On a Wednesday evening after class, I met with Marcos Barros, a Brazilian executive student in the Full Immersion English Program at Bridge. Marcos kindly agreed to a short interview to help potential students learn more about his experience and impressions of the program. After eight hours of one-on-one study, I half expected to meet a zombie. To the contrary, Marcos was in high spirits and provided some valuable insight for those considering a similar program. Here is what he had to say:
Josh Mickelson: Marcos, could you please tell me more about your company?
Marcos Barros: Of course. I am the Director of a company called Cinesystem in Brazil. We own and operate multiplex movie theaters at 16 locations throughout Brazil. In March, we are opening a new theater in Rio de Janeiro.
JM: Marcos, what motivates you to learn English?
MB: In my work, I sometimes need to use English but I am also learning it because I really enjoy it. I like to travel and it is important for me to feel comfortable speaking English. I have been to many cities in the US including New York, Miami, Orlando, Denver, Washington, Boston, and many other cities. Whenever I travel, I like to speak English with confidence.
JM: What are your impressions of Denver compared to the other cities you have visited?
MB: Well, I think it is hard to compare. Every city has something different to offer. What I like about Denver is the nature. In Colorado, you are gifted with your nature. I love it here because of that and because of the people. The people in Denver are very friendly, much friendlier than in Las Vegas or some other cities.
JM: Have you had a chance to see outside of Denver?
MB: I have been to Colorado before for vacation within the past few years. I really like to go snowboarding but have not been snowboarding yet this year. I heard that a meter of snow recently fell in the mountains so maybe I will go there before I return to Brazil.
JM: What is the most effective way for you to learn?
MB: In my case, I prefer to have private, one-on-one classes. When you do private classes, you can learn a lot in a short amount of time. It is better to memorize and practice in this way. I usually have one class per week with my teacher in Brazil to maintain my level. Some years ago, I realized that I should come to the United States on a full-immersion program for a few weeks to really experience the culture, and I tried to find a school here, and I found Bridge.
JM: So, what were your goals for this program?
MB: To improve my vocabulary and listening.
JM: Any other areas?
MB: No, not yet. I need to improve my general English first. Once I improve my general English, then I will focus on specific areas and English for my business.
JM: What is the most difficult part about learning English for you?
MB: For me, it is listening. It is difficult for me to understand sometimes. I have a poor vocabulary which makes things more difficult. At times, you get lost and you don’t understand what is happening around you. It can be frustrating. However, the Full Immersion program is good for that because you don’t have any other way to do things. You are speaking and listening to English all the time.
JM: What do you think of your teachers?
MB: They are great, just great! They have a method, the classes are always…I don’t know the adjective but the classes are very interesting. You don’t feel bored, you are always learning new things, and the teachers are always ready to explain. I’m very happy.
JM: Some people are afraid that 8 hours per day is too much, that it will be overwhelming.
MB: No, to the contrary for me. I like this because it pushes you to learn. There is no other way. You have to speak, or you have to speak. That’s it!
JM: I understand that you are staying with a host family. Can you tell me about that experience?
MB: It was hard for me to decide to stay with a host family because I am 49 years old and I have never stayed in anyone’s home like that. After speaking with people at Bridge, at your office in Brazil, I was convinced to stay with a host family here. I am very, very happy with this experience. It has been an excellent, excellent experience. They are a couple in their late 50’s, they have two kids, a girl and a boy. The boy lives at home, and the girl lives on her own. The husband is a mortgage broker and his wife is an artist. They are very friendly. Every day we talk over breakfast. At night, they prepare dinner and we eat together. After that, we watch movies or the news, or maybe just sit and talk. It is very nice.
JM: What do you think of American food?
MB; I like it. But there are some things that I can’t eat, like cereals (laughter).
JM: I agree! I think you have to grow up with it to like it.
MB: The other things I love. But this family in particular, they don’t have American habits like you see in the movies. They don’t eat bacon and pancakes for breakfast, they have good, healthy breakfasts.
JM: What advice would you give to someone who is considering a Full Immersion program?
MB: Just do it, and come here in the winter! I like the winter but I also like the summers, too. I plan to come here in the summer so that I can see a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater.