Article #9 in the ESL Student Life Story Project, by Jeremy from China, age 20.
When I finished high school in China, I went to Singapore to keep studying because I felt there were too many high school graduates like me in China, and I wouldn’t get into a good school there.
Living in beautiful Singapore was a huge challenge for me because I wanted to learn English well, so I decided to study an O-Level Course. With an O-Level certificate, I could go to university in Singapore. Unfortunately, instead of doing this, I wasted one year.
At the beginning of my time in Singapore, I studied English hard and every day I did my homework on time. If I didn’t understand something, I asked my friends or teachers for help. But this diligence only lasted a few weeks before I gave up.
Why did I decide this bad thing? Many reasons.
First, my English was very poor and I couldn’t get high scores, which is why I couldn’t get into a good university in China, which is why I had come to Singapore in the first place. Also, I did not feel my English was improving.
I began to think I couldn’t study English well in Singapore, because there were too many people from China there who were speaking Chinese. This was not a good English environment for me to listen to and speak English! I could use Chinese to go around all of Singapore. Even Singapore’s students have to learn Chinese, and if I played basketball or other activities with them, they wanted to use Chinese to talk about it.
There was another problem that made me waste time: Singapore is a modern city, and it is very fascinating. There are many shopping centers, such as Orchard Road, Marina Square, and Little India. Now, sometimes I like shopping, because it makes me happy. I also like window shopping. This was a major part of me wasting time.
In fact, there were too many new things that attracted my eyes. I kept thinking: “How can I buy it in my country?” and “Why are there so many things ‘Made in China’, but I never saw them before?” I started to want to become a Businessman.
Another element that made me waste time: Sentosa is a very beautiful beach in Singapore. There is a big island consisting of restaurants, bars, playing fields and so on. I can’t swim in the sea, and this is very dangerous for me, but if I ever felt bored, then I would go to Sentosa to get some nature far away from the city.
I lay at the beach and then I would think about my future. I especially liked Sentosa at night, with the music playing as I walked along the beach toward the sea wind. I liked this scenery, and the restaurants are very good. There are many kinds of restaurants there. They also wasted much of my time as I enjoyed the entertainment.
Finally, Singapore’s English pronunciation is sometimes very bad, and is very different from British or American accents. During class, there were many students from China, and we used Chinese to talk all the time. Teachers’ lectures were very easy, so all of the students only learned a little vocabulary.
If you don’t use English in your life, I think it is hard to remember. The thing is, though, that we use English to learn Math, Physics, and Accounting, so if my English is poor, I can’t start the other courses. When I was in class I didn’t understand what the teacher said. Therefore, I gave up and wasted about eight months.
After that year in Singapore, I went to America. Then, I realized that there is no easy way to do something such as learning English and American life. They are very hard for me, but that doesn’t mean I should quit. Although studying English in Singapore was not very good, I should have tried my best. I now want to say: “Never give up. Just keep going!”
Lillie’s Note: Please leave Jeremy a comment on his very honest and helpful article, stating your geographical location!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!