Monday, July 13, 2020

Phrasal verbs and idioms for challenging times (and positive thinking… because we need it!)

By Isabel Solano.

Ah! 2020. What a year, right? Let’s be honest, we all wanted this year to be much different from what it has been some far. When we rang* in the New Year back on January 1st, we had hopes and dreams we wanted to achieve. We had listed our New Year’s resolutions and we had gotten our new gym membership, yoga mat or flight tickets! We were ready.

But this year had other plans in store* *for us and even though it hasn’t been easy, hope is never lost. In every situation there’s always a positive side, even if it seems impossible to see from where we stand. So today, I want to give you some vocabulary that can help you express your feelings during these challenging times and idioms you can use to motivate yourself and others. 

Let's get started...

  1. Cope with something (phrasal verb): to face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a way that is calm and adequate. 

Example: Because of our ability to cope with the stress of life changes, we have been able to stay positive during these times.

  1. Hang in there (idiom): This expression is used to advice someone to remain persistent and determined in difficult circumstances. It’s another way to say “Don’t give up”.

Example: I’m sorry to hear that you lost your job but hang in there. Keep looking! I’m sure we will find a new one soon.

  1. To embrace something: Literally, to embrace is to hug. However, it can also mean to welcome something with open arms whether it be physical or not. We can embrace good things but we can also embrace change or challenges. To embrace a challenge is the willingness to welcome obstacles.

Example: Teachers around the world were nervous to start teaching online during the pandemic but they embraced the challenge, learned the new technology and now they are doing a great job! 

  1. To ride something out (phrasal verb): Originally, this expression referred to a ship surviving a storm. Now, it can be used to express getting through a dangerous or difficult situation without being harmed or affected. 

Example: The country was able to ride out the economic crisis. 

  1. Every cloud has a silver lining (idiom/proverb):  This idea comes from the understanding that behind dark clouds the sun is always shining even if we cannot see it. This idiom can be used to express that every difficult or sad situation has a comforting or more hopeful aspect, even though this may not be immediately apparent.

So, no matter how difficult things might seem, just remember, every cloud has a silver lining.

Until next time! 


*to ring the new year:To mark the end of the previous year and usher in the start of a new one, typically with a party or other celebration.

**in store (for someone/something) planned or likely to happen: We have a big surprise in store for you.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Make the most out of your NYLC online classes - Part II

Dear Students,

It’s been a while since we last touched base and checked in with each other. How are you doing? It’s been more than 7 weeks since classes have gone online and we wanted to first say thank you for sticking with us! Since it still remains unclear for when we will be able to return to the classrooms for in-person instruction, we wanted to share a few more tips that can contribute to successful online learning. Let's begin!

TIP 1: BE present (turn on your camera!): We understand that some of us can be shy in front of the camera but being present is more than just signing in to your class. It’s important that you are ACTIVELY present. In the virtual world, this includes keeping your camera on (whenever possible) and engaging with your teacher and classmates. There’s a lot that can be communicated through gestures which is key when learning a language! Keeping your camera on will make your online class experience more similar to an in-person class. In other words, your class should feel less like a webinar and more like the LIVE, interpersonal, interactive experience that it is! So go on, turn on your camera and connect better with your class.  The initial awkwardness will wear off and you will have a much better and richer experience. We promise!

TIP 2: Take (good) notes: Now more than ever, taking notes is crucial to your learning experience. Don’t rely online on digital resources. Taking notes (by hand) will help you assimilate the lesson better, it will keep you more focused and engaged with class and you will have physical material to rely on and come back to if you have any doubts before your next class. Write down the examples that your teacher gives, take notes of the homework, write any pages from the book that you need to review, etc.

TIP 3: Stay connected even during the break (if possible): When class is going on, a lot of the information goes in the chat that you and your classmates and teacher use. I recommend that as much as possible you stay connected during the break since logging off means losing all the information from the group chat. If, for any reason, you do need to log off, get in the habit of copy and pasting this information onto a personal file so you can hold on to this important info!

TIP 4: Set up your space: In other words, set yourself up for success. We know it is tempting to stay in bed all morning and take your class from it but the reality is that doing so will not help you be focused and productive. We are all different but I can take a guess that you will feel better if you take time to set up your space. If possible, find a space where you can sit straight, open a window (if available), change into some comfy clothes that are NOT your pajamas, have some coffee or tea, prepare your notebook and pen/pencil.

TIP 5: Stay positive (we are trying too): We get it! We want to be back to school too and we want things to go back to normal. We understand that this is a difficult, unusual, inconvenient situation but don’t forget: we are all in this together. Choose to remain positive and to make the most out of the situation. We are lucky to be able to connect you with your favorite teachers and to be able to continue to have you in class. We are lucky to have really wonderful students who have been patient and understanding throughout this difficult time. Know that we do not take you for granted and that we are here for you!

You got this! (We got this!) :)
Isabel & the Team NYLC

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How to Make the Most Out of your NYLC Online Classes

Written by: Isabel Solano

Dear Valued NYLC students,

We know these are strange unprecedented times we are all experiencing; however, we are glad to be able to keep providing you with online lessons with your NYLC teachers. 
We understand that online lessons come with some added challenges, especially at the beginning while we adjust to the changes. In this post, we wanted to share some tips to get the most out of your online lessons until we are able to have you back in school!

1. Eliminate distractions: (or at best, reduce your distractions) As much as possible, find a quiet space where you will most likely not be interrupted. If you cannot avoid noise, headphones are a great option. If you take your class on your laptop, put your phone on silent and as much as possible, challenge yourself to not get distracted by social media or phone notifications during your class. If you use your phone to join class, you can utilize the “do not disturb” feature so that you do not receive notifications during the time this is enabled. 2. Actively participate (!): You can still get lots of speaking practice in your online class, you just need to make it a priority as well. Whenever your teacher asks a question, make it a goal to always answer. As much as possible, keep your camera on and utilize the chat function on Google Meet to interact with your teacher and classmates. Taking class remotely should not be an excuse not to participate in class; in fact, your participation contributes to the success of the class! 3. Set yourself up for success: Make sure that you are ready for class everyday. Have your coffee or tea, eat your breakfast and make sure that you are awake and ready to study. Take notes, do your homework and complete the exercises your teacher gives you! Be proactive about your learning experience. Your teacher is working very hard to make the lessons online as engaging and fun as possible, the rest is up to you! :) Lastly, consider not taking your lesson while still in bed… this might be just a bit too relaxing! 4. Ask questions: Don’t keep your questions to yourself! Everyone can benefit from your questions so make sure to always speak out your doubts. Unmute your microphone and ask your teacher or type them in the chat box. Either way, students' questions help your teacher know what needs to be repeated or studied more and makes the class more interactive for all. 5. Daily attendance is still important: Yes, you might be able to get more sleep in the morning since you do not need to commute to school, but don’t forget that you still need to be on time for class as your attendance and lateness is still being recorded. Also, remember: being on time is of benefit to you! You will always know what’s going on in class and what you need to do.

We want to thank all of you for your patience and positive attitude. Please know that your success is still our number one goal! We are here for you!

Isabel & the NYLC team.

For those interested in learning more about studying English with NYLC from home, please see information below.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Koki Abe: Student Spotlight

by Isabel Solano

When asked “What’s your favorite thing about working at NYLC?”, the staff’s answer is often in unison: The students! It’s no secret that we love our students and we’re fortunate to receive truly wonderful ones that we miss long after they leave. Among our many favorites is Koki Abe from Japan! 

Earlier in January, Koki sat down with us to discuss his reasons for coming to NYC, some of his favorite memories, and his first days in New York.

Koki began his studies with NYLC back in November 2019. Despite running a successful online business, Koki felt something was missing in his life. He needed an adventure. That’s when he decided to come to NYC to study English for 20 weeks and we’re so glad we were his school of choice!

“On my first day, I was very nervous and I had a headache. My first week was a little difficult”. Koki told us. He was getting accustomed to the culture and he still didn’t know many of his classmates. However, that quickly changed. By the second week, Koki had made new friends, not only in his class but also from other classes at the school.

“My favorite thing (about my experience in NY) was exploring new places and spending time with my friends from school. All the different cultures. Very exciting!”.

Koki really took advantage of many of the experiences the school offers our students- he was a regular at our free weekly Grammar and American idioms classes; he joined many of the student activities as well: a guided tour at MoMA, a game night at NYC’s iconic Fat Cat, and last but not least a New York City ESL school Trivia competition, where he and a team of five other NYLC Students won first place!

“I have many memories,” Koki said “but the trivia night was very fun… the teamwork”. Koki also enjoyed spending the weekends with his new friends playing basketball. He and a group of other NYLC students took a weekend trip to Niagara Falls and Washington D.C.!

We’re sad that Koki’s time at our school has come to an end but we’re happy to hear that he already has plans to return, “I want to come back to study for a longer time”. He also said he’s planning to visit his new friends abroad in Brazil and Russia. 

Koki’s adventure was definitely a memorable one and we’re glad to have been a part of it! 

See you soon, Koki! Good luck in all you do!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Is improving your English among your New Year's resolutions? Here are some tips!

Image result for new years resolutions

By: Isabel Solano. 

Last week, while I was teaching a grammar class, my students and I discussed our goals and resolutions for the New Year. Among all their different goals in their personal lives and careers, one stood out as a common one: Improving their English. 
Of course, they are students in an English school so this was to be expected; however, I admired (and always have) the motivation and thrive with which our students take on the challenge (or journey!) of studying and mastering English. 

For this reason, I thought I would put together 5 tips that can help everyone improve their English in 2020: 

1. First and foremost, BE PATIENT with yourself!  Think of this popular expression "Slow and steady wins the race". This is an American idiom which means that if you want to achieve something, it's better not to try and do too much at once but better, go step by step. Take it slow. Practicing a little every day, as little as 5 min, will take you further than sitting and studying for 4 hours straight and exhausting yourself. 

2. BUILD HABITS that involve English in any way. They say it takes 21 days to build a new habit. For the next 21 days, try to do something that includes being exposed to English: listen to a podcast, read one page of a book (even reading sections of your textbook for school), listen to the same song and sing using the lyrics. Immersing yourself in English will get your ear used to the language and will improve your memory and comprehension. Look for specific book recommendations at the end of this post!

3.  20 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER. (It is the year 2020 anyway!) If you want to improve your vocabulary, my suggestion is that you search online for the 20 most frequent words in English in all different categories. What do I mean by that? For instance: look up the 20 most frequent verbs in English, the 20 most frequent adjectives in English, and so on. Print and study them. Write examples with them. Make sure you get a good grasp of them (that you understand them well). Just remember to be patient, go slow and learn only 20 words at a time. Here are some links to help you get started:

4. MAKE IT A GOAL TO USE WHAT YOU LEARN: English is not like mathematics. It is not enough to just understand the rules of grammar, you need to use it! So I invite you to make it a goal to use what you learn daily. For example: if you're learning Present Perfect in class, make an effort to ask people about their experiences "Have you ever been to South America?" "Have you ever studied another language?". If you don't have anyone to talk to in English, don't worry! You have other options: Join a meetup group,  find a conversation partner on  Tandem: or just write your own examples and read them aloud or record yourself. Just don't-stop-practicing. 

5. KEEP A (PROGRESS) JOURNAL OR DIARY: Back to making habits, it's a good idea to keep a diary or journal in English where you can write what you did that day and record your achievements!  You can start by writing two sentences a day before you go to sleep.  For example, Today was a good day. I went to school and then I learned the lyrics of my new favorite song! It doesn't need to be a long and complicated paragraph. Don't forget, slow and steady wins the race! :)


HAVE FUN! Learning a language should be fun! And believe me, I know it can be frustrating at times, but trust that you're learning and doing the best you can...
Have a great New Year!

Book recommendations: (Intermediate-Advanced) 

Someday, someday maybe. (Lauren Graham)
The fault in our stars (John Green)
The sun is also a star (Nicola Yoon)
It's kind of a funny story (Ned Vizzini)