For many people, learning a different language can be exceptionally difficult. Growing up in a primarily Spanish-speaking family and country, made coming to America where the language primarily spoken is English somewhat hard on me. I had to start picking up on words and dialects that were completely foreign to me. I would say I had a rough time, but I did pick up English pretty quickly. School, listening, reading, writing and music helped a lot with the process of learning a new language. I’ve attended six different schools since kindergarten. All of which being here, in Georgia. However, I did go to a pre-k down in Florida while I lived there for a year with my grandparents before coming up to Georgia. My grandparents put me in a charter pre-k, I had to wear a uniform and learn the pledge of allegiance. At that point, I only knew it in Spanish so being surrounded by kids my age that only spoke English, I felt a determination to learn it. I now know it in both English and Spanish. I picked up a lot in that pre-k which helped when I entered kindergarten up here in Georgia. I went to three different elementary schools, all in different counties.
In the second grade, I was in Gwinnett and I excelled in my CRCT, scoring above everyone in my grade. They put me in more advanced classes. Little did anyone know that I had only just started speaking, reading and writing English fluently. I was always very studious and when I set my mind to something, I always achieved it. Learning English was one of those things. My mother was very influential in the learning process as well. She had learned English when she attended school in Peru. She listened to music in English and even though she had some errors here and there, I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. Music truly helped a lot with learning a new language. I became obsessed with the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Britney Spears, the Spice Girls. Keep in mind we’re in the late 90s, early 2000s. I picked up on the words they sang and the meaning behind them. Music is truly a great way to learn a new language. In the fourth grade, I started to write for my school newspaper. I loved writing at that point in my life. I could make up a story within seconds or do tons of research on a specific topic and go on for hours.
Research also helped exquisitely. Whenever my mom or I had no idea what a certain word or phrase meant, we would just research it. Whether it was on our computer or going to the library or asking my teachers and classmates, I was determined to become fluent in English. Writing for the newspaper truly helped me a lot with that. Not only did writing play an important role, but reading as well. Reading has always been a passion of mine. I could delve into a book and not stop reading until I was completely done with it. When I started reading in English, it took me longer than the other kids because I didn’t know the language and I tried really hard to grasp every concept in the story. The more reading I did, the better my vocabulary became. Having a higher vocabulary helped a lot with my writing. I still remember being little and having an entire bookcase just filled with books that I would read over and over again. From the Wizard of Oz to Little Women to Nancy Drew, I would read books for the fun of it. When the Twilight series came out, I literally finished the first three books within a week of getting them and the last book, I finished it the same day.
My mom always said I would “eat the books up”. I would read anywhere and everywhere. I loved it and it helped tremendously with my grammar and vocabulary and spelling. Both reading and writing were major roles in speaking better. There are many different ways that one can pick up on a language. I learned some Romanian from listening to Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone and some Portuguese from listening to Ai Se Eu Te Pego by Michel Telo. So music was truly a great way to learn as well as reading. Lots and lots of reading. Writing down your thoughts as well as just practicing how to sound out the words. English was a very hard language to learn but with enough practice and will power, it was possible. As well with learning any other language.