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.