GUEST: Gabriel Henrique
Today we have a very special guest, Mr. Gabriel Henrique! He’s a nineteen year old who’s fluent in both Portuguese and English. Plus, he runs the Facebook page Gabriel TIPS for people learning English from Portuguese. He’s a great guy, and I hope you enjoy his story! Over to you, Gabe.
I thought I learned another language but I did more than that.
For the past years, I have been experiencing many great things in my life! But I’m talking about really cool and fun things, which I had never thought it could be possible to happen to someone my age. I want you to imagine now that you have friends from all over, you have the job of your dreams, you’re traveling and you’ve already lived where you always wanted to. Yes, these and many other things have been happening to me just because 4 years ago I took on the best challenge that somebody could ever take! I changed all my reality just because I did something that only 3% of the population in my country did. Do you want to know what I did? If so, I’ll tell you a story.
I used to sing in a choir when I was younger, but I also got the chance to sing solo many times in so many of the choir’s presentation. I traveled to many cities and states with the choir and I also got the chance to record my first CD and also sing with some famous Brazilian singers and also with international singers, such as Andrea Bocelli. But one of the most remarkable presentations was in São Paulo city, the biggest city in Brazil. I normally say it’s the “Brazilian New York”. So I traveled with the choir to this city to have a presentation in a very famous theater, but we also did some city sightseeing and in one of the places we were there was a group of foreigners visiting the place as well. (If you ever get the chance to talk to me in person, you’ll notice that I’m a chatterbox! I’m very talkative and talking is one of my favorite activities). Then while I took some pictures I approached to them and I happily greeted them: Olá galera de onde vocês são? (Meaning: hey guys, where are you from?).
But suddenly one of the guys turned to me and said it IN ENGLISH: “Hi, I’m sorry but we don’t speak Portuguese”. That was so frustrating to me and so embarrassing at the same time, because for a guy who loves talking and meeting new people this is the worst thing that could ever happen. After that day I started to think a lot about learning a second language. And that’s what I did! I started learning a new language!
When I started learning a second language I faced many difficulties, similar difficulties among self-taught learners. I believe the first one was that I couldn’t afford to go to a language school. My parents couldn’t afford either, so all I could do was to become familiar with books in English, TV series, songs and so many things that gave me the chance to learn English. I learned English by myself! I created my own method to learn it. Some people had the chance to attend language schools, others to go on an exchange program but all that I had was a huge desire of being able to speak another language. This excitement got me motivated for such a long time and I studied English every day that I could feel my improvement.
Not only did I study, but I also lived the language! Everywhere I went, everything I did, I always tried to include English in my routine. Through this adventure, I met so many awesome people from my country and from all over the world that were on Facebook groups and Skype groups for language learners; and more than meeting people, with whom I could practice English, I became friends with them! I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me online, for every tip, every correction. My friends online were my teachers!
Learning languages on the internet is very difficult! Actually, I’ve learned in my life to change the adjective “difficult” to “challenging”. So yeah, learning languages on the internet is very challenging and it demands a lot of discipline. If you don’t have discipline, you won’t speak any other language. You may be very excited at first, but if you don’t have discipline you won’t continue to learn it because organization is part of the whole process of learning anything! Some days were tough to me because I had nobody to practice English with, and some times I got really down then I noticed that I really needed to get motivated to learn English again! So the question is: How do we get motivated to learn a language?
Most of the people don’t know why they’re learning languages and when the first difficulty shows up, they simply give up. Some people are even organized with their studies, they have their study plan, they are really determined to learn this language but if they aren’t motivated they don’t continue and they give up easily. At a certain moment of this process of learning English I wondered several times why I was learning English and eventually I lost my motivation. Then I asked myself this question once: how do I keep myself motivated to learn a language? It didn’t take me years to find out what the answer is, actually the answer is simple! I get motivated to learn a language by discovering my “WHY”. WHY am I learning this language? Just because everybody else is? Or because according to that famous polyglot, this language is a very difficult language and all I want to do is to impress my friends?!
Then you may ask me: Gabe, How do I discover my why? Well, the answer is very simple too, however, it is vitally important to think carefully so that you don’t discover a wrong motivation, otherwise you’ll be doing the right thing but with the wrong motivation, and consequently you’ll give up. So, you find out your WHY by setting a goal! When you set a goal you don’t give up on learning the language because you’re not only focused on learning the language but on the goal you set! You’re looking at your future plan. Let’s make it simple: why do I have a girlfriend? Because I want to have a wife. Why do I walk up the stairs? Because I want to get to the top of it, right? So setting a goal helps you feel motivated and keep motivated. Consider the action of learning a language a tool for you to achieve what you want, which is of course greater than simply speaking another language!
After becoming fluent in English I received so many opportunities! It was as if I was a fish in an aquarium and this aquarium soon became the ocean. I could live in America for some months. I met so many awesome and lovely people from all around the world. I became a teacher and I’ve had some lovely students that make me love my profession even more! I also became a translator/ interpreter for AIESEC Belo Horizonte, I have already worked for Coquitlam School District as an interpreter in a lecture for an international event called Edu Expo. I became friends with amazing exchange students who were living in Brazil. I even got archery and high ropes certified in America! I worked once as an interpreter at the biggest international exchange fair when I was only 18 and I’m also part of the support team of the biggest international party in Brazil, Real Life English!
All of these things and many other things that I haven’t mentioned here happened because I learned another language. And what’s interesting is that I’m only 19 years old and I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to come! So I encourage you to take your studies seriously, practice the “how to keep myself motivated” and have fun and enjoy the opportunities that you’ll find in this bilingual ocean! If you face some challenges, DON’T give up! Challenges make us grow and being able to speak another language allows us to know ourselves more; It helps us see that everything is possible! Yes, everything is possible! I had really tough moments when learning English. There were days that all I wanted was to forget and move on to another thing; but I kept on. I said I would finish what I had started! And now I’m so proud of myself to be writing this article in English. In this article I’m glad I could share with you a little bit of my story when learning a new language, what my difficulties were and what I did to overcome all of them! I hope I could help you somehow and I could encourage you to learn a new language! Have fun!
Wasn’t that great? Learning a language really does open up your world, and here’s a story to prove it. If languages have benefitted your life, comment below.