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Jessica McDougal The move was easy and hard at the same time.

It was exciting and I anticipated the change of environment and of course, I get to ride an airplane. It was hard that I had to move away from my grandparents. My grandparents were basically my second pair of parents. There was not a day that I did not get to see them. So the move was easy and hard. More easy than hard because my 2nd grader brain viewed this as a field trip instead of permanence or how much this could affect my life. Every thing changed fast and dramatically but I dont recall having any stress over it. Its either 2nd grader me was really strong or still oblivious to everything that was going on around me. The two story, concrete house changed to a one-story semi brick house. The all-the-same houses of the military base housing that gave off a light brown and yellow hue aura changed to of a reddish brown green hue aura of the streets filled with semi brick houses. Some houses unfortunate enough to have a pine tree tower over their houses. We had two great pine trees in our front lawn, towering over the house. The trees didnt bother me at all but now that I recall I remember my dads tedious efforts in always keeping the pine needles in a neat pile around the trees. New house, new neighborhood, new country, and even a new dog, every change was exciting and appealing to me. Though I do remember thinking the environment looked a bit gloomy and I didnt quite like the smell of the area. When I was young I was a very active, friendly, and adventurous little thing opposed to the guarded and more secluded me now. Overtime I changed and I changed because I learned. Im a firm believer that we learn something new everyday, whether we consciously notice it or not. We see new things everyday and we learn. Just like how I observed my surroundings when I was little. I dont remember ever trying to memorize every tile of the very first house of the big move but I remember it. Observation is a big part of learning but I think we all individually have our own quirks into making them stick. Teachers can adapt their ways of teaching a student by recognizing how the student absorbs the information that is given. But I believe, students have their individual learning tool within them, whether they are aware of it or not. I believe a persons literacy skill builds and improves over time by their environment. I dont remember the first day of school or the day by day activity of what I did throughout elementary school but somehow I remember these memories vividly. I dont remember the precise date of the move but I believe it was around Fall and it was in the middle of the school year for the kids already. I remember being bombarded by questions from my classmates of where I was from. I remember basking in the attention I got but now that I think about it the questions they asked were quite rude. But thats the innocence of children, they didnt notice nor did I notice how rude their questions were.

I already knew how to speak English. I dont remember ever learning the language but I knew it and my pronunciation was of a natives. I suppose I picked up the language considering my father can only speak English. So by making new friends, and interacting with them, I learned how to change my tone and vocabulary when speaking to children around my age. Like many of the people in my class, I also had the tracing of the letters and the learning computer games. But unlike the normal students, ever since I moved to the United States I was required to take English as a Second Language. A class specifically built for children who arent of native English tongue. I was pulled from class whenever my classmates had their English class to a different classroom for my ESL session. I cannot tell you what a normal elementary student learns in their English class because I did not have the opportunity to attend it. I guess this is also where my literacy journey shifted from others. In this class I remember learning how to sound out letters and to learn correct grammar. After being in ESL for many years I felt I wasnt learning anything new. I felt incompetent around my fellow classmates whenever they saw me leave English class. So I started to rebel and not go to my ESL classes. I wanted to learn and have the same experience as my classmates. I stopped attending ESL and sat in English class with everyone else. I remember by teaching telling me that I had ESL but I ignored her and kept attending. After my ESL teacher realized that I was missing her class on purpose, she started to have ESL session within my classroom. After much difficulty, my school finally gave into my reluctance in going to ESL sessions and allowed me to attend my English class like everyone else. So as I started to finally attend English class like everyone else, in the 5th grade, I learned how to put together paragraphs. Many were opposed to learning this but I was excited and excelled in it. Anything was better than sitting in a room where the teacher didnt bother teaching anymore. And because I finally had the opportunity to be around my classmates during English class, I discovered many didnt know of the things I learned about. Many couldnt remember the difference between an adjective and a noun or the trick to sounding out letters when trying to pronounce the words. I was furious; I endured not being around my friends for an hour a day for 3 years to learn that many of my classmates couldnt recall the things I learned. But as I started to get older and started to befriend many different types of people, I learned not only did I write differently from how I talk but that I also talk differently to different groups of people. I was already aware of the formal and informal way of speaking to an adult or to a fellow child but catching the way I talk to certain groups of people around my age was surprising. How my tone and my word uses adapt to those around me is one skill I take pride in. I for a long time viewed this as respect but I recently learned in class that this is what everyone does, whether they know it or not.

Vocabulary expanded as I got older but I also noticed that that also included slangs and different word uses for different regions. For example, when asking for a piece of pizza people in the South would say May I have a slice of pizza and people in the North would say May I have a slice of pie. They are both asking for slices of pizza but use different words. Different dialect is also what I learned as I got older. I always thought dialect was only in Japan because its much more obviously different there than in America but I learned that dialect exists everywhere. As I got older and the usage of technology became more frequent, I started to make friends online. And the people I befriended were from all over the world. They all had different manners, so some found some of the things they wrote offensive. But I never jump to conclusions. I observed and decided that English wasnt their native tongue and that there is not always a perfect translation. Just like how some things could be worded differently to sound better or more appealing for the listener. Foreigners can learn the language but if they dont interact with the native speaker, they will never know of the slangs, mannerisms, or even the trick to sugar coating your words. Because of this experience, I learned not only to observe but to listen. People sound different when they speak English, whether they are foreigners or not. Different regions give different accents, I learned not only to observe but to listen. During middle school another big change happened in my life, another move. A move not as big as the last but had a big impact on me. I moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Moyock, North Carolina. A mere forty-five minute drive distance difference yet it flipped my life upside down. I was not a city kid but Moyock was much more rural than Virginia Beach. I also noticed the lack of diversity but I never let that bother me. I was yet again excited about the change in scenery. Just like the first time, I was bombarded with questions from the bus ride to school and back. The same questions my classmates in 2nd grade asked me were the questions these 6th graders asked me. But I was a lot older and knew how rude their questions were. I came home miserable from day one. I made friends but not as much as I wanted to. I was more guarded and wasnt as openly friendly with everyone. Because of my lack in friends, during the breaks in the school day I would always go to the library. I never was much of a reader; a book never grasped my attention long enough. Chapter books were my nightmare in school assignments. But a friend recommended me a book called, Twilight. This was before the saga became a blockbuster sensation by the way. I remember checking the book out, flipping to the first page and closing the book and putting it in my locker. I couldnt understand the old English that was used in it. But after months of not reading that book, I finally started again and flipped to the second page. I immediately closed the book and lightly slammed my face into it. All those months I avoided reading a book afraid the whole book was in old English but what I first read was a bible verse dedicated to the authors loved one. After the initial embarrassment I read the book. I loved it and almost worshipped it. I couldnt believe a book would be so interesting. But then I remember thinking, have I ever tried to read something that

wasnt assigned to me? I concluded that the books the school gave out as assignments were boring and that books werent the bane of my existence. The frequenting to the school library never seized but instead of sitting around, I started to search for a book that was interesting. Half way through 7th grade, I finished reading all the interesting books I could get my hands on in the school library. Through reading, my vocabulary expanded much more and I discovered most of my friends also loved to read. And through books I made more friends. Another big environmental change was high school. At this point, I didnt really like change. Change gave me distress and I wasnt excited for high school for the right reasons. I viewed it as an escape from the kids in my small middle school instead of a new beginning of our exciting high school career. But I remember being most excited about the school library. I didnt know how it looked but I expected it to be much more grand than what it actually is. Another thing I liked about high school was that it placed you in classes with people who have the same strength in learning as you. High school was a test now that I think about it. Its a mixture of the basics you learned in elementary school, the social skills in middle school, plus the new knowledge thats to come in high school. High school was the biggest stage to use our literacy skills weve individually built over the years. Whether it was to interact with others or to score really well to show off to future colleges, high school tested our literacy skills to the max. Every move in my life was easy and hard. It was exciting and disappointing. But no matter how much joy, pain, or indifference I went through, I observed, listened, read, and interacted and built my ever-growing literacy knowledge. I believe environmental change and how we act to it is the biggest stimulator in our literacy skills.