From Mozambique to Brisbane – two journeys of English language learning

Australian Awards (Africa) scholarship recipients Paulino and Luisa, from Mozambique, recently graduated from The University of Queensland with masters degrees after learning English through an ICTE-UQ English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course in Pretoria, South Africa. The course was run in conjunction with ICTE-UQ's International Development team. Paulino and Luisa share their experience on how learning English has played a significant part in opening up their career opportunities and how it has enabled them to work in international organisations.

1. How was your study experience with ICTE-UQ in Pretoria, South Africa?

Paulino: I had a memorable experience in Pretoria, once in a lifetime perhaps. I was amused by the level of competence and patience presented. It is a case to say that ICTE-UQ in Pretoria presented me with one of the best studying experiences, thus far.

Luisa: I had a great experience with ICTE-UQ in Pretoria, I never thought that I could learn English in 10 months and succeed in the IELTS test and EAP program.

2. What was the biggest challenge you faced studying English?

Paulino: The path towards a successful IELTS score was full of challenges, however, writing in English was, and still is, the biggest. I never thought I would be able to write an essay or even a paragraph in English, and this was stressed by my lack of interest for writing in my first language. Thankfully, I managed, to some extent, to overcome this challenge.

Luisa: The biggest challenge I faced was with academic writing, specifically with subject-verb agreement. In the beginning I was not aware of my errors, but with time and the help of my English teachers I could understand my grammar mistakes and how to fix them.

3. How did learning English with ICTE-UQ help you reach your career goals?

Paulino: From the beginning I always knew that English was the key to my success, so learning the language with ICTE-UQ opened the door and set the path to reaching my career goals, from pursuing a higher degree using English to working in an English-speaking environment. 

Luisa: I don’t see myself going through an academic degree without the ICTE-UQ course. During the EAP program I acquired a fundamental tool to study at UQ.

Caption: Paulino at the UQ lakes

4. What degree did you study at UQ and why did you choose to come to study at UQ?

Paulino: I studied a Masters of Geographic Information Science at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. I chose this school at UQ for its excellence in delivering courses related to environmental management and its ranking compared to other schools/universities in Australia.

Luisa: I did a Masters in Animal Science. I chose UQ because it is a top-100 ranked university in the world and its School of Agriculture and Food Science is well-known worldwide.

5. Where are you working now? Are you using English now as part of your job?

Paulino: I am working in an environmental consultancy company (IMPACTO) in Mozambique, which provides environmental impact assessment reports for various clients (mostly from overseas). Some of these reports (about 40 percent) are delivered in English and within the working space sometimes meetings are held in English for our client’s comfort.

Luisa: I am working at Eduardo Mondlane University as an Assistant Lecturer. I am using English as a part of my work because most of our donors come from English-speaking countries. Given that, it is important to know English to communicate with them.

6. What was your first impression of university life in Australia?

Paulino: Shocking at first with the level of informality (between students and lecturers) and the availability for discussions and meetings. I was also amused by the number and the diversity of students. At some point I felt like I was surrounded by the whole world on campus.

Luisa: In the beginning, I was amazed and at the same time scared because of the workload, but then I discovered that time management is a key to dealing with the study load (coping with assessments) and having free time to enjoy myself.  

Caption: Paulino snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

7. What are you most proud of in this journey?

Paulino: I wish I could say “getting my masters degree” but I can’t. I feel like the language acquisition process is one to be proud of, without it I wouldn’t have gone to UQ, met new people or got the degree.

Luisa: I learned a new language in less than one year, I successfully completed my masters degree and most important, I had a wonderful experience at UQ. I have learned a lot in Australia and I know I can say, I did it. It is not only about study, Australia has a lot more to offer apart from university.

Caption: Luisa on her UQ graduation day

Find out more about the ICTE-UQ EAP course.

Last updated:
15 February 2017