From ignorance to a Learner

Emmanuel Williams 

English 1101 

Professor Brianna Jewell 

                                                  From ignorance to a Learner 

            When it comes to reading, writing, and learning I wasn’t always the best at it. But I have come a long way to get better with all three categories, which made me a better person in general. When I was younger I never really liked the idea of understanding how to read because it was never really that interesting to me. As I grew up my reading and writing improved because my parents have pushed me to get better. My dad was the one who taught me how to write better, while my mom was the one that taught me how to read and comprehend work. During the week when I had finished my homework my mom will call me to read with her for 30 minutes before I went to bed. We were doing that for the 6th grade until I got better, and the weekends I had to read for 2 hours. My dad though taught me to write was when I was younger. He would sit both of us down and write out letters and sentences for the week until my writing became better. In school when it was time to read out loud it was a struggle to know when to pause and when not to, but as I dedicated to reading more the better I got at it. I had to make time for myself to read on the weekends with my free time to have a better understanding of reading. Meaning that I had to focus upon myself to become adequate in my pronunciation and the use of my punctuation as well. I also had to make sure I understood what was going on in the reading, so that meant I had to be asked analytical questions about the text and I had to be quizzed on. At one point I moved to a middle school where I was tested on my reading skills. I didn’t have any idea about how good or bad I was doing, but the results showed that I was actually pretty bad and needed a lot of work. Same thing with my writing because it had a large number of grammatical errors and it didn’t really make any sense what I was writing about. Learning for me took a ton out of me since I was a child who would rather play a lot, but I had no choice at this point in time I had to learn as much as possible and fast too because I had to catch up to the other kids in my class. Over time I grew in my skills in reading, and I even took it upon myself to actually read on my own time and start enjoying reading books. I took the most exciting-fictional books that were interesting to me and read for the joy of it. This ultimately made me a better writer, especially now that I knew more about grammar and how punctuations worked. Additionally, I became happier knowing that part of my potential was unlocked because of accelerated successes. I was able to get better grades, especially in my writing and reading classes. 

              Even though American charter schools helped me to get to the point where I am, there is still work to get done in the American education system. Not every school can give access to books and extra help for students to get better, and not every parent or tutor in America is able to teach a child how to get better in the English language. If there were more fun activities or maybe even challenges to get kids reading more, then there will be a promising education system in America. 

The ‘horror’ story

It was a little over ten years ago, in my bedroom with a black and white composition notebook and a wooden pencil when I wrote my first “book”. It wasn’t your average book,however, it was a scary story that I completely made up from start to finish. As a child, one of the many things that interested me the most was scary stories and horror movies. During my elementary school days, I can remember vividly searching through the horror/mystery genres in book fairs, not only because these were the only books I was interested in, it was because these were the only one that left me on the edge of my seat every time I read one. Not to mention I was the only child until the age 9, so being my fathers only kid led me to watch all his favorite horror flicks with him. With an interest of scary stories and having a father that loves horror movies as much as you do, it wasn’t too long after that for me to develop the idea to create my own “horror story”. The story I made was about this girl that triggered a parallel universe that had immortal people/creatures in it, back then I obviously had a completely different idea of ‘scary’ than I do now. However , with the knowledge I had based on all the movies I watched and the stories I’ve read, it was the most detailed piece of writing I’ve ever done. Not only was this the first time I was writing something outside of school and on my own, but it was also the first writing I was technically invested and fascinated in. I spent every possible chance and free time I had to adding, revising, and sketching in that book, and ironically till this day it does not have a title. Thinking back the most difficult part was keeping track of the different characters dialogue, making sure nothing was repeated and simply if it made sense. I remember being so frustrated at times because I wouldn’t know how to get the thoughts I had into words, I felt as if there was so many words I had missed out on that was preventing me to fully express myself, or I had “writer’s block” and just had a moment of loss creativity. But something I can never forget is my parents support and every time a moment like that happened they never took “giving up” as an answer.

Writing this book resulted in many things such as putting more meaning into my writing in and outside of school. I realized during this process that my vocabulary needed to improve and because of this I then started to engage more in learning different words and the use of them, thus improving my overall writing style. Furthermore it expanded my reading interest and made me more aware of the other genres to read from. However this influenced more than just my reading and writing but my passion for art and the major i’m deciding on today. Concurrently to writing my ‘horror story’ my grandmother would teach me how to sketch different things around the house and different animals. I will also frequently do that on my spare time, and still do today, even incorporated some sketches in my ‘book’and I eventually gotten better. Over the years I continued sketching and drawing and later developed a hobby doing sfx makeup. For those who don’t know what that is, SFX stands for special effect makeup, also known as prosthetic makeup, which involves using prosthetic sculpting, molding and techniques to create advanced cosmetic effects. It wasn’t until then I felt as if my drawings were coming to life. Developing this hobby came from watching the ‘behind the scenes’ of horror movies I’ve watched. By this time I was sketching out pieces I wanted to recreated using prosthetic makeup. I hit a moment of realization , and I knew I wanted to study what I loved doing the most, so when applying for college came around, picking a major wasn’t hard at all. Although i’m still deciding whether majoring in architecture or graphic design will put me on the path I want, I know I want to be in a field where i’m utilizing my passion for art. Ironically this ‘horror’ story I wrote had so many benefits that came out of it that made MY ending better than it’s own. This experience did not only impacted my writing and interest in reading but it gave me so many ideas on what I want to do in the future.

unit 1 literacy narrative

Unit 1 literacy narrative

E1101 Justin Bartholomew

The Importance of Learning English
In elementary school, I never like to read or write. Few years later, I gain knowledge by learning something new from reading a newspaper article or from reading the author’s stores. Writing allow me to take more time to put in my thoughts so that I can communicate better. I learned that reading and writing is one of the most important ways to develop my learning experience because it develops my communication skills, it can help me to get my education, and it allow me to build up my ideas.
I believe that reading and writing can improve my communication. When I read, I feel more confidence of English language. Reading also build up my vocabulary that allows me to speak English with different words. When I get comfortable of speaking, most of the time my teachers can understanding what I am saying. When even I talking to someone one on one, I always think about what sentence I will say before I speak. As I keep reading it will increase my vocabulary and I will feel more comfortable while I am speaking. Writing is a way to help me to form my sentences to my grammar.
Reading and writing is one of the best ways for getting an education. During in elementary school, I wasn’t good at reading or writing. My teacher told me that I was better at writing than reading because I had good ideas to write down my example for each paragraph. In high school, when I heard students that they had something to study for in college, it took me a while to figure out what I want to study for in college. That’s when I realize that reading and writing is important because in college to get to the classes that I want to study for, I need to pass classes that involved with reading and writing such as English and social studies.
Developing our thoughts by reading or writing will allow us to improve our argument in the real world. I remember in high school, I had a lot of information about writing an argument essay that was about smoking in parks should be illegal from reading “Whatever the Science Shows, Banning Smoking in Parks Makes Sense” by James Colgrove. Based on the argument, I agree with the author and I had supported my reasons by explaining how smoking can cause a health risk and nonsmokers will get effected by smokers for being around public spaces. Reading this text make me think back at the time when I had been seeing many people be smoking near by parks and beaches people didn’t have a chose but to inhale the cigarette smoke.
I believe reading or writing is important in our daily lives because it guide us to get an educated job and develop our relationships. Writing stories or an argument is also one of the best ways to communicate with others. Writing gives me more time to focus to write down more of my thoughts, when I read, it allows me the ability to learn more information to develop my communication such having the ability to talk to one of my classmates. Learning English can help us to reach our goal such as finishing our classes.


“Motivation” that’s the word that has been in my vocabulary the most these past two years. It did not just happen like that, there is a whole background story. It all started 2 years ago when I was faced with a huge challenge taking an exam in a totally foreign language for me (English writing).When taking  that exam I knew that I did not put my maximum aptitude in studying to pass it because in my mind I would fail anyway.So after getting back my results a totally different feeling got to me, I was angry at myself. Not one ounce of pride was present in myself  because I knew I could do better at that exam. That’s when  the story about motivation began .That exam helped me to know where my weakest areas were is it more about vocabulary or grammar in my case it was all. So I started taking action to work on that .I started extra hour in school “youtube classes” and some reading. I knew that all that would pay off one day so I set my mind to work. I was motivated to study and pass any other exam that  I would have to take which  I knew in order to pass I had to understand English and know how to put my thoughts into words . Throughout the year I was seeing some results from my hard work and  motivation .Now I was less shy when speaking up in class unlike in the beginning when i was ashamed of my accent or how I sound. I felt like people did not understand what I was saying and it was frustrating .That experience made me believe in one thing which is” With motivation, everything is possible “because in less than month I was not the girl who was ashamed of her accent but the girl who talks in front of 10 20 or 30 girls to empower them in clubs. I wasn’t the girl who’s not confident when taking exam, I was the girl people would come to study with ask question whether it’s in English or another subject.  I was the girl who passed all her exams  with honors the girl who joined clubs and interacted with important people in our society . A lot of things changed in less than one year but most of all I felt I had grown . All of this happened because because of the motivation I had and still continue to have.If that experience has taught me something it’s that education is what you make  of it . What I mean by that is, even if you go to the best school or have the best instructors in the world if you are not willing to or do not have motivation to study learn or educate yourself it will not work and as an example for that we can take my experience with the English exam . I am not saying my teacher was the best in the world, but he was good .The problem was with me not having the motivation to study because to me failing was a certainty . For me, motivation is  one the keys to achieve any goal in life.

Collecting Dust

My bookbag weighed a ton. I remember walking up the three flights of stairs in middle school to get to the third floor, which is where I had all my classes. What made my back hurt was that dumb book, The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan which had so many pages. It was part of some greek mythology novel which was part of a bigger series, The Heroes of Olympus. I would read them all the time during lunch, recess and even in my own classes. I would find any way to read that book but today was different. I came to school with that book ready to read it when I went into my math class and saw the lesson up on the smartboard. For the first time in probably all of my school life, I didn’t understand what the lesson was about. I saw a bunch of numbers and letters but I had to ask my friend Eduardo what they were about.

They’re systems of equations Xavi” he’d say.

Of course, if I had been paying attention I would have known what that was. I was in eighth grade, so taking algebra in middle school wasn’t something every kid did but still I understood most of the lessons because math was always my strong suit. For the first time in months, instead of putting my Heroes of Olympus book in my desk like I usually do, I left it in my bag. A sense of nervousness and anxiety filled me because never in my life would I think I couldn’t understand math. It took me about a week and a lot of help from Eduardo to be able to understand what was going on in class. Once I got caught up in math though, I returned to my bad habit of reading that book everywhere. My mom would love that I was reading all the time.

 “That’s good for your brain mijo” she’d say.

When my report card came out with all my grades though, it was a completely different story. My mom couldn’t even look at me in the eye and I couldn’t give her a valid excuse as to why those grades were so low. I knew she was disappointed in me and it was one of the worst feelings in the world as a child. I slowly realized that the book was doing me no good. The next day, I went to talk to Mr.Fernandez, my math teacher. He said my test grades were low and I barely paid attention in class. When I told my mom about this, she would then proceed to blame me and the books. 

“It’s all because of those dumb books that you carry around and read everywhere”  she said.

She went on to tell me to just throw the books out because they would just collect dust in my room. I was so confused because everyone told me that reading all these books was good for me and that I would grow up with a healthy mind and imagination. I didn’t realize that I was growing up and some priorities had to be set straight. School always came first which meant my grades and everything related to my future was to come first. I associated books and reading with school so I just assumed I was doing nothing wrong when I spent hours reading those fiction books. I told myself I needed a little self control and that school and my grades should come first. And they did.

That was my eighth grade, and I ended the school year with grades that not only satisfied myself, but my parents too. Putting the books away taught me to have patience with myself and that in a way ,since I was young, I have time for everything in the world. The books were good for me as it opened up my mind to fictional universes and gave me an interest in fiction and sci-fi novels. Reading is a luxury to me now and if it wasn’t for these books, I would probably have no interest in reading nowadays. Those books are probably still somewhere under my bed collecting dust as most old books do. 

Fear of Reading

   I knew very little English from what I was taught in my Pakistan school. Coming to America, I had this fear of not being able to communicate properly with my peers at school here. I was in 3rd grade when I immigrated to America, I remember my first day of school. I walked in class giving everyone this look of fear in my eyes, I didn’t say a word. I was hoping no one talks to me. I was hoping the teacher doesn’t put me on the spot. Since English isn’t my first language and I couldn’t speak it fluently, I was placed in ESL (English Second Language). My teachers knew I was in ESL so they gave it their best to help me advance out of ESL. I was in ESL for 3 years, which was my entire elementary experience. With the help of my teachers, I trained myself to pass the ESL exam.

    Starting 6th grade I was placed in regular English. I enjoyed writing a lot more than reading, I don’t know why but I find almost nothing interesting in reading. It was like my biggest enemy, I hated it more than bullies. I seemed uninterested in almost every reading I was given. I only finished my reading assignments given by the teacher if I was forced to read. Every time I was given a book from the teacher, I tried to find ways to avoid reading the entire book and jump to summaries. Sometimes I had no choice but to read, because there would be a quiz or an exam. Starting high school, avoiding readings became almost impossible. There would be times where I wanted to write an essay or story but my vocabulary was really weak. I think it was in 10th grade when I finally realized the true meaning behind reading. I knew I had to make reading my best friend. I also realized that my vocabulary was weak because I don’t read. It was getting harder and harder to write. Hence, I started to read more. Started slow but if I look at my past, I read more than before.

    Reading wasn’t my favorite thing to do but I truly enjoy writing. It was something I could do and not realize how much I have written. In 10th grade my creative writing teacher gave us an assignment to write, she said to write about yourself. It can be about anything, maybe something that occurred in the past that changed your life. As easy as it sounds, it was actually so hard for me to write about just anything. It was hard for me to think about one thing out of all the other events that have occurred in the past. When it comes to writing, I hate writing about myself. I find it hard to think about a specific event. However, once I get an idea and start writing I would go on and on about that topic. If a teacher gives me a specific topic to write about, it makes my life so much easier. 

    I had many events in the past. First I had to divide all those moments into the events that were interesting. Then I had to choose just one to write about. It took me the entire period to think about an event to write about, so I had to finish it at home. The next day during editing, my teacher read my writing and said that my use of vocabulary is very weak. She said I was using small words to describe the event and that I should expand my vocabulary. At first I was so confused. I thought to myself, how do I expand my vocabulary? Completing the assignment became really hard, not because I couldn’t write or couldn’t think of the topic. It was because I was told to expand my vocabulary and I had no idea how I can do that. My teacher asked me if I read books and I replied, “To be honest I don’t like books or to read.” She said that I would have to make books my best friend if I want to get better at writing. I completed the assignment but it became uninteresting after I used the wrong words to describe the event. I couldn’t learn new words in a day, so I decided that I will read more in hope that over time my vocabulary grows stronger. 

Deck Of Cards

 I will always remember the day when I had to take the Chinese LOTE (Language test harder than regents) in my junior year of high school. After taking 3 years of Chinese at the time and having a Chinese influence with a 95% Asian school located in Chinatown of all places. I came to the point where I need to recollect all my previous Chinese knowledge in order to pass the test. The Chinese LOTE consisted of 2 parts, the oral and written, which were separated in separate days. I remember the oral section of the test the most even though it counted for the least amount of points in the test. There was tension in the air, classmates flipping through their notebook pages and rushing through google translate for some last-minute studying. Those three years of suffering in Chinese class listening to my 老师(teacher) all came down to this moment; if you don’t include the AP Chinese test, we were made to take in our senior year. All the juniors waited in the cafeteria. Waiting for their names to be called randomly. Some playing poker, some chatting but most filled with adrenaline ready to make a full-throttle turn to their testing zone. To be honest I studied for two hours before the test on the train and reviewed all the topics that I was confident in. Our previous Chinese teachers from when we were freshmen and sophomores were our examiners, which we were randomly assigned to. I was gambling with fate at this point to what teacher I’ll get. I was assigned to Ms. Hu, my sophomore Chinese teacher who I had for two months due to an upcoming successful heart surgery, which to me was the best possibility since I made a good impression of her throughout her time teaching my class.My oral was my worst aspect of the language, reading and writing benefitted me more. I either avoided answering oral questions or prepared ahead of time for when I needed to say something. The oral part consisted of 300 random cards displaying different topics and situations which we were to make a conversation with the teacher. You were made to randomly choose 2 of the 300 cards to talk about with the teacher in either teacher or student initiate, so basically it was like good luck.Me being a native Spanish speaker that got more accustomed to English from a young age, trying to learn another language with a time limit of a few years was quite engrossing. Having to change between three languages every day was quite a normal event for me. At school for about two hours I spoke and wrote Chinese to my classmates, at home I spoke a mixture of English and Spanish to show a clear understanding with my mother and siblings. Hearing people in the train, school and parks all speaking Chinese day by day, gradually made me embrace the new language as another way to show people respect and a connection towards them. While I can for sure say that I wasn’t the best or contained the most interest in the culture, I sure did try to meet the expectations that were entitled to me at the time.It might have been luck or low probability when drawing two of those cards but when the time came the two cards that I have chosen were both of the shopping topic that I had studied only hours before. One or the most confident draws that I held up my sleeve. I can’t really recall in detail to my response to her questions but I do remember my score of 21 out of 24 in the oral section. 


“Going to school while immigrant” By, Steven Polanco

          It was no until I came to this country that I had to struggle that much with reading and writing. I remember being a freshman in my English class, I remember the vivid movement when my teacher asked me to write an essay I didn’t even know what she was talking about, at that moment I had never written or knew how to write an essay in the “American” format. What made the situation even worse of what it was is that I did not know a single word of English. I remember the frustration and struggle I past through like if it was yesterday, almost everyone in the room had an idea of what we were doing but me. Also, the cause of that frustration was more because I was under the great pressure of showing everyone especially my mother that I could do it. I was supposed to feel safe and secure because the High School I went to was mostly for Latinos and obviously I expected to feel that way but the truth is that I just did not feel like I was part of it, I just didn’t fit in at that particular time, me sentia perdido.

          When I started the essay I was so frustrated and uncomfortable because it was my first time writing and reading that much and adding to that it was on a complete new language. I tried my best but, I had a ton of grammar mistakes even using a translator word by word, somethings just didn’t make any sense for me. Also, it was boring because I felt like a robot following a format that is always the same and reading the same information over and over again trying to get through the main information of every text or document. It was the same format given to everyone, one which we did not vote for or say that we like it. I tried my best even though I knew I was not going to get a good grade on that essay just by the facts that it was my first one and my situation with writing and reading in english. The frustration I past through wasn’t because it was hard, I can say that it was because I did not know how to read and write at all at that moment I realize that I never did. To add, it was more difficult for me because my teacher try to explain as best and simple as she could but the true is that at that moment I wasn’t going to understand it. I didn’t even understand what she was saying to me. At the end I came up with my essay and I failed that assessment.

          After that day, the day I felt like if I was going to let everyone who believe in me down. I started to give more importance to reading and writing because in a country full of high expectations if I don’t know how to read and write I won’t be able to meet the “Standards” society has set for me. Furthermore, with the past of the time following the same format even though it was boring, I started to get used to it and getting better grades and expanding my vocabulary. To add, the feeling of letting my mother down if I did not learn how to survive in a system where if you don’t do something as expected you’re not smart. It gave me a different point of view about the importance of reading and writing now day. It makes you feel vivo and the ayuda a salir adelante.


Literacy Narrative

The Perks Of Growing Up Bilingual

Going into my first years of elementary, I never really had any trouble with English. My first language is Spanish. I grew up talking in Spanish to both my mom and my dad all the time. But as I got older, I started talking to my sister in English and because of that, I Skipped pre-K because I didn’t need a lot of help with knowing how to write, read, and talk in Spanish. So going into kindergarten, of course my teacher was still a bilingual teacher because everyone in my neighborhood was latin/hispanic. So apart from knowing Spanish she knew english as well but it wasn’t a bilingual class. It was just a regular kindergarten class. I remember this one assignment she had given us, which was that we had to use the words she gave us on a sheet of paper to form sentences. I remember being the first one to finish the assignment. Some kids were still having trouble to form sentences because they couldn’t make of some of the words that were on the paper. For me, because I’ve been writing and reading in English since before I started school, it was easy. Since I had finished my assignment before everyone else in the class, the teacher congratulated me in front of the whole class for being able to finish early and without any help. Because I had already finished, I was able to do whatever I wanted to like draw, play, take a nap, whatever. Of course, as long as I was still inside the classroom. While all the other kids had to try and figure out how to form the sentences. This made me realize how lucky I am to be able to know how to talk, read, and write in both English and Spanish at such a young age. I didn’t struggle as much in my first years of elementary school due to what I already knew. I feel like if you know a certain language well enough, especially English, then you won’t struggle as much in whatever it is you’re doing because wherever you go there’s going to be at least one person who knows English. Knowing English is kind of like a perk because everyone knows at least a little bit of English. I guess you can say that English is a universal language. Of course I never forgot how to read and write in Spanish thanks to my parents which I’m thankful for because I didn’t want to loose that side of me; my Latina side.

literacy narrative

Throughout my life, I’ve never really enjoyed reading, writing or speaking.

When it came to reading I hate it so very much. That might be weird but I

just find reading very dull. Although I dislike reading, I feel like if I do it

more often it could help me and my brain. A reason why I feel like I dislike ‘

reading is maybe because of the books that I have read. I don’t enjoy what I

am reading. The only books that I can remember enjoying are the book

series Diary Of a Wimpy Kid. Although I don’t like reading books, I do enjoy

reading blogs and news on the web. I also used to enjoy reading the

newspapers, as I would be curious to find out what was going on. Although I

don’t enjoy reading, I try to read and I will forever try as I can see the

benefits of it. Now when it came to writing, I don’t enjoy it because I

literally will have brain farts while trying to think of something to write

about. Even though I don’t like it, throughout my life I have written

so much. I have written from personal biographies to other people

biographies to essays and summaries. I feel good sometimes when I write

because I can write what I feel. I can express my mind from brainstorming

and then writing. I have many pros and cons when it comes to writing

because my writing could be either very good or very bad. When I don’t

know what to write, sometimes I don’t even write. Although my writing can

be bad if I am into what im writing it may come out very good. A goal of

mine since I was a kid was to write a journal and write something every day

but that never happened. I hope one day I can still achieve that goal. Writing

is not in my best interest but it would be my best trait when it comes to

literacy. When I was a kid, I used to be a big mouth and I would like to talk

about literally everything and gossip. Now I feel like I am a little antisocial

as I don’t really like to talk to people or talk in general. Like \if I was to

present something in front of a crowd, I would not feel comfortable.

Although talking might seem easy for others I feel like a lot of people don’t

feel comfortable talking in crowds or out loud. This is only the case for me

when I am in unknown territory and I am not familiar with any one. If you

get to know me or we are close I could probably be one of the best people to

talk Since my reading, writing, and speaking aren’t up to what I expect

them to be, I will take full advantage of this class and other classes like my

public speaking class to improve overall in my literacy.