top of page
  • Writer's pictureTana Xilin

The Journal of a "New" Yorker

My name is Tana. I am a New Yorker. I am a new comer. This is my third year in New York. On my website, I am going to share my life as a new immigrant in New York City. The reason why I start this journal is that I want to show how new immigrants live in New York, what are the struggles we are having in our lives and some thoughts on my new journey. In this very first entry, I want to share the journals I wrote in my first seven months in New York. (I did't change anything even though I noticed some mistakes. I want to keep it the way as it was so that I could let my readers see what might be the mistakes a language learner might make.)

Oct, 15 2021. Sunny

I have been in New York for two months now. It has been my dream for many years. Ten years ago, I came to the US as an exchange student and visited New York City for my winter break. I stayed approximately for ten days and I fell in love with the city. I love the vigor and vitality the city has. But still, there is so much to learn and adapt to. So what happened in these two months then? First, we finally found an apartment. We were planning to rent a cheaper apartment like around $2500. But when I saw the apartment in Avalon Riverview, I didn’t want to live in that dark and small apartment any longer. I loved the location which was next to the Central Park but I needed sunlight in my room. So we rented a room which was $3400 per month. I know that was a lot but it had a really nice view and what’s more, it was close to my son’s school, P.S. 78.

Standing in front of my son's school

Oct, 21 2021. Sunny

Every time I work out, I feel so nice. It’s not hard to describe but a few adjectives are never enough for such a feeling. Today, I want to talk about what it means to me for having a kid. I had a fight with my son last night. Even though we made up at last, I felt bad. I felt that I was not a good mother. I felt sorry for what I said and I apologized for my words that might hurt him so much. I don’t want to write down what I said last night because it was hurtful and I don’t understand why I said those. I never feel bored when I am around my son. I love visiting gardens and parks with him. But whenever he did something wrong or he screamed for nothing, I could not control my anger. I regret a lot after I said something mean to him. I hope I would know how to react when he lost his temper.

I was proud of myself when I downloaded Endnote yesterday. It is a citation management tool which I help me organize the articles I read. It was handy and easy to use but still I spent the whole morning trying to figure it out.

My son had his third hockey class yesterday. It was super fun. It takes a long time for getting dressed for class but it was worth the time and the effort. My son didn’t feel afraid of falling because of all the protective clothes. I chose this class for him because I want to let him look for some ways to be happy. Hobbies are not easy to find. For me, I can’t even tell people what I love. I like a lot of things, such as working out, reading and shopping. But shopping can’t really be a hobby. Even it is a hobby, it is a hobby that I try to quit. So I believe while trying different sports my son will finally know how to make himself happy. I’m still on my journey, trying to figure out myself.

Dec,1 2021. Cold but sunny

It is kind of winter now. We have been in New York for 113 days and everything goes well. I want to make a record of how my son learns English, who doesn’t speak any English before he came to the States. Okay, actually he knows a little English, such as some colors (especially blue, he loves blue), some animals (cat and dog), and some numbers. So what about now? Has he improved a lot? Well, it depends how you define a lot. When we first arrived in New York, everybody is telling me: “ No worries. He will learn English just in a few months.” But I can tell you myself it is not true. Not only he but also his friend (who has similar experience with my son) hasn’t shown any “significant” improvement. By significant, I mean they still cannot communicate in English in a back and forth way. But I have seen something else. First, my son uttered his first complete sentence the other day. He said long island plus long island equals two long island. He is confused about the name of Long Island and Long Island City. I think what makes him confused is that sometimes we say New York City and sometimes we say New York. So the word city can be deducted. So I was explaining to him that Long Island City was different from Long Island. I was surprised when he said that. Second, he knows to add plural -s at the end of the word if the number is more than one. We were playing a fighting game (not a real one, we were hitting each other gently with the thunder sticks we got from the basketball game ) and counting how many points we got. And then suddenly he said two points. One of the reasons is that I was modeling the language in the game. I was saying I got two points, I got three points. It might help him realize the difference. Third, this morning when he woke up, he asked me what the meaning of music was. I explained it to him and I’m happy that he is dreaming about English now.


Recently, my son would share what he learned at school. I learned an English word or sentence, as he started to tell me what he exactly learned. Do you hop? I learned “do you hop?” I looked a little bit puzzled. What does it mean? I asked my son. He repeated again and told me it meant “你需要帮助吗?” And then I corrected him and said oh you mean do you need help? (When I am writing this piece, it occurred to me that my son had learned the sentence “are you done?” I asked him how he learned it and he said when he was eating his lunch and one of his teachers asked him “are you done?”)

Feb/16/2022 cold and sunny

We have been in New York City for half a year and I still feel it is a dream that comes true. In this entry, I want to share how my son became literate in English. Before we came to the States, my son didn’t speak English. He spoke Mongolian and Chinese but he could not read or write in both languages. Therefore, English is his first language that will enable him to really understand the world. After being exposed to English for six months, how is he doing now? He is my proud. His reading level was upgraded to level B two weeks ago. From this week, he could read the books by himself now. He would try to pronounce the words by what he has learned from Ms. M (Ms. M is his ENL teacher). For example, he pronounced sing and songs by himself with a little bit mistake. He pronounced the g in sing more like the g in game. When he couldn’t pronounce the words, he would stop and look at me. It is not the first time he read. The first piece his read is we wish you a merry Christmas. When I played the song, he really enjoyed it and learned to read the poem much quicker than other poems. I think a kind of turning point happened during the winter break. During the ten days of winter break, I helped me go through the all the wall words by using a flash card and spelling tests. I also found that the poem assigned every week is really helpful to go over the wall words. That ten days we reviewed what he had learned in the past ten weeks and consolidated some words. Last term, in spelling test, he scored 4 or 5 out of 20. But now he scored 19 out of 20. At the beginning of this semester he scored 14/20 and then 16/20. Now he is confused with the letter b and the letter d. (When I say b-i-r-d, the word he wrote is dirb). The other word he is confused about is was. He wrote saw instead. It is so interesting to see how he learns a language. He speaks a lot now even though he uses a lot of simple words like this and that. He likes to use because a lot. He is speaking in a complete sentence but with minor mistakes. Sometimes I have to control my urge to correct him. I still read books to him every night. We read Dogman a lot when we get time. He scored 100% in his math exam. What made me surprised last night was that he is actually writing a sentence in his exam. He watches bookflix almost every morning now. I think it also helps a lot. Sometimes, from kitchen, I could hear he was reading along.

March/29/2022 windy

My son made huge progress in this month. First, he started to read on his own. We like to read Dogman and Cat kid together. We almost finished all of them. The other day, when I was cooking, he asked me to read him the last book of Cat kid. And I said I would read for him when I finished cooking. Then I noticed he was reading by himself. (remarkable!) The last book of cat kid is about a comic book club which teaches you how to make your own comic book. So last night, my son showed me his first comic book called 100000 (facts) you can lean about poop (his actual spelling is 100000 you can lrnd adout poop) He still confuses about the spelling of b and d. After he came home, he added two more pages to his book. What made me proud of him is that he tried to teach his father how to start to write a book and sell it to the library. He wants his dad to find a job as soon as possible so that we can take him to Disney (we promised him before that if his dad could find a job, we would take him to Disney World). What I also like to share about language learning of my son is that he started to self talking in English. He started to self-talking in English when we started to watch Harry Potter together. After we watched two or three of the movies, I bought him five characters of Lego from the movie. Then, he started to make his own story and play with them. Friday is our family night. We have watched so many movies together and we would talk about them from time to time. I love to watch movies with my son. When I was watching Harry Potter with him, I made sense of some details which I overlooked when I was a little girl. It also reminded me how crazy I was for reading the novels of Harry Potter. I would read it when I should have slept at noon (we usually took a snap at noon for one hour). I remembered asking my cousin to buy the book as soon as it was released. At that time I was living in a small town and I couldn’t buy the latest books there since it still took some time for the book store to but them. My son still made some minor mistakes. For example, he likes to say you must be do sth. I didn’t correct him since I would like him to talk more.

May/26/2022 It’s been a really long time. Where did I go?

This is the end of my first seven months journal. It was even fun for me to read all these entries. I should have kept on writing my journals. But I guess it’s never too late to start again. Therefore, from next entry I will start record my life on a weekly basis.

180 views1 comment

1 comentário

Elene Iashvili
Elene Iashvili
16 de fev.

It’s so sad you stopped and we can’t read more ♥️ Please continue writing and let us read your story! You are such good storyteller… 🤩

bottom of page