Navigating the American School System as an Immigrant Student

This is a guest post from an Energy Convertor student fellow in Oakland. Click here to read the entire piece.

By: Emily Lu

I did not grow up speaking English. When I was born, my parents could not afford to raise me so I was sent to live in China, where I learned to speak Mandarin. As a result, when I came back to attend school in America, I did not speak any English. I struggled in elementary school. Most of my peers spoke English. During those early years, I was almost always extremely confused about what was happening and struggled to catch up to what was being taught in class. My grades were terrible, and being forced to learn in only English made it very difficult for me to understand and keep up. As more material was taught in class, I fell more behind. My school had some available resources for students who struggled with language barriers, like speech therapy. I remember being pulled out of class to go into this narrow, tall and intimidating room with a teacher. The teacher pulled out a book and asked me to pronounce things, and when I got the pronunciation wrong, the teacher would correct me and repeat it until I got it right. After what always felt like a long time of doing this over and over, the teacher would send me back to class with a sticker. Through this process, I learned to pronounce a lot of words correctly.

What do you think?

More Comments