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Essay Contest Results (1st Annual, 2006)

"A famous Chinese Proverb states, “A teacher can open the door, but the student must enter on their own.” How does this quotation illustrate your experience learning English?"

Grades 4-8

Rebecca Tickaram


As the ancient Chinese proverbs goes “A teacher can open the door, but the student must enter on their own”. This quotation illustrates the experience of learning English, in a number of ways. 

In the literal sense, on the first day of school, at the beginning of your English class, the teacher awaits your arrival at the door, but doesn’t demand you to easily stroll across the threshold. Although most children have it drilled onto their brains that you must enter, that is not entirely necessary. A student has every right not to step through the threshold, but it their conscience and willingness to learn that gives the extra push and helps make the first step into the room. 

In the figurative sense, the student must have the persistence and be ready to learn, otherwise the teacher can merely stand in front of the classroom, but the student hasn’t yet the determination to walk through and open their minds to learning. 

This quotation illustrates my experience of learning English, because most kids, as the get older, don’t want to read books or write essays anymore. All they want to do is play, and some kids can’t even put their minds to concentrate for forty-five (45) minutes. To children focused, and eager to learn more and once again return to class has now become an important part in a teacher’s career. From personal experience, my teacher has done a great job keeping classes interesting and creative, which keeps the children eager to go to their English class. She keeps the class interesting, and even lets us teach a lesson. So in conclusion, the teacher can open the door in many ways, but it really is the way it looks that will persuade the student to enter. Otherwise, the student will be left outside.


Grades 9-12


Yves Momperousse


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to learn a new language, especially if you know that you will use it in the future? Well, you can learn any language you want, and it is up to you to make that decision. I agree with the Chinese proverb that states "A teacher can open the door, but students must enter on their own." I personally experienced that in the first few months of school where I was using the English language.

When I first came to the United States, I could not speak English. I could not pronounce the words, because they were totally different from French and Creole. The teachers were doing a great job, especially my English teacher. She taught us all we needed to know to learn the new language. But there was a different story going on in my head. I kept saying to myself: “Why can’t I speak English like normal American kids”. It took a couple of months to realize that it was up to me to learn the language. I knew I would need to use this language in my life. Once I realized that, I started to learn it quicker. The words became clear to me, and they started to make sense. It was like magic.

Students must not think they will be able to learn English without their own will to do it. "A teacher can open the door, but students must enter it on their own". Without your determination, you cannot learn it.


University & Adult


Elif Rifat 
Pace University
Teacher: John Ciavarella


When studying English, a student must do his or her part to learn the language. The teacher isn't the one who is learning for you. It is not enough just to arrive and sit through the classes. Writing notes and listening carefully are important especially for someone learning a new language. However, there is even more work to do when you leave the school. 

In my experience, I had only four hours of class during the day. The rest of the time I did extra activities to help me learn English. For example, I talked to people after class, went to events during the week, listened to the radio and watched TV shows to get a better idea of how people talk in real life. Speaking English day to day is not just about knowing the grammar or knowing the definitions, you must hear and live the way of speech as well. Sometimes I acted like a parrot would, listening and repeating the words and how they sound. 

You also have to really want to learn the language. For example, I took French classes for five years and I took English for six months. However, I could speak English better than I do French. Learning French was obligatory; however, learning English was my choice. Therefore, I learned and paid more attention to studying the language. Knowing the definitions and grammar is the groundwork. You must build more levels to make it to the roof. That is my best personal way to describe the Chinese proverb.

Congratulations to all particants in the 1st Annual Essay Contest!