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Birgeet Magallanes
Professor Adler
STACC Eng. 100#72051
7 October 2015
My Struggles in Literacy
My literacy has developed ever since I started reading and writing. In Elementary School,
our class started learning how to read and write, I noticed that I did not comprehend like the
other students. Every time after school, my mom would patiently demonstrate me how each letter
was pronouncedhearing her voice saying A, E, I, O, U repeatedlyor written, and sometimes
it would take hours. Putting this information in my head felt like a needle sticking into my head,
it was tiresome and repetitive at the time. However, my moms patience paid off when I started
to be ahead of the class and I was finally able to understand how to read and write. I remember
feeling proud of myself, because I had finally being able to battle with something that was so
difficult to me. Even though, that was just the beginning of my struggles in literacy, I am still
trying to cope with these demanding problems through effort.
When I was ten years old, my parents decided that we should move to the United States
so my sister and I can have a better opportunity in education. Despite that I took English classes
in Ecuador, the language was different to me because everyone spoke so fast and it was hard to
comprehend. When I was registered in Middle School, they put me into a program called ESOL
(English of Speakers of Other Languages). This program helps thousands of students that are
non-English speakers that would like to learn how to read and write English. Mrs. Watts was my
ESOL teacher. She was capable to make things easy for me by making sure that I understood
every word that I read and if I did not get something she was willing to endure it. Nevertheless, it
was still a constant struggle for me in the literacy aspect. I remember reading books on my own

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to make sure I understood the story but I was still unable to figure it out. Having the feeling of
displeasure and embarrassment of not being able to understand the concept caused me to turn
back on my reading. However, I started to do something different. Every time I would start
reading a book, I would search up for words that I misread in the dictionary. That is how I started
to expand my literacy and development of vocabulary through a dictionary and looking for
synonyms. Particularly, I realized that I am not going to learn English words in one day and that
it will take the rest of my life to learn only seventy five percent of the English words found in the
My literacy had improved after being part of this program and by using this new
technique. Nonetheless, there was a kid in my sixth grade class that got me thinking that maybe I
was not progressing as I thought. His name was Darius. He would make fun of me because I had
the difficulty to comprehend him when he spoke (since he spoke too fast) and was not able to
express myself the way I would express myself in Spanish. Every day after school, I would come
home crying to my parents that I wanted to go back to Ecuador and live the happy life that I had
before. My parents until this day, told me To succeed in life one must try harder through effort
and apply oneself in anything that seems impossible. I started to realize that I must keep
pushing myself even though there are challenges in my life, so I decided to put that advice into
action. After moving to another middle school, I told myself that I should start speaking to
people in English and interact with people who did not speak Spanish. As time passed in Middle
School, I started to read more and more. I was able finally able to compare myself and relate my
life with these characters in the book. Every time I opened a book, it felt like I actually
understood the concept and the moral of the story. Martin Buber quotes, I do, indeed, close my
door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see

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a human face looking at me. Buber used an imagery to create a joy for his reading; it made him
feel like he was into another world full of life. That is the exact way I feel about reading by
putting those characters to life.
I recently read about this man, named Malcolm X, who did everything he could to have
equality, in a world where equality seemed impossible. I assume I can see myself in him in some
ways. Malcolm X, learned how to write and read at the age of twenty in prison. One may think
that people in prison are always a criminal and that there is no way to have an opportunity in the
future. Like myself, there were people that put me down that made me think I was not worthy
enough. However, Malcolm X proved that this theory was wronghe was determined to educate
himself and to change the world. As said before, I see myself in him, because I come from
another country with some knowledge of English; however I struggled with my literacy. Even
though, I had many excuses to give up because I could not read and write, I chose to not make
this difficult task impossible. However, education was not my only challenge in life, but also
economy. Throughout all of this, like Malcolm X, I chose to read and write to become
successful. In my belief, I developed my literacy skills out of necessity, because whoever that
wants to become successful in life needs to know how to read and write. Malcolm X quotes,
Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had
never been so truly free in my life. Reading made him feel free in prison, and that is how I felt
too; I felt like I finally was able to feel free from my problems.
Through High School my literacy skills were developing, because as a high schooler one
has to read and write more. The opportunity for my literacy to take a major turn for the better had
arisen. I was open-minded when we had to read books that seemed boring; funny how at the end
some of these books became my favorite. In my opinion one can say Never judge a book by its

cover. During, my junior year, my English professorDr. Verdimanaged to open new
concepts in my life by making the students read many books to help us understand every aspect
of the book. For example, when she assigned us the book of The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn by Mark Twain, it was very hard to comprehend the significance of the life of Finn,
however, it helped me because I was competent to analyze and evaluate an issue in order to form
a judgment. As I kept reading more books like this, I managed to understand things easily. When
we had essays, I was ready to be more descriptive since I was analyzing throughout fully. In the
book of Freedom of Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell, I learned that these students were
analyzing each book they read by relating themselves in the stories. As time passed, these
students were able to express themselves and write better because the more you read the better
you write. Dweck says in her article the more they exercise the brain, the stronger it becomes.
They learned that every time they try hard and learn something new, their brain forms new
connections that, over time, make them smarterconnections brought about through effort and
learning. By making connections through reading one has the potential to make new
connections and is able to learn more things that were unknown before. Reading made me feel
like I could storm ideas and make connections so I could understand them better.
I have come to an understanding that for me to become a good writer and reader, I must
put the effort to keep advancing in my literacy. All in all, as mentioned before, my literacy skills
started to develop through help, effort, and making connections with books. Without literacy in
my life, I would struggle and crumble to the very dust from which it rose. Literacy is
complicated, but if one tries their best by making changes to comprehend better literacy, one will
succeed in life. Those who write, read, and understand effortlessly can become successful and