We Are New York: Targeting Immigrant Education through TV

Participation and Self-expression

We Are New York is a half-hour TV show that premiered on Channel 25 in June 2009 designed to help immigrant new Yorkers learn English through realistic stories of living in NYC. It addresses a range of important topics that are relevant to people’s lives, including, parents getting involved in their children’s education; opening a bank account and managing money; living an active life while managing a chronic disease, like diabetes; taking care of children with asthma; and helping a friend to quit smoking. The show is intended to help immigrants improve their English skills while learning how to make their way in New York City.

The series captures the spirit of people from all over the world to make New York City their home, and demonstrates how people can access essential City services and other important resources. The fictionalized, yet true-to-life, stories show how New Yorkers can work together to solve problems and create better lives for themselves. Each episode considers an important issue from everyday life and features a different cast in a new NYC neighborhood. The show’s characters demonstrate how viewers can access vital City services and other resources, defying stereotypes and revealing the beauty and strengths of immigrant New Yorkers.

The show is an example of how innovative television can make a difference in people’s lives. The language level and speed of the dialogue, along with English subtitles, make the show uniquely accessible to the 1.7 million New Yorkers with limited English skills. The characters model authentic and effective communication in important contexts, helping viewers improve their English skills. The campaign is a grassroots organizing effort and is meant as much to be an English learning tool and empowerment tool for new New Yorkers. It is distinctly anti-stereotype and a offers more real and human depiction of immigrants in the city than you normally find. Posters promoting the show were up in the subways and street teams have been handing out information in high immigrant neighborhoods. NYPL libraries will be hosting guided study groups using the show and many ESOL programs are developing their own lesson plans around the show.

The TV show was created by the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education in partnership with the City University of New York to help immigrant New Yorkers improve their English speaking skills and to learn about important city resources available to them.

In June, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott encouraged immigrant New Yorkers to watch the premiere of this weekly TV show that helps them to learn English through realistic stories of life in New York City, while also providing information on City resources and services available to them.
“Education is the key to a bright future for citizens and immigrants alike,” said Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott. “We Are New York is not only entertaining and engaging, it is also educational in a creative way. Viewers will improve their English in very pragmatic ways and will see how others have accessed City services and other resources that can be helpful. We want people to know about all the services the City has to offer, and We Are New York is a new way to get the message out.”
this television series specifically intended to recognize New York City’s immigrants and assist them with the language skills they need to take full advantage of the City,” said CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. We Are New York is an example of the role that TV can play in raising awareness, educating and engaging populations to promote their wellbeing.

Visit the show’s website or go to: www.nyc.gov/LearnEnglish
Watch the Trailer
Watch a Preview of the Episodes 

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