Determination And What I Learned From Nicolas

2014-12-05 21.55.42

Amanda, Nicolas, Olivier e Adir

Hi there and Happy Holidays!

I just couldn’t get my head around what I was going to write this month until I witnessed something that brought one word to my mind: determination.

As you may know, I don’t teach anymore. Nowadays I write content as a freelancer and I was finally able to launch an online course for Brazilians in June. Well, being my own boss meant I needed to learn how to sell my products online and so I delved into the Internet Marketing world.

I’ve been attending lots of conventions and events and last weekend I went to the biggest one in Brazil, Fórmula de Lançamento. I’d gotten a VIP ticket and we were invited to go to dinner at a very fancy restaurant in São Paulo. I ended up sitting at a table with some people I didn’t know and among them was a French marketer who’d been invited to speak at the event.

I’d met the French guy, Olivier Roland, at a marketing event in the US back in October so I invited him to sit with us. We started speaking half in English and half in French and all of a sudden this guy, Nicolas, who was sitting next to Olivier said, “I can speak English too”. I was relieved because I wouldn’t have to be the only person speaking English at that table.

What comes next is what blew me away. Nicolas told me he’d been studying English online for nine months. As you may imagine, his grammar was not perfect, nor was his pronunciation. However, I couldn’t stop listening to him speak English because he had something we all want our students to have: attitude!

Yes, attitude! Even though he knew his English was not accurate and that he didn’t know many words he needed, he kept on going and made use of several techniques to make himself understood. For instance, if he didn’t know how to say “fork” he’d say “something you use to cut food” and so on. Isn’t this what our students should supposedly do? Should we expect every little sentence to be grammatically accurate?

Nicolas kept me thinking about my own “attitude” towards my own learning and how to implement the things I have been learning and that gave me a boost of confidence. Some people say that “feito é melhor que perfeito” (done is better than perfect) and in Nicolas’s case, he actually delivered! Grammar and pronunciation mistakes aside, that guy really brought it home

Happy Holidays and see you next year!

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Adir Ferreira

Adir Ferreira has been an English teacher for 22 years. He is also a teacher educator, blogger and professional singer. Adir is based in Bebedouro (SP); you can access his blog at and email him

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