Please excuse the irony of this title–I think English is great, and there is a reason why there is a sentiment behind this story. I Hate English is a book about a girl named Mei Mei who has just moved to the United States. I recently read the book in a class I am taking for teaching English Language Learners. Though I am not an English Language Learner myself, I am in the process of getting my ELL endorsement and emergent bilingual students hold a huge place in my heart.
Ellen Levine, the author of the book, takes her readers on the roller-coaster-ride of a journey that is second language acquisition. The main character, Mei Mei, gives an honest insight into the ups and downs that anyone could experience when thrown into a new environment that has a completely different set of linguistic, cultural, and social norms. And as I said, I myself am not an English Language Learner, but I was still able to relate to this book. I think everyone can identify with the feeling of being out of place.
Levine talks about the raw emotions, both the good and the bad, that Mei Mei feels when she seems to be the odd one out in a new school. I know I will be sure to use this book in my future classrooms of English Language Learners as I know it can be used as a great resource for kids to identify with a character who is experiencing the same thing that they are. But what I really love about this book is that it sheds light on the many obstacles that emergent bilingual students must overcome that their native-English speaking peers may not understand. What an awesome tool to use to get students to connect and empathize with each other.