My Writing Reflection

February 6, 2011
Every year, I enter English class lacking experience in writing, waiting to learn something new. Having English as a second language makes everything more complicated. In Jordan, where I came from, our education is focused on the context rather than teaching us different ways to study or write like it is here. So coming to America, where writing is a huge part of education makes it very difficult for me to start from the beginning while my classmates are way ahead of me. I always struggled being away from my hometown, but I knew that in order to have a successful life in America, I had to promise myself to improve my writing by learning as many techniques and rules of writing as I can, and work twice as hard as my peers.
As much as I hated not fitting in society, I took advantage of all the free time I had to try to learn new things, not just about writing but also the ways of life of Americans. It was extremely different compared to Jordan’s ways of life. The way we speak is different, not only the language, but also the way we express our thoughts has more dialect and emphasis and is very poetic, whereas here in America, they try to get straight to the point. Our class periods were different every day but here in America, it is the same every week. Our subjects are the same as it is here but with less fun electives and double the amount of core classes for example, we would have both English math and Arabic math, or English science and Arabic science. I was very surprised when I saw that there are many electives that we can chose from. This really helps with one’s decision to what they want to become when they grow older. Presentations were also different because it was never mandatory like it is in the States. This was extremely difficult to adapt to because presenting was a big part in the classes, and I was never comfortable standing in front of 20 other people and sharing my work. I still struggle with public speaking today.

As years came by, I began improving my writing with the help of my siblings. I knew I was not good enough yet. My writing always had grammatical errors or my arguments were unclear. It was never as engaging as it is supposed to be. I was also inflexible with my choice of words. I have the tendency to begin my sentences with prepositions or pronouns which cause me to be unexpressive with my sentences. It is extremely difficult for me to think of new ways to begin sentences or use sophisticated ways to express my thoughts like most of my classmates were able to do. My sister once told me the only way to improve my writing skills is to read because it helps expand my vocabulary. It usually takes me hours to write a two page essay. To improve that, she also taught me to brainstorm which I found very helpful at times, but also very frustrating because when I over think a topic, It directs me to other topics which gets me off subject. As I started to get used to the major culture shift, my English began to improve and my writing became clearer.

I always received compliments about the way I organize my essays. I am good at putting sentences in the right order, which helps the reader understand the main ideas presented in my essay. I’m also a good listener when the teacher provides the information. I always pay attention to what the teacher expects from us which is the key to a well written essay. Following the instructions will always help an essay become stronger.

The first time I had to complete a personal essay was for American Studies, when my teacher, Mr. Lessing, advised us to write truthfully about ourselves. I was completely lost as to what I should write about. I could not come up with any interesting stories about my family, or recount a heartwarming story about how I helped out someone less fortunate. I always had trouble with writing personal essays because I don’t feel comfortable expressing my feelings, especially to my teachers. Also, I’ve never experienced anything outstanding, exceptional, or unusual. The more I brainstormed about what to write about, the more I recognized that I am just an ordinary teenager, with a different background. However, I realized that I could write about something that I have to deal with on a daily basis.

I narrated about my migration to the U.S. I wrote about the issues I had to face every day, like living far away from my family, friends, and hometown, always feeling as if I was an alien coming from outer space, and not fitting it properly. When I completed my personal essay, Mr. Lessing asked me to read an extract of it to the class. I started to get very nervous; after all, public speaking has always been my fear and weakness. My words don’t flow like they’re supposed to, my voice becomes very shaky as if I’m about to cry and I forget everything, im supposed to say even though the paper is right in front of me. So he gave me the option to let someone else read it out loud for me. Before he asked me, we were assigned to a partner to share our personal essays with. So I picked my partner who was also the first classmate to read my essay. When she read the part about leaving my family behind, mainly my father, I got very emotional and had to leave the classroom. In a way, I was disappointed in myself because I couldn’t control my emotions in front of 40 other students. I was very embarrassed. I was hoping that when I came back everyone would forget what had happened. At the end of the period, Mr. Lessing made me sit with him and talked to me about how I have to be more confident about my writing. He told me he made me share an extract of my writing with my peers because he believed it was good enough to be shared with others, and I shouldn’t be afraid.

I have seen a great change in my writing skills. I am more confident in expressing my thoughts. I am also more aware of the different writing approaches I can use. As to being in a culture shock, I put that aside and focused on improving myself. I faced many advertise trying to fit in and becoming part of the society. I had to forget about the pain of being far away from my loved ones in my home town and focus on my future. Even though I was always intimidated by others, my writing improved day by day as I worked harder and harder. I still fear public speaking, and it’s something I have to improve on.

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