DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

English Throughout My Life


Gabriella Barnes

Professor Caruso

September 21, 2011

First year writing

English Throughout My Life

    I have never liked reading or writing. In fact, English has become my worst subject. For some reason, English lessons and I have never connected. I can’t spell and my grammar is sometimes horrible. Punctuation is foreign to me; I never know when to use it correctly. Furthermore, when I was little, I was placed in special reading classes because I had a difficult time comprehending reading passages. Overall, my teachers haven’t really taught me much about English. I haven’t had a bad experience with English lessons; I just never had a good experience. I find I generally do not like to write, unless I am in the mood. I can’t seem to get interested and I feel very stressed. When it comes down to school assignments, my work usually earns decent to excellent grades because I am willing to put a lot of time and effort into my work. My teachers and I are happy with the outcomes of my projects. I have to acknowledge that my reading and writing skills, basically, come from three people in my life my mom, my grandma and my tutor Greg.                                                      

  My mom took my sisters and me to the library often. At the library, I came across many children’s books. My first encounter with reading began with my mom reading me children's books. The most memorable book my mom read to me was Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? (Martin 1992). This book was appealing because it was silly and made me laugh but it also taught me about colors and animals. The simple repetition in the book made it easy to read and understand.  This book could be read to me in minutes, but of course, it never was because I always wanted to stare at the pictures. Other books made their way into my life when I started school; Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? (Martin 1997) published during my early school days. This book not only taught me the sounds of the animals but also introduced me to many new words. My mom was a stay at home mom and every night she would help me with my homework.  She was the one who helped me study for my spelling tests and, believe me, I’ve come a long way in spelling because of her dedication.  I could never properly “sound out” words which made it difficult to understand spelling and even if I could comprehend the sounds there were always those exceptions to the rules to remember.

   As I grew older, my interest in furthering my reading skills to a more advanced level halted.  I refused to read anything that would take more than a day to read. Chapter books appeared very frightening.  Not only did the story take forever to finish, you also needed to remember what you read the day before.  When attempting to comprehend chapter books, I felt lost, like a “ship of the desert” (Osborne 7).  I couldn't go anywhere. I had all the potential to set sail but chapter books were still “dry” like a desert. I had the book and the knowledge to understand the reading but these books weren’t interesting to me. They couldn’t hold my attention. Luckily, my mom found the Magic Tree House series and reading that series led to my involvement with chapter books.  Mary Pope Osborne, the author of the series, not only wrote fictionally interesting stories but she always included some historical facts in her books. While reading I learned to love History and now it has become my favorite subject. All of a sudden, reading chapter books wasn’t as bad as I thought. One of my favorite quotes of all time was written by Osborne, “Set sail on a voyage of your own titanic facts” (Quote by Mary …).  When I outgrew the Magic Tree House series, my mom encouraged me to take bigger steps and read the Harry Potter series. While reading this series, I began to comprehend complex sentence structures and developed a larger vocabulary.  I learned to look for and understand the underlying messages in literature. I found it interesting when J.K. Rowling remarked, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that” (Rowling). This quote is intriguing. I firmly believe, Rowling is telling her readers not to get caught up in a book’s fictional world. I find that problems cannot be solved but ignoring them or wishing to live in another world. She wants her readers to enjoy, but she reminds them they have a world of their own to live in.  Never have I ever hide from a problem by ignoring the situation. Even with my struggle in English I remembered to keep moving on with my life. I didn’t wish to dream I strived to get better. Through her books, I was able to travel to new worlds and unimaginable realms when reading. Reading literature was the start of my relationship with the English Language. 


    After learning to read and write simple sentences, I was introduced to essay writing, full of sentences and paragraphs.  I learned most of my grammar and sentence structure from my Grandmother.  My grandma was very avid about using proper English when writing and she was also adamant about using correct punctuation. My grandmother taught me when to use commas and she also taught me not to be afraid to use new vocabulary words. My grandma has helped me to make “okay” essays into “great” ones.  She would sometimes stay up all night with me to make sure I used all the correct symbols in the appropriate places.  Furthermore, she told me to consult the thesaurus when I was stuck for a word and to write down on index cards the definition of any words I didn’t understand. As Pip Decker’s coach would say, in “Thoughts – Forbes.com, “If you don’t break a bone you weren’t trying hard enough.” (Ozanian) There were days I felt like my brain was about to explode because I was working so hard. My Grandma and I struggled with many essays but from this struggle I became a better English student. Overall, I am very grateful to have had my grandmother so involved with my English education.  She has made a huge impact on my ability to write down my thoughts in a well organized and focused essay.  Following my grandmother’s advice has allowed me to become successful not only in English but in other subjects like History and Science as well. 

    The last and most recent person to help me develop my English skills was my tutor Greg. I spent one night a week with him preparing for the SAT’s. Since I am very good at Math, we mainly focused on my Reading Comprehension and Writing skills. He showed me my mistakes and worked with me to improve my score to a 1790. Greg educated me on plural and singular consistency throughout a sentence. He also showed me little tricks like “either” always goes with “or” and “neither” always goes with “nor”. In addition, he gave me flash cards and sentences to write for my new SAT words every week.  Completing the exercises and homework he assigned enabled me to achieved more accuracy in my English work then in my whole time at school. His teachings were so easy and simple, he had opened my eyes in many way; English was no longer complicated and confusing. I would say that he was the one who brought all my English knowledge together in a style that I could understand. From that time, I was able to use his methods to my advantage in both school and life. 


    Even though English hasn’t necessarily been my favorite subject, it has become an easier subject to handle. With the help of my mom, grandma and my tutor, Greg, I have had better experiences with English. I am no longer stressed about writing papers and I understand my past mistakes. I am confident now that I can edit and proofread my essays. Reading and writing are a part of daily life in college, and I know I will succeed in this environment. 


Work Cited

Martin, Bill, and Eric Carle. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? New York: H. Holt, 1992. Print.

-----.Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? New York: Henry Holt, 1997. Print.

Osborne, Mary Pope. Magic Tree House: Season of the Sandstorm #34.. New York: Random House, 2005. 7.Print. 

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print. Harry Potter Ser. #1.

Ozanian, Mike, Kurt Badenhausen, and Peter Schwartz. "Thoughts - Forbes.com." Information for the World's Business Leaders - Forbes.com. N.p., 30 Nov. 2009. Web. 22 Sept. 2011.

"Quote by Mary Pope Osborne: "Set Sail on a Voyage of Your Own Titanic Facts"" Share Book Recommendations With Your Friends, Join Book Clubs, Answer Trivia. 2011 Copyright 2011 Company Snap. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.