Yahoo! Groups  |  Google Search Engine

CALL Homepage  | Go to my blog










My English learning narrative can be started when I was a child. Whatever anyone can say, I think a good environment can increase the chances that a person has to develop something, for good or for bad. In my case, I had an uncle that was fascinated with English language, and since I was seven to eight I was also fascinated with English language stuff. He taught me my first words, but I could not form a simple sentence at that time. Everything I knew was ‘tomato’, ‘supermarket’, ‘American’ and their meanings. He had some Speak Up magazines, and I was crazy to understand what was written there. For that so, I started reading a three-volume dictionary that I have found in my home. It was an illustrated dictionary, so it was a motivation for my learning. I have made lists and lists of copies of the words that seems important to me, specially those ones that had an illustration exemplifying what that meant. One curious thing I never could understand was that funny types that was printed right after the word. Years later I discovered they were phonetic symbols.


When I was in the fifth grade at Colégio Dr. José Ferreira, I started my formal English language learning process. I got enchanted with the wide world that was waiting for me. In the first class, our teacher discussed something about the importance of the English language in the world when the Great Britain was the most powerful nation, and then when the United States become the first one after the World War II. It was a really amazing thing to know all those country names, pronouns, names of colors, curiosities, greetings, and songs. It was until the seventh grade, when my school stopped offering English classes to the eighth grade until the second grade of high school. During that interval, I almost forgot everything I knew, and unfortunately my parents could not pay a private English institute for me. I remained just learning some words for I followed the lyrics of my favorite band  and movies. Again, my thesis on how environment can motivate or not someone’s skill works.                                



In the beginning of the final year of high school, all students should apply to a preliminary test, in order to divide students according to basic, intermediate and advanced English. For my surprise, I got the advanced level. I studied hardly during the whole year, so that I felt prepared to face the entering exams to college. However, my learning process was very poor in terms of conversational skills. Once I was in a class directed only to instrumental English, all we could get is how to develop vocabulary and avoid text tricks. For that reason, my reading skills got improved, but my listening and speaking, for instance, were very poor.


Then the entering exams for UFMG came. For my surprise, I was not as prepared as I thought. The first part of the exams (the multiple choice one) was OK. However, when I was doing the second phase of the exams... Gosh! I got completely lost. Later I got my marks only fifty percent of the total marks. Now I was entering in a different level on English learning. Everything you suppose you know in school is very little compared to what English language learning is in the college. That is one of my problems about school English: it is something that many times is bounded only in grammatical points, direct translations and useless vocabulary. Conversational matters are out of the majority of the schools I know. There is a myth among ordinary people that school English is useless in real situations. I cannot blame this people for spreading such thing.


Now I got to college here at Letras, now I got a new surprise. The level of English teaching and learning is totally different of what I have already seen. The first time I attended a class, I saw many colleagues with vast experience as a teacher and others have traveled abroad. "Where the heck I'm doing here?" I thought. The teacher asked some volunteers to speak about ourselves, and I remained as a tomb a couple of weeks, just observing and getting afraid. So I decided to face it definitely. If I want to be a teacher of English, I ought to be so. By the end of semester, I could think, read, listen, speak and write some modest English. But I knew that there is a big ocean waiting to be discovered yet. Each semester is completed with my personal efforts. My aim is to be a better student so that in the end of the course   I could be a good teacher. I have already planned higher projects after graduation: maybe I can do something in the old Edinburgh….


There I am: a student that runs to achieve my aims. Yes, I know, there are many seas to be discovered yet. And it is just what makes me so happy when I get involved with English language: each day is a new to day with new things to learn. I hope my own learning experience can help someone to get inspired to carry on also.


2005 Alexandre Delfino Xavier. My Multimedia Narrative is a final paper project for the CALL – Computer Aided Language Learning discipline of the Letras college of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Suggestions and critics will be welcomed at

This page is better viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.0 or superior, resolution 800x600 or higher.