In this story about how I stopped hating English and got interested in it:
The first 2 years I studied English at school, I was sure that it was not my thing. It was a torture.
I was a very hard-working student. I was good at every other subject. But I remember I never felt sure at English classes – about what I hear, what I read, what I translate. The teacher’s corrections which didn’t make sense and only confused me. I remember resenting English and wishing to be anywhere else but there. Horror mixed with indifference.
Switching my English ON
Everything I had done before that – in class and at home – was learning the rules, doing exercises, and completing the assignments. That time we were covering the topic “Travelling” and we were tasked to describe a trip we took. Usually, we would take a sample text from the textbook and learn it by heart, and then just recite it in front of the class.
But that time something stopped short in me. Maybe the fact that I grew up in a village and hadn’t been anywhere worth talking about, and only dreamed of going somewhere.
I imagined flying in a plane, looking out a porthole. I imagined flight attendants’ uniforms. I imagined how the horizon would when we’d start landing. I tied to imagine what my first words would be after exiting the airport.
My dream and my imagination picked up a dictionary and started painting a picture – with words.
As far as I remember, this was the first time I used a dictionary to express myself, not to do exercises.
This was also the first time my class listened to a story different from the one in the textbook.
This was probably the first time the teacher was proud of me.
It was the first and crucial shift: I realized that English is not just a school subject, but a way of understanding and expressing yourself.
I realized that in English I could remain myself and prove myself. I could be more and better than without it.
English stopped being a spiderweb to get stuck in, and became a light that makes everything clearer. I started seeing English not as swamp or quicksand you drown in, but as a beach or sandbox where you can build anything out of the sand.
That’s how my English journey started.
Now it’s your turn
Answer 1 or more questions in the comments to activate your English:
- Is there anything that you used to be terrible at, but are really good at now?
- How often do you pick up a dictionary or look up words in an online dictionary? What was the most recent word or phrase you looked up?
- When was the last time you learned anything by heart? Why did you? How did it go?
- When and why did you take up English? How did you get interested in the language?
- What makes learning English easier for you?