When I first went to the United States, I had difficulty speaking English. In fact, I didn’t speak English very much. And the English I spoke, I spoke it with what I thought was a horrible accent. At least my peers made me feel horrible. They called me names like “manong” or “bok bok,” which is similar to FOB or “fresh off the boat,” or in the Philippines, “julogs” or “promdi.” I didn’t want to be made fun of by other kids, so I vowed to master English.
I read voraciously. I went to the library almost everyday after class so I could borrow backs to read. I watched a lot of television. When I got older, in high school, I joined theater for four years. I joined debate and mock trial. I joined speech competitions. I joined everything I could get my hands on so that I could continue to polish my English and communication skills. Before high school ended, I was editor-in-chief of the school paper, literary magazine editor, debate team captain, and club president. In fact, I already passed and got college credits for freshman English since I had an advanced placement English course.
Learning English and improving my communication skills did not stop. In college I continued to debate and compete in speaking competitions. In fact, I was the impromptu speaking champion in an international debate and forensics tournament held in Canada. Two weeks after that, I was selected as the commencement speaker of my class on graduation day.
It has been a journey. Up to today, I continue to learn and polish my English even if most people already feel that I have achieved so much. Yes, I am the co-founder of the American Institute for English Proficiency here in the Philippines, but as co-founder and general manager, I really do need to continue to sharpen my skills.
Simply put, I love learning English. I’ll never stop learning.