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Various forms of academic writing on free topics

Quiting smoking

-Process Analysis, Rhetoric 103, Fall 2001

Imagine yourself in the future, having a lung cancer symptom such as wearing a pump that breathes for you. Currently, thousands of people die each day from smoking. To help you live longer, here is a simple process to quit smoking without using any medical helps. First, smoke only when you have to smoke, and then eat sweet stuff, and finally avoid being around other smokers. Quitting smoking following these steps is one of the first things you should do to extend your own lifetime.

In order to quit smoking, you first have to smoke only when you have to. Since quitting smoking all of a sudden could bring more harm to you, you should try reducing the times you smoke cigarettes first, so you can avoid having more stress. For some of you who smoke a pack a day or more, there are times when you do not have to smoke. Sometimes, you tend to smoke because you do not have anything to do, or you do not feel like just standing or walking. Therefore, if you stop yourself at those times, you can reduce great amount of cigarettes. From my personal experiences, the only times people really need to smoke are after a meal, and after finishing certain tasks, if you are not the smoker who smokes two or three packs a day. After a meal, you will want to have some kind of refreshment in your mouth, and you generally want to smoke while resting after accomplishing a hard work. That means, at other times, you are smoking because you have nothing to do or you are just bored. Also, another thing you can do is to not bring a cigarette with you; so that, you can only smoke at certain times you really have to smoke. If you do not have a cigarette with you, than you have to ask others for a cigarette, and that makes you to resist the temptation. Using these two ways to reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke, you will see much more cigarettes left in your pack by the end of the day.

After you become successful in reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke, you then have to reduce that number to zero. One good way of doing this is to use sweet stuff. There is a variety of sweet stuff that is helpful, such as candies, mints, and gums. One of the most tempting times smokers face is after a meal because that’s the time people need a refreshment for their mouth. Therefore, smokers in general have to smoke after having a meal; however, you can also refresh your mouth with sweet stuff, and mint can be one of the best choices for that. Mint has a strong refreshing taste that will make you not smoke. Whenever I smoke after having a mint or anything sweet, the cigarette tastes so bitter that I do not want to keep smoking. So, take a mint before you put your hands on a cigarette. Mint and candies can also help you at other times. Also, for some of you who do not like eating sweet stuff, there is a variety of tastes the mints and candies have, such as sour and bitter tastes. Whenever you feel like smoking, take a mint or candy, and that will be the fastest solution to help you on the way to quit smoking.

The last thing to do to quit smoking is avoid being around other smokers. Even if you can resist the temptation of cigarettes, you generally want to smoke when you see people around you smoking. Quitting smoking is a hard task without help of people around you. For me, the times I smoke cigarettes continuously is when I meet my friends at café, or when people gather up for party. So, that is how being with other smokers can make you smoke more, and you get tempted to smoke with them even if you try to resist yourself. In some society, smoking can be a social thing to do, but if you really want to quit smoking, you have to ask others for their help and understanding. However, doing this could bring you hard times and even more stress, so try to quit with a friend who also wants to quit smoking. By doing this, all of you can resist the temptation, and also help each other. One common approach my friends do is to play a game, betting money on who can resist longer.

After, following these three steps, you will see how many cigarettes you saved from smoking. There are lots of medical uses to help smokers to quit, such as nicotine patches and special gums; however, quitting smoking without those alternatives will be better in the long run because you could rely on those after you quit. Finally, the most important thing you should know is that it is your strong determination to control yourself that is going to determine whether you can quit or not.

Dorms or Apartments?

-Comparison and contrast, Rhetoric 103, Fall 2001

Which makes students’ life more comfortable, dormitories or apartments? After first or second years living in the university campus, most students ask themselves to which of the two places they will consider moving next year. Of course, both places have pros and cons. The one is not certainly better than the other. Therefore, when students decide where they should live next year, they should first think about how their life style will change when they move there. Few major things that are going to be changed if one decides to move from one to the other are his or her financial spending, privacy, and entertainment style. Although, dormitories and apartments seem like similar living place, students’ life style will change after adjusting to the new place they moved to. Dormitories and apartments have very different features.

Dormitories are the first places students encounter after entering the university. For that reason, most dormitories are packed up with large number of freshmen. What usually happens to them is that they tend to compare dormitories to the houses they used to live with their families. To describe dormitories in contrast to apartments, the common characteristics of dormitories are fixed financial spending, more social, and somewhat restricted entertainment. First part, the amount of money students spend is pretty much fixed. They are given very similar room prices from one another, since the most rooms in all dormitories in same school are priced the same. In University of Illinois, the dormitory room prices differ by couple hundred dollars depending on number of roommates and availability of air-conditioning and classes in same building. Also, students living in dormitories are required to purchase a meal plan, so that makes each student’s spending on foods not much different from one another, considering that all the students eat most of their meals at the dormitory cafeteria. Moreover, privacy is also a significant characteristic of dormitories. Most people live in double room, sharing a room with a roommate, meaning that they will have almost no personal time. Personally, I sometimes want to spend sometime by myself in a quiet place, and realize I cannot go to anywhere in the building for personal time. First time living in the dormitory, I faced couple conflicts with my roommate in the beginning of the year because we did not know each other enough; however, as time passed, we came to understand each other. The dormitory is a community place where people share rooms, bathrooms, and other facilities in the building; therefore, in all occasions, the students should think about others living in the same building. Nevertheless, there are also good things about living in a crowded place because it is a lot of fun spending times with people living in the same dormitory. Those friends are going to be always nearby, so people can easily meet up whenever they want. Lastly, the entertainment in dormitories is somewhat restricted. In the dormitory rooms, the cable and internet connections are provided, and there are many facilities for having fun, such as pool tables and lounges. Yet, there are couple rules one has to obey, like being quiet and no drinking in the dormitory. Dormitories can be not all that fun, but also can be an enjoyable place as long as one follows couple residence hall rules.

An apartment is the place where upperclassmen usually move to, and most people consider moving to apartments after their freshman year. The cost of living in apartments is variable, and students can have more personal and released time. Apartments have a wide range of prices, and the students can choose the place they want the most. In Urbane and Champaign, some apartments are cheaper, closer, larger, or cleaner than others, so the students can think again about what is most important to them. Unlike in dormitories, people can modify their expenses on the food items by deciding to either cook at their kitchen, or go out to eat. As a result, the students can either save more money or spend more convenient daily life. Secondly, apartments give their residents more private feeling. Living in an apartment, one does share anything with his or her floor-mates, and able to use everything by oneself. During the high school years, I once stayed in an apartment by myself for about a year. Compare to the life in the dormitory now, I had much more comfortable time in the apartment, but I usually end up spending most of the day by myself. Hence, living in an apartment with close friends could be a solution to get both privacy and fun time. Lastly, apartments have almost no restrictions on having fun time. In apartments, people can host a party, and there is no policy about alcohol and smoking. There are different types of entertainment people can get in apartments; people tend to go out to look for something fun because most activities people can do in their apartment personal entertainment. Apartments are just a place where people live in, and the place can change depending on what people do to make the apartment more comfortable place.

Dormitories and apartments are very different places, but it is hard to judge that one is better than the other. Compare to the dormitory being a standardized place, apartments can be viewed as place that can be modified the way its residents want it. So, no matter where students decide to move to, it is important for the students to adjust to the new place.

Use of online assignments and quizzes

-Cause and effect, Rhetoric 103, Fall 2001

Beginning a first year in university, I was introduced to the online quiz, which is often used in many classes. After seeing how technology also makes the learning easier and more convenient, a number of students and faculty members will face few pros and cons of taking quiz online. For many classes in University in Illinois, the online quizzes have recently been introduced to the students; therefore, the use of online quiz is now in an early stage, in which it is not efficiently used yet. The online quizzes make the process of taking and grading quizzes simpler for both professors and students; however, there are several factors that need to be considered to run online quiz more efficiently.

By using online quiz, faculties can avoid the weaknesses of paper quizzes. The professors or TAs, can first reduce papers wasted, and also avoid losing a grade. They are always in charge of carrying stack of tests, and organizing them for grading. In many classes I take this semester, the professors can be observed carrying tons of paper in a huge box, preparing to give out multi-paged tests to hundreds of students every time there is a test. Similarly for TAs, who takes stack of quizzes to their office or home almost every week, they have to grade and record them one by one. In some cases, they sometimes forget to record students’ grades, and get into a situation in which they ask for students to bring back their graded quizzes. One time, I received an e-mail from my TA saying that she has forgot to record the quiz grades, and asking me to bring back my quiz that I threw away couple days ago. Therefore, the online quiz is also efficient in grade recording, since the most record the grades for each student in computers or network automatically. In addition to that, the professors can save more class time, which would have been spent for quiz time, and use that time for more teaching, since there is not an plentiful time to teach the students during the semester. Therefore, the online quizzes contribute to more available academic time.

The inconvenient factors of paper quizzes for students can be prevented by the using an online quiz. One obvious asset is the process of quizzing becomes simpler. The students can easily take the quiz in their rooms or computer labs, where they will feel more comfortable, and also, they do not have to go to the class. The online quiz can also save lots of time for students. Often, paper quizzes require students to provide whole lot of writing. However, by using online quiz, the students can just easily click or type rather than write out all the details, which can be sometimes illegible to some people. Also, the use of online quiz can also avoid time conflicts for the quiz time. Every time tests or exams approach, there are always some students who request a conflict exam. That means not all the students can make the time for quizzes, but the online quiz does not require all the students and faculty members to present in one place. The students can freely choose the time when they feel comfortable taking quiz, and the faculties do not have to be there at all. I personally favor taking quizzes in my room during the night time, rather than taking when I go to my morning classes. One reason is that I feel more tired in the morning, hence I cannot concentrate as well as I do at night. So, what I usually do for my chemistry class is study and give myself some rest for couple minutes, then I log on to my course site. As a result, the online quiz helps students get over their anxiety before taking tests.

Although online quizzing makes the process simpler, there are a few things in which the paper quizzing is more advantageous. There are some students who do not have access to the computers, and also the network traffic disturbs many of those who use the campus network. However, there are increasing number of computer facilities that are provided in campus buildings and residence halls, and some schools like University of Illinois have set a network limit on each room in the residence hall, so that a person who is enjoying their entertainment websites does not cause disturbance of others’ academic work. In the meantime, students can take advantage of the online quizzes. Since the students taking a quiz are not proctored by the professors and TAs, there is chance that they can work with their books or classmates. What I have observed in most online quizzes in University of Illinois is that they are all open book quizzes, but have set a time limit. So that, if a person taking a quiz does not know the information, he or she will have a hard time finding an answer in a given time. Also, for my chemistry quizzes, the questions for each student are differentiated, thus each ends up with different answer. For example, for chemistry and math calculations, the question types are in same format, but each student is given different numbers; therefore everyone can solve the same kind of problem, but cannot copy off each others’ answers. Thus, there are many aspects in which the paper quiz is more advantageous than the online quiz; nevertheless, most online quizzes that are used by the universities have been modified to overcome all those weaknesses.

As the internet technologies improve, the academic use of online system is gradually increasing. Starting this year, some classes have taken a new approach in which students watch the lecture online, and do homework afterward. In some areas, use of online education had led to the establishment of cyber-colleges. It is evident that the use of web education will take a significant part in students’ future studies; therefore, each student should adapt oneself to the increasing use of internet.

Sexual assault: understanding men

-Argumentative writing, Rhetoric 103, Fall 2001

Sexual harassment is common problem and widely discussed among students in the dormitory, but few people can define what sexual harassment is, let alone solve the problem. In the dormitories of the large universities, like University of Illinois, both males and females face the times when they have to adjust to the opposite sex, since they live in the same building. That is why the dormitory is probably the place where the tensions are highest. During last semester, all the new students were required to attend a meeting where other students explain about some sexual harassment happenings around the campus area, and some cautions, how to act in that situation and other things students can do. But still, there are different aspects of sexual harassment, besides man harassing a woman. Having different views on sexual harassment, students of both sexes have hard time understanding each other. Often, female students blame male students of sexual harassment for the actions that should not be considered as harassment in men’s eyes; therefore, there are couple aspects which female students should listen to the males of, and try to understand them.

One problem is that females do not think about how males will react from their actions. Many cases that have been currently dealt in the court often seem like women were little bit too callous about men’s behavior. Sometimes, men are the ones who suffer from the outcome of the sexual harassment because some women only think from their point of view. Because most people tend to think that men are always the assaulter and women are victims, so they usually support the women’s views. That means men can lose whole lot of things just because of timid ness. Therefore, female students should think once more to find out how male students will feel about them, and also inform them about what female’s viewpoints are.

There are many female students with double standard. Some of them go little deeper, and become feminists. Their belief is simply female superiority. Since men are advantageous with strength, females think that they should be well-protected, and react sensitively to men’s behaviors. One interesting thing is that, acts that only seem friendly when done by women are considered as sexual harassment, when done by men. Even if, to many people’s eyes, most acts by males look cruel, and those of females look cute, the standard for the both sexes should be justified. For that kind of situations, Luthar and Townsend say that, “Most of the outcry over sexual harassment is not about bosses demanding sex but about men doing and saying things that some women find offensive. Perhaps women are behaving just as offensively, but men have learned to live with it. The real answer to the hostile environment problem may be that women should learn to live with it too.(174)” So, the females should see the males as in equal status as them.

Just from couple failures men have made, females misjudge the whole race of male as sexual harassers. Because of that, some men have to worry about how women will react to his acts, and many women do not want that either. Women should understand that some men really care about them, and try to protect them mostly. Not all males are the same, so they should not be assumed guilty. Nowadays, every small failure people make is judged by the laws, and some women try to take advantage of that. However, harassment is often in the eye of behavior. So, one must think again in person of opposite sex’s view in order to avoid a big problem.

Homosexuals' impact on society

-Rhetoric 104, Spring 2002

Everyone is created differently from each other. As we meet new people, we see the common similarities and differences we have with them, and we judge them by the characteristics they have. People tend to accept the majority’s characteristic as a standard one. That is because the most people are likely to be in that category. But the real problem here is that most of them often think that nonstandard characteristics are wrong or bad, and some of them even think that everyone should follow the majority’s way. Also, on the other side, there are people who try to be like the majority, giving up their own. There are many cases in which people have to adjust to the society, rather than adjusting society to them. Likewise, this applies to the homosexual problem. There is a lot of movements associated homosexuality at this time, and yet disputes from the both sides never come an end. For me, after seeing how some people give up some of their uniqueness in order to adjust to the society more, it is difficult to fully accept the homosexuality.

I have been raised in a strong Catholic family, and went through four years of Catholic teachings during the high school years. Compare to other Christian religions, Catholic teachings do not consider homosexual issue as a big deal; however, its accordance to the bible still affects me in some extent. “The legal union of same-sex couples …endorse practices which are completely antithetical to the tenets of all of the world’s major religions” (Bennett 200). Since I was young, my parents always had been taking me to the church on every Sunday, and they had sent me to the Sunday school for more concentrated teachings of bible. Although I was not a strong Catholic then, later, I realized that I still carried a Catholic faith in my mind. That also applied for most of my classmates in high school. Most of them had a Catholic teaching throughout their life, and many of them even went to the Catholic school since they were first graders in elementary school. Even though we did not discuss about the homosexual issue specifically, the kids I knew personally did not have a good feeling toward them. Unlike public schools, the students in my high school have had stable and religious family settings. Therefore, the Catholic religion has affected the environment in which I grew up a lot.

Besides my Catholic belief that I have had with me throughout, I also put my social life on one of top priorities. Social acceptance is very important factor in your lifetime, and I would not want to let homosexual issue disturb my social life. For, I would be willing to make sacrifices for my social life, and I believe my social life is what is going to shape my future, and furthermore, satisfaction of myself, my life style, and maybe happiness within myself. This world is full of heterosexuals who view heterosexuals who think homosexual are abnormal people, and the words that describe homosexuals are expressed as swears. For, I really feel bad for homosexuals, and I would really like to encourage them to find what is more important to them, and give up the other. “In uncertain times people search for scapegoats” (Johnson 206). Thus, my view is that social acceptance is more important than homosexual issue.

Also, my Korean background and the Korean society where I grew up in shapes my idea on social acceptance issue. About two years ago, there was one Korean comedian who used to feature in one of the programs for children in the morning. Just after he came out to state his homosexuality, he was fired from that program, and his celebrity career really ended by then. Thinking about his situation, I strongly believe that his celebrity career is actually more important to him then his homosexual needs. Still, in Korea, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans-genders are all looked upon as abnormal by most people, and people feel uncomfortable around them. Compare to those in the United States, homosexuals in Korea are suppressed by the society so much that they would have no guts to come out. Also, for the heterosexual people, the society makes hard for them to understand the homosexuals. One of the reasons is that people are not aware that there are homosexuals around, and another is because of so small number of homosexuals that actually declared their sexuality and no correction to misunderstanding of the rumors about homosexuals. So, how the Korean society views the homosexuals also contributes to determination of my stand in the homosexual issue. After all, the background I have and the societies I have gone through are the factors that make it difficult for me to understand the homosexuals. There are not only sympathies toward the homosexuals, but also homophobias who are just trying to get rid of gays in this world. However, with increasing number of homosexual movements and homosexual people coming out, and also gradually increasing number of people understanding homosexuals, homosexuals will end up receiving the rights they claim for.

Racism towards immigrants

-Rhetoric 104, Spring 2002

America, it is the land of equal opportunity for all, at least this is what is perceived by many immigrants before their arrival. After arrival, however, there usually comes a rude awakening, a shattering of that dream unrealized, that this IS the land of opportunity, but not necessarily for all. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty includes this passage from the poem from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! (Lazarus 220)

So it is written, on this welcoming symbol of this society open to the immigrants on their voyage to a better life. Although the “golden door” in this land of plenty is open to all, the distribution of wealth and chances to attain wealth is often biased on one’s heritage, origin of arrival, sex, and skin color. People first arriving in this country often sails upon the euphoria of the life that was promised them presented by mass media. Most share strikingly similar experiences in this country as time passes; more closely studied, these experiences reflect a common aspect of the nation’s mentality: majority rules due to the democratic system, an unwillingness to accept, adopt, or adjust to new trends or customs, and a subtle, almost unconscious rejection to foreigners.

As the strongest, richest, and overall most powerful nation in the world, Americans developed over time a blank over their eyes, a notion that since they are the best, every in the world should try or at least make an effort to become like them, especially the ones living here. This view often creates problems of ignored minority issues and concerns as do in most other countries, but due to its nature as an immigrant nation, the United States becomes a place for racial tensions. The true mindset Americans have when dealing with minorities and foreigners is not a notion of “Acceptance” but rather “Tolerance” (Brimelow 224). The growing arrogance within the American heart and mind is like a disease in hibernation waiting to take its toll one day when it fully matures and can’t be contained anymore. America is often described as a “Quilt of People”, this is an attempt to show the diversity in the American population, but the diversity is being erased by the “Melting Pot” idea. These two nicknames for America are conflicting and ironic in that only one can be true. Either America is a “Quilt” but all of the patches are of the similar color and design, or it is a “Melting Pot” where all of the metals put in have yet to be fully smelted into one alloy.

When one looks back at the history this great nation, especially upon its immigration history, one would see that America has not been one of the most open as suggested by the Statue of Liberty. Today, the majority of those who work in minimal wage jobs are non-whites. It would seem, then, the general that immigrants will be admitted whenever their economic contribution will exceed the costs of providing social services to them (Borjas 239). This is not always the case in practice, though, as we see more restricted measures taken on immigration such as the Quota Acts of the 1920s and most recently the Clinton administration cut the quota again by another 240,000 (Borjas 239). The facts provided would lead up to an argument that immigration is becoming of a more selective process of not just “are you good enough” but “how good are you when compared to others”. Another factor creating anti-immigration sentiments is the job market, there are only a certain number of jobs at any given time and only a certain limited number of new ones are being created. Job security is a big issue, Americans enjoying their high pay and comfortable lifestyles are unwilling to have that taken from them by some immigrant fresh off the boat willing to work for half the pay. Labor unions, therefore, is a big proponent in the anti-immigration movement as they try to be faithful to their constituents and bring benefit to them.

As a foreigner in the United States, I’ve encountered many hardships during my stay in this country. I arrived here at the age of 12 years old and had some trouble with the English language, amongst other things. I have made a Chinese friend in the dorms that arrived here when he was 8 years old and asked him to share his experiences with me. Regarding racism that exists underlying the foundations of this society he brought up the point that in many work places and environments, foreigners are often relegated to assistant or minor roles in research teams where credit is often given to team leaders or project managers who are white. He also brought up the point that foreigners receive lower pay comparable to their American counterparts, that they also receive lesser benefits given to other workers. He noted that perhaps one of the most racially biased systems in this country is the college admission system. In certain ways, Affirmative Action actually works against students of certain minority groups while favoring others. Ethnic groups like Asian-Pacific Islander that tends to congregate in states like California tends to raise the bar for admission in general for the state colleges but thus hurting their own chances of getting accepted due to Affirmative Action. Due to the fact that Affirmative Action putting a quota on different ethnic groups, it would in a sense put an even higher judgment standard above test scores and performance in high school. Since the Asians in California tends to receive higher marks during high school than some other ethnic groups, they should be more competitive when being considered for college; but Affirmative Action takes away the factor of “how good are you compared to other students” and instates in its place the factor of “how good are you compared to other Asian students”.

The racism that exists within this nation isn’t necessarily an intentional attempt by some group of people to prevent others from attaining certain social and economic levels, but merely a result of ethnic identity and diversity and human nature of self-preservation. This draws its roots from the human nature of doing what’s best for one’s people, almost a fight against extinction from our animal instincts. As the American culture grows towards a greater level of sophistication, its level of tolerance for current immigrants will grow but it’s acceptance of more future immigrants will dwindle as people become less willing to give up a piece of the American Pie to more foreigners coming into this country. The New Colossus for the 21st century should have the lines “If you can make this society wealthier and more powerful without taking more than you have created.”

Second language acquisition

-Rhetoric 104, Spring 2002

After living in United States for the past seven years, I think my English language is still far from those of native speakers. Although one cannot set a line for language mastery, I set the standard in comparison to my first language, which is Korean. I came here when I was twelve, and I was already on my third year of English study. Since I learned most of my English implicitly back those days after I arrived there, I have improved on my English proficiency really easily. As times pass, efforts and desire to master English took an important part on improving language skills. During the last three years at high school, I was indolent on using English often, and spoke Korean language all the time. Looking back now, I really think my English skills rather got worse than three years ago in terms of listening and speaking, pronunciation, and reading. I now view myself in a similar situation as adult learners who work on their second language acquisition, for I am willing to maximize the chances of improving my English during the college years. Since I am the one who is going to plan my learning strategies, I first wanted to find out what is the most effective approach to improve my English level; I came to search for linguistic studies on second language acquisition.

Learning a language consists of several key components; those are conversational skills (listening and speaking), writing, use of grammar, reading, and many others. In order to master a language, one must go through all these, and order of learning steps, such as what to learn first and which should precede another, varies the learning styles on second language. This is a factor that determines the learning pace of second language learners. The second language acquisition depends on not only learning steps, but also on the age of the learner, teaching styles, and their first language background.

First, the age of the learner has been proven to influence the mastery of the second language learning speed. As mentioned earlier, children can learn their second language quickly without focusing on what they are learning; therefore, if a good educational environment is setup around them, than they will acquire the second language really quickly. The theories of neurological development states that a “language cannot be mastered, after onset of puberty” (Lenneberg, 1967). Another issue with the age difference is their distinct social life those two groups have. For the younger kids, their society revolves around the school, where the most of the second language conversation takes place. Moreover, there are much more inside and outside of the school. As people get older, they tend to be away from the school for longer, they have less time to practice on their second language. From my own experiences, after the graduation from high school, the time I spend with American peers, who are native speakers in English, has decreased extremely, so then I realized a significant decrease in interaction that consists of English conversations. When I was in middle school, almost everyone I knew in town was my classmate, and I used to spend most of my days playing and talking with them. At the high school, I began to spend less time with my schoolmates, and instead, I started to spend my weekends and free time with Korean people who attend other schools. Then, here in this college town, the only times I really meet native speakers in English are during the class periods and in the dormitory, and those times are actually optional. I have to try to spend less time with Koreans, whom I feel more comfortable with, and try to adjust to native speakers in order to speak English like them.

Before planning out the concentration area in language learning, people should find out their proficiency level and compare that to what they are going to learn. Most English classes are filled with people with all kinds of backgrounds, so that their level in each aspect of the language would be very different, depending on how similar their first and second languages are. Another factor that varies second language learners’ proficiency level is their first language background (Bongaerts 447). There are many kinds of languages used in this world today, and they can be categorized into mainly about four kinds. Originated from Latin language of the Rome, there are Latin languages and Germanic languages. Popular languages in those categories would be French and Spanish in a Latin language group, and German and English in Germanic language family. Besides, there are those Asian languages with Chinese background, and some others that are used in mid-east and Africa area. When I see people speaking English as their second language, I can predict what their first languages are based on their pronunciation, or more specifically, their accent. Just when speaking one language, English, people all have different accents, mostly based on the region they are from, but for the second language speakers, their pronunciation on the second language is somewhat similar to their first language tone. So that, sometimes they sound like they are talking in their first language while they are actually speaking English. Based on these facts, usually, people with Eastern language background tend to have more difficulty with their English pronunciation because Asian languages are more distinct from English, compare to those western languages in Europe.

However, even among those Asian languages, whether the language is alphabetic also distinguishes second language learner’s dexterity in reading. Many of the languages used in Asia are logographic, and the way they read their native language is discrete from reading English vocabularies based on its alphabetical sounds. On Koda’s experiment on English learners with Korean and Chinese background, she found out that logographic readers look for whole word activation, while people with alphabetic first language background rely more on phonology analysis (56). From that, she concluded that learning approach should be taken, based on people’s first language background.

After all, disregarding all the linguistic studies, the most important thing in learning is continuous practice and efforts. In order to see a noticeable difference in language mastery, one has to put some time into extra learning daily. For example, vocabularies can be easily learned but also are easily forgotten over time. So that, “mastery of a word requires more than just knowledge of its meaning and form” (Schmitt 294). For each vocabulary they face, English learners have to try to find out its various meanings and use them often in order to fully take it into their memory. Since there are many parts that compose every language, the learners have to broaden the area of study in one language, rather than just concentrating on the area they are weak at. If a person is only good at reading, and does not speak well, then that person would not be able to use the language at all. So, adjacent to vocabulary memorization, I think I should also concentrate on getting myself involved into more communication tasks. According to Newton and Kennedy, that is the appropriate institutional activity, and that is the real meaning of learning the language. On his research on the effects of communication tasks on the grammatical relations, “communication tasks provide opportunities for learners to negotiate and clarify meaning in the language they are learning” (Newton & Kennedy 310). Moreover, he points out that split information tasks will encourage more interaction of the students, while share information tasks will to encourage reasoning, argumentation, conjecture, and other pragmatic behaviors” (Newton & Kennedy 321).

Lastly, students have to take challenge in English classes and that is the way they should be in everything else. During the interview, one of my friends, Sungtae Kang left an additional comment. “All the professional jobs in United States require a great deal of English proficiency, and most ESL(English as a Second Language) courses would not be any help to those foreign students because they try to be way too easy on students, that students will easily get a good grade, but over time, they won’t learn anything in English.” During last seven years of study here in United States, I only have had a year of ESL class, so I did not have any trouble adjusting to regular English classes; however, after hearing about what students are taught in ESL courses, I realize that there is too much gap between regular English and ESL classes. This will cause those students in ESL classes to not only have a hard time adjusting to other regular classes, but also, they will want to avoid hard classes, and prefer those easy-A classes, like ESL.

Since there are not sufficient research done on second language acquisition and the acquisition approach varies from person to person, the learners should be the one who knows the most about where they are standing, and what they should work on. Therefore, they should pace themselves well, without expecting anything substantial from the program provided by the school. After accomplishing this long project, I have found out that everyone has different talents and backgrounds, so for a learning process like second language acquisition, I have to find my own way for the most efficient learning. Furthermore, all programs of study will be waste of time without any efforts. The most important thing in learning steps is a person’s desire to learn and all the hard work one has to put to achieve his or her desire.