The key to making quick progress when it comes to learning English is to try and make a lesson out of everyday activities; to try and constantly learn and improve yourself. It can be found in the small things, like learning a new word or knowing the right question to ask when needed. Since you will be living and studying English in New York City, there is no shortage of situations where you can use whatever you have learned in class. If you don’t know exactly where to start, here is a list of great places to begin practicing English while walking around the city.

English and the NYC Public Transit

New York City is one of the most pedestrian-friendly big cities in the world making public transit an immensely important part of every New Yorker’s life. As a non-native English speaker headed for the big city, it is vital that you understand the basics of how to manage your transportation needs. This means you should know how to buy tickets, how to read subway maps and bus routes and how to ask for directions or what bus lines you need to take to get where you want to go. We talk about this more in our article “Your First Homework Assignment: Research New York City.”

But this doesn’t exhaust the lessons you can learn from the public transit system. While using the subway or the bus try to translate whatever promotional posters, commercials, or flyers you see. If you find words that you don’t know, take a photo with your phone and try to translate them later (or try this translation app). It may take a little time to look the words up in the dictionary, but each time you do this you build your English vocabulary.

Improve Your Vocabulary by Shopping!

Whether you are going shopping for clothes, electronics, or groceries there are so many opportunities to improve your vocabulary. If you have already started English classes, then you probably know some basic words for clothing, food, and drinks.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop at the basics. When shopping for clothes try asking questions to the store clerk, and when its time to buy groceries try new and unusual fruits and vegetables. If you have free time at the mall or supermarket, write down words on displays and advertisements that you don’t know and look them up later.

Learn English Medical Vocabulary

This can be anything from going to the pharmacy for aspirin, rushing to a hospital because of a broken finger, or dragging yourself to the dentist because of a toothache. While you may know how to ask for help in an emergency, there are a number of ways you can still turn these events into a learning experience. It can help to always have a notepad and pencil with you just in case the doctor or pharmacist asks you questions you don’t understand.

It can also be helpful to write down any questions and follow-up questions you want to ask the doctor, and practice saying them before you arrive (this may be difficult with a broken finger). Doing this can help you learn medical and anatomy words and even the names of basic medicine and treatments.

These are just a few examples of how you can incorporate English into your daily life. The more you look at every moment in the city as a chance for learning the quicker you will become a fluent speaker.