Lessons In a New Tongue

Describe the accomplishment that has given you the greatest satisfaction to this point in your life.

When my family decided to move to the United States I was ten years old and thought little more of it other than to regret that I'd be leaving a city that I loved, a school I enjoyed attending, and the friends I'd acquired over four years. Because I had been learning some English for almost two years, I instantly assumed that the language wouldn't be much of a barrier. But, come September 1996 when I placed out of the ISOL program at our local elementary school and walked into a class of English-speaking children, I was nowhere near excited. At times, when explaining nowadays to inquiring people the sensation that hit me, I recount a funny anecdotal experience from one of the first weeks of class. It was time to see who could qualify for the Spelling Bee! So we all took out a sheet of paper, numbered it, and prepared to write the words that were to be read aloud. Interestingly enough, out of maybe twenty-five words, I knew how to write less than half. Clearly, there was no spelling bee for Natalia.

However, having always had an avid interest in reading, I took it up once more as a possible solution to my current dilemma. One of the first books I read in English is one I surprisingly found myself reading, in the non...

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