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History : Me vs English

by - 1:49 AM

            I never thought that my old pictures have shown the sign. When I was two years old, my parents took me to Bali. As you know, a lot of tourists right there. My Mom carried me to the beach, the best place to lie down while enjoying the white sand and water at the edge. She kept watching me from a far distance. I kept walking….walking…and walking until I met a group of tourists sat down on the mat. I gave them the white sand in my hand. I smiled. “Hey, what’s your name little girl? Come here. Come…” All of them told me to get closer. “Hello, what’s your name?” They kept asking me. I just kept laughing. Then my Mom ran to me. She was afraid that I would bother them.

            “Let’s go.” My Mom said. I didn’t want to move from there. You know what…I struggled. Then I sat down beside them. They laughed and asked again : “What’s your name, sweetheart?” My Mom answered it. “Wina. Her name is Wina.” I gave my hand to them. I wanted to shake their hands one by one. They accepted it and touched my delicate hand. That was the sign. Once my Mom spoke and informed my name, I directly extended my hand friendly.

            I passed Kindergarten and Elementary by watching many Western movies, such as Oliver, Annie (Shirley Temple), or CHiPs (hope I’m right in writing this movie title, it’s a television serial with duet cops as hero, one of the actor’s name is Erik Estrada). I won’t sleep if I haven’t watched it. Thousand times my Mom called me to go to bed, I kept sitting and waiting. Continued to Junior High School and Senior High School, I started to admire novels and of course Western music. I brought one novel while listened to some songs, then nobody couldn’t touch me. Hehehehe. It seems that I have built my own sanctuary. I like that moment….until now. (The novels are still in Indonesian).

In Junior High School, I sat beside a friend, a girl, who is very brilliant in English. God, I admired her when she spoke English so clearly and fluently. I was so lucky to be her friend. She always taught me, vocabularies, pronunciation, and writing. I was stupid and blunt about English…and it became my lesson enemy. While my friend really enjoyed the conversation with our teacher, I myself…kept counting the time…when this lesson would be over as soon as possible. All of students in my class, called her walking dictionary…as she knew and remembered many words in English.

            I like Western songs but I didn’t understand the meaning. I really want to figure word by word, unfortunately…I didn’t know how to read dictionary. So ashamed! One time, I opened it, written by John M. Echols and Hassan Shadily, it made me got a headache. I kept wondering, how to read this anyway? So confusing! I asked to my uncle, he taught me, I asked again, he smiled and took a sigh, I asked again, then finally he got angry successfully. “Why one word could have many interpretations, Uncle?” I asked. Don’t laugh. That’s the truth. “English is different with Indonesian, Wina. You have to be careful if you talked in English. “The words placement must be suitable with the sentences?” I started to frown. “How to decide one word is matched with the sentence?” I talked to myself. I was afraid to propose another question to him. I realized that he didn’t like to see my face. Confusion look. I bowed my head and looked at the dictionary once again. “Just learned it more, Wina. Read it carefully.” My Uncle said. Then he went away. I felt sad. I just thought that he abandoned me.  

            Three years in Junior High School, I must accept my stupidity in English. I hate everything….grammar, vocabularies, and reading. Arrgghhhhhhhhh…!!! Reading is the most resentful thing. You know reading right? A story telling and then there are some questions below? I don’t like it! The reason is…I don’t understand the meaning, those words, meanwhile I can’t read the dictionary. What a perfect combination. Even my teacher said : “Your answer is always wrong. Have you read the story completely?” My face changed into red, like a boiled crab. I was ashamed. Lucky that I wore glasses, so my friends were not able to see my eyes. I was glistening with tears. I always got bad mark.

            My stomach was hurt, my head was dizzy….when I must faced the final exam. This was the top of all. I kept learning, learning, and learning…but those English books couldn’t touch my brain. I was so hopeless. The paper has been put on my desk. The pencil was in my hand. I became pale and nervous. What should I fill on it? You know what…I wrote the answer desperately, until finally I knew…I got C. It was miracle I guess. I could pass the exam without basis. I showed the result to my parents. I could see their face was disappointed and sad. They thought I was not serious. I deeply felt sorry noticing their gloomy face. Since then, I made a promise, I will do the best. I talked to myself : “Wina, this is only English, not physic, not chemistry, not mathematic. Wina, you must find the way.”

            Started my Senior High School, I entered private Catholic school which was very discipline in everything. I couldn’t let my laziness grew widely on my back. As promise has been pledged, I must make it. Do you know what I did? I told you previously, I like western songs and movies as well. I kept collecting it while I searched the lyrics. Once there are some words were unidentified, I directly opened the dictionary…found the meaning right there. Slowly but surely, I could read it easily. As the additional…I kept watching western movies without reading the Indonesian text. You can believe it…I always bring my dictionary everytime I watched it. So when I had misinterpretation, the guidance was already on my lap. Hhm….I could say English was beautiful and romantic.

You must be smiled when you heard this in a movie : “I won’t be here anymore. I will go as I can’t see you with him. I can’t have you. I know…maybe I’m not your choice, but I can make you happy more than he could do.” Awwwww….so sweet right? I could say it was because I understood the meaning. Can you imagine if I couldn’t figure it out? It looks flat. As long as you see the hug or the kiss in a movie, then you will say romantic. But the story will be more beautiful if you understand the words.

On 1st grade, 2nd grade…my English lesson has been passed smoothly. The evaluation has met my teacher’s requirement. I was proud to myself. I never stopped learning. I always developed my ability. I couldn’t hide my laughter when many friends of mine really wanted to sit down beside me on every English exam. It happened when I was on 3rd grade. My English teacher really loved me.

“Wina, can you please answer the question?” My English teacher said. He asked me because silence has spread in the class. No one was able to answer his question.
I found it and told him.
“Correct!” He said. “Please take a note of this. Wina, please repeat it so that all of your friends know it.”
I flew to the sky. This situation happened many times. Or….take a look of this please.
“Yeeeyyyyyyyy, I got 85! Wina has taught me well. This was because I sat down beside her yesterday. Thank you so much. Have you received the exam paper? Go….find it.” My friend screamed to me.
I ran to my teacher’s desk and searched my paper. I looked at it but there was no mark on it. Only a word : EXCELLENT.
“Let me see. Let me see yours, Wina!” My other friends screamed.
“Guys, there is no mark. What is the meaning of this?” I said in confusion.
“Wow, this is amazing, Wina! EXCELLENT means no mistakes. You did it perfectly!” My friends said.
“Huh? Really?” I said. I couldn’t still believe it.
“Yes!!!! Can we sit down beside you again on the next exam?” My friends said while they begged.
I laughed and nodded my head. “Sure.”
I kept smiling on my way home. I was amazed. Sometimes I wondered…I could defeat my stupidity. I got EXCELLENT mostly on my English exams. Based on this, I decided to continue the next level to College of Language and Letter in my hometown. Here, I made a promise again. I have to finish it precisely…4 years…not more. I have to stay focus.

For 8 semester…I got various lessons. There were Structure, Reading, Vocabularies, Prose, Drama, Linguistic, Phonology, Listening, Speaking, Writing, Poetry, Morphology, Syntax, History of England, Semantics, Business English, Translation, and Tourism. That’s what I remembered. I had the notebook accurately and orderly on every lesson. A lot of my friends often borrowed it.

“Wina, do not give your book to her, I come early morning in order to book it.” My boy friend said. He said privately.
“How long will you take it?” I asked.
“A week.” He said.
“Are you crazy? A week? Hey, 5 people are already in a queue to borrow it.” I said.
Some of my friends heard our conversation.
“He will borrow it for a week? Wina, I told you before…I’m first.” My girl friend said.
“I’m first please? My book is empty and I have left behind.” My boy friend said.
“That’s your own fault. You never come to class.” My girl friend said angrily.
“Hey, hey, hey….calm down. Ok, let me decide. You can bring it….but remember….only two days. If you didn’t bring it the day after tomorrow, I’ll cut your long hair baldly.” I said.
My boy friend smiled relieved while my other girl friends snorted.
My friends fought each other to borrow my notebook. They like mine because it was written completely. So when the tests began, they could answer it easily. Beside that, some of my friends depended on me, such as discussion session, presentations, or lecturer’s quiz. They often appointed me to manage it all. I was satisfied because I realized that I was capable in English.

Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, I was busy to have better understanding of my English. In the beginning, I brought Indonesian – English or English – Indonesian dictionary, but one of my lecturer who is close with me…has given me his best advisory. “Wina, if you want to be considered in advance level, you must change it. Just bring English – English dictionary such as OXFORD.” Hhm, I bought it and tried to follow what he said. It was true. Why? Let’s say…you don’t know the meaning of a word in a sentence, you open English – Indonesian dictionary, and then what will you say to describe it? In Indonesian? I guarantee your vocabularies won’t have the development. If you explain it to Indonesian people, they will understand. What about if you must deliver the meaning to expatriates? You can’t inform them in Indonesian right? You must force yourself to speak English fluently and clearly. This is the functionality of bringing English – English dictionary. I always put the situation where there are no Indonesian people around me. So I must use English all the time. I can tell you something, it works. Plus…it can increase your vocabularies a lot.

Based on this experience, I can gain the good achievements. I can write novels in English and they are published to the public. I can speak English well, that makes my friends and colleagues (domestic and international) are amazed and thought that I have lived abroad for so long (I’ve never been abroad anyway). I can explain my slides presentation fluently to the audience in English. I can lead the discussion in English. I can process the correspondence in English quickly. Last, I guess this is spectacular for me. I can differentiate each English word for the correct sentence. As you know…one English word has several meanings and I can decide which one is suitable in a sentence for human, animal, plant, material, etc.  

Hope my story is able to inspire other people out there. How my stupidity has changed into amazing result at the end. It’s not instant. What you need is patience and diligence. Once you disobey those things, the fluent English will never come out from your mouth. One more thing, don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t consider about the grammar too much once you’re still learning to speak. Brave yourself. Check and correct the grammar after you have done the conversation. Then…for the next…you will create many sentences properly. All of you who read this…is allowed following my own method. :-)

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