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‘People say that my passion for English shows, so it makes people want to study English.’
Watching the English actor Robert Pattinson in the Twilight series of movies was a turning point in Luana’s life. It was the start of a love affair with the English language, and a journey that has seen her become a successful social media personality teaching English on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube and hosting webinars for hundreds of students every month.
When I was younger, I didn’t like English at all, and my mum would send me to a private institute. I would cry all the time and eventually she gave up! However, when I was 12 or 13, I watched the Twilight series of movies and I fell in love with the English actor Robert Pattinson. I wanted to understand his interviews and I wanted to learn more about him and how he spoke. After a while, my love for him evaporated but I still loved England and it became a dream of mine to go there one day.
I feel like a lot of young people are just told you need English to get a job. I tell them it’s not just about this – but learning English can give you so many other opportunities.
I started asking my parents if I could go to England on an exchange programme, but I was too young. They were like ‘okay when you are older’, so after my last year of high school they let me go. I went to Oxford in the UK and stayed there for eight months doing an intensive course and sat the C1 Advanced exam from Cambridge English. Things really changed after my Oxford trip.
Social media has always been a part of my life. I began watching British YouTubers and would try to imitate their accents and get as much vocabulary as I could. And because I was watching things that I was interested in, it never felt like I was studying, which I think is the best way of learning anything. I always dreamed of having my own YouTube channel and I began posting my own content. I found with social media if you keep doing something then one day a piece of content goes viral and everything changes from one day to the other.
My videos up until this point were me talking about my trips abroad and I was doing them in English. I got lots of positive comments from people saying they liked how I spoke – so I thought maybe I could start teaching English. On YouTube I’d never come across someone similar to me – an Argentinian who spoke English and taught in a fun way. So, I thought maybe I could be that person! I started doing it on TikTok, where the videos are shorter and more dynamic. I did three videos in one day and posted them and they did really well, it had like 100,000 views in two weeks which was crazy because I had zero followers. A few months later, when Reels became a thing on Instagram, I started reposting my TikToks there.
I did some English tutorial videos on TikTok and Instagram that went viral and got over 2 million views. One of them was about when to use ‘in’, ‘on’ or ‘at’ when talking about time. And I also produced videos on how to say ‘I’m fine’ in different ways – so you don’t sound like a robot when using very basic phrases. I was just trying to help people to learn English in different ways. I clearly remember gaining my first 50,000 and then my first 100,000 followers in the same week. Seeing the numbers going up is crazy and understanding what they mean is unfathomable! Sometimes I google stadiums and the biggest stadium in the world can only hold maybe 100,000 people, so it helps me imagine the number of people that are actually looking at my posts. Everything moved very quickly in one year.
People say that my passion for English shows, so it makes people want to study English. When I’m teaching, I always say I try to motivate people. I feel like a lot of young people are just told you need English to get a job. Maybe when you’re really young you’re not thinking about that so I tell them it’s not just about this – but learning English can give you so many other opportunities, and I tell them if you can speak English, you can travel and learn about cultures and have the kind of experiences I’ve had, which help you grow and mature in a way nothing else can.
My profile continued to grow, and I’ve now got followers from Spain, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and from other parts of the world too. Most of my followers are about my age – but I also have a lot of people who are younger and still at school, and some English teachers who have written to me saying they use my videos in their classroom. I’ve even heard that some friends of my grandparents follow me! I get a lot of messages from people who say that since they started watching my videos they have enrolled in an English class or people who have stopped studying for a long time and now they want to start studying again.
Later in 2019 I went to London and worked in a big hotel on an internship because I’d studied tourism and hospitality and it was a great opportunity to gain some work experience and I wanted that to happen abroad. I’ll probably live in England again, but now I’m trying to focus on maybe going to different countries for a little while so I’m keeping my options open.
I feel like my greatest achievement is my current job – not only the position, but also the fact that I have the opportunity to help people communicate better.
That’s a passion that drives me to go on learning.
About Luana Zanek
Luana took C1 Advanced and she is the founder of Ingles Como Nativo (English Like a Native) where she hosts live webinars for students of all ages. She is also an influencer on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
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