Chapter 7: English and the global perspective

7.7 Living in a different country (argument from experience)

Maryan Tawadrous

English 102, February 2021

Living in a different country is not easy and especially if the language is different as like Arabia and English both are completing different for reading, and writing, and speaking. For example, writing in English is more difficult because in Arabia we write from the right and in English it is from the left. I know more than one language, but the hardest two to learn were Arabic and I learned English from watching a lot of movies and keep talking too much and read more. Even if I’m wrong and some people are laughing because I was saying some stuff wrong, I don’t care at all. I always like to speak and learn more and as always like to write and read. (Learning new information happens when we talk, read, and write about new ideas and new language such as English) In Arabic and English I have to study hard before the exam and I like to write and read the question and answer a lot and that helps me a lot. Learning new information, it’s because in Egypt I was work hard all the time for the exams and when I come in America. I was feeling that I must work hard and learn the new language because this is how I will live in this country. A teacher’s ability to communicate directly affects the students’ ability to learn. When a teacher is unable to communicate with students from all language backgrounds, the students will have to resort to self-teaching. For example, in the tenth grade I had the hardest teacher I ever saw before. The teacher was not doing anything and not helping anybody and when someone asks her for help she kept saying look at the book or Google it and that was really the hardest English class I ever took.

I am not from here (America) I was born in Egypt, Arabic is my first language and English is my second language. Before I came here, I loved writing more than reading. When I was in school, I was in the classes and I had to be ready to read and write quickly to finish the exams in the given time and I was to be quick for the writing and reading portions of the exams  because the high schools in Egypt are harder than the high schools in America. For example, while attending middle school in Egypt we did not have quizzes at all, which is good, but it was hard at the same time to get points because my classmates and I could only receive points from the final, midterm and attendance. I will say this was not fair because we only had exams and attendance count towards points. The awkward thing is the final was comprehensive and we were tested on everything that I had learned at the beginning of the school year through the end would be on the final. I did not like that at all, and this is completely different than final exams in America. The American way, the way final is structured/formatted is that it only tests the material from the second semester not from the beginning of the school year, the fall semester. Some people are thinking that the Egyptian exam structure is easier, but it is not at all, and universities in America are harder than those in Egypt.

I never thought that school in America will be that different; however, tests in America are half or entirely multiple-choice. In Egypt, we do not have multiple choice questions we must write out the answers because all exams are short answer or extended response. The essays were a little bit different than essays in America because they would give a prompt, and I would have to think fast about the topic I would have to think about the reader to make him like my essay, and finally I must finish the essay as fast as I can, so I can check my grammar. Essay exams take more time to read the question and write the answer, I had to write the answer quickly and check the answer to make sure it made sense or not because everything was graded, especially the grammar. Grammar is always important in Arabic more than anybody thinks. Therefore, I really do not like the grammar in Arabic because if there any grammatical mistakes they count as an incorrect answer, which I really do not understand. Like in America I see if I make a mistake in grammar it is not really a big deal, but in Egypt, we must take a test about grammar, and it is hard, and I still do not understand.

Classes like Arabic, science, and social studies were hard because they were completely different than I was thinking. I remember math class was easy for reading and writing the numbers and solving problems because I learned in sixth grade the math that was taught in eighth or ninth grade. Even though I only came in here when I was in sixth grade, I had already learned the math when I was in school in Egypt before I came to America that summer.

Social Studies in Arabic was the hardest thing for me because I actually have to read, more than any subject, and we have to memorize everything that we read. I was so bad memorizing the dates and names and whatever is written in the book I really could not change. I had to write exactly what was in the book and could not change the meaning, but if I need a few words to add on to the answer, that was not on the book, then it was wrong. This is how I am born, and I learned Arabic writing and reading from my family and the school hard work. One time in Social Studies, I knew that I had missed one or two questions on the exam and I knew which ones they are. I was trying to talk with the teacher and she told me, “no you get four questions wrong,” and I said “no way” I know what I did wrong. I only missed one question or maybe the last two questions on the exam, and she kept saying “no.” At the time I was not in the top on of my class. My parents went to the school the next day and talked with somebody else and to grade my exam in front of that teacher. In the end, I only got one question wrong and that teacher said, “that girl she answer the question on different way and that way it’s right.” My class teacher said, “No because she have to memorize the reading from the book to answer the question” and the other teacher said, “No, not always because the students are not robots” and I get my grades in the end and I was right when I said I only get one or two wrong. For Arabic language I know myself for reading and writing and especially one the exams because I can feel which one I did right and wrong. After I finished the exam I talked with my tutor in the school and she said the same thing as I said to answer the question.

When I came to America, it was like entering a different world. I came to live with my uncle in Indiana and then my aunt in Michigan, and later we all moved to Ohio with my cousin. I started to go to school in Ohio and was introduced to an interpreter. She was so good, and she was helping me with everything in reading and writing. Unfortunately, she left school after one week and I was bittersweet because I did not know what I should say or read and write. I wanted to cry, and I wanted to go back to Egypt to my family, friends, and previous life.

My parents always gave me hope and after a while I decided to take charge and decided to work hard improving my English reading and writing. Since my interpreter left after the first week I started school, I did not know any English and did not know what was going on around me.  The only thing I had left helping me survive learning in English was Google translate. In middle school all the teachers allowed me to use Google Translate, even in the exams and quizzes. But there was one teacher who do not like students using Google Search, but I did not know. One time she saw me using Google Translate during a quiz, and she shouted at me, saying that I am cheating on the quiz. She accused me of using Google Search to look up the answers on the quiz, and  when I saw her, I closed the opened tab to hide the fact I was using Google Search to cheat. I told her I never did that. She called my parents and told them I was cheating, but my parents told  her, “NO she would never do that.” After some time she apologized to me and said she thought I was cheating because there was a student who said that I was cheating, but now knew I was using Google Translate. I said,” It’s okay and thanks for beveling me.”

living in a different country. picture of brain with Egypt on the left and American on the right with corresponding languages.

The picture is my brain because the brain represents me and everything in it is about the things I learn, and I feel it’s the good one to do. I the first side it is me when I was in Egypt and it’s says “this is Maryan, I really missed everyone in Egypt so much and I really can’t wait to see you guys again soon and for my family I really love you all guys can’t wait to see you guys again.” The second side it is about America and what happened to me in the beginning it’s like I don’t know America and I don’t know how to write or read and after I stated to know that there is google translate and I started to use that and after I know how to read and write the stuff in the school and around me too. The reason I did it like this is because this is the way that I can write Arabic and English together and the idea of the topic “Living in a different country” because everything happened to me is in my brain, and I will never forget those things. Now I know how to read and write and understand English more than before. I learned writing and reading in English at the same time, and now I love it!

Later, in my sophomore year in high school my English teacher did not teach us anything at all. I did not understand why she did not lecture, or help us understand the reading, instead she always asked me and my classmates to teach ourselves. She said we are old enough to read and understand the material on our own, but when I had a question, she told me to use the book or on Google for the answer. Improving my reading and writing during sophomore year in high school was difficult for me because I needed a lot more help than the school was able to provide, so I decided I need to teach myself English.

I started watching a movie with English subtitles at the bottom. I tried to read and write at the same time and started to practice every day.  The first movies I watched were “Home Alone” and “Harry Potter,” I still love these movies. I started to write and read, learning from my mistakes, so I migrated to watching Netflix, which I love because I’m learning English fast and talking with people. I’m a talkative person and this is how I was when I born, my family always tells me that I was not shy at all. I learned English after one year and never gave up because I know life is not easy. I always learn everything from my writing and reading and listening and talking with people. A if life were easy then there would be no lessons to learn. For me, I always learn best the hard way, like improving my Arabic grammar, writing, and reading has helped me to understand people and listen to them.

Essay exams were a little bit hard in the beginning, but they helped improve my reading and writing, which are essential in Egyptian schools; however, my school was a private school, so I really do not know about the exams in the rest of the schools.


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