Learning a language takes time !

It’s again the start of a new school year. This is my 4th year as an international high school student, and I am a SENIOR!! New faces are walking and passing the street at CPW. Although I have missed the 1st week of school, I can still feel the blended excitement and nervousness when I step through the heavy brass door. I have worries too because– duh I am a senior– ACT, college apps, and not to mention socialization…  

Even studying in the US for so many years, I can still remember the embarrassing moments when learning English. Today, I am going to share some faux pas when I first began 8th grade in Philadelphia — I cried every morning as I stepped into school area for an ENTIRE week.  


  1. What are n.  Adj.  and  v. ?

Vocabulary quizzes should be one of the easiest because it’s based on pure memorization; and since I am a CHINESE, who started to memorize whole passages since elementary school, this should be simple as 1+1=2. The solid hour I spent on these 25 words further promoted my confidence for my first vocab quiz in Ms.D’s class.

At first, everything was on track – all questions I had expected occurred on the paper. I assumed that I would finish rapidly and perfectly. However, I saw something unfamiliar on the last page: parts of speech. Where is the speech? Which parts of the speech? I searched frantically throughout my paper, but I couldn’t find any speech. I felt a spark in my body, and it started to blaze. I felt disappointed in myself for not studying parts of speech before the quiz. Simultaneously, I was slightly angry at the teacher because she didn’t tell us about the speech. “This question is impossible to answer,” I mumbled in Chinese.

Looking around, I hoped to find a classmate who had the same confusion as I had. However, everyone was calm and concentrated. A few minutes later, when I was still confronting parts of speech, my classmates started to walk delightfully toward the teacher one after another.

I, who should be the first, became the last one. The spark I felt turned into a volcano that was going to erupt, I walked toward the teacher. BAM! I slammed the paper on her table, I did not mean to be rude but I couldn’t control my emotion anymore. “What is parts of speech?” I was too emotional and too desperate to know the answer that I forgot her name.

Tip #1:  Never try to find a speech on ur vocab quiz!!!

  1. Do U text or Google?

Although I was fine verbally communicating with my friends, everything became harder when it came to texting. They like to use abbreviations, which, for me, was like an alien language; and the most frustrating part was that I knew these letters. I started memorizing the English alphabet since FIVE, but they seemed to be so distant when some of them were missing. Every text was like a mental exercise that I needed to guess possible word combinations for the abbreviation. Most of the time, I would end up googling the meaning.

There was one time when my friend and I were texting about the homework during dinner time. “Can u bring me that plz?”  Maybe because my growling stomach affected my understanding, or I couldn’t bother googling the word, I started to browse “The Best Pizza in Philadelphia.” “Aren’t we supposed to talk about homework? Anyways, she might be hungry too. What kind of pizza does she want though?” Umm… stopped for 30 seconds, I started to search “the most popular flavor of pizza in the US.” “BUT, how can I bring it to school… Do they offer deliver early in the morning? Maybe I should ask her tomorrow, and order it at school.”

I couldn’t fall asleep that night as I imagined the smile on her face was covered by clouds when seeing my empty hands. “Aww, that’s too sad! How could I do that?” Deciding to apologize to her tomorrow morning, I fell asleep while preparing my words. Next morning, before she opened her mouth, I explained my concerns when ordering the pizza using all the words I could think of in my head, which were mainly composed of ah… um… eh… One of her eyebrows raised, after a while, she laughed.

Tip #2: Let Google help u battling with abbr. (Never search for pizza though)!!


3.  What’s ur next period?

Because English was my second language, I had a study period when others were taking language classes. In my impression, the period to do homework is called “study hall”. At least my last school used this name, and I remembered it appeared on my schedule at the start of the year. So when my friends asked me what I have next, I would answer: “study hall.”

They understood me when I said “study hall”, and I felt nothing wrong with the word. Until one day, my classmate asked me: “Do you have ‘stay hall’ next?” I became confused. Pretending to be calm and natural, I nodded my head and said nothing. Meanwhile, my brain started her battle: “‘Stay hall’? Did I say something wrong for the whole time? What is study hall then?”

Believing my classmate would never be wrong because she is a native speaker, I started to convince myself to accept the word — “stay hall”, it did make a lot of sense because I stay in a room to do my homework. Maybe it was just one of those words in American culture I didn’t know. Since then, I corrected myself by using “stay hall”, and I felt really lucky that no one found out I was wrong before.

It wasn’t until the end of the year that I realized the study period was called “STUDY hall”. It was the same in America!

Tip #3: be CONFIDENT about ur English !!!

Here are some of my fun stories that I experienced as an international student in the U.S for the 1st year. Hope you’ll like them. Also, feel free to share ur stories in the comment!

Happy NEW school year !!!



“8 Parts of Speech Posters.” SLP Insights, slpinsights.com/products/8-parts-of-speech-posters-for-speech-therapy-and-english-language-learners.

“Acronyms,Abbreviations,Initialisms.” Pinterest, www.pinterest.com/helenrichards94/acronymsabbreviationsinitialisms/.

“Bay City High School.” Donna Stillions / New School Year Memes, www.bcblackcats.net/Page/1111.


“The Very Best Pizza Memes and Funny Photos.” CraveOnline, 11 Aug. 2016, www.craveonline.com/mandatory/1055976-the-very-best-pizza-memes-and-funny-photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *