The essay of Kaloti Nazare:

My personal connection with foreign languages.

“Anytime you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as strange, you are just used to it”. – Unknown.

I still remember January 2000 when I started kindergarten. During the first days I bawled my eyes out when I was dropped off. I was not crying, because I did not want to go to school or let go of my mom, I was crying because I did not understand the language which was been spoken to me. Ever since that day, what I would consider to be my native language, depended on the language I spoke most at a specific stage of my life. From when I learned to speak up until I turned 6, I only spoke Portuguese. My parents then decided to enroll me in an Afrikaans school, a language they did not speak themselves. Fortunately, children’s brains are like sponges, so I started speaking the language fluently all through high school until I turned 18. During my school years my native language ranking was as follow: Afrikaans, Portuguese and then English. Once I started university my language ranking changed once again, in first position was English, Afrikaans came in second and Portuguese was unfortunately in last place. The life of a multilingual child.

I was born in South Africa to Angolan parents, that is why I spoke Portuguese at home. From a young age some people would not always consider me as a South African, because of my parents and my home language. This made me feel like an outsider from time to time, but once I started to travel, I learned how not fitting in, but standing out was to my advantage. In some cases when someone found out that I spoke Afrikaans fluently (a language which is considered to be “a white mans”) language due to the history of South Africa) they would not be impressed, and I was looked down on or judged. I believe that this kind of prejudgement is sometimes also experienced by students who wish to learn English but are surrounded by peers who think otherwise about the language. In my opinion knowing any language is an advantage therefore people’s comments did not bother me. I am happy that I can speak English, a Latin language and a Germanic language. This has opened doors for me in learning and understanding other languages.

How my travel adventures began and where influenced.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsh

Out of my friend group and my family (including my extended family), I am the adventurous one. I always found somewhat strange ways to travel and explore. In 2015 as part of my practical experience for my degree, I decided to move to Cape Town to live and work at a backpacker’s hostel. For 6 months I lived in a small stuffy dormitory with four other staff members. All my roommates were only there for maximum one month at a time, therefore I constantly had new ones. They were coming from various countries including Spain, France, The Netherlands, Wales, Scotland etc. My friends and family asked me why I would go all the way to end up living with strangers, out of a suitcase and sharing bathrooms with many other strangers. My answer was simple, I didn’t have the money to travel and a backpacker’s hostel is the perfect place to travel through other’s stories. Of course I would get jealous, because by then I have never even been on a family vacation or a vacation for that matter, therefore I had no stories to share, but at the same time I became motivated, motivated to find ways to see and get to know the world.

A friend once asked me how I was able to just pick up and go anywhere without knowing a soul. I explained to her why I see the world as my home. I said regardless of where you are from, somewhere you will always be the outsider. You can be in your home country and travel to another part of the country, others will pick up your accent and still ask where you are from. The secret is to integrate, but without loosing yourself. Besides; “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson.

Over the past 3 years I have been very blessed that my hard work paid off. I received a Joint Erasmus Scholarship which provided me with the opportunity to study a semester in Spain, France, Portugal and currently I am doing my final internship in Italy for my thesis. The time I spent in the hostel and living abroad has taught me so much not only about foreign languages and cultures, but about myself too. I have gained patience, intercultural competence, confidence and many other life skills I could never learn from a book.

Why I want to teach desire teaching English in Spain.

“Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions” – Unknown

It took me a long time to figure out what my ideal job is, in fact to this day I do not know. However, one thing I was always certain about was that my ideal job would allow me to see progress, to enrich lives and to help someone gain a skill. What better job could that be other than teaching one of the most universal languages?

When I was about to complete high school, I started seeking options outside of university. I came across the opportunity to teach English, but unfortunately during that time, I did not have the facilities (internet access, a laptop etc) to do so, instead I enrolled at a satellite university in my small home town to pursue my bachelor’s degree. Two and a half years later I received a scholarship for my studies, bought a laptop and that is when I left to work at the hostel. After hearing everyone’s amazing stories and meeting other TEFL teachers, I decided that it was time to make it happen. I then enrolled in an online course. About two weeks after I began the course there was a break in at the staff dormitory and just like that my laptop was gone and so was my opportunity to complete my online TEFL course. Although I was heartbroken, because I could not complete the course, I decided that I will still find a way to gain experience.

I walked to some English language schools to find out if they would like an assistant, but unfortunately with my lack of qualifications, my efforts were not successful. I then decided to sign up on a website called My Language Exchange. It is a website where one can teach English in exchange for another language, which in my case was Spanish. There I interacted with people from various countries and to this day I still communicate with about three of them who live in Europe. One is from Barcelona and during my semester in Spain, we met up often.

Four years ago, I met my fiancé in my hometown. When I met him, I knew that I have struck gold with this man, he is determined, courageous, loyal, adventurous and Chilean / Spanish. When we first met, he had a low intermediate English level, but did not use the language often. Today him and I speak English as a home language, because he has reached great comfort in speaking the language ever since we have been together, and my Spanish has improved as well. This is proof that with hard work and determination, one can become comfortable with a foreign language.

I came to the realisation how for a long time I have been helping others improve their English and now that I am about to graduate, I would like to pursue my dream of teaching English professionally. After kindergarten learning a new language has never been a foreign concept to me, therefore I have previously enrolled in different language courses for Spanish, French and German to help myself integrate. Attending these courses have shown me what a good course can teach you in comparison to a bad one and how it affects your confidence in the language. I would like to be able to provide my future students with a course that would be useful for their future, therefore I am looking to become qualified. The Suzanne Furstner Scholarship will provide me with the opportunity to do so, in one of my favourite countries in the world which I also consider to be my second home.

According to many people all roads lead to Rome, but for this small town South African girl, all roads have so far led to Spain.