FLTA Spotlight: Isadora Teles de Oliveira Gouveia

Author: Luke Van de Walle

Campina Grande is renowned for its vibrant São João parties, a cherished tradition in the Northeast of Brazil, and is a place where the warmth of the sun is matched only by the warmth of its people. For our Portuguese FLTA Isadora Teles de Oliveira Gouveia, South Bend, Indiana, was a departure from her previous lifestyle that brought a longing for the familiar sights, sounds, and flavors of her homeland. Despite this, Isadora has found a multitude of ways to engage with the campus community, and with the worst of winter behind us, she has been revitalized with excitement for the remainder of the semester.

Isadora's passion for language and education began during her formative years in Teresina, a neighboring city to Campina Grande in Northeast Brazil. Surrounded by a family of educators, including parents who met while teaching English at the same language school, Isadora and her twin sister were immersed in a culture that valued learning and linguistic diversity from an early age. At just seven years old, they embarked on their journey to master English.

After completing her secondary education, Isadora pursued her passion for languages at university, majoring in English language, literature, and teaching. She used the concepts and pedagogies learned in her classroom and applied them to a variety of teaching experiences in her community, including a program that prepared students for exchange programs abroad. It was during this time that Isadora's interest in language education deepened, leading her to explore innovative teaching methods and strategies.

In the Spring of 2020, Isadora was accepted into a study abroad program in Portugal to teach her native tongue. However, after a few short weeks, the Covid-19 pandemic caused her program to shut down and she returned to Brazil, where she practiced teaching Portuguese. During this time, she worked as an interpreter for her university and city hall, meeting many people interested in learning Portuguese. This experience came with many new challenges as it forced Isadora to critically think about her native language, rather than relying on what is natural.

These experiences of teaching Portuguese played a pivotal role in Isadora's Fulbright application, as she had known of the program from previous coworkers and had targeted the program as a long term goal. Now at Notre Dame, Isadora assists in Portuguese language classes, helping design lessons, grade student work, and act as an extra resource to authentically teach Brazilian culture. She has also tailored her schedule to improve her teaching abilities, as she has enrolled in Second Language Teaching, English Academic Writing, and Digital Literacy courses. Isadora is also currently enrolled in an intensive Italian course with the goal of becoming fluent.

While Isadora understands the difficulties of learning a language, she emphasizes the significance of establishing a personal connection with the language as a crucial factor in successful language acquisition. Motivation, rather than inherent talent, is the primary determinant of someone's proficiency. Isadora sees that many individuals initially feel daunted by the prospect of learning a language, but their perspective shifts once they discover personal incentives. Finding motivation through media such as songs, movies, and TV shows in the target language can be extremely effective in helping you discover proper motivation. Additionally, she encourages seeking out opportunities for live practice through interactions with friends, attending events, and engaging in conversation.

About the CSLC

The Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC) aims to support language learners at ND by facilitating meaningful experiences with linguistic acquisition and exchange - both in our campus community and abroad. We believe that access to the world's languages and cultures allows us to seek out new perspectives, to value the diversity of the world's cultures, and to embody global citizenship.


Originally published by Luke Van de Walle at cslc.nd.edu on February 27, 2024.