Student Profile: Nelson D. Interviews Christine

Students at our language center in Denver come from all around the world. Each of them brings a unique culture, dialect and experiences that (believe it or not) can be understood despite language barriers. We encourage our students to practice their english with each other, and it’s through these open classroom conversations that we find students with incredible stories to share. BridgeEnglish student, Nelson D., found this particular classmate so inspiring, he decided to write a profile about her:

Well known for fighting for the French flag at the school, and admired for giving a second life to Bridge’s plants, Christine is a true green-thumb with an exceptional and diverse background. Flight attendant, EMT, restaurant and nightclub manager are among the hats she’s previously worn. Christine likes to serve at restaurants and nightclubs to entertain, but also to take care of other people.

Why does a 55-year-old woman who has so many experiences traveling around the world decide to learn English if she has no interest in studying or living in the USA? Why has Christine chosen the USA, among many other English-speaking countries, to learn English? These are some interesting questions to ask about Christine.

Even though she is more mature than most of the Bridge students, Christine has a dream. She has a dream that one day she will cross the entire USA from North to South. She has a dream that one day she will be a fluent English speaker traveling around the world without any communication difficulties. She has a dream that one day she will leave her native and lovely area of Savoie in France to settle in Thailand, where she will start a new business in restoration. After spending 3 months in Massachusetts, she moved to Denver to continue working on learning English, and she plans to go to Alaska for an expedition. After that, she sees herself in Austin, both for learning English for the immersive environment. For Christine “learning English is a mean for my ends” and so Bridge English is a “bridge” between her dream and the reality, a pathway among others to reach her goals.

When it comes to understanding why she decided to learn English abroad (even though it is possible to master English in her home country), Christine’s answer is clear and convincing: “immersion”. Indeed, Christine started learning English 45 years ago when she was only 10 years old. According to her personal experience, “sometimes, even if you speak English, buying a sandwich could be a problem, as everything is slang and idioms in USA”. She believes “immersion is the only way to learn real life situations” that aren’t usually understood when learning conventional English.

Even though Christine is aware of immersion advantages, she acknowledges that it wasn’t easy at the beginning as it requires concentration to talk, catch and understand others people’s speech. But with hard work, effort and determination, Christine overcomes these difficulties in such way that “sometimes I even forget that I am speaking in English because it’s so natural and common in my daily life”.

For Christine, overall, the most important asset to her learning is her host family, who she considers a part of her own. Her host family is greatly responsible for her success as they help her daily by correct her speech when necessary and teaching her new words, idioms and slang that solidify her English skills. It is also exciting for her to be fully part of an American family and learn about such great culture. Being in an American family doesn’t mean only receiving knowledge or culture; it’s also an opportunity for her to share her culture and her experience with them. As a great cook from a country well known for its cooking traditions, Christine doesn’t miss an opportunity to cook and teach her host family French food specialties. They really enjoy it and she feels “like an ambassador of my culture in the USA”. More widely, Christine believes that learning English abroad is not only receiving knowledge, but it’s more a process of interaction between the learner and its environment of teachers, host family, classmates, local institutions, and all other stakeholders who are part of this environment. It is a ” win-win experience” says Christine.

Next she’ll be headed to Alaska, where she’s planned an expedition that starts with two months in the North Pole, followed with three months in Austin, and finally to Thailand where she plans to settle (and maybe raise a big French flag). For Christine, it is never too late to accomplish dreams even when those dreams mean to “travel abroad, and learn English when you are in you 50’s”.

Learning English at Bridge has been part of Christine’s dreams, which will guide her on her way to reaching her American dream that includes a Thai life. Hopefully, the school will consider her wish for a “big French flag” and maybe even a “Christine Statute” as one of the staff here at the school suggested.

Looking to acquire better English skills? Take a look at our General English Program and turn your dreams of fluency into reality!