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Ryszard Krasowski
Photo: Rsyzard Krasowski
Carrying resolution into effect, I bought a few books and I began my education, learning by heart chapter after chapter. But it wasn't enough.

Looking for the Right Way

Ryszard Krasowsky from Poland

I speak Polish, because I was born in Poland. But then at school I had to learn Russian because I had no choice; everybody was forced to know the language of our Big Brother.

At the high school, I was taught how to speak German because the high school didn't have other languages to offer. But I always wanted to speak English.

At last I found a school that I thought was the best to reach my goal; I had come to America. With a few exceptions everything was in English. People spoke a language that was my favorite; papers and books were filled up with English words; streets had English names; from the radio and TV I heard English expressions - English, English, English! Everywhere English!

But although I heard it, saw it and felt its presence, it was hard for me to understand it and express myself in that language. The few lessons of English that I had taken in Poland gave me only a chance to say who I was, what I was, how old I was, where I was from, some courtesy phrases and nothing else.

But my head was full of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and I wanted to speak them out, to share them with anybody who had enough patience to listen to me. It wasn't easy because it showed how poor I was without an ability to express myself correctly and clearly. "Me go work!" "I sitting." "Me want drink." "You thinking I speak good?" Although they would say, "You are doing well," I realized that I had to do something, somehow, to make myself more understandable.

Carrying resolution into effect, I bought a few books and I began my education, learning by heart chapter after chapter. But it wasn't enough. A mirror, a wall and other objects were graceful listeners, but they didn't respond. They couldn't correct me if I was wrong. I had to talk to somebody.

To show somebody my achievements, I went to high school to take a course in English for foreigners called "English as a Second Language." There were about 30 students in the classroom. It took almost an hour to get through a process of introducing ourselves. Stefan, Zofia, Marek, Jose, Pedro and Maria. One at a time they rose from their chairs and stammered something I already knew from my books; an English alphabet, numbers, simple words like: a table, a chair, a boy, a man, a woman. The level of English suggested by the high school didn't seem to fulfill my expectations. I quit.

After a month or so I tried again, but this time at the college. A bulletin issued by that institute said: "An advanced course in English for foreign students." I joined a group of four people, and after 15 minutes of introducing ourselves, a doctor of linguistics gave us a lecture about the history of English. Then we were told that it was very important to know English in a country where English was spoken. It took three hours for the doctor of linguistics to tell us this. Again I quit.

But I didn't stop looking for something or someone that would help me to achieve a goal and after a few weeks I found a tutor from Literacy Volunteers of America. My vocabulary increased with words that made me feel proud of myself, and at one of our weekly meetings I showed off by making a speech: "My empirical knowledge of English emanates from persistency of effectual explorations. Boggling over an enormous amount of various publications effectuated my eloquence. From now on my apprehension of not being understandable dissipated irretrievably!"

"What are you talking about?" my tutor stared at me with surprise. "Well, well, well, I think that I have to learn English before coming to teach you!" And that was our last meeting. This time the tutor quit!

Sitting alone, in my room, I am lost in thoughts. Maybe I try too hard. Maybe I expect too much. Maybe, well, after all a mirror, a wall and other objects are not so bad. They don't talk, they don't answer questions, they are insensible, but they listen to me. And what is the most important - they don't quit!

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