Bernardo has been with us at ELC for some time now, and he is such a pleasure to have around. He is friendly, sociable and always willing to go the extra mile. If we have new students (regardless of their first language), Bernardo is always happy to help them out, show them around and take them under his wing for a bit. As a Brazilian in Cape Town, he helps us out with new students from Portuguese speaking countries who struggle to find their way in the first few days. 

This is his story:

“My name is Bernardo de Cerqueira Fernandes. I am an easy going and anxious guy from Brazil. I am 31 years old and I studied journalism and law in my country.

I have been in Cape Town since 22 October 2016. It’s around 7 and a half months that I just came back to study English again. My history with the English language started in the 90’s when I was a child and had my first contact with this language in a private English school in Brazil. I also studied English in my high school until finished it.

Unfortunately, I had learnt English until the age 21 years old, when I simply took the decision to stop it just because I couldn’t speak that language. However, I never had travelled to a properly English speaker country. For around 10 years I tried forgot all the English gathering which I had learnt.

But the life is not about forgive your past.

In 2016 I just took my own risk and left my comfort zone, challenging myself to try one more time. I did my choice to live one year in Cape Town as well as studying English for 51 weeks at UCT ELC. Everybody ask me “why did you choose South Africa?” It is simply when you always dreamed to know Africa and in my case I also really feel that my belongings, my roots are in the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I had to experience it on my own.
Like I said, I arrived in South Africa talking only “hello, how are you? My name is Bernardo. I am from Brazil”. Despite this, I had no listening skills and the most difficult part was exactly start a new life, almost 7 thousands kilometres distance from home, without family or any reference in this new place.

Approximately in 3 weeks in Cape Town I got I volunteer job in a backpackers and all my life just changed completely. Working on reception in an international backpackers give me the opportunity to improve my English skills as faster as possible, mainly listening and speaking. Even though, at the same time all my teachers at UCT-ELC have supported and helped me with my academic English skills. Nowadays I have attended the IELTS exam preparation classes and I also have helped the guys from UCT with all the Portuguese speaker community.

I know that I have a hard way to feel more and more confident with the English language and achieve the advanced level. However, I have plans to study master degree in International Relationships, so I won’t stop study English.
Finally, I feel blessed and happy because I know that English is part of my routine and as a journalist I feel free to communicate with everyone.”

Brazilian in Africa | UCT English Language Centre

Everyone has a story! Our students have extraordinary stories, and the staff and teachers at ELC feel exceptionally lucky to be able to meet such wonderful people every single day. What’s your story?

Photos courtesy of Bernado’s Facebook page 🙂
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