Sarah Barrios

My name is Sarah Barrios, and I’m a 160 student. I’m from Venezuela and I’m 17 years old.  I first came in September last year and this was my second semester in TIEP.

Before telling you about my different experiences in TIEP, I want first to thank my teachers and TIEP to give me this opportunity of giving the speech in the recognition ceremony day for you all.

So far my biggest achievement as a result of my involvement and dedication in TIEP, has being the acceptance at The University of Texas at San Antonio, to start my undergraduate program in Architecture in September 2013.

TIEP has numerous activities and requirements that have helped me to reach this goal. For example, the daily assignments that teachers give us and that each of us is responsible for completing and reviewing, always keeping in mind that our big goal is to become proficient in English.

Another tool that TIEP provides to us is the conversation group every week.  The biggest obstacle to participating in those conversation groups is shyness and lack of confidence. And those were exactly the reasons why I didn’t participate in my first semester here. But then I realized that I needed those kinds of beneficial activities in order to improve my English skills. So I decided to attend and participate, putting a side my shyness.

In my case, when I first got here, I wasn’t nervous about the English classes, but I was in a panic about my classmates, friends and teachers. I was afraid of not making any friends or that my teachers wouldn’t be friendly or helpful. But it turned out that the TIEP environment is like a family, it gives you several activities to meet new people, and all the students are so kind and friendly.

I’m personally so proud of my 160 classmates because they are not only classmates, they are real friends that helped me so many times. And of course of my first friend too be cause he has helped me and supported me in everything. TIEP is not only about learning English, it also helped me to meet new friends and learn about different cultures and languages.

All my teachers, Jodi and Eric in 140 and Matthew and Joe in 160 are really intelligent, friendly and helpful, they were always available to help me not only in class context, but also outside the classroom in any situation.

TIEP teachers encourage us to use the tools they taught us, no only inside the classroom, but in order to be successful, to apply them to our everyday life.  One of the things I did for myself to improve my English, was posting note cards all over my house, to remind my family to talk English and only English to me. Another tool that helped me a lot was make some friends that don’t speak my language. And that is a very important tip for everyone, to make an American friend or at least someone who doesn’t speak your language so you are forced to speak only English. And if you don’t understand something, teachers are the not the only ones to ask, ask your friends too. I’m sure they will be happy to help.

Other things that helped were watching movies and TV in English, at the beginning I needed subtitles in English, but with the time I didn’t need them anymore. I realized the transition I made in English conversations and understanding when I stopped translating everything I say or hear in my mind and I started thinking in English without first thinking in Spanish. And that is a natural but magical process when learning another language that I’m sure you all have pass through.

How did I study? Well, first of all the most important tip is to organize yourself by carrying a notebook everyday to class, and to make sure to write down all the assignments, homework and tests you have during the week. And when you get home reviewing those notes or homework you have for the next day.  Another important thing I really recommend doing, based in my TIEP experience, is to attend class. Maybe I’ll sound like a teacher here, but it is really important for your grades, for not leaving behind the class and to mentally prepare you to become proficient in English.

My overall experience at TIEP was wonderful, I have some very special memories that I’ll keep in my mind and heart.  Thank to all the teachers and everyone in TIEP specially Jodi, Eric, Matthew, Joe, Sarah and Erica for being so helpful and always kind with me. And of course to my friends, because you are a big part of me now, thank you for teaching me so many things. And I’m so glad that I didn’t only learn about American culture here in TIEP, I also learned about Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Mexican cultures.