Literacy Narrative: Cultivating a Bright Future

Jasmine Ta

The ability to read and write in the modern world has been a difficult challenge to many people. It is required from every student to take English and writing courses in their life to grow as a well-educated individual. Professors, doctors, researchers, and entrepreneurs must have a decent understanding of the English language in order to communicate well in their own field of study. Most of the writing I have been working on since I learned to write, including papers, labs, and blogs, are currently at the college level. I have the ability to entertain my targeted audience with my writing, and address the various prompts that have been given at my University thus far. However, my writing skills have not always been like this; it was not even close. Starting at a young age, I received multiple prompts that were difficult to comprehend. My vocabulary was very substandard, and my topics were too broad to connect clear details with. It was not until my older sister taught me how to read and write properly, and taught me the importance of communication with others was essential to become successful in the future.

As I was growing up, my primary language was Chinese. Speaking Chinese allowed me to speak with my grandparents and other family members from other countries. My parents also taught me that speaking Chinese was significant in America because it would eventually give me the opportunity to use another language other than English when I grew up to be an adult. However, Chinese became the only language I was using. I would talk to my family friends in Chinese, and reply to teachers with broken English. During kindergarten, I did not think it was a problem because I felt that all I needed to do was learn to color inside the lines of an apple. Sounding out words and writing out the alphabet never seemed important enough to keep in mind. By the time I reached the middle of first grade, my realization of being unable to read and write struck me. Trying to learn the English language was one of the hardest challenges I had to face as a student. I was the child who had difficulties pronouncing words correctly and writing out sentences that made sense. When I would receive my spelling test back, I feared my paper would be scribbled with the red markings from my teacher’s pen. During recess, my fellow classmates would make fun of my lack of intelligence and the slurs in my words. I was embarrassed and ashamed to go to school because I had to face these problems every day. It was not until a year after that my older sister sat me down and taught me the significance of using English everyday in my life.

My sister is the oldest child in my family, and the biggest influence in my life. She helped shape the way I view the world and what I needed to do in order to succeed. Aside from the struggles I had to deal with at school, my family had their own problems at home. My mother was constantly taking care of my baby brother, and my father had been working two jobs to support the family. Therefore, there was no immediate attention to my needs for learning English. Since my parents never had the time to teach me the basics of reading and writing, my sister took time out of her busy schedule to help me face my challenges.

Every night, my older sister would pull me aside and make me read a book. I remember thinking to myself, “This is going to be so easy.” I spoke too soon; unfortunately, I made numerous errors. My Chinese accent kept lingering in the sentences I read, and I never paused after coming to a period. Luckily, my sister never gave up on me. She encouraged me to keep trying and pushing myself. My sister would also help me sound out each word and write out multiple sentences for practice. When I made mistakes, she reassured me that it was okay and that I was getting better. Fortunately, as each week progressed, so did my reading and writing habits. As each book got more difficult and challenging than the last, my storage for vocabulary words grew. Soon enough, my pronunciations for they’re and their were correct. Because my knowledge for the English language advanced, my anxiety to go to school decreased. I was not afraid to face my classmates or feared of another “F” on my reading assignments. Through all the chaos and difficulties my parents had to face, my older sister was the only one who taught me the essentials I needed to pass elementary school. For her age at the time, I believed she was already an adult. The way she spoke and carried herself in public allowed me to look up to her as a role model.

Due to my inability to read and write, my communication skills were also affected. I spoke with a strong Chinese accent which led my classmates to laugh and pick on me. Luckily, my sister practiced speaking and sounding out words with me every day to help me improve my speech. When we went out during family outings, my sister would have sophisticated conversations with my aunts and uncles. They would acknowledge and praise her for the elegance and confidence she had in her sentences. Later that day, I would ask her if she would help me speak like she did. Because of her determination and her continuous support, I was able to overcome my obstacles. Over the years, I was able to develop my communication skills and expand my vocabulary in small increments by following the foundations of what I was raised to learn.

Because of the hardships I had to deal with as a child, I hope to continue improving myself as a student. With the help from my sister, I am now able to read and write at a college level. I have the ability to have refined conversations with my professors and peers. Growing up, I never considered myself a strong or confident writer. I make mistakes just like anyone else; however, people have the opportunity to learn from their errors. I expect my experience as a language user to flourish and grow. Due to the help and support from my older sister, I wish to continue learning the material that could help me grow as a writer as well as an individual.

Word Count: 1,090

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