When I begin school in 1st grade, I never though I’d be here, talking, understanding and learning English on what I’d say a “high” level. Somehow when I was a kid in school, I was often the only one of the whole class that could understand English. By video games, books and I guess ill give credit to my school in Chile, I was able to understand what my English class was teaching. I still remember when I was in the airport with my family, excited that I was going to be in a plane for the first time and I was heading to a whole new country.
When I finally arrived in the US it was so strange that everywhere I looked I just couldn’t understand a thing, I was looking around so excited about this new world. When I finally got into my new house, my stepfather and brother showed around me the house and to my room, after spending time in my room we decided to go to stores, I couldn’t understand a thing, but it was fun.
The first year in school was the worst and most interesting year of my whole life. The first day was the strangest. This new big school with a lot of people made me think “What am I doing here?” but a new friend that I met at the arcades made my day. I was being introduced to new people (mostly seniors) and the first girl that I met and I said hi to. I kissed her on the cheek (since it is a tradition in Chile to kiss in the cheek -only girls and family- when you first meet someone). Everyone was impressed that I kissed her. I didn’t understand what I did wrong, but the girl was totally red so I walked away, embarrassed. I don’t remember anything else from that day, aside from the fact that everywhere I went I had to say “sorry, I don’t speak English”. That was my first day.
Not talking to anyone, making no friends, and of course, making no progress at all in school, I decided that I should do something about it. I went to my Spanish teacher to ask for help. He didn’t have a clue how to, so I asked for papers that he gave to students to learn Spanish. They had Spanish words with English words next to them. That, and taking notes from vivid words that I found in books or learned from friends, I started to learn and speak English.
Because my so-called “friends” made fun of m, I made myself think, “Should I work on my pronunciation or should I just leave it and get over it?” I started to pronounce every word that I said incorrectly (I’m still stuck with saying 333), At least I was able to communicate at the end of the year.
In 10th and 11th grade, my life was in better shape. I was able to talk, understand, and actually keep a conversation. My English was better, I was learning new words, pronouncing words better, and talking to strangers as if I didn’t even have an accent.
Every experience I have had in the United States has showed me that I cannot always wait for a response or help from anyone. If there aren’t people that can help me, if I am alone, there is no one else that could help me get through my life but me. It is my life, and I’m responsible for the actions that are needed in order to gain success. Not speaking English in an English speaking country helped me to learn to rely on myself.