Monday, October 29, 2018

American Idioms: There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea

"There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea."

Definition: There are many people who can be your boyfriend or girlfriend. You usually hear this after you have broken up with someone special. 

Example: "Do not worry about being single, there are plenty of fish in the sea."

Exercise: Is there someone in your life that you could say this to? Is it good advice to say?

Written by: Ivan Brave

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Eduardo Ramirez- NYLC Student Services Coordinator and ESL Student

Written by: Ivan Brave

One of the first friendly faces you see when you exit the Midtown elevator on the eleventh floor, walking towards our front desk, is Eduardo's. I usually teach in the Upper West Side, but when good luck brings me the chance to tutor in our central location, I always take it. And Eduardo always greets me with enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and friendliness. "Hello, Ivan!" he says. "Hello, Eduardo!" I reply. Our exchange stayed on this friendly level for a few weeks, until I learned from him that he actually takes classes in the Upper West Side, in addition to working. "What are you doing here?" I asked him once, as polite as possible, seeing him enter the light-filled lounge of the Upper West Side school. "I take classes," he explained. "What! No way! You work and study at the same time?" Eduardo smiled real wide, as he usually does. "Yes, I do."

I knew then he would make an excellent interviewee. His perspective would inspire other students, students who work as Eduardo does, while also taking intensive English courses. It's tough, but possible. Even I took classes while teaching here, last year. Eduardo's story gives us hard-working New Yorkers hope. If he can do it, we all can. You can.

What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
Saturday, because you can either sleep twelve hours in a row or you could not sleep at all and there is no school or work the next day.
For formality's sake, what is your full name, where are you from, where do you live, and when did you start working at the NYLC? 
I’m from San Salvador the capital of El Salvador, I live in Elizabeth New Jersey and I started to work at NYLC in June 2018. My full name has four names: Eduardo Alejandro Ramírez Mendoza, a very typical thing for Latins. Maybe it's weird or maybe not, I’ve met a French person with eight names.

What happened first, work or study, at NYLC?
Work, then I decided to study English in the Upper West Side branch. As you know I don't have much time in the States, this is my first full time job and I work to start my professional life. I'm also a waiter in a banquet restaurant. From my point of view, I want to gain experience the best way I can, step by step. I think both jobs help me a lot, mainly the student services job.

How do you do both? (How long are classes, how long do you study outside of class, and how many hours do you work?)
I work around 7 hours daily and when I leave work I go directly to UWS school, sometimes I have time to study and do homework before the class that starts and ends from 6 to 9 pm. 

I like what I do. I wouldn't have been so good at this job if I had not been member of the Association of Students of Chemical Engineering in the university and also of the Association of Scouts of El Salvador. There I learn many things that now help me to do what I do, like working under pressure, following protocol, taking inquiries, filing paper work, documents, managing entire camps with 100 kids or more, etc.  

What is your favorite word in English? In Spanish?
I’ve never thought about this… in English ephemeral and in Spanish inmarcesible.

Ephemeral: lasting for a very short time
Inmarcesible (Immarcescible, in English): unfading, that which does not shrivel.

What is the strangest phrase/idiom in English you know? Why is it strange?
 “Once in a blue moon.” It isn’t strange, but interesting because when I heard it for the first time I didn’t know such thing as a blue moon existed.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I don’t exactly remember who gave it to me or how it goes exactly, but to answer I’ll quote a phase from my favorite TV show, Grey’s Anatomy.

“Change: We don't like it, we fear it, but we can't stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. It hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn't is lying. But here's the truth: Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. And sometimes, oh, sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is everything.”

I think change isn’t easy, but it is always there and we have to be prepared and ready for it

What are three ways you stay motivated and awake in the mornings?
Coffee is essential even if I drink decaf it helps me to stay awake the whole day. The more I practice speaking and listening the more I learn. And believing that I can learn new things, and be better in what I do every day, helps too.

Why do you want to improve your English?
To be independent, grow professionally, make new friends, move around different cities, start college in the future, basically to have more opportunities in a new home where everything seems to be so different from our native countries.

I want to travel to Europe, Australia and England. But if I had the chance, I would travel back to El Salvador just for a couple of days to visit my family, friends and dogs (I have one German Shepard and a Cocker Spaniel, both mixed).

College is in my plans, might be in my town, Elizabeth, but it would be nice if I could study in NY. I'm working on that at the moment, but I'm not so sure about what major would be best for me, I have two options though, finishing what I started as a Chemical Engineer or start something from scratch like Business Management, Accounting or even Tourism Management. I am taking suggestions.

Here's a suggestion, Eduardo: keep doing what you are doing! You are doing great. Follow your passion and follow your instinct. It has led you to the greatest city in the world. Maybe you will study here for university. Maybe not. But, I trust, that no matter where you are, if you keep shining and working as hard as you do, you will make it anywhere.

After all, you do know what they say about New York. If you can make it here...

Monday, October 15, 2018

Do you have a favorite PSA?

Have you come across any good PSAs lately? I have a couple of favorite ones on TV, and I like the ones on this blog post! Here's one of them on being nice to the new guy in class. This was created by a group of students in the current Listening and Speaking course.

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are ads or TV/radio commercials that aim to teach citizens lessons about certain concepts or ways to act or look at the world. If you watch TV, listen to the radio or podcasts, surf online, or ride public transit, there's a huge chance you've come across some PSAs here and there. They teach us to be kind, to be positive, to care for the environment, to respect each other, etc. Here's another one created by another group in the same class on showing respect and consideration toward our neighbors.

PSA on Respecting others

After watching and listening to a few samples of PSAs, the students were put in groups and instructed to agree on a topic, decide on the type of PSA they wanted to create and how to create it. Here's what the third group came up with. This one is on littering and appeals to listeners to respect their environment.

PSA on littering

If you were asked to create a PSA, what would you do it on? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Take care,

Joe, ESL instructor

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Phrasal Verb Exercise: "HEADS OUT"


"The boy heads out to school."

"To leave, to exit, to go somewhere specific."

Change the example sentence from simple-present to past-continuous tense.

Write another sentence in past-continuous about the boy. (What else was happening)?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Where Language Meets Learning: An interview between a poet and his teacher

This week we would like to highlight our student, Mohamed Abdalla Abdalgadir, originally from Sudan. Like many of our students, Mohamed has called many places his home. He says it has been “quite difficult, but enjoyable at the same time,” traveling from country to country. Coming to New York City was the “perfect choice,” he explains, a kind of “hitting two birds with one stone,” because he knew that here he would both experience a “magnificent” city and improve his already advanced English.

“But,” says a classmate, “your English is so good, why are you learning?” Mohamed smiles, looks away. He is modest about his English. He does has a strong grasp of grammar, but says he would like to gain more confidence in speaking and in writing.
His eagerness and vocabulary might impress his classmates and teachers. In fact, Mohamed is the author of multiple collections of poetry, a lover of language, and applying to be a PhD student. But don’t let his background deceive you. Mohamed, just like everyone else, has his own set of challenges and obstacles, the same challenges and obstacles we all face when learning a new language.
When I found out that Mohamed, my current Fluency Development student, is working to publish his fourth collection of poetry, I knew I had to interview him.

How did you hear about New York Language Center? 
A friend of mine had a good experience at NYLC so he gave me a piece of advice, “Choose it,” which I did.  

Do you remember your first day of class? What was it like, how did it feel, were you nervous or excited?
Of course. It was a Monday morning, everybody was so nice to me, the place was full of energy and I was so excited to take a further step towards mastering my English language.

What are some similarities between your language and English? Do you know any other languages? Are you interested in learning them?
I come from a very rich, sensitive and poetic language (Arabic). For Arab people their language is not only a language but also the core of their identity, which would go without saying if you have the fact that the word “Arab” comes from the verb “yarab” (يعرب), which means to express yourself fluently or eloquently.
I always enjoy comparing between my mother tongue and English. Of course, there are a lot of similarities because languages are sisters from one mother but to be exact I need extra time with the English language to give you an answer that goes beyond the superficial similarity of some words, rules, or even some idioms.   
Regarding the second part of your question, I regret not learning another language earlier. So, yes after mastering my English I’m interested in learning a third language, maybe it would go with my philosophical interest, German, or it might be French or Spanish, if I go with my interest in literature.        

What side-projects, outside of school, are you working on now?
I’m up to my eyeballs in doing a lot of things these days. For instance, I’m writing my fourth book, preparing myself to match the requirements of university for PhD degree, also to make ends meet I have to do my freelancer job. My PhD will be related to philosophy and literature at the same time. My thesis might be called, ‘the reinstatement of philosophical metaphor’. My previous books were about politics, romance, but my new one will be a little different.

What is your favorite line of poetry?
Poetry is the mirror of life. So, it must reflect everything. For this reason, it is hard to choose just one line from the forest of poetry in my head but I will do it randomly. The first lines to come to my mind are by Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
“Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”

"Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

What was the most beautiful library you have ever visited? What do you think of the libraries in New York?
I’m a kind of book worm. So, for me libraries are my favorite places in this world. In fact, I couldn’t agree more with the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges who said once, "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of Library". I’m always keen on visiting the library in any city where I’m.
Since I came here to the USA I’ve visited some outstanding libraries, like the library of Congress in Washington D.C, the New York public library here, and now I’m planning to go to Jon Hopkins library. But the most beautiful library I have ever been to is the Alexandria library in Egypt which was established in 3rd century B.C. It was considered the most significant library in ancient world.

What is one piece of advice you could give someone who wants to learn English?
At all costs, don’t give up. It is worth it.

What are three of your most favorite words (in any language)?
It is so difficult to answer this question due to the unlimited nature that the language has, in addition to this every single word has own infinity as well. But if I must, I would choose these three words: Dream, Imagine and Create. As you might guess, all of them make me feel that I have no limit at all.

Finally, is there anything you would like to ask me, or the school?
As a native speaker, how can you describe your relevance with the English language before and after teaching it? 
In other words, did you see your mother tongue differently after you started to teach it? If your answer is yes, what is the most astonishing fact that you had from this experience?     

Good question, Mohamed! Your passion for language is made clear from your quest for learning. 

Teaching English has given me the the words to talk about words, the language of language. “Relative clause”, “present perfect tense”, and even the word “comma” fascinate me. The fact that I can express an idea about English to students like you, who want to learn, is sometimes enough confidence I need to teach. I hope you gained some confidence from answering these questions, and that our readers absorb some too. 

Written by: Ivan Brave 
Faculty member Ivan Brave teaches mostly at the NYLC Upper West Side location. He also chaperones for activities and shows students interesting parts of town. His passions include learning, writing, languages, and philosophy, and he believes that the best part about teaching is when a great teacher and a great student meet to accomplish their objectives. You can read more of his writing at  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Getting to Know Our Instructors: Meet Ivan Brave!

Ivan Brave began with NYLC in September of 2016. After taking time off from teaching to focus on completing his Masters in Fine Arts for Creative Writing, Ivan returned to NYLC earlier this summer.

Passionate about writing, it was natural that we asked Ivan to become a regular contributor to the schools' blog. As one of his first posts, Ivan explores his reasons for becoming a teacher. Welcome back to the team, Ivan!

A short autobiography of Iván Brave, a New York Language Center English Instructor. 

By: Ivan Brave

Before any class, I always stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom of the Upper West Side school. There I wash my hands from the subway ride, I splash my face with water, and I take a few deep breaths. Breathing helps me wake up. "Why are you here?” I ask. "Why?" And I walk into class, knowing the answer.

It all began in 2015, when TESOL certified me as a teacher. No, no. Before that. It all began with a conversation I had with my mother, herself a teacher, when she suggested I follow in her footsteps. No, no. Even before that.

We must travel back in time. We must travel far out west. To hot and humid Houston, Texas.

My sophomore year of high school I took a class that changed my life. Everyone I know has at least one class that changed their life. For me it was my Theater class. Acting, improv, plays, play fighting, singing, art. My teacher was so wild and cool. During the day he would teach, while at night he would act professionally.

He taught me about American theater, about European theater, and a little about Japanese theater. But most importantly he taught me that you can follow your passion while still helping others find their passion. You can be a professional actor, for example, and help others express their inner actor.

Today I do what my theater teacher did, not with theater, but with language.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

NYLC Students win New York State TESOL Writing Contest for Third Year In a Row!

New York Language Center is pleased to say that for the third year in a row, two NYLC students under the guidance of their instructors have submitted winning essays for the New York State TESOL writing contest:

Under the leadership of Ania Neckakov, Director of Studies, we are thrilled to announce that we have a winner and an honorable mention this year again for the New York State TESOL conference!

First place winner of the 2017–2018 NYS TESOL essay contest for the University and Adult Education category is Brendan Gahan's student, Chiara Bisignani (NYLC, Midtown). Congratulations to both of them! Honorable mention of the 2017–2018 NYS TESOL essay contest for University and Adult Education category has been awarded to Tami Savir's student Alioune Sylla (Jackson Heights).

Both essays will be also published in the conference program book, which students will receive copies of. All winners will be invited to attend the student luncheon during the NYS TESOL annual conference on November 2, 2018 at the Marriott in Albany, New York. At the luncheon, they will be recognized and presented with certificates and an award of $100.00 for the winner. The instructors are invited as well.

NYLC thanks those organizers of the contest and is so proud of our faculty and students.

Scroll down to read the the award winning essay!


Every human being’s personality, heart, brain, history and past are built by memories. There is a shape, a particular shape, which distinguishes each of us. That is the reason we are different, unique and special; we are the result of the experiences we have, how we grew up, how our parents raised us, how much we have suffered and how much pain has touched our hearts. I think there is no time to grow up and change ourselves into a new person. We never stop learning, never. Every single moment we gain life from outside without even knowing it. That is the power of life. We learn something new that influences who we are. Every day we have an experience, no matter how small, that helps us to grow. After all, is the life itself a big, amazing experience? Sometimes we think that each day is always the same boring day, the identical routine that almost kills our happiness. However, this is not true! The truth is that every day is diverse because something different happens and shapes us. It is like the sunset, we think that it is always the same sunset, the usual color of the sky, but actually every sunset is special. Just try to look beyond and you will discover many shades of color. 

Now, let’s talk about huge experiences, like a trip. No matter the place, traveling changes you for better or worse, but I am sure that mostly it changes you for better. I want to share my personal experience here in New York City.