I was living in the past; now I feel like a teenager again



The lovely Brazilian Fabiana Sanches Miranda, pictured above, is leaving Lexis | Byron Bay on Friday after studying here for 24 weeks. Not only is Fabiana a lovely, happy, friendly, smiling student that we’ve enjoyed having around, she is an amazing success story; she tested as a Beginner on her written placement test back in February but leaves with a strong Upper Intermediate certificate just 6 months later.

I caught up with her earlier today to find out the secrets of her success.

“Well, it didn’t start brilliantly. My first day was terrible! My homestay family were lovely but talked so quickly and with such a strong Australian accent that I couldn’t understand anything. Then I came to school for the placement test and induction and I just felt lost. I felt much older than the other students (I’m 36) and also my English was so low. I worried that I’d made a big mistake.

“However, I was placed in the Elementary class and this was really good for me. Marie is such an amazing teacher at that level, and I realised I understood everything we did in class. My confidence grew and I began talking more. Then, over the next couple of weeks I made some great friends and discovered my way around Byron Bay. After that, everything was wonderful!

“I think one of the reasons my English progressed so quickly was because I am addicted to reading. I didn’t bring any Portuguese books with me so I joined Byron Bay’s library and borrowed books from there. I read biographies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, as well as an amazing novel called Flowers for Algernon and a non-fiction book; The Anatomy of Spirit. I’m currently reading The Fault in our Stars. When I first started, it was really hard and I had to keep translating into Portuguese, but now, I use the context to guess the unknown words. I don’t look them up immediately; I just make a note of them to refer to later. I think that reading this much is the main thing that helped me progress so quickly, but I also love listening to music and I’ve watched the whole 4 seasons of Game of Thrones in English while I’ve been here in Byron Bay!

“And of course, I learned a lot in class! I’ve had three teachers during my time at Lexis and they were all amazing. I really like the way that we have a test every Monday; it means we always have to review what we studied, instead of just forgetting it. Also, the Options classes are great because we can choose what we want to study, we work with students from other classes, and the teachers have more freedom to choose materials to suit the students – rather than having to follow a book.

“Outside of class, the English Only Policy was really valuable (even though I was caught speaking Portuguese once and I had to write an essay about the benefits of speaking English all the time). It was really good when we did activities because then it was another hour or two every day speaking English with students from different classes and different countries.

“I’m really glad I chose to study in Byron Bay because this place is so special – the energy, the smell and the people. It’s really totally different to my city, which has 20 million inhabitants. I love the fact that when we are in the classroom, we can hear the birds singing outside and that everyone here is open to discovering themselves and trying new things.

“Actually, I think that’s the best thing, overall, about my experience. As I said before, when I first arrived I was worried that I was too old and that I wouldn’t make friends or wouldn’t be able to learn because of this. All my friends in Brazil thought I was crazy to come here as a student because I’m a manager in Brazil, with a great job and the status that entails. However, what I’ve learned here is that age doesn’t matter. I was living in the past before but now I know that people can have new and exciting experiences at any age. I’ve learned that I am a confident person and I can learn new things. Actually, I think I am addicted to this lifestyle now. In fact, being here has inspired me so much that, after just a couple of months at home, I’m going to head to Costa Rica to study Spanish for three months. I feel like a teenager!”

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