ESSAY 2, 02/24/09
My interest in learning English language started right before I went to high school. I was first exposed to it in the street through interaction with foreigners who came to visit Morocco. I was always fascinated specifically by the American accent. Since then I started picking up few words by being around people who spoke English. I would speak it a lot with my friends and strangers, and sometimes in front of the mirror. I did not really care what people said, or if I made mistakes. So I always wanted to practice English more .My fascination with the English language and the eagerness to learn it encouraged me to confront my dad to let me go to high school despite financial problems. Through that interaction with a lot of people, I started to open and feel confident about myself .So my affinity for language acquisition continued to grow, not knowing whether I would be allowed to continue school in the first place.
My father was a short man with a bad temperament; he was not easy to talk to. He was a heavy smoker .As soon as he woke up the house was filled with cigarette smoke. Lighting a cigarette was the first thing he liked to do before he sat to enjoy his breakfast. He would lie on his right side with the ashtray and strike matches on anything nearby. My father was infatuated with the way he smoked .For example, he would twist his mouth in such away to allow the smoke to drift out of his mouth as if a snake was coiling around his throat .At times, he reeked of tobacco. He could never stand the screaming of kids. “What is wrong with him or her,” he would always complain when the child cried. “Get him out of here!” putting his hands on his ears. As we were having breakfast one morning, someone was knocking at the door; my dad asked me to answer it. “I believe it is the postman, the kids are expecting the letter from the school today,” my mom said in a low voice as if she was not supposed to know. “By the way, dad! I want to go to high school so I can learn English.” I reminded him frantically, not daring to look him in the eyes. “I barely can afford the food you put in your stomach let alone the damn books” he yelled as if about to hit me.
I was very scared yet determined to convince him to let me continue school. I was later permitted to go to high school provided that I did not ask him for anything to support me. Since then, I knew that I had to learn to be independent and fend for myself. I also figured that the journey would not be easy one. I was very enthusiastic about going to high school because not only would I have improved my communication skills, but listening, reading and writing skills as well. English had always been my favorite subject; whenever I had the English class, I would show up to the classroom, wishing the hour never lasted. I clearly recall the class room setting was composed of four rows, and each row was comprised of wooden tables with two seats, most of which were old; they were full of handwriting and drawing .The walls were full of proverbs. My peer and I made it a rule to memorize at least one each time we entered the class room. I would sit in the first table in front of the teacher's desk so that I would not miss anything whenever he uttered words. He had such a low voice because he was old.
My biggest challenge in learning English language began when I started reading novels .The first novel I attempted to read was “the old man and the sea” for Hemingway. I was frustrated over the inability to grasp the meaning of big words, even when I referred to the dictionary .Knowing that if I had to explain each and every single word I would never finish the book, and I was discouraged and virtually gave up. I would seek advice from my teacher and other English teachers in the school. To my surprise, it was normal thing for any beginner to experience some difficulties while learning a language, and over time I would overcome those difficulties associated with reading. Similarly, I encountered pronunciation problem. I usually pronounced words with a rough accent as if reading French or Arabic words. The most embarrassing moment was when I first pronounced the word 'courtesy' and I got it wrong; the whole class including the teacher tried to stifle a laugh but in vain because it sounded like an obscene word in Arabic. Twisting the tongue was not easy at first.
In 1990 my father finally allowed me to go to high school in Goulmima. I was surprised by fast pace of life there compared to my hometown where everybody was nonchalant. First I had to adjust to the changes psychologically. It took me a while to know my way around the city. As my English improved, I worked as a part-time guide in the city, mostly for American tourists to support myself and my family, I was able to practice English more; the type of life in the city provided me an opportunity to socialize more and be around more native speakers who came there as tourists as well as people who were there to volunteer for Peace Corp. More importantly, I was able to show to my parents how important it was for me and for anybody to get their education whether they are poor or rich. Similarly, I influenced my younger brother to study English at university, which he did. Today he is a teacher in the making.
Looking back in retrospect, I feel I have a made a difference in my life as well as my family's. I did not let poverty stand in the way of getting an education and learning the language I like. In fact, I feel I have paved the way for people who happen to be in the same situation to do the same .I am no longer a shy person, my fascination with the English language was a great opportunity for me to overcome poverty and to become very open towards other people and their cultures. My goal is to earn a degree in English so that I can teach English in Morocco. I have learned that the harder the way the worthwhile the journey.