When I look back at my experience with acquiring English language, I don’t really consider it a second language as much as another first language. I started acquiring it along with Arabic. I was born a twin, to a mother who was doing her internship in medicine school. She basically did not have the time to babysit us, or the time to look after us. I don’t remember her clearly in my first years. I only remember the Filipino nanny (Marilynn) mom hired for us, when we were only 18 months old. Marilynn did barely spoke a word of Arabic. For that reason, the communication language between her, my mother and us was English. Our early exposure to language was mainly shifted to English for so many years along with Arabic when we started going to school. My mother encouraged the behavior, and was always praising how we learned English fast. She rewarded us with English books and stories that she read to us when we spent time together. She made it easy for us to love the language and be passionate about it. As I grew up, my love towards the language grew along with me too. Also, my parents always emphasized the fact that a brilliant career will not be achieved if English isn’t of the skills, and that the business language and the language of the world is English. They have connected being successful with being able to speak English.
At school, back then, students started learning English in Grade 7, resulting in beginners’ level students at a late stage! So I was always the student who was bored in English classes and way ahead of everyone else. I think that was one of the reasons that hindered my progress, specially in vocabulary. Another reason that hindered my progress is the fact that almost everyone of my peers started to make fun of me for having almost broken Arabic. I resisted the development of English and started focusing on my Arabic, which I improved to a certain level until I graduated from high school. When I started college, the progress of English started to show more because I majored in English Language Literature and Linguistics.
If I were to advice anyone who wants to learn a second language, whether English or not, I would definitely encourage them to focus on their vocabulary and idioms. This skill will come more handy than their pronunciation or accent reduction exercises. It is important to be able to express ourselves in many different ways with different words depending on a situation, rather than just learn one form. Another advice would be to never let other people bringing them down about learning another language, and turn their mock as a motivation tool rather than to let it hinder their progress.