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A student and a teacher react as they check her A-Levels results. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: When Brazilian teen Manoela Costa moved to the UAE in 2017, she could barely speak English. Today, she is a high-achiever, scoring A*, A* and A in her A-Levels — and speaking fluent English.

Costa, now 19, recently graduated from The Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi after finishing Year 13. She is currently applying to a medical university in Bulgaria, where she also plans to learn Bulgarian. Costa knows “a bit” of Spanish as well.

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Back in 2017, Costa could only speak Brazil’s official and most commonly used language — Portuguese. She could only keep up with English movies if they had Portuguese subtitles.

“I had taken English as a subject in my school in Brazil, but just the basics. Even English was ‘taught’ in Portuguese! I didn’t use English at all in Brazil. I thought I knew English, but when I came here, I actually realised I was so bad at it. I struggled so much with my communication,” said Costa, who hails from the northern Brazilian city of Belem.

Manoela Costa

Another challenge was “getting used to so many accents here at the same time, so many people from so many countries, and all those terminologies in school. I had a hard time learning all the scientific terms in English,” added Costa, who has come out with flying colours in all her science subjects.

‘My family is my motivation’

At first, she had to rely on Google Translate “all the time”, even for her English lessons. Gradually, with help from school friends and lots of practise, Costa became comfortable with the English language.

“I let my friends know that I wanted them to correct me every time I said something wrong, and they always helped me with that.”

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“My family is my motivation to do better every day. They helped me a lot, especially my dad and my mum,” Costa added.