I took the IELTS almost a month ago. Although they said they’d send my results within 13 days, I still haven’t received anything. I emailed them and they haven’t replied. I have been procrastinating calling them, mainly because I really hate the phone. I am waiting.
During the application process, I got asked where I studied English and for how long. I answered something vague because I found out I didn’t know. And, who reads forms anyway.
My mother language is Spanish. I speak it everyday. I have never been abroad. I went to a public school and a public university without much emphasis in language. So how come I ended up learning English? To me it’s a little bit obscure, like if I hadn’t decided it. I just woke up one day and realized I was able to communicate in this language, which was extremely fun and proved useful in more than one way.
Since then I just kept using it and by doing so, it magically got better with the time.
Fine, maybe not magically. I know I can track it down… a little bit at least.
I had basic classes in school – like everyone else I know in here who can barely say “hello”. I seemed to like it a lot since then and all the progress was pretty much effortless.
I did two semesters of an English course in a local institute. Here’s where people tend to say “ahh no wonder you know”, but to be honest, this is not the reason. I already knew most of what they were teaching me. I got perfect marks with no effort. It confirmed what I knew. Why did I stay? Well, this was in 11th grade and I had an obsession with extracurricular activities by then. As soon as year 11 ended, I stopped going to the institute and didn’t look back.
Then it came the internet
I wasn’t looking for it, it was incidental. I was actually looking for pokemon games (shut up) and I ended up in some boards full of kids around my age. I was fifteen – though I remember lying at first and saying I was 14 and still in high schol because I felt so very out of place. I knew I liked English but until then I had never put it to test with actual natives, so I was incredibly intimidated. If it wasn’t because there was a very bossy Venezuelan girl among the main members, I probably would have quickly gone somewhere else out of fear. Bossy or not, I knew that if I ever felt misunderstood I could go to her.
I’ve noticed this a lot in the internet: people who have English as a second language who seem to be more insecure than they should. They say anything, even something simple like “I liked this video a lot”, and immediately feel the need of adding “sorry if my English is bad”. Given the amount of kids with bad grammar and text speaking around there, I can guarantee no one would have noticed their “bad English” if they hadn’t added that phrase.
Well, I was like that in the boards I mentioned. I was careful but still felt as if some big grammar god was going to come and judge me. My language was very basic then, so I don’t think this was entirely bad or I could have gone too careless for my benefit.
I just know now that native or not, people don’t really know that much, and don’t pay that much attention either.
Ever since I graduated from high school almost 7 years ago, I haven’t STUDIED English as such. My discipline is almost zero. I have just played along with the internet using it for something else and gaining English skills in the way. I got use of the anonymity and the written world to put my shyness aside, and just practiced without a conscious effort. I absorbed vocabulary, I mimicked expressions, and corrected basic errors without thinking long about it.
You could say I learned most of it by osmosis. 😛
I know the Internet is a double-edged sword as it is not the most reliable source for good English examples. But somehow I surrounded myself with people who had a pretty good idea and this followed me here, to the blogs, where my favorite bloggers are pretty damn good with English. I didn’t consciously chose them because of that, I just liked what I was reading, the content.
They just happened to know a lot too.
There’s also this episode of my life when I started imagining that people could read my mind. I wasn’t actually delusional, I think I was just playing with the idea, and it became how I started to think in English – that way if people read my mind at least they won’t understand it. Really, it makes lots of sense.
I also have always dreamt of getting out of here and going around the world. Maybe this influenced my subconscious into keeping my motivation for absorbing more and more English.
And I have a good intuition for spelling in general. Whatever language it is. I pick it up by just reading it somewhere.
Lots of little things…
Anyway, I have found out that I like English even more than that. I don’t like languages in general as so far I haven’t shown an inclination to learn any other. I might want to learn German someday… maybe.
I like English enough to, I don’t know, maybe get a little bit more serious with it. Learn more, correct what I still do wrong, get rid of the vices. Become a person who can speak good English, and not a person who can speak good english… for a non native. Which is what I am now. I don’t know if I’m being too hard on myself but that little thing in the end of the sentence already lowers the standard. I don’t want to stop there.
I am still not good at sitting on a desk with a book of rules. So I won’t do any of that. Instead I will try to read more books in English, and I’ll try to write more about different things. (Read: higher level osmosis)
You’d think I have more time now, and I do. Except that being a clinically depressed patient seems to be a full time job. You know, sleeping at inappropriate times, being hopeless, the shaking, the crying and all other job responsibilities.
I won’t do most of the writing in my blog. I am planning to open my word processor and experiment a lot before showing anyone (which I will have to do eventually, otherwise how can I be sure). And about the reading part, eBooks will have to do for now as I can’t get “real” books in English over here. But I do own one paper copy now thanks to the great Sulz (best gift ever, thank you so much).