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Highly Motivated: A Mexican Immigrant's Story

There's nothing like a story about a Mexican immigrant who has written two books, appeared on television, and given a series of motivational speeches all before she could legally drive to make you feel lazy.

Yuliana Gallegos, 16, has written a book called Mi sueno de America/My American Dream about her experiences as an English-language learner after her family moved to Houston when she was in the fourth grade. Determined to keep up with her peers, she spent hours each night doing her homework with the help of stacks of dictionaries and quizzed herself on new vocab every day, says the article. Seven years later, she can now speak fluent English and has a scrapbook filled to the brim with her accomplishments.

The story of this teenager is certainly inspiring, but it also touches on how much more enthusiasm ELL students have to bring to the classroom in order to stay on track with their English-speaking classmates. Gallegos' philosophy? "At first, it's going to be difficult. Nothing in the world is easy. There will be many rocks in your path, but if you fall, keep going." Pretty sage advice from one clearly motivated kid.

For more about this topic, head over to Mary Ann Zehr's Learning the Language blog. She has been following the schooling of English-language learners for more than seven years and has written many, many insightful posts in her blog about the challenges they face.

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