YOU WONT FELL ALONE ANYMORE... It was almost four o'clock in the morning and I could not sleep because I was remembering all I had gone through to reach my goal: “to learn English as my second language”. There are a lot of memories since I started as a beginner in the U.S.A. Marine, such as standing hours in the rain, waking up early, doing heavy exercises, and receiving severe punishments when I did not understand what the sergeant said. At first, when I got into the military, sometimes my head could not get the sergeant's phrases that my ears heard; they sounded like nonsense orders to me. One time the sergeant said, “I'll bet you're the kind of guy that would kick a person in the ass and not even have the god dam common courtesy to give him a reach-around. I'll be watching…” I had to ask what a reach-around was because I did not know what it meant. At the beginning, I did nothing but imitate others. Every morning I got up in a single bounce from my bunk bed and in less than ten seconds I was in line wearing my Marine uniform ready to receive orders and obey them. I knew my mission joining the Marine would be difficult especially because I did not understand the language (English) very well. I was seventeen years old when I was facing the most difficult mission for me: to learn English in a context in which my mother tongue never appeared. The exercises were hard. At night my body felt faint. The sergeant's incoherent phrases echoed in my ears hundreds of times by the squadron. Luckily, the sergeant never entirely knew that I pronounced them by muttering in my teeth trying to be the most understandable and as coherent as possible.
True Life Stories Fortunately, I found an American, Williams, now my best friend. He spoke a little Spanish and he felt sympathy for me. He helped me a lot; he lent me some audio tapes in English and he said, “You can do it! Just listen to the tapes and repeat them in your mind until you get tired”. He continued telling me, “In these tapes you will find all the common phrases from the military, listen to them and repeat them over and over. Try to practice and imitate the pronunciation”. Also, we spent our free time having conversations in English; we talked about our family, our goals, and commands that I did not understand, and the best thing is that he never explained grammar rules to me, but he corrected my pronunciation. In addition, I spent hours on Marine drills as Marine calling cadences. These Marine marching cadences are traditional call and response work songs while I was running or marching. I memorized these marching songs (jodies). At first I did not know what these jodies meant but the more I sang them, the easier it was for me to say them and understand them. One of the jodies I sang was: “Here we go again Same old stuff again Marching down the avenue Few more days and we'll be through I won't have to look at you So, I'll be glad and so will you”. Believe it or not, I will carry those memories to my death because those tasks have built my way to succeed as in my professional and personal life. By spending time with native speakers, I was exposed to the new language (English) and I learnt it at my own pace. Without even noticing, I had already reached my goal. Now I know I can do anything I want if I have the desire, that's why if I can do it, you can do it too!