Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Can 9 Weeks in NYC Achieve?

Two Swiss children, 8 and 6 years old, came to New York with their parents in the spring with no formal English instruction prior to their visit. By the end of their 9 weeks with us, they were confidently communicating in English.

The Teacher’s Perspective

Both are very intelligent children, and after they got going, they seemed to just soak up the language. Both of them started the session unable to hold a basic conversation in English and finished the session being able to understand a wide range of conversational points, including the future and past tenses. And that's with me speaking English at a normal conversational speed with some repetition.

At first, the children were nervous, and their confidence level in the language was not high, leading them to sometimes get discouraged and/or frustrated. However, towards weeks 4-6, we saw the children do a complete switch in their approach to English, with them initiating the conversations, picking up words with relative ease and being able to express themselves clearly.  If they didn't understand something, they would ask questions to prompt understanding. One of the biggest achievements for these two was probably overcoming their fear of speaking English with me!

It's hard to pinpoint where they've improved the most. They picked up vocabulary at an amazing rate. It was a slower process at first, but towards the end of the program, they were using words that I had taught them only two days before. They have covered in 9 weeks what would take an adult a year to learn.  

The Mother’s Perspective

Since the children came with a very basic knowledge of English, I did not know what to expect for them. After 9 weeks in the program, we are very happy to see them communicating and understanding what is being said, especially our older child. She loves to show us that she can speak the language, and it’s great to watch her. Our son too has made tremendous progress. He’s younger; so, he does not write and relies on his sister to speak, but he understands better.

There were endless possibilities here with the Hi-New-York team, each day something new. I feel as if the children know NY better than the parents! They love the museums, especially the ones with modern equipment, computers and interactive stations for children.

We enjoyed New York as a family too.  Going to the beach with children is always a great experience, especially in a big city like NY. The children always have a great time playing in the sand and swimming. We went to Fire Island, just one hour away from the city, and we all really enjoyed it. Central Park is another great place. Our children love picnics. Unlike in restaurants, where they have to stay seated for several hours, as soon as they have finished eating, they can play and run around. They really love that, and it’s so easy in NY since you can buy food everywhere. Just grab and go and eat in the park!

We will miss the variety of food and cuisines that New York has to offer and its accessibility. Hell’s Kitchen was great for us.  We loved walking on 8th Avenue and selecting the type of restaurant and food we wanted; the options are just limitless. Just the idea that we can get ice cream 24/7 from the shop downstairs is also amazing. Back home, our choices are much more limited, or we have to plan ahead.

The Children’s Perspective

A: I like the parks, candy stores and museums.  But New York is dirty!

N: The parks and toy stores.  I don’t like shopping!  

Friday, March 03, 2017

My New York City Experience

This piece was written by Manuel, one of our interns.


Before coming  to New York this year, we were in Miami several times. I thought New York  would be a  city like any other, with big cars, people spending most of their time on the phone, and expensive restaurants.

I also had my reservations about the internship my mother had organized for me. I thought that this internship would be something that I wouldn’t like, something that would make me feel more insecure.  I couldn’t have even imagined how  different it would be.

First Impressions

The first thing that I noticed as  I was arriving  was the landing track, which was basically in the water.  I couldn’t believe it! The next interesting thing that I noticed were the buildings. They were so tall. I had never seen something like that, even in Miami.

On the first day with Hi-New-York, while I was going up on  the elevator with my family, I was so nervous that I couldn't even move.  While I was waiting with my two brothers, I noticed that the place didn’t look so bad. After waiting for five minutes, my teacher came, and I realized that it would be ok.  She seemed nice and fun.

Lasting Impressions

I passed the whole day with her,  her assistant and the kids. The same night, I felt much better and relieved that everything I thought was wrong. The days started to pass, and each one was better than the last one.  I think that the best day of all was when we went to the Transit Museum and met someone from the past who told us about being on an elevated train during a blizzard.  It was so interesting and fun. 

Now that my internship is coming to an end, I realize that the biggest difference between Buenos Aires and New York is the people.  The level of focus that they showed in every activity is incredible. It doesn’t matter if it is only a simple activity.  They do it the best they can to prove to themselves that they can do it well.