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‘In high school I started thinking about my career and I always knew it would be something connected to learning languages and literature, because I love books so much.’
Learning English has given Luana the skills and confidence she needed to translate documents professionally, work in an international company in France, help behind the scenes at a major translation conference in Brazil and most recently to live and work in the UK. However, she says what’s been the most rewarding in recent years is seeing her mother making progress with her own English language journey.
I was born in Brazil and grew up in Minas Gerais state in the southeast. I have always been fascinated about other languages and cultures. In Brazil we don’t normally use English on a daily basis, which makes it harder to learn and to achieve proficiency, but we are exposed to English through movies and music, which are a less conventional yet helpful way to learn.
I started studying English when I was 10, because my father thought it would be very important for his children. He came from a poor background and never had these opportunities himself growing up, but he wanted us to have the best education possible. He tried to give us everything he didn’t have. He considered English and computing as essential skills in the modern world, so twice a week I studied English in a language school. This lasted for seven years and I still remember how great it felt when I got good feedback from my teacher! Having this opportunity really helped me later on in regular school when we started taking English classes around the age of 12 or 13.
When I was in high school I started thinking about my career and I always knew it would be something connected to learning languages and literature, because I love books so much. My favourites included JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and the works of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. When I think of Joyce, it was this part of literature – when they explore new possibilities of language and writing – that intrigued me the most.
I’m now looking at my next move, which I hope will be in the creative industry.
My first big step was when I went to study for my bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages and Literature in Belo Horizonte, which is the capital of the region I’m from. I majored in French literature and went on to complete a master’s in Translation Studies.
English remained an important part of my life and during this time I used to work in a research centre where I would help to translate documents from English to Portuguese. I was also lucky enough to be asked to help out at a major translation conference that took place in our university. It brought people together from all over the world, researchers in this area, and the organisers needed English-speaking students to welcome participants and help them communicate on the day.
It was also around this time that I went on a trip to the USA with my parents and found myself being their interpreter in many situations, such as at the airport, in the hotel and in restaurants! At this point in my life, I also took C1 Advanced as I always wanted to have a certificate. I already knew I had an intermediate level, but I wanted to have a document to prove these skills, and I took the Cambridge English exam because it is a lifelong document.
I then moved to France to do a master’s degree in International Communication and Management and lived there for one year. My English skills helped me again and I was able to secure an internship in an international company, which was looking for someone who could speak English and French. I had to write English content on the website and communicate with partners. This was a great experience and I wouldn’t have got that internship if I didn’t speak English.
I recently moved to Cambridge in the United Kingdom. I realised that during my time in France I had lost touch with English a little bit and had to brush up on my English skills. It took me a while to get used to the British accent and its rhythm as I was more familiar with American accents. So at the beginning I got a private tutor, which helped a great deal. Since then I’ve worked in communication and customer service roles in the UK, which has involved talking to people in English from all over the world.
I’m now looking at my next move, which I hope will be in the creative industry. I like changing from time to time as it’s good to learn new skills.
I’m so glad that my father wanted us to have the opportunities he didn’t have. It’s also been nice seeing my mother start to learn English in later life. It was harder for her to learn being a bit older, but she is very engaged in learning. She regularly meets with a group of friends and private tutor as part of her learning. As I’m living in the UK now, she will want to visit me, and she wants to be able to communicate with people in English. She is shy and nervous about getting things wrong in English, but I know she will do well!
About Luana Marinho
Luana has taken C1 Advanced, one of our Cambridge English Qualifications.
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