Learning English in NYC

Did you know that there is something you can do to make you feel immediately more connected to your new home in New York City?

Did you know that this can also help you learn knew American English phrases and vocabulary- and it’s as simple as riding the train?

One more question:

How often do you look around at the billboards and advertisements in while you commute (1) around the city?

Learning to understand the way Americans speak and think is just as easy as looking at an advertisement (ad).

For example, the ad below for a food delivery service says, “New Yorkers aren’t angry, we’re just hangry“.

Hangry is a new casual English word that describes the feeling of being angry because you’re hungry!

Just by looking at this ad you’ve learned a word that you would not learn from school.

Look below!

Do you recognize the train ad?

It is a popular slogan (2) in NYC that says, “If you see something, say something!”

This phrase simply means, that if you see something strange or dangerous on the train or anywhere in the city, you can call the number 888-NYC-safe to tell someone who can help you.

In the above example, we can learn new words, new ways of speech, and new information that can keep us safe!

Not only can you learn, popular words and phrases, but you can also learn valuable information about NYC and the resources it offers!

In the picture below, you’ll see an ad for NYC’s public college system- CUNY!

If you’ve ever dreamed of going to college, you can learn more information about how to go to college without spending a lot of money from this ad.

And if you didn’t already know the vocabulary, you’ll learn the words, apply, degrees, and debt.

How can you use ads to study on-the-go?

  1. Go to the Google Translate app on your phone.
  2. Choose your language.
  3. Use the camera in the app to scan the ad- it will translate into whatever language you chose.
  4. Translate the words and read the ad!

It’s as simple as that!

Next time you’re walking around your neighborhood or traveling between work and home, look at the ads around you!

You will learn new words, find things that can help you, and most importantly, you’ll feel a part of New York!


  1. Commute– (v) to travel regularly by bus, train, car, etc. between your place of work and your home
  2. Slogan– (n) a word or phrase used by a party, a group, or a business to attract attention.


  1. Google Image search
  2. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english
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Itchy eyes? Runny Nose? Sneezing? Headaches?

It sounds like it might be…



If you’re anything like me, as soon as April hits, your allergies go wild!

According to the weather channel, there will be a moderate to high level of pollen in the air.

That means we will feel itchy, stuffy, and sneezy until it rains. Rain lowers the pollen levels in the air, making it easier for us to breathe. Make sure to take your allergy medicine, wear a mask if you’d like, and do your best to stay away from pollen and dust as you enjoy the warmer spring weather!

The pollen being released from the trees causes people to have allergies.

You can check the pollen levels in the air by watching the news, downloading a weather app to your smartphone, or going on Weatherchannel.com and looking at the chart below.

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April is Arab American Heritage Month

From actors like Rami Malek and Tony Shalhoub, musicians such as French Montana and Shakira, to politicians such as George Kaseem and James Abourezk, Arabic Americans have contributed to the fabric (1) of American history and culture. 

Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017, with just a handful (2) of states participating.

In 2022, Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and 45 state governors issued proclamations commemorating the initiative.

Check out the video below to learn more about Arab American Heritage Month, why it’s so important, and how we can all be better Americans by learning about each other’s heritage!


1. The fabric of (something) –   the basic structure of (something)

2. Just a handful- only a small amount

References: National Arab American Heritage Month – Arab America Foundation %

List of Arab and Middle Eastern Americans in the United States Congress – Wikipedia

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St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day in NYC!

Originally, St. Patrick’s Day began in Ireland as a Catholic holiday, but over the years it has grown into a festival of Irish culture. A week-long celebration of Irish music, theater, and visual arts takes place in many regions of Ireland. Family get-togethers are also important, as people sit down for a special meal. The feast of corned beef and cabbage, though, is an American tradition; in Ireland one is more likely to find bacon or a savory roast chicken on the table. 

Although the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become a part of celebrations in Ireland these days, it’s the result of an American influence, where the tradition was created by homesick Irish immigrants. More recently, St. Patrick’s Day has become a highly marketable and promoted event in Ireland, resulting in an attractive draw for tourists visiting the country.

The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates back to March 17, 1762, when it was first organized by a group of homesick Irish immigrants and Irish military in the American colonies of NYC. Participants enjoyed  the freedom to speak Irish, wear the color green- which was banned in Ireland at the time, sing native songs, and play the bagpipe.

These things gave powerful meaning to those people who fled their homeland.

Join in the fun! Come to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade!

The NYC Parade is held on March 17th and begins precisely at 11:00 AM. The Parade marches up Fifth Avenue beginning at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th.  

Reference: CUNY Baruch: NYCdata | Uniquely NYC (cuny.edu)

  1. Homesick- adj the feeling of missing your home
  2. Banned-adj not allowed
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March is Women’s History Month

Today, tomorrow, and for the rest of March it’s time to show every woman in your life that you appreciate them! If you identify as a woman, it’s your time to cherish (1) the month!

Regardless of your borough, you can find an event to celebrate and learn about women during women’s history month! Check the links below for more information about the events happening in each borough!

  1. Cherish – to hold dear : feel or show affection for

The Bronx:

Adult Art Class: Women’s History Month

Date and Time:

  • Monday, March 20, 2023, 3 – 4 PM
  • Monday, March 27, 2023, 3 – 4 PM


Francis Martin Library

2150 University Ave, The Bronx, NY 10453

Fully accessible to wheelchairs


This is a free in-person event.

March is Women’s History Month! Come learn about different artists and their styles. 

With book recommendations, giveaways, and a chance to express yourself.

More info here: Adult Art Class: Women’s History Month | The New York Public Library (nypl.org)


Free Caribbean Cooking Class!

Date and Time:

Thu, March 23, 2023, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM


Essex Market 88 Essex Street New York, NY 10002


Celebrate Women’s History Month with Kenya from Manny Cantor and Lily from Essex Market . We will highlight three amazing women who fought for labor rights and make dishes inspired by them and the women in our lives.

Tentative Dishes to be cooked include

Salt Fish Stew

Coconut Steamed Rice

Stewed Callaloo

Sauteed Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste

This is a free event.

Ticket confirmation and cancellations: We will email final confirmations to ticket holders 72 hours prior to class. If you do not confirm within 24 hours we will offer your ticket to someone on the waiting list. If you are unable to make class and need to cancel please email us.

If tickets are sold out, please sign up for the waiting list.

More information here: Women’s History Month, Cooking with Kenya and Lily Tickets, Thu, Mar 23, 2023 at 5:30 PM | Eventbrite


Los Colores de Frida/ The Colors of Frida

Date and Time:

 Sat, Mar 11 2023    12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


Canarsie Library

1580 Rockaway Pkwy. at Ave. J

Brooklyn, NY 1123


THE COLORS OF FRIDA is a bilingual, one-woman show about the great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), which combines storytelling, music, visual arts, puppets, and audience participation.  Join us for a colorful, fun, educational program that everyone will enjoy.  Presented by Teatro Society of the Educational Arts.  Recommended especially for ages 3-10 but older people are welcome!  

More information here: 

Society of the Educational Arts/Sociedad Educativa de las Artes presents Los Colores de Frida/The Colors of Frida | Brooklyn Public Library (bklynlibrary.org) 


Peruvian Music Party (In-Person)

Date and Time:

Saturday, March 11, 11am


Queens Public Library 38-23 104 Street



Join Grammy-nominated performer Araceli Poma for a music party celebrating important women from Peru! We will listen to the inspiring stories of women like Yma Sumac (one of the bestselling Latin American recording artists and the bestselling Peruvian artist in history) and Victoria Santa Cruz, considered “the mother of Afro-Peruvian dance and theater.” Plus, Araceli will bring her charango, traditional puppets, and many rhythms for you to enjoy. Through singing and dancing, we will celebrate powerful women who inspire girls around the world!

More information here: (More dates)

Women’s History Month 2023 – Programs – Queens Public Library (queenslibrary.org)

Staten Island:

Women’s History Quiz Show!

Date and Time:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023, 4 – 5 PM

End times are approximate. Events may end early or late.


Richmondtown Library, 200 Clarke Ave.


Join us for a fun quiz show about women’s history, and win a prize! For ages 7-12  and their caregivers.

More information here: 

Women’s History Quiz Show! | The New York Public Library (nypl.org)

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Black History NYC, Harlem

Black History in NYC!

If you ever go north of 110th street, you may notice that Manhattan changes culturally. There are fewer popular stores and more family owned businesses. You’ll find streets named after famous Black and Latino Americans. This is because from 110th street to about 155th street on the west side, there is an African-American and Black cultural hub. You’ll see Black families from different parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and the US. For over 100 years, Harlem has been a mecca for Black culture in the United States. 

This began with the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1920’s.

The Harlem Renaissance was incredibly important in American history because of the explosion of art, music, and culture created by African-Americans. During this time period, there were not many places in the United States that African-Americans could feel safe. The Harlem Renaissance is called the rebirth of African-American culture because many African-Americans from the south moved to Harlem to express themselves.

Check out this video about the history of Harlem and the movement of African-Americans to Harlem.

The next time you find yourself uptown (above 110th street) check our traditional African-American restaurants such as Melba’s, Jacob’s, or Uptown Veg (for vegans and vegetarians).

When your stomach is full of delicious food, take a trip to the Arturo Schomburg Center for Black Research and learn about African-American and Afro-Latino culture from an exhibit.

It’s free and worth the trip!

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‘Loisaida’ is the NYC neighborhood at the root of powerful movements.

While walking through the Lower East Side, did you ever notice the other name for Avenue C?

If you’re Puerto Rican or have lived in NYC for long enough to see the neighborhood change, you may have a soft spot for the word, “ Loisaida”.

Say it slowly. What downtown New York City neighborhood does it sound like?

Before The Lower East Side (LES) was a shopping and restaurant area mostly for university students, the Manhattan neighborhood was a working-class neighborhood for immigrants from across the world. In the mid-1900s, the Latinos who lived there called it “Loisaida”. Puerto Ricans and other working-class people made Loisaida a place for activism in New York City from the 1940s to the 1990s. 

Activist groups tried to improve the lives of residents in the neighborhood by leading protests and mass building squats. Locals also created spaces for the community, like gardens and restaurants. These actions along with art that brought Latinos together helped form national cultural pride. This created the The “Nuyorican” identity (preferred by some Puerto Ricans from New York), 

Have you heard of the Nuyorican Poets Café, opened in 1973? Many Latino artists, like poet, Aja Monet and actress, Rosario Dawson performed here!

Today LES has the second-highest income inequality gap in Manhattan. As the neighborhood becomes unaffordable, Latino families who once lived well there are being pushed out. 

Thankfully, some cultural hubs, like Loisaida Center and Tenement Museum, still exist and remind us of the Latino influence that helped strengthen Latino movements for justice, such as the creation of the modern Puerto Rican Flag! 

Check out next week’s blog to learn more about the influence of the Lower East Side on the history of Puerto Rico!

Soft spot- noun- to like something or someone a lot.
Income inequality gap- noun– income = money, inequality= unequal, gap= space
Unaffordable- adjective– expensive, not easy to buy
Hub- noun – a place that is a center of a particular activity 
Activism – Noun– social or political change 
To squat Verb – living in a building without the legal right to do so 


  1. ‘Loisaida’ is the NYC neighborhood at the root of powerful movements – Pulso (projectpulso.org)
  2. A Spoken History Of The Nuyorican Poets Cafe – Latino USA
  3. Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary: Definitions & Meanings
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