Submitted by Shabir Noorzai on 6 April 2018 - 9:35pm
March 2018 marked the 11th year that I moved to England as well as my 21st birthday which means I have now lived in England for more than half of my life. Moving to England in March of 2007 clearly marked the next chapter in my life.
I had to learn everything to do with education from the very basic when I joined the school in year 6. Like a toddler, I was shown how to start to write from the left side of the page which was difficult because for the five years prior I wrote Dari which starts from the right-hand side. Like a toddler, I was also shown different colours to learn their names. It was only six years later that I found out that I have red-green colour-blindness which means some of the colours they were showing to me I could not even differentiate which made it even more difficult. I am talking to you Purple and Blue. I was given books that were aimed at three-year-olds to help me build up my vocabulary and confidence in talking to other people, but it just made it worse because, in the beginning, I couldn’t even read those books.
I was taught English for an hour a day separately from different students for a year. In just that year with patience that I could not even imagine someone could have, my English teacher had helped me learn enough English to be able to hold a conversation with someone. Once I was able to learn to have a full-length conversation the need to learn English separately from everyone else was not needed. For the greatest English teachers are your friends who you speak with the majority of the day. Yes, I did learn swear words before I learnt any other words of English from my friends but that’s the case with any other language. Swear words are the gateways to learning new languages.
Then came secondary school where I was now placed in English classes that had students who could read, write and understand English that was beyond my reach. I struggled with English in my GCSE. I remember the first coursework that I handed I got an E and that too by just a couple of marks. Coming from an Asian family that was simply unacceptable. My first year of GCSE I had an E in English Literature and a D in English language. The government then announced that if a student does not pass their GCSE English and Maths they must retake the GCSE. Not wanting to retake the exam I re-did all my coursework’s again in a span of 9 months, I gave drafts after drafts to my teacher. Again, having an amazing teacher who would stay back a couple of hours a week helped me in finishing my coursework after school. In the end, I did not get A* or As in English, I just got a C in English GCSE which meant that I did not have to retake it and I was done with writing English essays or, so I thought.
Then came college, like many people I thought the best way to secure a job in the future was to study science and maths even if they are not my strongest subjects. I thought that if I picked these subjects for my A level I would have a guaranteed job in the future or, so we were taught in the assemblies and workshop that were held in my school. But I also deep down wanted to do Journalism, but I never researched it and thought to pick Media and Geography was my best option if I wanted to get into Journalism later. So, for the first year of my A levels I picked, Maths, Physics, Geography and Media an odd combination of subjects that all of my friends and teachers pointed out, but they were not aware of the fact that I wanted to do Journalism. And not so surprisingly I failed my first year miserably. I spent the whole of the year trying to learn Maths and Physics, neglecting both media and geography but even then, my worst result was for Maths.
After failing the year, I had to repeat AS all over again. This was my first ever academic failure. I had let down a lot of people. Then I had a conversation with my cousin, where I told her that I wanted to be a Journalist. But to be a journalist I had to improve my English with encouraging words from my cousin, I chose English, Politics and Media for my A levels.
From learning how to write the alphabet on the correct side of the page to writing 3000-word essays it has been a long and painstakingly hard journey. English is something that I am still trying to learn to get to grips with, I still have grammar issue with my writing, spelling errors, sentences that make no sense whatsoever.
Hopefully one day I will get to a point where I won’t need spelling and grammar check on Microsoft word because most of the time it doesn’t even work.