All I knew about English was that it is a foreign language and that was all. At that time in elementary school, it didn’t make my heart pound with excitement or my eyes sparkle with joy just like it does now. I barely passed the class and my so-called teacher, a young lady in her middle twenties, was everything but a teacher. Somehow, she expected us to know English. By us, I am referring to a cluster of homely kids- so homely-who grew up in the meadows and wheat fields of the small, unprepossessing town of Memaliaj, the miner’s town.

I am still baffled to such an extent now as I recollect those times in the classroom with our nominal teacher who dared to say to my mother that “Eliona is below average”. All of a sudden, the responsibility of being a genius devolved upon me. Me, a ten-year-old girl, who besides being homely, was not good for much in English. What could I do? The textbook was so grim and shabby; I still remember the faded white colours and the drab font. I had a natural inclination to recoil from it. Besides this, the lesson was restricted to memorizing some scattered words that couldn’t make more sense to me than Chinese!

Thus was my unpromising start with English. Things were about to change though, when my blessed mother, solicitous about my progress and so concerned about my getting on in life, asked my industrious aunt to help me with my English. My dearest aunt at that time had tentatively attempted to work on a self-study course in English and she was making head slowly but surely. I felt so dull and thought of this initiative on behalf of my mum to be such a bad idea. It meant spending less time outdoors, roaming about the grass fields and embarking upon new and swashbuckling adventures in nature.

Yet, her determination prevailed. I found myself in a dangerous strait and was forced to comply. Well, I can say with tremendous satisfaction that my mother’s resolute character and indomitable spirit stood me in good stead in later years. I remember being attracted to English from our first class together with my aunt. I started to like the new words which opened up new worlds of thought, feeling and ambition for me. My aunt’s way of teaching me was so irresistibly kind and tender that I couldn’t but yield and let myself loose to be drifted away in the current of sweet and luscious words in English.

My progress was conspicuous and noticeable. I distinctly remember being called up in front of the class alongside the best student and two other pupils. The phenomenal teacher was asking the meaning of scattered words once again and I found myself ready to answer. My joy was overt. For once I felt important and somebody who could manage to do extraordinary things in spite of the fact that we were unremittingly treated as ordinary. The best moment of that day was a few minutes later when the best student in class asked me the meaning of one or two words. I was completely stunned. The best student was asking me- a merely passable student.” A wide grin spread inwardly because that grim wall of disbelief was starting to fall apart and I had just witnessed the first fissure to appear.

Years later, I find myself teaching English and my heart still thumps and frolics blithely whenever I am embarking upon a new adventure with English. Whether it’s a Cambridge certificate or reading Dickens unabridged-both exacting and laborious tasks- they’re worth my time and efforts.

As I approach the end of my humble narrative, I would like to point out to you, whoever you may be, a student, parent, teenager or adult, that you have to shake off the mentality of “ I can’t, it’s impossible, this can’t work”. It’s not true. Whatever you’ve set your sights on, and in our case, if it’s learning a foreign language, you can and must pursue your goals with tenacity.

Parents, take time to make the foreign language appealing to your children. They’re not dull, clumsy nor disinterested. They just need you to kindle the fire in them and then they’ll find their own way.

Adults don’t keep putting off enrolling in a language school if that’s what you need to do to develop your language skills. You have ample time to do whatever you are doing including studying a foreign language.

Dear teenagers and students, take advantage of the time you have at your disposal now. Don’t squander your opportunities.

As a last reminder, always remember that God loves you. You are important and you can achieve great things. P.E 6/6/2013