English has tons of idioms and phrasal verbs which are difficult for non-native speakers to master. Phrasal verbs are especially tough because they often have more than one meeting, or the meaning is idiomatic and difficult to explain. I love to teach the difficult ones! One of my favorites is “set off.” “Set off” seems to mean the opposite of what we think it should mean. (more…)
(This article is for intermediate and advanced English language students. The words in boldface have definitions attached or added in parenthesis. Please pay attention to the use of “get” and “run” throughout the post.)
Most of my students live in the New York metropolitan area. Many of them have to take the subway to get around. My students are a sophisticated bunch. Most speak several languages, and have lived in big cities with subway systems before. However, they find New York’s system particularly mysterious and difficult to maneuver. They will ask for directions in a way that may seem perfectly logical given their experience with other subway systems, but will leave New Yorkers completely flummoxed, confused, befuddled, and bewildered!
Our subway system is one of the world’s oldest, and one of the largest. It grew from several private companies, and remnants of that history still exist. We have our own vocabulary for understanding our system and our own way of asking others for help. In this post, I’ll help you learn how to ask a New Yorker for directions on the subway, and how we think about and navigate the system.
My tips are less comprehensive, and based more on the feedback, questions, and occasional arguments, I’ve had with students. These tips are meant to help people who aren’t from New York, and whose first language isn’t English. These tips are helpful whether you are here for a short stay (as a tourist) or for the long haul. (more…)