The Top Way to Learn English
Every first moment is hard to forget. I also cannot forget the moment when the English, which had been just randomly drawn lines for me, rushed into my mind as language. English literally popped up in my life when I was biting my nails waiting for my first English tutor and what was called 'English' which I never saw in the timetable for 2 years of elementary school. My mother, whose big worry, at that time, was her daughter's English education, decided to expose me to English through tutoring a year before the public English education started.
The door bell rang, announcing the start of my first English class. After chatting for a while with my mother, the tutor walked into my room. She sat across the table from me. I was not able to look right at her. When she called my name and I looked up with fear in my eyes, English began to sneak into my life. "Do you know what this is?" As soon as she wrote something on an empty paper, she asked me, pointing what she wrote. It was 'TOP'. Since I knew at least what the English alphabet looked like, 'TOP' there brought a few vague images into my mind: some clothes and signboards on street, where illegible mixtures of straight lines and curves were printed. Except for that, my knowledge of English as language did not exist. I kept silent, glancing at her warm smile. She might have thought that I was just too shy to answer when actually I was too blank to answer. "Then do you know how to read it?" said the teacher. 'Can it be read?' I scratched my heads with a vacant look.
She seemed to wait for me to speak, still amicably. After a few seconds of silence she opened her mouth. "Yumi, this is a kind of character. In some other countries, people use this instead of Hanguel." That is the first moment that the strange mixtures of straight lines and curves turned out to be someone's language. It interested me a lot that a totally different form of language from Korean exists. She continued talking and pointed 'TOP' again. "The first one here, is pronounced as 'ㅌ(a Korean letter for t sound)', the second one is 'ㅏ(a Korean letter for o sound)', the last one is 'ㅍ(a Korean letter for p sound)'." She wrote each Korean alphabets right below 'TOP', and pronounced them in turn. "Now, try reading it yourself!" She encouraged me.
"탚(which sounds 'top')" I hesitantly read it, combining three scattered Korean alphabet into one word. Then, I repeated it again staring only at 'TOP' to feel as if I used English alphabets as the only resource to read it. "Good job!" said teacher. I felt surprised that I did read the new language anyway. Feeling of accomplishment captivated me. I really wanted to know more so that I can read more. I wore a big happy smile. English was not just a bunch of meaningless lines anymore but became a language to me. This was an important experience for me because this experience encouraged me to feel confident and realize the special joyfulness coming from learning. Thanks to this inspiring and fresh meeting, I was able to enjoy learning English for its own sake with the pure intellectual inspiration and happiness of knowing new language besides my mother tongue.
Unfortunately, the feeling faded away gradually and almost disappeared as I passed middle school and high school, always crammed into study only for test. Now I want to get the feeling back. I want to study English not because I have to but I want to just like when I was a child. Sadly, I am in the midst of many pressures that only emphasize that English is an indispensable requirement for success such as getting a good job. However, I will do my best to take intellectual inspiration and pure joyfulness of learning English back. Because that must be the 'TOP' way to learn English.