“Transferring to ISSH was really difficult for me at the beginning. I came here, not being able to speak English at all, so I couldn’t understand much of what everybody around me was saying: It made me feel a little lonely. But, I think this struggle helped motivate me to learn English faster. I knew that because I didn’t speak the language, I had to put in a lot more effort to improve. When I saw all my family members, teachers and friends speaking English so fluently, I thought to myself: Ok, now it’s my turn to do this.

What really helped me through this learning process was modified ESL. At one point, all of my class periods were ESL and about learning English. They would give me a lot of homework that helped me improve — for example, one assignment included translating some of the Portuguese songs that I liked into English. TV shows also helped me out because I could learn slang (something I didn’t really understand at first) while also having fun.

One of the proudest moments of my life was when I realised I could finally speak and understand English. 

My advice to any student who’s struggling with English, like I was only a couple years ago, is to embrace mistakes. Making mistakes was such a good thing for me, even when people laughed, because I could learn from them. When I made mistakes, I was proud of myself — not ashamed.

Also, believe in yourself! Don’t listen to anybody who says you’re not good enough or you can’t do this or that. That’s not true: you can do whatever you want to do. Never forget who you are and keep working hard!” — Luisa