English is now an important part of my life. I can’t imagine a day without learning English. But years ago, English was one of my worst nightmares.
I started out in grade three as all the other kids in my hometown at that time. I remember singing The Alphabet song every night before falling fast asleep. Everything was great. I thought I had a flair for English and was more than confident of my language skills.
Until high-school came along.
Speaking was added for the first time to the English competition for gifted students. That was also the first time I got kicked out of the team. Because I couldn’t speak the language. My best friend started an English skit club and didn’t even think of inviting me to join. Because I couldn’t convey my thoughts in spoken words. I skipped all the speaking sections in class. Because I was afraid of speaking in public.
I felt devastated. I felt like the biggest loser in the whole wide world. I felt like a dummy, a failure.
I wanted to change but didn’t know just where to start. “Should I start from the beginning: the basic alphabet?” “Will I be able to master the language or will I fall further behind in class if I apply this way or that way?” I used to ask myself these questions all the time but end up staying in one place.
Then I met a wonderful teacher. She was the best English speaker I had ever known at that time. She taught me to listen and to try to repeat exactly what people said and how they said it in the CD. She fixed my mistakes and cleared my confusions in class. After a month, I felt myself improving, not only in speaking but in listening. I started to speak, not freely but enough for people to understand. I got back in the team. Surprisingly, I even got the highest point for speaking in the competition in my city.
But that was not enough. I realized that learning English was darn hard, so I had to try more to be as native-like as possible.
When I went away to college, I forced myself to read more, to listen more until those became my habit. I spoke to myself. I sought for foreigners to practice speaking. Fortunately and gratefully, I met some foreign friends who helped me a lot in my study.
But again, that was not enough. I was never a native speaker. No matter how hard I tried, I could never communicate like a real native speaker. At least not in a non-English speaking country. Even when I were in an English speaking country, so what if I don’t have the will to train myself?
That’s the thing about learning a language. There are many skills to hone. Not to mention mastering the culture in which the language is used. But that’s also what I love about learning it. As the language changes, you have to change with it. Sometimes more steadily than the other. You have to keep yourself updated and keep your fire, your motivations at their peaks.
I’m not a successful English learner. I’m not satisfied with my English. But with all the troubles I’ve gone through to get to this point where I can express myself in English and understand others’ ideas, I know I will never give up. I will keep on studying and practicing and as always, I will keep on learning English for all I have. Forever.