Finding myself in the English Language

In life we do not grow and develop as a result of our successes. Instead, our evolution as individuals happens when we face adversity in the face of impossible challenges. These pivotal moments require ourselves to work our hardest and persevere the most we can.

Growing up as the child of two undocumented immigrants, I was forced to overcome a language barrier that many of my fellow classmates had never encountered before. While the rest of my peers were able to express their thoughts on paper, I was incapable of even constructing a cohesive sentence. It was the return from winter break and my teacher was starting to emphasize the importance of our TAKS test as that would determine if we were promoted to the next grade level. Ms. Gonzalez, my second grade teacher, noticed that I was struggling and was in danger of falling behind to the point of having to repeat the entire school year again. In an effort to avoid the worst-case scenario, she implored my parents to let me stay after school with her so that we could work on my grammatical and English comprehension. While most of my friends would be outside playing soccer or swinging on the playground, I would stay inside and review flashcards that would test my vocabulary skills. As I sat in an isolated area of the classroom, I felt like I was trapped in a box with all my thoughts struggling to be released. I had started to lose hope and faith in my ability to comprehend the English language, but I knew that my parents had struggled through so much trauma and pain for me to be defeated by the rules of subject verb agreement and conjugations. My teacher noticed that I had started to lose motivation in our tutoring sessions, so she suggested that instead of utilizing the same medium of learning that we always rehearsed I should focus on reading. Since I was unable to express myself enough to communicate with the people around me, I turned to my only refuge at the time, which was the imaginary world that novels can hold.

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As I read more, my vocabulary increased, and it consequently allowed me to see that I was capable of expressing myself through not only one language but two- the language of reading and writing. Failure to properly communicate with my loved ones was not my biggest fear, it was the possibility that I might not have been able to put that fear into words had I never forced myself to read as a supplement for my education. Literature was the pathway for me to expand the horizons of my knowledge and understanding of the world around me.

When it came down to take our placement exams, I felt confident in my abilities to succeed because I knew that I had already put myself to work diligently on improving myself.  When it came time for end of the year ceremonies, my teacher nominated me for the most improved award for ELAR and I won it. As I stood their holding my certificate, I could see the look on her face because she knew that my improvement was an award that we both earned.

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