Thanksgiving| Natural Language Institute

Insights and Experiences



By Rita Elena Daniel - 07/dec/2015 #History, Culture, and the Arts

Although I truly believe that people should give thanks for the simple things in life on a daily basis, Thanksgiving Day is an important cultural event in the lives of Americans, as we feast and remember to appreciate our blessings. The idea is that no matter how little one might have, they should always value their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and value all other things that they might take for granted. American people have many advantages and rights to be grateful for, such as freedom, education, and a judicious government.

In Brazil’s case, it is not an overstatement to say that there has recently been a lot of political turmoil, as proceedings to impeach the president have begun, a Senator has recently become the first in the history of the country to be arrested, and the ecological disaster in Mariana, Minas Gerais has shown the public the devastating results that can come from neglectful management of the industrial sector. Despite the problems that Brazil is facing, it was extremely pleasant to hear students take turns speaking at the dinner table, giving statements of thanks for certain aspects of their lives. Listening to students praise their children, spouses, friends, and teachers was a wonderful thing, and certainly gave an uplifting atmosphere to the event.

In terms of language use, it was excellent to see that students were taking the event seriously—no Portuguese allowed! — it was a chance to use the English that they so diligently study each week in class, and it was definitely an accomplishment for them. These mini-immersions are truly productive events because students of various levels can mingle and practice their conversational English, while hearing and absorbing the different vocabulary, syntax, and speaking styles of their fellow classmates. For the teachers, mini-immersions are a moving occasion because they provide an opportunity for us to listen to our students use what they know and what they’ve learned in class, in a large group environment. Witnessing and participating in their conversations all evening was, for me, a sweet reminder of why I love my job—because watching people grow and seeing them reap the benefits of second language acquisition is a rewarding experience, and being a part of that is reason enough for me to give thanks!

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