Learning a new language takes time, there’s no doubt about it. And while it’s certainly important to take an English course, it’s equally important to use the resources around you to truly grow your English skills. So if you’re studying English in New York City and looking for some ways to boost your skills, I’ve put together a list of 8 easy ways to improve your English outside of the classroom.
1. Join a class or a language exchange
If you really enjoy making pottery or cooking, why not attend a class to meet people who share similar interests? It’s a great way to meet native speakers and foster one of your hobbies in a new city. Make your way to Coursehorse to check out some of the most popular classes offered throughout NYC. Another great option is to join a language exchange. These casual events usually happen at bars and cafes around the city. Not only are they great for improving your English, you also get the chance to meet new friends. To find the next language exchange happening near you, check out MeetUp, an online platform used for organizing groups that host in-person gatherings.
2. Read the local paper
Reading is one of the best ways to improve your vocabulary. Fortunately, there are several free local publications that you can easily pick up in New York. So the next time you catch the train, look out for the daily copy of AM New York. This free paper will keep you informed about New York news, events, and much more! It’s also worth perusing TimeOut magazine, a free biweekly (every other Tuesday) New York culture magazine. The articles are short, full of great expressions, and plenty of tips for how to spend your time in the city.
3. Listen to a podcast at a local cafe
If you’re having trouble hearing what people are saying on the street or on the train, it’s probably a good idea to practice your listening skills. One of the best ways to do this is by listening to a podcast. There are several podcasts available for English language learners. Some personal favorites include: BBC 6 Minute English, Espresso English, and Culips. As for local cafes, there are many great options to choose from. Podcasts are one of the best ways to improve your English outside of the classroom.
4. Go to a karaoke bar
Karoke is never a bad idea! Singing along to your favorite songs in English is both fun and good practice. Plus, after a few drinks you’ll be singing the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” with ease. Some of the best Karaoke bars in the city include: Karaoke Boho in Greenwich Village, Beats Karoke in Williamsburg, and Monteros in Brooklyn Heights.
5. Read ads on the subway
Instead of scrolling your Instagram feed for your whole train commute, take a minute to look up and read some of the advertisements around you. If you find a new expression, take a picture and look it up later or ask your teacher about it the next day in class. Advertisements often use idioms, slang, and colloquial expressions that may not be in your average textbook. This is a great way to improve your English outside of the classroom.
6. Share your journey on social media
Post a picture of the city on Instagram and write a short caption to go along with the photo. You could write about an interesting museum you visited, a great restaurant, or just share a bit about your daily life. It’s a great way to practice your English and share your journey in New York with your friends.
7. Go to the movies
Going to the movies can seem a little intimidating at first but once you’re sitting down with some popcorn and candy in hand, you’ll feel a lot less stressed. Don’t worry if you’re not able to understand every word, it’s a great opportunity to practice your listening skills and immerse yourself in the local culture. Plus, New York has some really awesome movie theaters worth checking out. If you’ve never been served food and drink while at a movie theater, you should definitely see a movie at Nitehawk Cinema or Alamo Drafthouse.
8. Go on a guided walking tour or take part in an Airbnb experience
In addition to the many free walking tours we offer at Brooklyn School of Languages, there are several tours and excursions that happen throughout the city on any given day. Whether you’re interested in street art, architecture, or tasting the local cuisine, guided tours are a great opportunity to learn more about New York and chat in English with new people. Make your way to Airbnb experiences to check out a wide variety of tours and outings organized by locals.