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Learning English

August 28, 1985

When I came to this country, I could barely state my birth date in English. I received no special programs. I learned English by sitting with children who spoke English. My teacher allowed me to copy the work in the classroom from other children, so I could associate the sounds with the words.

I did my homework with a dictionary, practically looking up every word. I played with children who spoke English and every day I learned new words. In six months I was fluent in English at the age of 13, and in one year I had lost my accent.

It did not cost my new country a penny extra to educate me, a foreigner. Children learn a language extremely fast, if they speak English most of the time and if they are willing to work a little harder.

Perhaps a cheaper way to handle the difficulty foreign students encounter with a new language is to have lessons after regular school (volunteers) to help them catch up with English and have them read, read, read.

I find it hard to identify with people who live in a country for years, especially children, and have little or no command of the language of their new country. Money cannot substitute for motivation.

ERIKA H. SCARANO

Los Angeles

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