to Learn