Learning a Foreign Language
Learning a foreign language was one of the most difficult yet most rewarding experiences of my life. Although at times, learning a language was frustrating, it was well worth the effort.
My experience with a foreign language began in junior middle school, when I took my first English class. I had a kind and patient teacher who often praised all of the students. Because of this positive method, I eagerly answered all the questions I could, never worrying much about making mistakes. I was at the top of my class for two years.
When I went to senior middle school, I was eager to continue studying English; however, my experience in senior school was very different from before. While my former teacher had been patient with all the students, my new teacher quickly punished those who gave incorrect answers. Whenever we answered incorrectly, she pointed a long stick at us and, shaking it up and down, shouted, "No! No! No!" It didn't take me long to lose my eagerness to answer questions. Not only did I lose my joy in answering questions, but also I totally lost my desire to say anything at all in English.
However, that state didn't last long. When I went to college, I learned that all students were required to take an English course. Unlike my senior middle school teacher, my college English teachers were patient and kind, and none of them carried long, pointed sticks! However, the situation was far from perfect. As our classes were very large, I was only able to answer a couple of questions in each class period. Also, after a few weeks of classes, I noticed there were many students who spoke much better than I did. I began to feel intimidated. So, once again, although for different reasons, I was afraid to speak. It seemed my English was going to stay at the same level forever.
That was the situation until a couple of years later, when I was offered an opportunity to study English through an online course. The communication medium was a computer, phone line, and modem. I soon got access to the necessary equipment, learned the technology from a friend and participated in the virtual classroom 5 to 7 days a week.
Online learning is not easier than regular classroom study; it requires much time, commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow of the course. I worked hard to meet the minimum standards set by the course and to complete assignments on time.
I practiced all the time. I carried a little dictionary with me everywhere I went, as well as a notebook in which I listed any new words I heard. I made many, sometimes embarrassing, mistakes. Once in a while I cried with frustration, and sometimes I felt like giving up. But I didn't feel intimidated by students who spoke faster than I did because I took all the time I needed to think out my ideas and wrote a reply before posting it on the screen. Then, one day I realized I could understand just about everything I came across, and most importantly, I could "say" anything I wanted to in English. Although I still made many mistakes and was continually learning, I had finally reaped the benefits of all that hard work.
Learning a foreign language has been a most trying experience for me, but one that I wouldn't trade for anything. Not only did learning another language teach me the value of hard work, but it also gave me insights into another culture, and my mind was opened to new ways of seeing things. The most wonderful result of having learned a foreign language was that I could communicate with many more people than before. Talking with people is one of my favorite activities, so being able to speak a new language lets me meet new people, participate in conversations, and form new, unforgettable friendships. Now that I speak a foreign language, instead of staring into space when English is being spoken, I can participate and make friends. I am able to reach out to others and bridge the gap between my language and culture and theirs.