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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WR 8.2. Annex2. My personal Quest for English -edited

Annex 2. Text C. Edited version after comments with teacher.

There is a moment in our lives in which we decide to set off for something we want be it a friend, money, a goblet, a wife or anything else... at that moment, the quest has already started and we don’t know where it will lead us.

When I started my quest for English, I had no idea what it would be like, and I honestly thought it would be easier. I remember the year well, it was 1992, when the Olympic Games were being held in Barcelona. Unforgettable. The reason was an (un)common one, to my view. I made the tough decision to read in English, being fed up with translated books.
First fights were with words, pronunciation, listening … the elementary stuff you must face at first level. By then, I still had the fading illusion of learning fast. I thought I was cleverer than I really was. I won some battles here and there which gave me confidence. I believed in myself as I understood the tapes in the classroom and acquired the ability to communicate with my classmates in English. Of course the words were the basic ones in adapted books and the sentences followed the essential grammar. As I was able to read in English having started from scratch, this showed real headway. I gullibly thought this scenario would be the pattern in the years to come. This was the prelude of my big defeat.

Three years later I landed in the UK. Armed with a few words, some colloquial phrases, a dictionary and the hope that locals there spoke better than my classmates, I was eager to communicate with native English speakers.
I didn’t expect that the battle would be so harsh and the enemy so arrogant. People there uttered a somehow different code with strange consonants and weird vowels I couldn’t decipher. The enemy was fierce and not merciful at all. It didn’t want to make any effort to understand what I was trying to say with my, I can say it now, poor English. After three days I had to accept the utter defeat, my scarce weapons were not enough to deal with native speakers. I needed more practice, that was for sure. The aim of this particular quest of mine was further ahead, over the horizon.

Since then I have taken it very easy, and what I have done mostly, being the easiest thing for me, is merely read. Having read a good pile of books in English, I realised that best sellers are written with a simpler language than literary works. At least the lesser of my goals has been fulfilled. Of course I can’t read everything, but I am happy with my level, though I will not stop learning and improving my skills.
Speaking and listening are also some of the battles yet to be won. I am at the point where I can travel everywhere around the world without troubles, which has been a great achievement. But deep inside I still feel it is not enough. It’s very difficult for me to understand native speakers and if they have a broad accent, it is depressing. It goes without saying that many times I understand only a few words. I didn’t know that there were so many dialects in English, the strong American twang for instance, it sounds as if they were chewing gum all the time! I didn’t expect this hard level of difficulty. Obviously the only way to improve fast enough in this skill is to live there, but meanwhile I try to watch as many films as possible in their original English version.
Speaking has also been a long distance race, and I feel I am crossing the Rubicon here. Little by little I have been able to communicate with foreign-ers from every corner of the world and also with native speakers, if they have the patience. Many badly pro-nounced words can lead to funny situations, and I have been the main character in some of them. I can work out the meaning of many written words, but I am neither able to pronounce them properly, unless they are frequently used, nor to activate them in current conversations.

Despite all these hazards (Oh I forgot grammar! But never mind -it’s a Freudian oblivion.) I might say that in my quest I have found to be worth it. Every new word, every new learned expression and every new conversation in English is a trifle victory, but victory nevertheless, towards a final battle that, fortunately, will never happen. There is no end in this Quest for English. And the best is yet to come.

The end – by J .G.

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