Friday, May 22, 2015


People are beginning to spend more time outdoors even though it's still chilly out.
New Yorkers are beginning to wear summer clothing despite the chilly temperatures still in NYC.
It's still a bit chilly. Nevertheless, New Yorkers are beginning to wear shorts & T-shirts.

The TOEFL class practiced using EVEN THOUGH, DESPITE, and NEVERTHELESS in class recently. The main lesson to remember is that these words all show contrast and unexpected outcomes, but we have to pay attention to how we use them in a sentence.
  • EVEN THOUGH & ALTHOUGH (subordinate conjunctions) have to be followed by a clause (subject + verb)
  • DESPITE & IN SPITE OF (subordinate conjunctions) have to be followed by a noun only (often with an adjective, but never with a verb)
  • DESPITE & IN SPITE OF can also be followed by "THE FACT THAT," which can then be followed by a clause.
  • NEVERTHELESS & NONETHELESS (conjunctive adverbs) has to start a sentence or come right after the subject, in which case, it is separated by commas.

 Here are some examples:
  • EVEN THOUGH it rained, they went to the beach.
  • DESPITE the rain, they went to the beach.
  • DESPITE THE FACT THAT it rained, they went to the beach.
  • It rained. NEVERTHELESS, they went to the beach.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

PSAs in the NYLC classroom

This is just one of several PSAs you'll find on NYC subway trains these days. They are messages from the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) to get riders to behave and respect fellow passengers. Have you seen these ads? Do you think they are effective? 

PSA stands for Public Service Announcement. These are advertisements that are meant to educate or give useful information to the public. Good ones make you take notice and are effective in making you think and act differently.

PSAs are found everywhere. They are on TV, on train cars and subway stations, on billboards; they are also on the radio, on the Web, in newspapers and magazines and sometimes, in the ESL classroom!

The following PSAs were created by students in Ryan's Lab class. Listen to what some NYLC students think New Yorkers should pay attention to to make life in the city more pleasant.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

May 2015 Student Activities

April Showers have brought May flowers! Join us for a month full of fun activities! From our monthly visit to the Empire State Building to Jazz on the Brooklyn Bridge! Summer is slowly approaching and we are excited to welcome it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Junior Ngakla, an NYLC Student Success Story

Junior Ngakla

New York Language Center has served as a pathway for English language learners since 1985. Students come from all over the world to study at our schools for many reasons. Some study English with us while spending time in New York City as tourists; others study with us specifically to meet personal goals; still others come to NYLC to advance their college education.

Meet our former student Junior Ngakla, who came to New York City to study English. When he first arrived in NYC, his English was very limited; now Junior is able to converse well in English and has been accepted to DeVry University's MBA program. On Junior's last day at NYLC, I sat down with him and asked a few questions about his journey and his experiences at NYLC.

D: So, tell me where are you from?
Junior:  I am from the Republic of Congo.

D: How long have you been studying at NYLC?
Junior: I have been here since January 12; my last day is today, April 10th, so about four months.

D: How long have you been in NYC?
Junior:  A year and a half.

D: Were you studying English somewhere else before coming to NYLC?
Junior: Yes, I studied at LaGuardia Community College for a year.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Using SO and SUCH

This frozen yogurt was SO yummy. It was SUCH a treat at the end of a long day.

We often use SO or SUCH when we want to intensify our descriptions and opinions of people or things. For example, we say, "This is SUCH a good restaurant. Their food is SO delicious." Another example: The students worked SO hard and did SUCH a great job.

Because these two words are quite common, learning how to use them correctly is a very good idea. It can easily and suddenly come in handy when you're talking to someone. Fortunately, the rules are not difficult at all.
  • COME IN HANDY - be useful; be ready to use 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's April Fools! DON'T FALL FOR IT!

It's April Fool's Day! It's a day when your friends and family, colleagues, even newspapers, magazines, and radio programs play practical jokes on people. The jokes can be quick and simple or they can be elaborate, making others believe that they're true when, in fact, they're not. Then the pranksters yell out, "April Fools!" ... and you feel (sort of) bad that you fell for the joke.
  • PLAY PRACTICAL JOKES - trick someone to believe something false just for fun
  • ELABORATE - complicated; complex
  • PRANKSTERS - people who play practical jokes on people
  • FALL FOR A JOKE - believe someone's joke, usually something that is not true

Here's an example of a practical joke: Michael Brady told his class this morning that they were going to have a test today. The class was taken by surprise.
  • BE TAKEN BY SURPRISE - be surprised

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


An alley in the Beacon Hill area of Boston, Masachusetts

You might say, "There's a garbage can up my alley," or "There's a bunch of trash up my alley." Alleys or alleyways are tiny, narrow paths or passages between buildings. They're usually dark and dirty although once in a while you'll run into a clean one like this alley in the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • ONCE IN A WHILE - sometimes
  • RUN INTO - find; meet; come across

The idiomatic expression "UP YOUR ALLEY," however, has nothing to do with a physical alleyway; it has more to do with someone's interest or expertise. For example, if you're a web designer, then designing web pages is UP YOUR ALLEY. If you're a car mechanic, fixing cars is UP YOUR ALLEY. If you're studying film, then perhaps acting or directing or film editing is UP YOUR ALLEY. You get the picture.
  • YOU GET THE PICTURE - You get the idea; you understand