New York Update

So, what is New York like and what have we been doing here!?

I landed at JFK airport on September 11th with Joel, my trusty cameraman, and our compact collection of recording equipment. The first New York citizen we met was a jolly Polish lady behind the transport information desk. I spoke with her in her native tongue about life in the city and she told me that the city is a great place to live and that we should easily be able to find lots of interesting people for our project.

We soon boarded our shuttle bus to the city and while we travelled along the course stretches of highway, I spoke with two Lithuanian passengers who were sharing our ride. I had a few questions about Cyrillic script which they were more than happy to help me out with… I want to be able to understand at least some Russian by the time we travel to Belarus in a few weeks time.  The shuttle bus dropped us off outside our temporary residence, right in the centre of one of the most talked about and even feared areas of the city. Harlem.

Our digs were small and cramped but we managed to horde our belongings and walk along 5th Avenue to Time Square without any problems. We walked the entire stretch of Central Park that night. Twice. My legs ached terribly but we did get a good idea as to the startling versatility of New York, from the densely populated African American communities in Harlem to the burley bright lights of the Penn Station area. From day one, it was clear that New York is a huge place with so much to offer… we knew from then that we really had our work cut out for us.

We arrived at LSI New York early the next morning and spoke with the school director about our project ideas and plans for the days that were to follow. He gave us a list of students and classes that we should include and introduced us to some of the staff. During those first few hours an AMAZING thing happened! As we were being introduced to the staff, we came face to face with a bubbly New Yorker called Tina. It only took Joel and I a couple of seconds to realise who she was, for we had met before in one of the deepest and darkest areas of Poland… In December 2007, I was working on a documentary project for – Talking TEFL (2008) – about the TEFL industry. We visited over ten different cities in Poland and while we were filming in a rather small city called Opole, we met an EFL teacher from New York… the very same teacher we were introduced to on our first day at LSI. The chances of this happening are SO small that I was just gobsmacked! We arranged to meet Tina and her students later on in the filming stages and we continued with our tour of the school.

Over the next few days we met scores of interesting ESL students and plenty of teachers and experts who could help us with the project. We managed to visit the famous Coney Island, Madison Square Garden, the State of Liberty, Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown. Every location we filmed at is sure to provide a relatively accurate portrayal of New York as we see it: Busy, vibrant, diverse and VERY multi-cultural.

Since then, we have interviewed people from Spain, Turkey, Argentina, South Korea, Israel, Columbia and Hungary at LSI and St. Johns University ( about their ESL experiences and methods of learning. We have also been spending a lot of time with two very keen ESL students from Austria who are staying in New York for the next two months. They have been very kind in providing us with interviews and footage of them outside of the classroom in order to find out how they are practising their language skills in the real world.

We have two days left here in New York City and we still have so much work to do! I hope that you are enjoying the blog and that you will check back soon for our latest photo gallery and video diary!

Best Wishes,


3 Responses to “New York Update”

  1. hanane says:

    Hi Joel, Hi Daniel,
    Really, your project is great a great deal. Learning a language is no easy, because one should keep on practising to avoid the escape of its grammar, vocabulary or composition. As far as I am concerned, I learned English just out of love of this language, and the risk of forgetting it is always there. So, there are students from all over the world who set off to New York or Cambridge University to learn English, do you think that a two years study or even five years are enough to LEARN a language? Especially that a language is not only grammar, tenses or vocabulary, it is also comprehension, culture and civilisation of a nation.
    Enjoy your journey and with the best of luck

  2. Eileen says:

    I like your blog and learn a lot,I am waiting for NY’s photo and vedio . I think maybe you can come to China and film something about English learning here. Now about millions Chinese people study English very hard, and more and more English training school have been set.Welcome to China!

  3. Tari says:

    Hi Deniel and Joel! I’m really amazed with the pictures you both took in Romania. Especilly the big building with a piano in front of it. Is it made of stone or what? Sent us more beautiful pictures guys! Good luck to you both!