See You In The ICNY!

by Elena Bezzubov (Russia)

Dedicated to one year in the ICNY

Many members at the International Center ask me how I learned English quickly and effectively as well. Although I am still improving my English skills, I would say that it was not as easy as it seems. There are two things that built the foundation for me in learning English.

First of all, I always wanted to learn a few languages to have an ability to communicate with people from all over the world. And English was my first choice and one of the hardest languages to learn. To be able to study MBA program and work in a competitive business market in English, I must get really good at English. That was the case for me and served as a big motivator. So I started improving English with enthusiasm.

Secondly, the best way to practice a language is to focus on all aspects of the language: grammar, vocabulary, oral and written English. When I moved to New York from Russia two years ago, I had some background in studying English. However, I started from the beginning and focused on improving my listening and reading skills. I got used to watching English movies and television, business news and sitcoms, listening to English language radio broadcasts and music, reading English books and professional articles, and taking notes in English. I did use many exercise books which helped me to practice grammar and broaden my vocabulary.

But the biggest problem I faced in learning English was my own fear. I worried that I could not say things correctly, or that I could look stupid, so I was too shy to speak at all. And this was a moment to act and push myself to go further. I started to attend free ESL classes at Hunter College and BMCC a year ago. Through word of mouth I found the International Center and then with inspiration of the teachers and communication with other members I improved my English a lot. I think we need to have such place as the International Center where newcomers can find support and opportunity to learn the language so that they can live an independent life and get educated or get a job in an English speaking country.

There are many different ways to improve English, but I must admit that I like written English the most. To practice new words I write essays which include new interesting vocabulary. The Internet is a fantastic resource for the language learners as well. I use Google to check the whole phrases, search for metaphors or idioms to make sure that I am going to write them right. Even though I study English at a language school, I also learn it outside of a class.  I love to walk out, meet and talk to new people, and explore new places of New York. As a result, my vocabulary is widening and my English is getting much better. Nothing teaches me more than real life situations and small talks with some Gothamites.

Being a Russian native speaker, I always followed the grammar rules, but English is all about the context. Of course, you have to know the grammar rules first. But I believe that the most natural way to practice English is to get a feel for the language, speaking English whenever it is possible and trying to understand people without a dictionary, learning cultural traditions and historical background of the country, and expressing your thoughts and emotions in English. It may sound strange, but, after a few months of being in a completely English environment, your attitude will change. Once you have got that, your linguistic intuition for that language will be sharper.

So I’m encouraging you to take your time, come over to the ICNY and really enjoy the experience of learning English.


11 thoughts on “See You In The ICNY!

  1. I strongly agree with you, Elena. ICNY is not only about learning English, but it also supports immigrants in adjusting to a new life.

    • Ahmed, I’m glad that you feel the same way about ICNY as I do. Look forward to hearing about your experience soon. Take care.

    • Helen, a wise man once said, “Don’t dream it, be it!” You might stop by the Center and join an orientation session to get a full picture of this energetic environment. Hope to see you very soon.

  2. Indeed the International Center is absolutely fabulous place to improve English skills, to make friends, to learn about the USA and to adopt to the American society.

    • Dima, thank you for your kind words. I believe that you’ll achieve your American dream here. Good like with everything!

  3. Elena, I have been a conversation partner at the International Center and really enjoyed reading your story. I’m so impressed by your dedication, courage and focus. You have such a great attitude and I’m sure you will continue to do well in the U.S. My very best wishes to you.

      • Rasika, you don’t need to wait. The Center offers a very intensive schedule from 11 am till 8 pm, 6 days per week. Please, feel free to come over, to attend diverse classes and to meet people from all over the world. See you soon in the ICNY!

    • Dear Maura, thank you so much for your warm wishes and encouragement. I know for sure I’m not alone here. Take care and hope you will continue your contribution to the Center.

  4. Dear Elena,
    thank you for your story which made me feel more confident
    how to write you to your email
    I have a few questions about The Center
    thank you in advance

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