My Heart Will Go On…..

Arriving at middle school was  scary.  That was my introduction to America and  English.  I arrived at school and knew I was in trouble when everyone was just staring at me.  I knew that I would have to open my mouth and let my English come out, or lack of  English rather.  I had learned to speak and read and write English in China but now it was the real thing.  We would  practiced over and over again.  But no matter how much we practice, we can’t say the letter, “r”.   And no matter how many songs we listen to, we can’t seem to make English sound like English, it still sounds like Chinese.

You would be surprised to find out that we learn much of our English by singing American songs.  I like Celine Dion.  Not only for her singing voice but also because it’s easy to follow her English.  When I’m not singing I will be down at the grocery store.  No not buying groceries, I’m walking down the aisles reading as many labels as I can.  Nouns.  That’s how I learn them. Milk, beans, carrots, cookies, bread.  I also work on labels and brands.  Borden, Carnation, Swanson, Heinz.  Then  over to the produce.  Then over to the bakery.  Back at home, I read Chinese and then I have a CD in English so that I can follow along with the English.   For some unknown reason, I sing English better than I can speak it.

Back at middle school, a girl named Amy came over to me and smiled.   She welcomed me and told  not to worry because she would  be my friend.  I smiled back but I knew  it was the smile of a coward.  Did I mention I was scared?  In the classroom the teacher welcomed me and asked me to introduce myself.   I didn’t   know enough English to put together a sentence let alone a story.  So I said, “Hi My name is Xinting pronounced like this Chinting.”  Then I’m blank.  Nothing would come out of my mouth.   Everyone was  staring.  Now what?  Well, I opened my mouth again and talked, not sang, the words to Celine Dion’s song, “My heart will go on,”  from the movie, Titanic.  Now, they were really staring, even the teacher.  That’s how my brain is wired.  I have learned to say many English words by singing them.  So I did the next best thing and I spoke the words to her song.  My palms were sweaty and I thought I would throw up but when I was done, they clapped for me!  Wow was I surprised.  The kids wanted to know if I knew other songs and I said yes that I did, all of Celine Dion’s songs.  The teacher said it was okay if  we didn’t hear them all today.  I became friends with many of the kids and at recess time and at lunch time we would sing songs.  That was the best practice of speaking English that I could have gotten.

Of course, at home  only Chinese is spoken so it has taken me a long time to get the pronunciation correctly.  There were many Chinese kids at my school so there really wasn’t the need to speak English because we had our safety net.

I practice English as much as I can.  I have to.  One day I want to be an author of children’s books.  I want children to love books as much as I do.  I want children to read about adventures of Chinese children and how hard they work to learn English. My goal for my books would be to have the content in English and in Chinese.  I write English better than I speak it.  But that’s because I have spent hundreds of hours writing it.  I have journal upon journal where I write everyday happenings in both Chinese and English. And you know, I can sing English better than I can speak it.  One day I will meet Celine Dion and I will be able to sing with her.  Well maybe, just speak the words because did I mention I can’t carry a tune?  But that’s a different story.

Please feel free to click on both of the following links.  One link is about me and my favorite book that is in Chinese but comes with an English CD that I listen to and follow the Chinese words together with the English pronunciation.  Even though I have reviewed this book and Cd many times, I always go back to it because it is a very special part of who I am and who I am becoming.

The other link has a video that shows a girl telling us how she learned English.  This is very similar to what I did as I was growing up.  Both of these links represent a girl who was born in China but is here in America now.  She is Chinese-American with a thirst for knowledge and a big heart.




3 Responses to My Heart Will Go On…..

  • richardcolby says:

    I like the organization of this post because each graf has a loopback to the previous part of your theme. It’s easy to follow that theme as a result of that organization. Of course, you could totally rearrange the organization to capture each moment in time more. For example, you could have done something like:
    A girl named Amy comes over to me and smiles. She welcomes me and says not to worry because she will be my friend. I smile back, but I know it’s the smile of a coward. As if middle school isn’t scary enough already, it’s my introduction to America and English.
    That’s just a bit, but do you see how you could tell the story that way as well (you don’t have to revise the blog post, but I wanted you to think of different timelines of your story, you aspiring to write children’s books someday). What I like about your lead graf is that it entirely presents your story in a succinct way, and then you later add flavor to. It’s actually pretty smart writing. Finally, I wouldn’t worry too much about making your English sound like English. Much as in China, English is spoken differently throughout the world (and the U.S.). Some tend to favor “media accents” (Southern California, Manhattan New York) as “proper” because they are heard so often, but they are no more proper than anywhere else. Watch actress and voice coach Amy Walker go through 21 English accents in this video. Besides, I cannot pronounce “x” in Chinese, so I would mess up your name constantly (even with your friendly hint in your post) if we were in a face-to-face class.

    What I would like for you to work on in revising your post is tense. In your story, you are shifting from present tense (as if we are there in the moment) to past tense (telling a story that happened in the past). I understand verb tenses are difficult, and what makes it more tricky is that a writerly game to play might be to use present tense, inviting the reader to be in the moment). The reason that it doesn’t work entirely is because of that shift from sentence to sentence from past to present. It would be easier if it were all in the past. If you were trying to shift us, the reader, in and out of the moment, then I would tell the story as if in the present in one graf, then in the next graf, have those reflective moments in the past tense (that you later became friends with Amy, or what later happened after that moment).

    What I would like for you to address in a comment or a revision of the post are the following things:
    – I’m not sure how to read your video. You don’t point to it or describe it in your blog post, so I’m not sure what you want me to do with it as a reader. Whether you are writing online or in print, additive visuals should be pointed at with the text. In academic or science writing, we usually say something like “As shown in figure 1, Wei Wei describes her English language education.” In public writing like this blog, we might say something like, “The video below is reminded me a lot of how I learned to speak English.”
    – I would have liked to hear more about why you are writing English so much. What are you writing? Who are you writing to? What are you writing about? Are you working on your craft of writing children’s stories?
    – You don’t have an image. You needed to have an image and a video. Some have added images to their videos, and that is fine, but I would like both image and video.

  • Lixinting2012 says:

    I will revise my blog.
    I appreciate the way you teach. You find the good and then give me constructive criticism on what I need help with. Thank you for that because it leads to great learning.

  • richardcolby says:

    The video link about you is not working. Did you set permission to view the video to anyone with this link? Did you double check the link?

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