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City premieres new season of award-winning English language program

A still from the city’s English language-learning television series, “We are NYC.” The Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs premiered a new season of the half-hour show on May 9.
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The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs premiered a new season of their award-winning show, “We Speak NYC” at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens on May 9. The Emmy-winning program, formerly called “We Are New York,” is an educational show for English-language learners and helps people learn how to use and navigate city services. It is returning for another season and covers an even wider range of subjects, said the agency’s commissioner.

“We have brand new episodes and they focus on health, class, mental health, and workers rights. This new season shows more ways that English-language learners can have a foundation, how to engage with this city, and knowing how to assert their rights,” said Bitta Mostofi.

She says since the show debuted it has helped many immigrants with their English language skills and gives them the self-assurance to speak and articulate any concerns.

“The program gives them a sense of confidence in any environment,” said Mostofi. “We are proud of what we are able to do in both cases of building an immigrant community, as well as providing additional tools for literacy providers.”

One example of that was a student who spoke at the premiere event, and wanted to showcase his language improvement.

“He gave a whole speech in English without a paper, and it was very moving and inspiring,” added Mostofi.

The agency holds classes several times a year, and also partners with libraries and community-based organizations to screen the half-hour show for English-learning students. The season premiere episode focused on the subject of mental health and how one can seek help.

The often taboo subject, accompanied with immigration fears and lack of English language skills, can be a detrimental to immigrant communities, but highlighting that issue and the agencies they can turn to, such as Thrive NYC — the city’s mental health initiative — can bring forth awareness.

“We want to focus on making sure that these communities know about Thrive NYC, which offers assistance to the immigrant community, and put an emphasis on the people feeling confident and knowing that these services are free and confidenti­al,” said Mostofi. “It’s important to us that we make sure they know they have access to these services by expanding their knowledge.”

Mostofi says all of the program’s episodes will be available on the website later this month, and adds that this educational series is an effective way to help millions of the city’s immigrants learn the city’s most commonly spoken language.

“A lot of people have learned English from watching a movie or television show, so entertainment plays a part in language-learning, and each episode has slow dialogue, which makes it easier to repeat and mimic,” she said. “The episodes, website, and the guides are user friendly, and designed to include interactive tools that people are using today, so by making this the primary way to get information is a good way for us to get into the digital age.”

Find “We Are NYC” here. [www.nyc.gov/html/weareny/html/episodes/episodes.shtml]

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Updated 6:48 pm, May 22, 2018
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