Extra Credit Language Reflection 2003

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Sergio Palomo
English Composition
Lynn Reid
28 July 2010
Learning a New Language
While reading a long, gruesome passage of the Critical Reading section of the SATs, I
often shifted my mind from the unstoppable, watchful clock and the alphabet soup of letters on
the unending essay before me and reminisced of my struggles while learning the aspects of
English that would serve as useful in tests and expression. As a toddler, I absorbed the Spanish
language from my parents and spoke babble with Spanish, often repeating foul words I should
not have. Nevertheless, Spanish became my first language, the language I thought my inner
thoughts in and fully expressed myself with. Spanish served as my comfort level, a language
where I knew I was ninety-nine percent grammatically correct in when I spoke formally. My first
confusing encounter of the English language, originating from the television, foreshadowed my
continuous struggles to grasp English as successfully as I understand and speak Spanish.
Although the letters of the Spanish alphabet and English alphabet generally match,
speaking the language, reading the language, and writing the language proved as difficult tasks.
As I took my first shy steps into pre-K, or pre-kindergarten, I eavesdropped on conversations to
seek other Spanish speaking children. Luckily, I found a group and easily made friends out of
them. The real challenge arose when the teacher almost always spoke English, forcing English
replies out of all of us in an obedient fashion. I was immediately sent to what English-speaking
students referred to as, “the dumb class”. English as a Second Language classes flipped my brain
a thousand ways as they crammed as much English grammar and vocabulary into my head as
possible. As a rebellious child, I would often resort to speaking Spanish whenever it did not lead
to a time-out, ultimately hindering my English education. Ironically, I would come home with
just about one failing grade on my report card each marking period, show it to my parents,
receive a few whacks with a belt, and finally receive a lecture from my parents in Spanish, the
language that influenced my failing grade in English. After years of struggle in English class
while learning the positions of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and other basic
concepts, I finally grasped a feel for the English language. Afterschool one day, I caught myself
continuing to speak the English language from school to my parents who replied with “¿Qué
dijiste?”, or “What did you say?”
Despite my efforts to fully use the English language in my education, English class has
always dropped to my worst class. The Spanish jargon of my childhood is deeply engrained in
my brain and often sneaks into my attempts at English. When I read and analyze concepts, I take
the idea and translate it into Spanish to better understand if there is any sense out of it and then
record my ideas in English. This multiple-step process may explain my seemingly slow
understanding of English. When I write essays, minutes become hours rapidly as I try my best to
express my ideas with the small vocabulary I possess. I have developed a habit of referring to the
dictionary and thesaurus when I write so that I can choose the perfect words to shape my ideas in
English. I also check my essays and responses over and over again to eliminate errors, which
gradually improves my grammar. With an essay checked over at least ten times from myself, I
finally ask my close, native English-speaking friends to check and my critique my papers.
Ultimately, my Spanish language will always be remembered and sneak into my developing
English language causing a frequent mix of words, especially during long, gruesome passages of
the Critical Reading section of the SATs, in which I often shift my mind from the unstoppable,
watchful clock and alphabet soup of letters on the unending essay before me and translate it all
into Spanish.
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