I Am Not Smart, But Diligent

By Glory Fu • March 7, 2016

I’m an English self-learner; English is not my first language. Today I am an English teacher. I would like to voice that failures are not disastrous. Have faith, keep moving on, and never give up, you will see your hard work pay off.

I was a slow learner when I was little. Before five, I couldn’t even speak in full sentences. Unlike most other children, I seldom interacted with others; I neither cried nor threw tantrums. My extreme quietness made my parents wonder if I was mentally slow, but they were not sure. Actually, I have to confess that my memories of my early childhood are quite vague.

My learning problems were the result of my mother taking herbal abortion medicine. When she became pregnant with me, she didn’t want to have any more babies, so she took Chinese medicine to end her pregnancy. Amazingly, the medicine didn’t work; I survived. Although I was born without any physical defects, the medicine did affect my early intellectual development. When I was in elementary school, I learned very slowly and was as quiet as a doll. While my teacher was teaching, my mind oftentimes would wander outside the classroom to the playground. The learning problems and inactive personality traits remained with me until I was in grade 5. As a fifth grader, I finally started interacting with my classmates. That was the first time in my memory that I had some friends. More amazingly, from that time onwards, I became talkative, laughing and playing like any normal child.

After heading full speed for my junior high education, my learning situation got stuck in the mud again. In my country, students entering junior high school had to take an IQ test. It was a test for schools to evaluate students’ learning abilities so that they could arrange them into different levels of classes based on their IQ test scores. For example, students with higher IQ scores were placed in the “outstanding class”; average ones joined the “intermediate class,” and slower students were destined for the “bottom class.” I was placed in the “bottom class” as a result of my below-average IQ score. Most of my teachers taught us using easy and slow methods because they considered us incapable of learning much. Even though three years of less-motivational education didn’t provide me with a fair chance for learning more, deep down in my heart, I never lost faith that I might one day succeed. As if to prove that when God closes a door, He will definitely open up a big window, a miracle occurred. That’s when I discovered a strong passion for English.

At the age of 13, I found myself deeply interested in English. Aside from reading English textbooks, I made a habit of reading English magazines, listening to English programs, and keeping an English diary. Moreover, I summarized almost every story in books or magazines to improve my writing skills. In order to strength my speaking ability, I oftentimes told myself those stories in English. I also wrote down unfamiliar words or phrases in notebooks and frequently reviewed them. That way, I could further expand my vocabulary. I kept learning, and realized that no matter how hard or how unfair my situation was, I could choose to move on, rather than give up. After college, I set my goal on pursuing further education in America. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” With over 10 years of consistent English self-study, I successfully passed TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) without going to any cram school or language center, and headed for America to pursue my higher education.

Although, from preschool to university, I frequently encountered frustrations and obstacles in my studies, I refused to be overcome by them. I encourage those facing learning problems not to give up. Give yourself one more chance to stand up. My story proves everyone has the ability to learn. Success has less to do with IQ, and more to do with hard work, perseverance, and persistence. No matter what you are interested in, you need to set a goal, and keep yourself working for that goal and stay motivated over the long term. Never let disappointment or frustration defeat you. I am here to encourage you not to let go of your hope. Hope brings about passion. Passion makes you move forward, and once you learn with passion, your dreams will come true.

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