As a child, I was sent to Santo Domingo to stay with my grandmother for a year. First I was at a disadvantage in Santo Domingo because I couldn’t read or write in Spanish. As months passed by, I learned Spanish and ended up losing my English tongue. I went back to New York after a year and I knew no English. My mom was rattled by the Spanish that I spoke so fluently. Once I was enrolled in school in NYC, I was placed in a classroom with kids that only spoke English and one kid that spoke Spanish. She helped translate what was going on most of the time and helped people know what I wanted to say. Later on, I got my English back and I was an average second-grader. As time went on, I started reading more and more books. I always read when I could, even when I was supposed to be doing chores. My mom would complain when she caught me but she appreciated a daughter that read. She always spoke about how much I read when she talked about me and how I never asked her for any help when it came to homework. I was always lost in books and even now I get lost in a good book.

Growing up in Harlem opened a new door to English that I didn’t realize was open. I was subconsciously changing the way I spoke around different types of people. I spoke Spanglish around my mom’s family and spoke “proper” English around my dad’s family. Around friends, I spoke the type of English you wouldn’t want to hear a kid speaking, let alone a girl. My tone was aggressive and my English was made up of slang terms. I spoke this English with the people I was comfortable with, and I still do. Around people I meet for the first time and around grown-ups, I speak the gentlest English I could speak and I speak it as proper as I can. Now that I think about how I speak English, I think about how different my English really is in different situations with different people in different places.

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