Speaking at City Hall

Yesterday two University Settlement Adult Literacy Program students, Jie Ling and Ivan, along with one staff member, Mayra, spoke at City Hall in support of more funding for adult literacy programs in NYC. They spoke before the City Council Committee on Education chaired by Mark Treyger.

Here is Ivan’s testimony:

Testimony for the Committee on Education Oversight Hearing 2/26/2020

Ivan, Student at the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program

Good afternoon everyone. First of all, thank you for giving us this opportunity to speak with you today. We really appreciate it. My name is Ivan. I’m from Madrid, Spain. I’m a Network Engineer and Project Manager, but I’m also a student at University Settlement. I’ve been living in New York for almost 6 months. I had studied English in my country for many years so I thought the language wouldn’t be a problem for me here. Obviously, I was wrong. Since the moment I arrived, I realized that my English wasn’t as good as I thought.

This situation made me feel insecure, worried and overwhelmed. But after a few days handling this feeling, I found information on the internet about free English classes at University Settlement. Then everything changed. University Settlement gave me the opportunity to attend their College and Career Readiness class, where I can learn and practice English in an international environment with a great teacher and staff who are always willing to help us as much as possible. Ever since, I continue improving my English skills every day and I feel more confident speaking the language. Thanks to this, I was recently accepted into the Cooper Union Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers.

The bottom line is that these classes help students like me to apply for better jobs with good salaries, pay more taxes, be more productive in the community and be able to communicate better with every citizen in this wonderful city. Learning English is synonymous with improving our lives and our communities, and this is possible thanks to the funds the city invests in Adult Education.

Thank you very much.


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Idiom of the Week: Smell a Rat

In honor of the Year of the Rat…

Meaning: To be suspicious of someone or something.


The students were very, very quiet when their teacher entered the room, and so the teacher smelled a rat.

“I smell a rat,” said the police detective after talking to the criminal.

After seeing that the email came from a strange address, I smelled a rat and didn’t open it.

Pop Quiz:

You might smell a rat if…

A.  your boss pays you on time.

B.  a stranger calls you asking for your address and social security number.

C.  a cashier gives you the correct change.

Click on “Read More” to see the correct answer:

Read More »

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Show Some Love to Chinatown!

From New City Council Member Margaret Chin:

Since the coronavirus made the news, we have been seeing a rise in xenophobia and discrimination against Asian New Yorkers and businesses. There’s never an excuse to discriminate, yet sadly during Lunar New Year, what should be the busiest time of the year, Chinatown shop and restaurant owners have been hit especially hard.

But we’re committed to turn crisis into opportunity.

Last weekend, crowds of New Yorkers celebrated a new year and new beginnings at the Lunar New Year parade. This week, I stood with Chinatown Partnership, Council Member Rivera, and small business owners to ask you to show some love to Chinatown. Watch the event here.

You can share your solidarity by visiting a local business to enter for a raffle sponsored by the Chinatown Partnership, taking a pic at the new Valentine’s Day themed backdrop at the Baxter Street kiosk, or using #DineinChinatown and tagging us.

Thank you to all the elected officials who have shown their support!

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Here are more photos from Albany. Our students went to the state capital last week with other members of the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) to advocate for $25 million in funding for Adult Literacy Education in New York State. We held a rally on the Million Dollar staircase, where in addition to Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Members Ron Kim and Pat Fahy, our very own Adult Literacy Program students Lifen and Jose spoke about how important programs like ours are. After the rally we visited state assembly members’ and senators’ offices and to tell them why adult literacy programs need more funding in New York.

To learn more about NYCCAL and what we’re advocating for, click here.

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