Niemand 1 Kylie Niemand Professor Jan Rieman English 1103 September 15th, 2010

Self-assignment: Overall my paper gets across the general ideas and thoughts I wanted to express about my literacy experience. I need to still cut some things out and tighten up aspects of my paper. I am happy with the way it came out, but I know I can improve it and make the essay flow more. Sponsor My Literacy Everyday literature is presented to me in a variety of forms through different medias. Throughout my life I have had to overcome many difficulties associated with reading and writing and my ability to understand the literature at hand. My literacy practices have been influenced and developed by a variety of people all adding their own personal touches into helping me learn and improve. Without certain sponsors, I would not be where I am today with my literacy skills. For me, literacy has never been easy, but with my determination and dedication to improving my skills I am finally able to say that I am confident in my literacy capabilities. Living in different countries has allowed me to develop my literacy skills in accordance to the cultures and languages I have been surrounded by. I was born in South Africa and remained there until I moved to America at the age of six. Being raised in a bilingual household where my family spoke both Afrikaans and English, was a very enriching experience for me. In my opinion there is nothing quite like Afrikaans culture

Niemand 2 and especially their humor. Unlike America where most stories we know come from books and novels, in South Africa stories are spread more by mouth than literature. Coming from that culture, my earliest literacy experiences derived more from hearing stories rather than reading them. When I moved to America however, that all changed. Transitioning from South Africa to America was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Coming from a background of more verbal communication than written communication, I had trouble adjusting to the American way of life. I entered my first American school in the first grade, and from day one, I felt out of place with my literary skills. I had come from a world of multiple languages and was rapidly thrust into a world solely of English. I quickly found out that I was behind compared to my classmates; while most of the kids in my class learned to read and write in kindergarten, I never attended the equivalent in South Africa. I knew how to spell a few words but discovered that some of my spelling was wrong such as ‘colour’ in America was ‘color’. I began to understand how my spelling was different and needed improvement, but greatly believed that I could read just as well as the other kids, unfortunately it turned out to not to be the case. Reading and writing has never been easy for me, especially in the first grade. The first book I can remember attempting to read front to back was a tiny storybook about two people getting married. As a mother’s day gift, my entire class took turns reading a book in front of a recorder so that we could present our mother with a tape of our spectacular reading abilities. I took my book and practiced reading it over and over the entire week before we recorded. I wanted to make my mother proud and wanted to prove to myself that I could be as good as the American kids. When time came to record, I

Niemand 3 continuously stumbled across the words and often had to restart the sentence, however I was determined to finish. I can still remember how elated I was when I completed the story, feeling as if I had just won the biggest marathon in the world; however the feeling did not last long. My reading skills were weak contrasted against classmates and my ever lovely South African accent did not help the matter. Upon reading, I would pronounce words differently and immediately receive ridicule from fellow students who were all too eager to point out my wrong pronunciation. At that young age, the most traumatic thing that could happen to me was being made fun of, which became my life. Day in and day out I was constantly teased for having an accent and doing things differently from the American way. To make matters worse, I was forced by the school to work with a reading teacher twice a week. I would have to leave class in the middle of an assignment to go to an office and practice my reading and pronunciation. The special attention I was receiving by the reading teacher gave the kids in class more ammunition to tease me with. The ridicule I received in school, made me adopt an American accent and despise reading in every form, as I became embarrassed by my inabilities. My contempt for reading increased as I had to attend special reading classes at school and then go home and continue practicing words and pronunciation. My mother was determined to get me to be comfortable with reading and writing and did everything in her power to help me. Almost every night, my mother would pull out Hooked on Phonics and we would sit at the table and play the game. I remember sitting at the counter and bawling my eyes out because I kept getting some of the activities wrong, my mother however was always there to comfort and encourage. Her commitment to helping me improve my literacy skills persuaded me to work on my literacies individually as well. I

Niemand 4 became determined to improve my literacy abilities so that I could make my parents proud. I decided that by forcing myself to write book reports I could not only advance my reading but my writing skills too. I would read a different book each month and upon completing the story, I would write a page or two describing the book and the main events. I started to feel better about my reading abilities in the seclusion of my own room but in class I still felt weak with my literacy capabilities when compared to my friends. By the time I entered middle school, reading became an acquaintance of mine; still not a friend but no longer an enemy as compared to years prior. I went from reading books with pictures in them in elementary school, to books with no pictures at all by the end of sixth grade. The transition to harder books was a gradual process which enabled me to adjust to the more difficult level of reading we were required to do in middle school. I soon discovered that although some books were boring and tedious, only a necessity for class, other books could actually be entertaining and humorous. I was given easy access to libraries and computers both in school and at home. School would have us read articles online which introduced me to the wonderful world of literature the internet has to offer. Reading was solely an acquaintance until my last year in middle school. By the start of eighth grade, my family had just moved to a new town and yet again, my world was twisted upside down. I detested the school I went to and had a very difficult time fitting in and making friends and instead turned to the world of literature. My lunch period would be spent in the library and during free time you could always catch me with a book; I figured as long as I was busy doing something, the other kids could not make fun of me for not having any friends. I started to enjoy reading as it gave me access to a variety of information and stories. My house was constantly overflowing

Niemand 5 with books and after finishing a great novel my parents would often share the book with me. I started pushing myself to read harder and more complex stories with intricate language. I became immersed in the stories I read and soon developed a passion for reading and consequently writing. By the start of high school I felt confident with my literacy abilities due to my eagerness to read, learn and expand my literacy skills. My freshman year of high school greatly affected my literacy talents, as I was forced to read classic pieces of literature and write more essays than I had before. The assignments were hard but the way Mr. Bramanti taught the class and made the readings so easy to understand, excited me as my love for reading grew. By freshman year, I was reading a new book almost every week. I loved the attention I received from Mr. Bramanti when he asked me about my new book and how I liked the previous. When it came time to write an essay, I felt confident enough that I could write a great paper due to Mr. Bramanti’s class teachings. He gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed to research, organize, and write my essay. I was determined to make my parents proud and live up to the expectations Mr. Bramanti held for me, that I would often take twice as long to write an essay compared to my classmates, often going above and beyond what was expected. I was determined to live up to not only the expectations of my parents and teacher but that of my own. During my sophomore year of high school I moved to Charlotte and once again, everything changed. In my previous school, I had not taken any honors classes but when I moved down to North Carolina I found the regular level classes as Mallard Creek High to be too easy for me. I began taking honors classes and junior year I took Advanced Placement courses. I enjoy getting a good grade when I know I deserve it through the

Niemand 6 hard work I have done. In the regular level classes I did not feel that satisfaction. I respected the challenge that came along with the honors and AP classes and pushed myself to succeed and maintain high grades. My junior year AP English class focused on composition of literature more than the literature itself. For the first time in school, I focused on the writing aspect of literacy more than the reading. My teacher Ms. Cogburn taught the class in such a way that it was actually enjoyable to learn because we continuously used visual aspects throughout the lessons. My entire junior year, we only read one book in class. Taking the focus of reading and literature greatly helped me to refine my skills and learn how to be analytical and thoughtful in my writing. However the attention soon shifted back to reading my senior year. Senior year was a rollercoaster for me as I left my family behind in Charlotte and moved back up to Massachusetts to attend my previous high school. I spent the entire year living with my best friend and his family because I hated my Mallard Creek and was determined to spend my senior year happy and surrounded by friends. After taking AP classes in Charlotte there was no way of not taking them again in Westford although classes are significantly harder at my previous high school compared to Mallard Creek. I took AP English yet again, and to this day, it has been the hardest class I have ever taken. From our summer assignments to our final book, I never stopped reading in that class. Over the course of the year I read over twenty books both inside and outside of the classroom. Although the course was excessively hard, I was resolute on getting the same grade as the previous year because I was going to this school for a particular reason, I felt I had to do as good if not better. I had to work harder in that class than in any of my other classes because the literature we were presented with and asked to analyze and interpret

Niemand 7 had so much depth to it that a simple glance through would not cover it. Every book I read, with the exception of one, had some particular interest to me which captivated me to do well on the assignments. My teacher Ms. Goldberg taught in such an intense, intimidating, and insightful way that during class I felt unsure and frazzled by the literature, but by the end of a book, her fanatical teaching methods would pay off and I would gain an intense knowledge of the literature. She pushed me to improve my writing with every essay by revisiting everything I wrote and forcing me to read it over and over while critiquing myself on what I did wrong, so that I could learn and develop my skills for the next essay. I had an essay due almost every week; the constant work forced me to continuously improve my skills and think of new and innovative ways to read and understand while at the same time write in new methods that better expressed my ideas. Looking back to where I stood with my literacy abilities in the beginning of first grade to present day, it is amazing to see how far I have come. From the insecure girl who was embarrassed by her reading skills and was mortified by the thought of reading aloud in class, I now am confident in my literacy capabilities. I still have difficulty with grammar and spelling but I am more confident with my literacy abilities than I ever thought would be possible. If not for my mother and father and their constant encouragement to read, write and practice, I believe I would still detest reading. They always made literature available for me and took extra steps to help me become more convinced in my ability to read and write. Out of all the teachers I have had in and out of school, Mr. Bramanti, Ms. Cogburn and Ms. Goldberg affected me more than any other teachers had because of the personal touch they added in their lessons and the enthusiasm they had each and every day in class. I have had literacies presented to me in a variety of

Niemand 8 forms from a plethora of people, each teaching me something different about the world and the way we all communicate within it. Although I had trouble in the beginning, I am proud of the way I have developed my literacy skills and the ability I now have to read, write and understand various forms of literature.

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