New York English Academy Rookie blog

The weather in New York City this week is very warm, but not too many people are complaining since it had been a very chilly Spring.  It was a good day for PC TECH students to visit the nicely air-conditioned Metropolitan Museum of Art for a fascinating exhibition of American painting during the Civil War era, the 150th anniversary of which is being observed at this time (2011-2015).

Many of our students are aware of this very tragic time in the history of the United States – the bloodiest war in our history – when even family members battled one another over issues of the elimination of slavery and the preservation of the Union.

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The long-running comparison of etiquette customs in various cultures continues with these comments:

Hi, I’m Roy. I’m from China.  My father is from the south of China and my mother is from the north.

My father is very strict with me… and he really loves me.  My mother is also strict with me, even as she is very gentle.

Sometimes I resent my parents because they are very rigorous.  But I can understand why they are that way, so I love them even when I feel their rigor!

It’s my interesting family.  We aren’t always happy, but we love one another very much.

  PC TECH: English Language School in New York City


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Family Etiquette May 29, 2013

Class discussion about etiquette in various cultures continues with this insight for Yulia, who comes to PC TECH from Omsk, Russia:

 In Russia we have different rules of etiquette at home, different from those in the USA, I think.  When we come to other people’s houses, we always take our shoes off.  We always do it in the family too, especially when it is dirty outside.

In my family we are always friendly and polite to each other.  We call each other to ask about life and if somebody needs help.  We congratulate one another on birthdays and have some dinners together.

My parents have a summer house and plant many vegetables there.  Usually many Russian people do the same.  And we, with my sister and my niece, always help them there.

I have a niece who is twenty years old.  In my family we always give her good example about etiquette.  I think that in these days and so many young people practice it a lot.

TK write about etiquette in his Thai family:

             Family is the first thing that I get from the world; first learning is from the my family – especially my mother.  My mother taught me many rules of etiquette because good manners can help me survive in life and in society.  Our family’s etiquette is seen when we have dinner together, so I have to wait for my brother every day; my mother said that it is good etiquette.

 PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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Students in one of our classes have been comparing public transportation in various cities.  Claudia writes about behavior on the subway in Chile’s capital:

In Santiago we have a really good subway.  It’s not too much older than the one here in New York.  All the infrastructure is very modern and clean.  We have some stations with a lot of murals and other decorations, but only one line has air-conditioning.  Sometimes this is a little problem in the summer.

Subway etiquette rules in Santiago are written on the interior [of the cars] and on the platforms; for example, don’t smoke, don’t lean on the door – similar to New York.

Usually people don’t eat on the subway or drink coffee.  Sometimes they are a little rude and never say “I am sorry” or anything.  The Chilean people follow the rules; they respect elderly people and people with disabilities.  But you have to be careful about thieves:  You should always guard your cellphones and other stuff.

In general, we are civilized in the subway and we respect the rules.

On another topic “Try” (his favorite nickname) writes about proper etiquette in a Thai family:

             We are respectful to the elderly and to older brothers, sisters, and cousins.  In my family we don’t say rude or impolite words.

When we enter our homes, we have to take off our shoes because outside it is so dirty.  If my friends come to my home, I tell them to take off their shoes.

My family likes the home to be clean and tidy.  My Mom cleans the house everyday.

 PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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As part of a recent exam exercise, Julia wrote about the Moscow metro: 

I will tell you about the metro in Moscow.  It is very big and it’s not so easy to use it.  It is very crowded at peak time and there are not many polite people then.  But you need to know the usual rules about how to use it.

You can’t block the doors and you have to give way to elderly people.  If you have to sneeze, don’t blow your nose loudly.  Use a tissue.

Don’t make strong eye contact with people.  Many people in the Moscow metro read books.  Because of that, they don’t look at other passengers too much.

Not so many young people have good manners, but if something looks not so good to you, you can just tell them about it in a polite way.  It’s better for you not to go by metro in peak hours.

Giacomo commented on bus travel in Italy:

In my country, the most common form of transportation is the bus.  It is really simple to take and it is also pretty cheap.

There are some etiquette rules like every form of transportation has.  For example, when you see an elderly person getting on the bus, you should offer your seat.

While the bus driver is driving, it is not polite to speak with him.

Passengers are not allowed to eat on the bus because of the litter.

If you are planning to go to Italy, one thing that you really need to know about the buses is that you have to buy a ticket.  There are ticket agents at almost every stop.

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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Travel Etiquette May 17, 2013

The descriptions of etiquette on public transportation in various countries continues as students strive to improve their writing skills. 

Roy from China tells us, perhaps somewhat humorously: 

In my country I don’t know about subway riding because there are no subways in my city.  So I can just tell about etiquette on the buses and on the [intercity] train.

First, you’d better not have food on the bus.  The smell isn’t a good thing for other people.

Second, you’d better give your seat to the young people [!] and the old people on the bus.

Last, you can’t fight with others and you can’t say bad words to others.  If you do that, everyone will hit you because your quality is low, very low!  It’s the same rule on the train or on the bus.

You can have food on the train and you needn’t give your seat to young people or old people.  One ticket means one seat.  If you don’t have a ticket, you can’t get on the train.

That’s the etiquette on the bus and on the train.  It’s very easy, right?

Maybe we could ask Roy why we have to give our seats to young people!

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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Much of student writing this week has been focusing on etiquette on public transportation in various countries.  Since PC TECH has students from five continents, we find out that there are many cultures with as many different traditions regarding what is considered good manners. 

Chae gives us some examples from South Korea: 

Most Korean people are accustomed to using public transportation, going to work by bus, train, plane, taxi.  It seems like a part of life for everybody.  Anyone who has taken public transportation knows how annoying some other people can be.  Also the lifestyle has changed  a lot faster than before.  For this reason, we have to [observe] rules of etiquette to make the trip more enjoyable for all:

First, we have to offer our seat to an elderly person.  Students who offer their seats to the elderly  – as well as pregnant women and the handicapped – can be found every time.

Second, we try not to spend our ride home on the phone.   Of course, everybody can use their phones, but they do not speak loudly.

Third, people who have a lot of bags need help.  We try to assist them.  Someone who is sitting should offer to hold their bags.  We understand that most Americans would not like this idea.

Nowadays, Koreans have a lot of transportation problems.  For example, someone put on YouTube a video of people fighting on the subway.  People made an issue of how they do not have proper etiquette.  However, before doing that, we try always to keep in mind that we are not the only persons [in the world].

 PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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This Friday, PC TECH students traveled to several Manhattan places of interest, including Wall Street, a typical Chelsea neighborhood art gallery, and Wall Street.  Each location provided many opportunities for informal English conversation and an increase in vocabulary.

Another student has created  a role-play with an etiquette theme.  Yui composed this dialogue:

A:  Excuse me.  I was absent from class yesterday.  Can I borrow your notes please?

B:  Sure!  When do you have time for lunch?

A:  For what?

B:  What are you saying?  If you borrowed something from someone, you would treat that person to lunch, right?

A:  I see… But it’s too expensive for me… I don’t have enough money this month… OK!  I’m going to ask another student.

B:  WAIT!  Wait!  Wait!  So… how about snacks?

A:  Oh my gosh…

Jerry came up with a composition about informal and more formal ways of speaking:

When I am in school, I try to speak more correctly with my classmates.  I always use correct grammar and try to be more aware of what I’m going to say.  With my friends, it is completely different because I feel more comfortable.  Sometimes we discuss many different kinds of topics.  We always use slang, and sometimes the grammar is not the most correct.  For example, with someone who is a stranger, it is different.  I always try to use correct grammar.  When I speak with my parents, I feel more free because everything is natural in the relationship. 

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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More about Etiquette May 8, 2013

Students continue their writing about etiquette.

Ana is from Peru:

New York and Lima have different manners of rules [of etiquette].  For example, on Lima’s public transportation, people give their seats to elderly passengers, or to parents with small children, or to pregnant women – more than in New York.

In my city, there is scheduled an hour for people to take their garbage to the street and then the truck picks it up.  Not like here, where the garbage can be all day in the street.

I don’t like it that here some parks have restricted access to people or where dogs can’t enter.

Kaori imagines a dialogue taking place on the streets of New York City:

A:  Excuse me, may I help you?

B:  Oh, thanks.

A:  Are you working around here?

B:  Yes, I’m working in that building.

A:  Wow!  Are you working for Google?  Your company is such a big company.  How’s work going?

B:  We are doing well.  Really busy, though… How about you?  Are you working around here?

A:  No, I got [fired or laid off] a month ago.  I’ve been walking around in the city and asking people for money.

B:  Oh, how’s that going?  Can you make a lot of money?

A:  No way!  But I do get to help people who drop stuff or need directions.  It’s kind of nice and makes me feel good.

B:  You are a good person.  I’m looking for someone to hire.  Are you interested in Google?

A:  I’m sorry, but I’d rather work for Facebook.  I’m going to wait and see if anyone from there drops their papers. 

 PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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Students have been writing about etiquette in their countries as compared with what is considered mannerly behavior in the United States.

 Bo writes about a wonderful custom in Thailand:

 In each country, different groups of people may have different cultural values.  The way they do things in their own country doesn’t mean they can do [those things] in other countries.  For example, Americans just say “Hello” and shake hands when they greet others, but the Thai people always do Wai instead of shaking hands.  The wai is everything:  It’s a beautiful way to greet people, to say “Thank you” or “Goodbye,” even to say “Sorry.”  We put the palms together and hold them close to and in front of the chest, then head slightly bowed.  Also we smile whenever we can and always return someone’s smile.  We smile in everyday life and [to express] many different emotions.  We used to bend over a little when we had to walk in front of someone or between people.

By the way, showing displays of affection in public (for example, couples kissing or hugging in public places) is considered rude and inappropriate.  On the other hand, it’s common to do this in New York.

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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Singing along with the written lyrics of a song can be an entertaining way to study grammar forms and to practice accurate pronunciation.  For example, on YouTube you can follow Glen Campbell’s song “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”  You will learn not only to sing in a standard Midwestern USA accent but also a way to use the future progressive/continuous tense.  (It’s a bit of a sad song, so you should keep some tissues handy.)

“If I Were a Rich Man” from the old Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof and Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “If I Had a Hammer” from the early 1960s are easy to sing and demonstrate the use of a past tense verb form that is not used in the past tense, but for expressing a wish.

Many popular American songs from years ago were composed with less slang, unlike much pop music today.   In the 1960s, the Duprees made an old standard hit song into a big hit:  “Have You Heard” illustrates the present perfect tense put into question form.

If you want to practice English before you come to visit America, try to find songs with printed lyrics on the Internet and sing along with them over and over.  You will be surprised how much easier it is to use correct pronunciation.

 PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

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