12 June 2012. I Do Not Speak English (Naia). I Do Not Speak English I am a Spanish American girl in late twenties. I was born in Bogota, Colombia. I received my education up to the primary school in Colombia…
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I had seen and heard too much about the USA in books and media throughout my childhood, but this was my first chance to move to the USA. Coming to the USA was a different and new experience for me altogether. I had come from a society which was not as diverse as the society in the USA in terms of race, color, ethnicity, or religion. In the USA, the first thing my parents did for me was look for a good school for me. I got admitted in the Carmel High School. It was way big as compared to the school I had come from. When I arrived in the USA, I knew very basic English, if any. It was so difficult to communicate with the local people in the USA. I did not even know how to put words together to form a sentence. It took me so long to translate everything I thought into English that I frequently would become conscious that I was boring the person listening to me. The local people said things so fast that it was nearly impossible for me to catch what they said. I had to make them come again and again until I finally got their point. This was very emotionally demanding. It was indeed as difficult for them to cooperate with me as for me to catch up with them. Because of my language problem, I used to remain generally quite unless it was extremely necessary to talk. The local people there did not understand that this was the reason behind my quietness, and many would take me for proud, which I was absolutely not. I was missing my hometown a lot, but thinking about Bogota was useless as my parents would not allow me to live alone there. I had to stay in the USA. I realized that to adapt to the new culture and adjust in the American society, the first thing I needed to do was improve my English, so I started taking English classes. I worked with will, determination, and hard work. It did not take me much time to get hold of the basics. Within a year or so, I was able to write comprehensive essays in English. Every day, I learned at least two new words of English from the dictionary, and would incorporate them in my writing the very day. This practice not only helped me polish my writing skills, but also helped me improve my English vocabulary. Today, I am proficient enough in English to qualify as an American citizen. One thing that I was always sure about was that in order to integrate into the American society, I would have to appreciate diversity as it happens to be a very integral trait of the American society. I started reading books about different cultures, and their individualistic trends, traditions, norms and values. I even studied comparative religious books in order to have an insight into the fundamentals of the beliefs of people belonging to different religions. This not only helped me understand the people around me better, but also increased by general knowledge a lot. Being aware of the religious and cultural norms and values of people in my class, neighborhood and the marketplace helped me socialize with them in such a way that they felt comfortable in my company and became my friends. I have seen tough times when I was in the high school. Bullying in the high school was very common. Senior students bullied the younger ones in a large number of ways including abusing, threatening, punching, and calling names. Laws of the high school were flexible, which was one reason why the students behaved irresponsibly. Although when I was in my high school, I had been living in the USA for quite some while, yet my English at that point in time was not very good. As my class-fellows
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