To say the least for my life, I have always had the bad feeling of being embarrassed and uncomfortable speaking to people in real life. No matter what since a very young age, I’ve always had problems with talking to people in public on any subject. With the combination of being shy and enclosed by myself since I was young, it was always hard making friends which made me very quiet and not be able to talk to people. This made my life very hard with trying to improve my grammar and develop many psychological problems for myself.
Since the very early age of around 3, I began to talk to my parents in my first language which is Spanish and till this day I only talk in Spanish in my household. This was hard for me to learn both languages at the same time since both I’ve had to memorize, and it was hard for me to develop proper grammar. My mom and dad would be the ones teaching me how to speak Spanish in the house while I also had to learn how to speak English in elementary school. This led me to becoming very enclosed and shy around people who wanted me to speak even though I only knew how to speak Spanish. At around 3rd grade when I transferred to my new school, I started taking ELS classes to help develop and improve my English grammar. For about 3 years until I graduated Elementary, I would only go to these classes for twice a week in order to improve how to speak English properly and have conversations. I would be scared to speak to my teacher, and it would be hard to learn quickly especially since it is hard to start conversations since I was very embarrassed if I ever messed up a sentence.
On April 9th, 2019, I had emailed a girl I had never met before and will be spending 4 weeks under the same roof. This was part of the German-American Exchange Program that I had signed up for 6 months prior. I was filled with dread as sending the email meant that there was no backing out, or else I would disappoint everyone. I was nervous that I would be an outcast as I had no friends going on this trip and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make any friends due to my social anxiety. I had gone through forums, websites and even asked my therapist on how I was going to deal with my time there but nothing had really eased my nerves.
Fastfoward to August 15th and I was now boarding my plane. After 4 months of constant messages between me and my partner, Emily, I would be finally meeting her in person. To say nervous was an understatement. I was nauseous, shaking, dropping things, and stuttering constantly when speaking to others. After my total 9 hours in the air, with one layover in Iceland, I had finally met Emily in person. As soon as I saw her, I felt all my worries wash away as I had realized that while I might not have known the other exchange students or partners, I had known her. I was not going to be completely alone because I had already made a friend while I was counting down the days and stressing over every small thing about my trip.
This, however, was not the end of my worries as on the very first day, I had overslept and woke up at 2pm. I felt so embarrassed as the weeks prior to coming to Germany, I had tried to fix my sleeping habit. We barely made it to the museums that she and her family had wanted to take us to and I was so worried that I had just destroyed the plans that she had made. This made me spiral into a whole other set of issues I felt was going to ruin my time in Germany.
Professor Jesse Evans
Language & Literacy Narrative
A language does not define an individual; it separates them from their cultural community. As childhood emerged, my extended Dominican family made me proud of my heritage and culture. Yet, language was something that made me feel like an outcast within my community. As a Spanish speaker, a lack of knowledge of my native language kept me from deeper connections and building close relationships with my family and Spanish kids my age. As a result of these judgments, I began to doubt my ethnicity.
An article showing Hispanics questioning themselves due to their lack of native language:
In New York City, I live in a Hispanic-populated community. As a result, I deal with the disadvantages of my Spanish-speaking every day. For example, when I have to translate for my mom, I get anxious because I’m not giving the proper translation from both ends, which leads to confusion and mix-ups. In Washington Heights, a stranger can come to me asking for directions in Spanish. I don’t dare to help them.
Based on my resume, it can be troubling because I can’t consider myself bilingual due to my issue and past occasions. Therefore, I don’t put it in my skills section. As looking for a job, I question whether a manager can rely on me, so I don’t try to apply for jobs for bilinguals, which have more options and pay.
The Dominican Republic was the destination for a month-long visit of my family last year. Since I hadn’t been there in years, I was excited to return to my home country. As we landed, nervousness set in. It was overwhelming to experience such a different environment, climate, and language. We got to our temporary apartment and went to a mall in the city. As a first-time restaurant customer in the country, I ordered several times because the worker was confused. My embarrassment took over after that because I tried to mask myself as a native but failed miserably.
During our trip, we slept over at the family’s house. I found communicating with them challenging, but they were extremely friendly and tried their best to make me feel at home. At the local park, my aunt and I went for a walk. Our conversation focused on my plans for college and my future career. Despite my broken Spanish, I remember being able to converse comfortably. Also, I learned more about the country. The grocery store is called Colmado, Soda is called Refresco, and my favorite fast food to buy is Pica Pollo, which is fried chicken with a side. My Spanish improved and somehow made me feel I belonged here. My family’s connections and the learning opportunities I encountered during the trip did not get deterred by the language barrier.
My Spanish does not make me any less Hispanic. When I visited people from the country, I learned that my fear isn’t as big as I had thought. During those memorable experiences, I realized I still belong in my community no matter what. I own my truth and continue to learn and love my heritage. I grew more confident in my speaking ability and developed the courage to step out of my comfort zone and try speaking with people even if it seemed daunting.
Life is the journey of learning. We are learning every single day that you are alive the same as me. We always need to face issues on the way of learning, sometimes they can be solved in a minute, sometimes you need to spend a day, a week, a month to finally figure out the solution for the issues or problems. But I pretty enjoy the time spent trying to find the answer for the issue and how this answer really works for this specific issue. The most interesting thing that I learn in my life is computer hardware. When I was a middle school student in my home country, I started to be in touch with the most successful human invention product ever, Computer. The thing that contains a world that is ten times, hundred times, thousand times bigger than our real world. This new world not only shocks me about the intelligence of the human, but also makes me have a huge interest in how this computer is created and how they put thousands, millions of electric currents in the small litter metal box. Because of the passion of hunting for the answer for how the computer can understand the orders that humans give and how the computer completes the orders, I began the learning trip about studying computer languages and computer hardwares.
At the beginning, I learned most of my knowledge about computers from the internet via videos and websites. I took my first computer class at my high school. I still remember I learn C++ language in this class and that was the first time I learned about C++. My teacher is very patient, he always clearly explains how every single command and function loop works in the program. I still remember spending a bunch of time understanding the logic in the programming language and learning the way to think for solving the questions. I always read the question first and break down the question in many steps. By solving all the single steps and combining them together into the big step to reach out the final intention.
He always lets us play with these commands and functions to create the thing that we want to do. Because of this class I started to know that only learning one computer language is not enough to be a computer engineer and let me recognize that I have a lot of things needed to learn to be a professional computer engineer. One more thing that very interests me is the way that they build the computer hardwares especially the CPU (Central Processing Unit). One of my passions is creating the new powerful and effective CPU. It can advance not only for the computer system but also can approve all the fields that rely on the capacity of computers’ solving and calculation ability like finance, entertainment, environmental protection and medical etc….
Language and literacy are used in everyone’s life, and it is around the globe. This allows us humans communicate with each other, learn more about ourselves and the world around us, and helps our character development.
Growing up PBS Kids and other kids’ channels such as Noggin/Nick Jr played a role in learning English. I was born in the US, but both my parents are from Haiti. At home they would barely speak English with us since that isn’t their primary language making Haitian Creole the first language I spoke. It wasn’t until I was around 4 years old when I started speaking clear English so that other people could understand me. These channels gave me the ability to communicate with people other than my family and start making friends as a child.
Some shows that helped me learn how to speak are nothing but classics everyone should know. Mickey Mouse, Electric Company, Cyberchase, etc. But I also watched a lot of movies with my dad such as Boyz in da hood, Coming to America and listened to music a lot. Focusing on a lot of words being used in entertainment industry allowed me to speak better and learn better. I believe that if English is not your first language, watching films, shows, and listening to music is an amazing way to learn a language and their culture. It played a key role in my development and communicating with others.
18 September 2022
To me, my language brings back many interesting and significant memories. I only recognized its significance later on and how it made me different from my American peers in the classroom. A specific moment that comes to me would be one of the earliest moments I can recall, in my early years of schooling. While I was learning to interact in two completely different languages. Which were English and Sinhala, and constantly facing confusion while learning them. Although becoming bilingual now seems easy I see how difficult it truly was for my past self. While other kids growing up only had to figure out one language. Whereas I, just like many other first-generation ethnic kids, had to figure out but also become fluent in their second language. To be honest I at one point was jealous of that but now I see how the struggles of growing with two languages are such a blessing. When it comes to growing up bilingual, it is a blessing in disguise, with both positive and negative effects.
A specific moment that comes to me vividly when thinking about languages would be when I was about four or five. Whereat home my mother would talk in a mix of English and Sinhala to teach me both languages. Then when it came to outside of the house such as school, I would hear and interact with English alone. Which as a little kid would create a lot of confusion. Later my parents told me that I would not speak at all no matter if it was at home or school. Then resulted in me was a speech and language therapist from five to seven years old. During this experience I remember feeling not only confusion but embarrassment. It made me embarrassed of culture and who I was. Languages for me made me ashamed of who I was, it created unneeded confusion and grit. This was a significant memory to me because later I recognized how different I was from my white American peers in the classroom. It further clarified to me how if I were like the kids, I envied I would not have these struggles at all.
It might seem easy to grow up bilingual, but it is difficult as a kid. Something many first generation or immigrant kids understand far too well. I cannot speak for all but at least for me in my early years I had a lot of confusion. I recall frequently as a kid reading and while doing so, I would translate a sentence in my head slowing down the pace I was reading at. So, where it would take other kids five minutes to read a paragraph it would take me 10 minutes. Something I was constantly annoyed by and later fixed. This was another significant memory for me because I would wonder why the other kids were not reading like I was, then I realized going to schools with little to no diversity was why the other kids had less confusion. The confusion I think stems from growing up as American but then also connecting to another part of you as well. As a kid, I would say I was embarrassed of my own ethnic background, but now I see it as something to be proud of. What I mean by this is that for me language is not just a way to communicate but it can be a part of one’s identity.
Language now can only be seen as an advantage for me. It connects people to their culture and heritage, which is something important to people of any minority growing up in this country. Language helps people of any minority connect with the food, smells, and traditions in their culture. Language helps eliminate the difference you feel about yourself in this country. Language not only gives you a deeper understanding of your culture and heritage but also one of yourself and your identity. Now I see how language is such a crucial aspect in anyone’s life, especially those of minority people. My development in languages would be because of my mother as a child she not only made it her responsibility to make sure I understand English, but also the Sinhalese language. She made sure to teach me to read, write, and speak English outside of school while also on the side teaching me all about pronunciation and writing of Sinhala. She was able to teach me all of this from an early age and did so because she knew it would be easier to become fluent in another language if you started early on. She understood that although I was American-born, I was still different from what people consider as an American. It helped my present self be in touch with my ethnic background while also still being American.
The ways I see my capabilities in language, reading, and writing impacting my life would all be positive. My two languages allow me to be in touch with both cultures I grew up with, American and Sri Lankan. I get to have the advantage of connecting with people through either language. My experience truly gives me the ability to connect with my race and family, I get to communicate with other people of my culture and learn more about my history. Being fluent in two languages now I only can be seen as a positive impact and allows for a particularly important understanding of oneself. Language not only gives me a way to communicate but a way to identify with myself.
Freshmen Eng. Comp.
WLLN: First Draft
A recent troubling moment that I had: was when having to write a scientific paper for both AP Capstone and AP Research. Having written loads of scientific papers before that point (credit to my science research class), however, these two papers were different in the sense that the language used and the way we had to format the paper was something I had never seen or done. Also, we were the pioneering class to take this course; there was no reference to go off of, and the papers themselves counted for about 60% of our final grade (the other 30% being the presentation). The hardest thing I can remember was the formatting: we needed to write the paper in a way such that our reference articles (which had to be all scientific papers/articles/journals) “needed to talk to each other”; the style was something I had never seen or written, and to say I had trouble was an understatement.
The AP capstone paper, in particular, was troubling due to the use of different lenses and the incorporation of stakeholders we needed to write about for each referenced article we used. There were eight lenses, but we had to use three. In the beginning, finding reference articles was not complex; having a science research background helped a lot, but the formatting and writing were other issues: I could not “solve” so easily. It took over four-six versions of the paper (all proofread by my instructor and peers) for me to get something decent. The first struggle came when detailing the findings; I was incorrectly listing the work under the wrong lenses/trying to make the articles fit into lense that did not. Trying to connect lenses when they did not fit was not fun. Considering my paper, how the socioeconomic status of adults and its effects on their levels of happiness in rural China: viewed from the social, economic, and political lenses was not an easy task. What was harder was the last paragraph: we had to interconnect all three lenses to make them “talk to each other” (this also acted as our closing statement).
Continuing to the next year (AP research), we had another paper, but it was our study. We had to conduct either a human subject study or an experimental study, collect, analyze, and interpret data; this was what we were doing in our science research class, but this paper was more scrutinized and harshly graded. The AP research paper followed the same format as any basic science paper: the abstract, introduction, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusion. The only troubling part was that the reference articles (background research) had to build off each other. If the idea did not follow a logical direction, it was marked wrong, and we would not get those points. One article introduced an idea, the following article built on that idea, and so forth until we came to our study and how it was relevant to modern society or our bigger “question”/”topic” that we answered. I had some experience at this point: granted my experience from writing the AP Capstone paper.