Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Student´s Perspective - A Learning Journey

Inspired by the #ELTCHAT Challenge and a class assignment, I invited a student to blog about her learning journey as an EFL learner. Cintia Overvag is one of my students at Cultura Inglesa, and I am really proud of her for accepting this challenge. Cintia is about to complete the first term of her upper-intermediate course and you will be able to see that she is a very talented learner. This is her post, without any editing from me.


by Cintia Overvag

Hello my friends, here I’ll tell you a little bit about my long journey in attempt to learn the English language. As everybody knows, the best time in life to start learning a second language is when we are children. Therefore, to understand what has happened with me, I’ll explain the function of the education system here in Brazil.
According to our regular system, English language is mandatory only after students start high school, when we are teenagers. In other hands, we have a huge number of students who can’t finish their basic education. So the majority of population here does not have a clue of English. I really think that we should start to learn English in the regular school as earlier as possible! At least, this is the reality in many other countries, where they have their main language and the English is almost consider an official second language. This is because their public school teachers all population a high Standard English language.
In fact… well… you know… the whole thing is even more complicated than that, because besides the public schools, we have the private schools, its system is a little bit different.
Some schools (normally very expensive) have English as a first language, where the students will have the best opportunity to learn. Another model of private schools where they teach English as a normal subject, and the students will learn according to their level of interest, I mean… these schools don’t push too much. And to improve their learning process, normally these students have to go to private English courses.
Eventually and unfortunately my journey to learn English language belongs to the first case. I started to learn English when I was fourteen years old, in the eighth grade. At that time I had already realized how important it would be to know the English language for my professional life. But as a matter of destiny I could only dedicate to study English after I was 19 years old. In that time I was trying to get into a university. As a test in one of many foreign languages was required I decided to apply for English.
Therefore I began on the private English course. Oh my God, I can barely realize that this happened almost 20 years ago! Why so many years trying to learn a foreign language? In fact this is really what I always ask to myself. I’ll tell you a small secret: I’m still studying English! The point is, I have begun some different private courses as Oxford, CCAA and (the best one) Cultura Inglesa, but for many different reasons I had to stop for a while. As you can see I haven’t studied continuously nor haven’t practice so much what I have learned.
To tell you the true, nowadays I can understand and speak much better than before, but to my concern this is changing a little bit slowly. The writing, as you will probably verify, still is a huge problem for me. You have no idea how difficult it was to start writing this BLOG! I really felt uncomfortable. But as I never give up, I'm still studying, and I will do until I reach a good level of reading, listening, writing and speaking English. I have so many goals and so many crazy dreams related to this language that I really love. I’m 38 years old, and I don’t mind to study until I pass to 50s, because I see very clearly that learning a second language bring to us another totally different world.
I have to tell you another secret: besides this private English Course I’m doing, what really increased my learning was that six years ago I met my husband who is from Norway. There are many countries, you know, as Norway where English is not the officially second language, but is a professional and business language.
Therefore, we have our day by day life the English as our main language, which is very good to me. However he is trying to change as he needs to learn Portuguese, but this history I’ll tell you another time! I’ve been in Norway many times and there I can only communicate in English with family and friends. Also here in Rio we regularly meet some friends who can’t speak one Portuguese world, so I have no other option unless speak English.
This is for sure something that has helped me a lot, and I’m so proud of this, especially when I picture myself 20 year ago where I could barely spell some basics sentences as for instance “what is your name” and “where are you from”!
So my friend, you know, I have a long journey ahead and I’ll never give up, because I have a world to achieve. Don’t you agree?!

Cíntia Overvag


  1. Nice account of your linguistic journey SO FAR, Cíntia! Thanks, Giselle, for continuing to inspire so many English teachers with your innovative ideas for the classroom (and beyond!!!).


  2. Thank you so much for sharing your learning journey, Cintia!!! And congratulations on your progress so far - writing is not an easy thing, I agree, but the more you write, the better you get!!!

    May be it's time to start your own blog!!

    What do you think?


  3. Kjell-Peder Overvag30 May 2012 at 18:44

    Hi all,
    As being Cíntias husband, I feel I'm entitled to / have the right to make a comment....
    When I first arrived in Brasil in 2003, I found it very hard to communicate. I was supervising the maintenance of ships during dry dock in Niteroi, and it was difficult for me not being able to communicate even the most basic.
    Thanks God, this is history, I am now able to do some communication in Portuguese, and I feel that "Brasil" is communicating much more in the English language.

    But still, one thing surprises me in this country: it seems to me that the only subjects that matter in the schools are math, physics, science .....and off course Portuguese and Religion. When it comes to teaching a second language, the schools are not too eager.... The main thing for many people is to get a high university grade, without that, one is not worth much.

    BUT- you will think, you are an engineer, how can you say that math is not important???
    It is, off course... But up to a certain extent. You don't need rocket science to do regular ship engineering, calculate the water flow in a pipe , find the insulation values in a cooler. It's pretty basic. In my company we design ships, we do aleverything from basic design to advanced 3D drawings. And- we have very few sivil engineers.
    What we have is a strong force of engineers/technicians that know how to communicate. (We are currently working in Norway, Turkey, India, China, Singapore and Brasil). Our people know how to listen, and how to transmit, and the tool is English.
    Not Norwegian, not French, not German, not Spanish. In our world, the main communication tool is the English language.
    We can read in the news daily: Brasil needs growth, Brasil needs technology. My comment is: this is not solved only by thousands of sivil engineers that knows how to calculate advanced math. If these engineers don't know how to communicate, they cannot perform.
    Dear friends , keep on studying a second language, push your children to do the same. In my brain, it's all about COMMUNICATION!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Cíntia and Kjell-Peder,
    Thanks for sharing your very interesting learning journey with us!

  6. Thank you all for the comments. Cíntia is right when she advises us to never give up. Kjell makes an excellent point about communication, and as we know communication involves a great deal of listening. I sincerely believe that we have to give more importance to listening to our students. They will tell us how they perceive learning and that way we will be able to teach better lessons. I really look forward to having more students posting here! =)

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