João Silvestre

Profesor de inglés

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English Acquisition Personal Experience

Portugal. A tiny, old and isolated country in western-europe where people are familiarized with many other languages than their mother tongue. Almost at the same time we start to hear our parents and people around us talking in portuguese, we initiate contacts with at least many diferente english voices on TV. There are no dubbed TV programmes so since life’s early stages people unconsciously start to connect meanings and expressions between the english language and its context, providing a learning process catalyzed by the subtitles in the native language. I still don’t know if this is a consequence of an highly motivated society to acquire a second language (specially english), or if it’s the reason for it.

I was made to believe, almost since my first steps, that learning english would give me many opportunities, as it was an important tool to achieve goals and communicate with the world. I believe that a proper national mindset can lead to motivate and stimulate people to learn languages, although everybody has their own beliefs and wishes. 

About the second language acquisition in my case, I had many different teachers resulting in many different approaches. I’m going to focus more on the teacher that stimulated my class the most, with many different tecniques of teaching. She used to promote constant conversation in the classroom, while we were feeling in a very familiar and natural environment. All of us were totally in our confort zone, without any distrust or apprehension. Listening to music while filling gaps in the lyrics, loads of games with pictures and words to connect in order to learn vocabulary, debates that developed our argumentation and thinking in english, and many other interactive actions that made us students improve a smart few our english reasoning.

One of the things I think it worked better was her idea to separate us in different groups containing the best and the worst students in each one. The benefits of this team work were felt by both types of students, while we struggled to work as one whole part, despite our initial scepticism about the results of this activity. This teacher’s methodology got us truly motivated and excited for every class, absorbing everything and dealing with an healthy competition on a dailybaisis, that even made all of us growing up outside the classroom. I still don’t know how come that teacher could catch the attention of almost thirty rebel unstoppable kids, in a very critical and crucial phase of our development.

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