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ESL TV show unveiled at Queens Museum of Art

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The city of immigrants is getting one more way for newcomers to learn English and acquire information about public services, thanks to television right in their own homes.

“We Are New York,” a collaboration between the City University of New York and the mayor’s Office of Adult Education, is a series of nine half-hour episodes, each telling the story of immigrants making their way in New York City.

“Love and Money” tells the story of a waiter who wins a free dinner at his restaurant and asks out a girl who mistakes him for a wealthy man and tries to act wealthy as well. “Stop Domestic Violence” depicts the plight of a woman whose husband abuses her but who fears contacting police because she has no immigration papers.

The series debuted with a reception at the Queens Museum of Art last Thursday. The segments will air every Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. on Channel 25, or Channel 22 on Cablevision, between June 27 and Aug. 22.

“At first I was hesitant,” said Lizelena Iglesias, an English teacher for the nonprofit Make the Road New York in Elmhurst, who tested the program out on her students. “I never expected the great impact it would have on my students. They loved it.”

CUNY Dean for Academic Affairs John Moguelescu said the university has been working on the project for two years, noting the school’s linguistic experts made sure the English was spoken at a speed slightly slower than normal for comprehension and subtitles were included.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott called the episodes an “innovative adult education tool ... part language lesson, part entertainment, part civic involvement tool.”

Anthony Tassi, director of the mayor’s Office of Adult Education, praised the positive treatment of immigrants in the series as well as its demonstrations of city services.

“Immigrants in this show do not remain in the shadows,” he said. “They are front and center. They are the heroes of the everyday that makes the city what it is.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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