Brazil isn’t really known for being a bilingual country. According toBritish Council, only 5% of Brazil’s population speaks some English, with only 1% being really fluent. On top of that, in spite of being born in one of the most well-known cities in the world, Rio de Janeiro, I moved to the newest capital city of Brazil, Palmas, when I was 15. There was probably one English school in the whole city and too expensive for my parents to enroll me in. However, I was still able to learn the language and become an English teacher years later. Hence the question: How did I learn English? What has worked for me when I was learning the language? I hope this post gives you new tools to practice your English.
Games: I owe most of my conversational skills to a game called World of Warcraft. In WoW, you need to join parties (groups of players) to accomplish quests (missions) which are only possible if you have a group of people. Back in the day, it was hard to find many Brazilians playing the game, so I had to connect to the American server to keep on evolving my skills in the game. In the beginning, it was really difficult for me because I didn’t understand a word the other people in the group said. However, with time, and with the help of my very patient gaming buddies, I was able to say a sentence here and there. Later on, I was speaking full sentences, without really knowing the grammar of it.
Music: I’ve always been a fan of music. Back in the day, rap was a big part of my playlist, and that really helped my English. Why? Well, just listen to an Eminem song and you’ll know why. There are so many words for you to learn. The amount of vocabulary you can learn in a 3-minute song is huge. You will also learn slangs and idioms which are essential to speaking more naturally.
Online Classes: Back in the day, Zoom wasn’t a thing. We had similar apps, though. One of them was an app called PalTalk. On PalTalk you would find different rooms to have conversations about different topics: politics, humor, games… and “language learning”. That was my room. I would go to PalTalk daily after work or school to get a dose of English. Today, you can find similar things on Instagram: there are literally hundreds of English teachers explaining the English language for free.
Teaching: Finally, what really changed everything for me was when I started teaching my friends. The real proof if you really know something is if you can teach it to someone, and that’s what I would do weekly. I had some friends whose knowledge of the language wasn’t as good as mine and, even though I wasn’t a teacher or anything, I would explain everything I knew to them. With that, I learned how English grammar worked and that really helped me become the teacher and speaker I am today.