New York: A Classroom at Your Fingertips

Bindu Varghese

Everyone knows New York as the city that never sleeps, but it’s also a place with English language opportunities all around you. With just a little creativity and motivation, any English language student can find lots of ways to practice English outside of class while having a lot of fun!

Speaking:
Speaking is definitely a goal for many English language students who are studying abroad. However, it can be quite difficult to find friends or Native English speakers to practice your language with. A great way to meet other native speakers is to find a group so you can have language exchanges. A great website for this is www.meetup.com. On this site, you can search for groups that interest you and meet other people with the same hobbies. As a recommendation, don’t choose “English language groups” as this will likely be filled with other second language learners. It’s better to search for a hobby like basketball, films, or knitting. This way you will meet more native speakers and you will be able to speak about topics you enjoy. For sports enthusiasts, you can join www.zogsports.com. You can join a sports team as an individual and practice your English with your teammates while also getting some great exercise. At the end of most games/matches, the teams go to a local bar to grab drinks – this is a great way to make friends and to continue speaking in English.

Listening
To improve your listening, try going to book talks around the city. If you’re extremely motivated, you can also read the book that the author is suggesting. Some great places to find book talks include your local library or Barnes and Nobles. Sometimes you can even find celebrities promoting their own books! Also, another way to improve your listening is to take free exercise classes. Try www.yogatothepeople.com for free yoga classes. You can exercise your body, mind, and your English!

Reading
In addition, to reading books in your local library or bookstore, try grabbing a free one of New York City’s free newspapers. These newspapers are short and interesting and are meant to be read during a single subway ride. So instead of sleeping on the subway, try reading the news ! You can also join a book club at your local library. This is a great way to practice multiple skills and it will encourage you to become familiar with English books at your local library!

Writing
Writing can be a difficult skill to master, but it’s really important that ESL students not ignore it. Try keeping a journal during your time in New York. This way you can have a souvenir when you return to your country. You can also join an “open mic night” at a bar. These are several throughout the city. If you’re shy, you can listen to other people present their poetry or writing. If you’re brave, you can present your own type of writing! Try Bar 13 (35 E. 13th St) on Monday nights. Many students come there and present their work and it’s a great way to spend a Monday night! An easy way to practice your writing is to make sure to make friends with your classmates from EC on facebook. Like us on facebook and make sure to write posts to your friends in English.

However you spend your time in NYC, it’s best to use English as much as possible. Remember what you learn in the classroom can only get better if you practice it in the real world. Try some of these tips and enjoy your time in New York!

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