In Arabic language, which is my native language and the language that I learned first, there are two main influences that affected me. The first influence was my mother. She was the first person who took me to the bookstore to buy books. I remember that when I was five years old, I could not read fluently. She encouraged me to read some basic words, by saying “Now it is the time that you read by yourself and after a few more months you will read the story before sleeping all by yourself”. At that time, this was kind of a shock and a huge obstacle for me.
I told her, “I am not in the elementary school et, so how can I read”. Then she said, “All of your siblings learned how to read well before they went to school, and now it is your turn”. I believe at that time I was upset, but I did what she asked me to do. I started learning how to read well, and the first book I read was The Rabbit and Turtle, and the second was Treasure Island. After I read the Treasure Island, I liked reading, and started to ask for more books. Treasure Island was one of my favorite cartoon series, so when I read the book I did not want to wait to know what would happen next.
I had improved ery fast, and when I became six, which is the time to go to school, I was able to read well. I remember on the first day of grade one, when I was asked to read and I was able to read fluently, how shocked and surprised my teacher’s face was. By the time I became nine years old I got deeper in reading, and I started to read many different types of books. At that time my mother let me chose the book that I liked, but she made sure that I finished reading a book every month. Through all these efforts that my mother has used to help me to be a good reader, she became a great influence to my reading.
The second influence in Arabic language was Mr. AL-Mohammedi, who taught me in the Arabic language classes during my time in the middle school. I remember how I was unable to express what I was thinking or feeling by using formal academic Arabic writing. These were his words to me in first year of the middle school “Do not be frustrated. Just have a belief that you can do it”. He started working hard with me from the first year by giving me different ways to write formally. He continued working hard with me until I became able to express what I think or feel through writing.
At that time I was one of the few students who wrote in the mural newspaper of the school. The mural was a newspaper exhibited on a big wall in the middle of the school yard, which teachers chose the best students’ articles to be posted on it. That was so great, especially when I wrote something that was admired by many students and my teachers. Mr. ALMohammedi never stopped supporting me and giving me tips until my last day in the middle school, and I am still in touch with him. I am so lucky that I got such an amazing teacher like him.
On the other hand, if someone asks me about ow I became literate in English, I will easily answer him by saying because of Miss Beth. She is the best teacher that I have had in my entire life. Before I came to the United States of America, I was able to read and speak English, but I was not good in writing in English. When I arrived to Columbus, Ohio to join the American Language Program at Ohio State University, my ability in writing was limited. I was able to write about a paragraph only, and I could not completely understand the instructions of the writing prompt.
Since the first day of classes t Ohio State University, she has strongly encouraged me to improve my ability in writing. Since then, Miss Beth has never disappointed me after any writing trial that I have done. She started with me by asking me to write long paragraphs about different topics, until she realized that I improved. Then she asked me to write my first essay about the most popular person that I love. By the end of that essay I was surprised by myself, at how I was able to write this whole essay which was three pages long. She liked the essay, and she gave me reflections and tips to improve my next essays.
One example of her tips is that she wanted me to write more, so she told me “To write more consider yourself that you are writing to aliens who never see our planet, and you are trying to describe what you mean for them”. She kept giving these useful reflections and tips after each essay. Not only did she read my essays and gave me reflections through the time that she was teaching me, but also she kept helping when I moved to the next levels. I spent eight months at the American Language Program and in four of them Miss Beth wa my teacher, but we kept working together for the hole time.
The most impressive help that I got from Miss Beth and the help that I will never forget in my life is when I was asked by one of the universities that I have applied for to send an essay about a specific topic by the end of the next day. At that time I was so nervous because the length of the essay was four to five pages, and I only had about twenty-four hours to finish it. I went to her office to tell her what happened with me, and she said to me “Do not worry, I know you, and I know how your writing is. You just need to believe that you can do it.
Now o home to start writing, and tomorrow come to me because will review it with you”. I wrote the essay, and the next day I went to her office to review the essay together. While she was reading the essay I saw her crying. At first, I thought she was disappointed, but the fact she was so happy, and she told me that she is so proud of me and how I have been improved. At that time I was so happy, and I will never forget her encouragement for me to be better. Through my literacy experience I have learned many important things that the learners should pay attention to them in order to improve their iteracy process.
First, literacy requires long time and patience because it is not the process that is done in specific period of time. Second, the beginning of the process is so important because it is the foundation, and it has to be strong to continue your literacy. As long as the foundation of the Skyscraper is strong, you can go as much height as you want which is similar with literacy. The greatest thing in literacy is it changes learners’ life, and all their life is based on their literacy. Their literacy helps them to get a college education or a job, and it extends their knowledge.
However, remember that as learner, you need the help of others to build your literacy because they are the main stimulus in your literacy. As what happened with me, my literacy in English changed my life now I am studying at University of Dayton about 7000 miles away from my family, but without all the encouragements that I got through my literacy from my mother and my teachers I could never be here. All these things make literacy as the biggest and the most important influence in learners’ life, but remember literacy never end as long as learners are alive they can extend their literacy.