Tuesday, May 15, 2018

NYLC's Top 5 Things To Do in NYC this Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend falls on May 26th- 28th this year. If you're in New York City and not sure how to spend the 3-day weekend, take a look at NYLC's list of the top 5 things to do. Hooray for holiday weekends!

1) Watch Top Gun on board the Intrepid 
Friday, May 25th, 2018
Join NYLC for the start of Summer Movie series! To kick off the season, we are headed to the Intrepid Battleship for a screening of the American 80's-classic, Top Gun! Bring your picnic blankets, food, and folding chairs. Admission to this event is FREE, but is on a first come, first served basis. Be sure to sign up at a NYLC staff member to receive all the details!

Image result for top gun on the intrepid Image result for top gun

2) Smorgasborg at  South Street Seaport (from CBS New York)
Starting Memorial Day Weekend
"Starting Memorial Day weekend, you can nosh on delicacies from all over New York City, including fan favorites like Cemitas El Tigre, Lumpia Shack Snack Bar NYC, Landhaus, and more. Stop by on Sunday to enjoy an assortment of local food and specialty goods at the Fulton Stall Market. Brooklyn-based indie rock bands Flower Girl (May 28th), Heavy Birds (May 29th), and Katie Von Schleicher (May 30th) will also be performing live outside of the Fulton Market Building all weekend long from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. The best part? You can eat your way through Smorgasburg at the Seaport all the way through the fall! Vendors are open daily from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. See website for more details".

Image result for smorgasburg south street seaport

3) Family Fun Day on Governors Island
Sunday, May 27, 2018  11:00 am – 4:00 pm
From https://govisland.com/things-to-do/events/family-fun-day-festival
"Family Fun Day celebrates Governors Island’s green spaces and its playful attitude. Held Memorial Day Weekend, this outdoor festival will feature live music, theatrical performances, storytelling, arts and crafts, educational workshops, ice cream, and a build-your-own playground. The event is free and open to the public".

Image result for family fun day governors island

4) Memorial Day Parade (from TimeOutNY)
Monday, May 28th, 2018
"Although there are multiple Memorial Day parades in New York (one in Queens, Staten Island, Bronx and two in Brooklyn), the Kings County Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge is the most iconic. In fact, it is one of the oldest traditions in Brooklyn now that it’s in its 151st year. Catholic war veterans lead local service organizations in honor of fallen soldiers and their families at the parade, which is sponsored by the United Military Veterans of Kings County. Following the ceremony, there is a 21-gun salute by the U.S. Army at Fort Hamilton. The NYPD and FDNY also march, Brooklyn high-school bands perform, and antique fire trucks and autos are on display. This year, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Calsen Jr. acts as Grand Marshal."

Image result for memorial day parade bay ridge

5) New York Philharmonic Memorial Day Concert at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Monday, May 28th, 2018 8PM

Now and then something happens that makes you feel proud of institutions and the music-loving public. One such event is the New York Philharmonic’s Annual Free Memorial Day concert,” raved The New York Times. Join us at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, where you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Saint-SaĆ«ns’s Organ Symphony. 

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance; ticket distribution will begin at 6:00 PM The audio of the performance will be broadcast onto the adjacent Pulpit Green, weather permitting."

Annual Free Memorial Day Concert

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Meet the NYLC Students: My happiest day ever, by Feroz Ahmed

We are featuring a second essay written by another one of our Post Advanced level students in NYLC Jackson Heights. 

Feroz from Bangladesh shares the "happiest day of his life". Scroll down to read his story!

A TV reporter came to me and asked, “what are the reasons behind your success?” I was shy but jubilant and answered the question.  I am talking about the first public exam that I faced as a tenth grader, where I scored top in my country.

More than ten years have passed and I can still remember everything about that day. In my country, the test after the tenth grade is very important to get admitted to a good college.  Therefore, the test had some significance in respect of designing my future. I scored 98.75% on the test and most interestingly 100% in science and math. My parents were so happy that they embraced me several times on that day. They started crying to celebrate and when people are happy and their joy knows no bound they cry in our culture.  Furthermore, I was floating as all my friends and relatives admired me a lot and to be honest I was so happy to hear those. Many of my relatives visited our house with gifts for me and my grandfather gifted a play station which was so special and made my day. A lot of TV channels came to my house and interviewed me about my strategies of approaching the test. 

My teachers were so proud of me and pronounced my results in front of thousands of students which was amazing.

The day belongs in my permanent memory and I wish to add more of that kind of day in my memory.

Feroz Ahmed
Post advanced level

Friday, February 23, 2018

Meet the NYLC Students: Illia Lopez

Students in the Post Advanced Level at NYLC Jackson Heights do essay writing as a part of their practice for the TOEFL Exam. One of our students was asked to “describe a time when you couldn’t do your normal routine”. Here's his heartfelt essay.

Ten years ago, when I was in high school, I used to play a lot of sports, like basketball, water polo, soccer and volleyball, but the sport I liked the most was definitely soccer. If my memory is right, we had won all the tournaments already, but there was still remaining the final of the soccer championship, which was going to be the following day.

In the days before the match I was able to keep myself safe and available until something happened. While we were training, one of my teammates, accidentally, pushed me down and broke my leg!! In that moment while I was falling down and my leg was breaking, I was in darkness. I felt tiny and fragile as though everybody were bigger than me and I would not know how to protect myself from them. I knew I could not face this important match I was preparing for. When I realized that, my eyes filled up and tears streamed down my face as a waterfall in a river.

The match day I could not even go to school to take classes. I felt awful and weak. I did not want to see anyone, not even my parents or friends. I got a lot of supporting messages from my friends but I ignored them. That day went by really slowly. I spent the whole day in my bed watching the ceiling, thinking about the match I was missing when my mom came and hugged me. At the beginning that was weird, because I was not expecting that, but then I felt safe and loved. There is no doubt. Mothers are super heroes. 

Love you mom ❤️    

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tips for TOEFL: The Reading Section

The reading section seems like it would be the most simple.  It’s the first one, so you are fresh and energized.  You can do back and check your answers (which you canNOT do on the listening section) and the text is right in front of you!  All you have to do is choose the correct answer!

However, consistently this is the section that my students have the most trouble with.  I have had many students who will always finish their reading practice exercises with tons of time to spare.  But suddenly when they are at the test center, they almost always run out of time!  Here are some tips and tricks I have learned to help with the reading section.

Manage your time
You have either 60 mins to complete 3 reading passages or 80 minutes to compete 4.  That sounds like plenty of time!  BUT it is not.  Do NOT spend more than 20 minutes on any of the passages.  There is a clock on the screen to help you.  Look at it frequently, and when you are practicing before the test, try to do 2 passages in 30 minutes as an exercise to help you push the pace.  This brings me to the next tip...

Practice on a computer
My students are always amazed by how much time it takes to click back and forth between the passage and the questions.  Get used to this by using the ETS published books to practice using the CD and a computer beforehand.  Flipping the pages of a book and moving a mouse around a screen actually take up different amounts of time!

Identify the type of question
This doesn’t help everyone, but most textbooks spend a decent amount of time introducing the type of questions that are asked.  Vocabulary questions, factual information questions, inference questions and negative factual information questions are just a few categories that often come up.  Learn what all of that means, and if you get stuck on a question try to think about what category it is and how that could help you find the correct answer. 

Pssstt...there is a trick to the summary questions!

A summary is not a piece of information. 

The reading section can trip up the most prepared student if they run into a word they have never seen before.  Do not think that means memorizing every word in the dictionary!  Of course you should study vocabulary words, particularly from sample reading exercises in various textbooks, but you should also learn how to understand the word in context, and separate longer words into parts so you can recognize the root of the word. 

Vocabulary: trip up  v. to confuse push the pace expression to increase the rate of something

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What’s the difference... Academic Vocabulary

by  Mia Della Pietra (native New Yorker)

Mia teaches TOEFL Preparation and other courses at NYLC's Upper West Side location. She was born and raised in NYC and lived in Thailand for two years training Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and teaching English.  Now she enjoys meeting students from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds and loves finding the humor in the challenges of learning English. In her free time, she watches mixed martial arts, hangs out with her two cats, and eats as much boxed macaroni and cheese as she can.   

The US education system can be a little confusing. It’s not designed in the same way that most other systems are across the globe. This “What’s the Difference” edition will focus on some of the most common questions I get from my students, and how to distinguish between these words and ideas.

College / University

This one is extra confusing, because in England these two words have different meanings. However, in American English we almost exclusively use the word college to describe earning a bachelor’s degree. Most colleges in the USA have the word university in their name, but we would say “I’m in college” or “I went to college” rather than “I went to university.”

SATs / Entrance exam

Across the globe the way to be admitted to university is usually to take an entrance exam, which is very often a standardized test. However, we do not do this in the USA. There is a standardized test that high-schoolers take in their last or second to last year, and this is the SATs. However, this is only a small part of an application to college. To apply to college a student submits their high school grades, a personal essay, SAT scores, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendations and more! So while the SATs are required by most schools, they are just a small part of your application.

Credit / Class

Credits are similar to points, in that they reflect the value of a class. Each class that you take in college will have an assigned credit value. If the class does not require a lot of studying or time in class (for example, a private voice lesson) it might be worth 1 credit. An intensive biology class might be worth 4 credits. It is important to keep track of how many credits you are taking per semester, and how many you have taken in total. It is normal to take about 4 classes per semester for a total of around 12-15 credits. If you haven’t taken enough credits at the end of your 4 years, you might not be able to graduate on time!

Expelled / Dropped Out / Flunked out

If you are expelled from college (or high school) this means that the school decided that you could no longer attend classes there. This is usually due to a behavioral issue, such as cheating on an exam, plagiarism, or a situation involving alcohol or drugs. If you drop out this is usually a voluntary action, due to a personal or maybe financial situation. Flunking out is what happens when you fail your classes, and can no longer continue that that college. Flunking out is usually a mutual agreement between the college and student that is is best if the student discontinues their studies there.

Test yourself!
1. He was really struggling all semester academically, I heard that he ultimately ________________.
2. In most of the world an ________________ is what determines which university a student can or cannot attend.
3. New York ________________ is one of the most expensive schools in the country.
4. I’m really nervous about the ________________, I’m taking them next month and I need at least a 700 in every section.
5. I’m taking 4 ________________ this semester.
6. I went to ________________ in 2010 and got my bachelor’s degree in 2014.
7. My grandmother is sick, I might have to ________________ of school so that I can stay home and help her.
8. I only need 11 more ________________ to graduate, so I think I can finish by the end of the summer.
9. Getting ________________ from college can damage your reputation.

Monday, January 22, 2018

What’s the difference: Family Addition

by  Mia Della Pietra (native New Yorker)

Mia teaches TOEFL Preparation and other courses at NYLC's Upper West Side location. She was born and raised in NYC and lived in Thailand for two years training Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and teaching English.  Now she enjoys meeting students from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds and loves finding the humor in the challenges of learning English. In her free time, she watches mixed martial arts, hangs out with her two cats, and eats as much boxed macaroni and cheese as she can.   

What’s the difference...

Families are complex, and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish how to describe the various relationships that exist within them.  Here are some similar but not quite the same expressions and vocabulary to help you navigate your family descriptions!

Take after / look like

The difference between take after and look like is a major one.  Looking like your family has to do with physical appearance.  If your face is similar to your mother’s, than you look like your mother.  Taking after someone has to do with your personality or behavior.  If you are a doctor, and your grandfather was a doctor, then you take after him.  If you love spicy food, and so does your father, then you take after him. 

On my mother’s side / From my mother

Does your mother have curly hair?  Do you have curly hair?  In that case you could say, “I got my curly hair from my mother.”  We use this phrase for traits directly passed down from our mothers.  This can be for physical traits or personality.  You can also get a love of Star Wars and an appreciation of French food from your mom.  “On my mother’s side” is used to describe traits that your mother’s entire family has passed to you.  For example “I am German, on my mother’s side,” or “I have heart disease on my mother’s side.” 

Partner / Spouse

There are lots of different kinds of partners.  Business Partners, dance partners, and romantic partners!  Partner is a word that has an interesting history.  Before gay marriage was legalized in the United States, most homosexual couples would use it to describe their “life partner” or “domestic partner” which was the legal definition of their relationship.  Now partner has become more neutral, being applied to homosexual and hetersexual relationships.  The difference between a partner and a spouse is that you are legally married to your spouse, but the word partner just describes a serious, long term relationship, not necessarily a legal marriage to the person.  Both spouse and partner are gender neutral terms. 

Test yourself!
  1. My __________________ and I have been living together for 5 years, but we aren’t married. 
  2. I get my love of action movies __________________.  My mother and I always go to the movies together during the holidays! 
  3. My mother __________________ her mother, they’re both lawyers. 
  4. My __________________is from Florida, and we have been married for 3 years. 
  5. My sister really __________________ me, sometimes people get confused about who they are talking to! 
  6. I’m Brazilian __________________ but my father’s family is from Mexico.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Part II: Tips for TOEFL, the Speaking Section

by  Mia Della Pietra (native New Yorker)

Mia teaches TOEFL Preparation and other courses at NYLC's Upper West Side location. She was born and raised in NYC and lived in Thailand for two years training Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and teaching English.  Now she enjoys meeting students from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds and loves finding the humor in the challenges of learning English. In her free time, she watches mixed martial arts, hangs out with her two cats, and eats as much boxed macaroni and cheese as she can.   

The speaking section of the TOEFL is comprised of 6 different tasks.  Each one of them will test you on a slightly different skill.  The six tasks always follow the same order, so you can anticipate what kind of question is coming, although you cannot anticipate the topic.  Here is a breakdown of the six tasks, and how to deal with each one!

Tasks 1 and 2: Independent Speaking

The Independent Speaking questions will ask you to respond to a question about a familiar topic.  Task 1 will ask for a response to an open ended question eg: If you could travel to any city in the world, where would you go?  
Task 2 will give you two options, and you will have to choose one and defend why you have chosen it eg: Do you think it is better for men and women to study together, or do you think they should be educated separately?

Tip for tasks 1 and 2: Do not make a list! You only have time to make 1 point, and develop it.  So don’t go through all the different reasons why you want to visit Bangkok, the food, the people, the culture, the history etc.  Instead focus on one thing, and then talk about why that would be important for you.  Be as specific as possible with your examples.  The more narrow the focus, the more likely you will have enough time to discuss it fully.