Undergraduate student’s search for meaning in English teaching

Por Mégui Mascarelo Sudo

A student who completes high school and then aims to enter university… a person who decides to return to study after a while away… an egress who returns to graduation to major in another area… several profiles characterize the group of students in an undergraduate course. These are also some of the students’ profiles in Additional Languages in Região da Fronteira in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

After failing the medical entrance exam twice in 2009, I decided I did not want to spend years trying to get into university. Instead, I would try something closer to the subjects I enjoyed studying at school, preferably in the city where I lived. Thus, in 2010, I chose to join Languages (major in Portuguese and English) at Unipampa. Something that has always moved me, made my eyes shine, and still does today, is the English language. I remember starting off the first semester with some uncertainties, but this story began to change as time went by.

I could give many details of this twist in my story. However, what stands out here was the discovery of a source of fulfillment. I began to understand that not only could I learn a language that I had always loved, but I could also positively impact other people’s lives through this knowledge by bringing them the revolution that the language had brought to my life. As I have experienced this feeling more than once, I realized that impacting people’s lives and encouraging them to pursue their dreams by connecting with other people and cultures would be what teaching English was all about.

I admit that this discovery was neither in the first nor in the second semester. Perhaps it was not in the first teaching experience as well. I believe, however, it was when I acquired some self-confidence as an English teacher. It is not always that a teacher in training will discover him or herself at the beginning of the journey. Not to mention the many challenges that come with a teacher’s career. Awakening my mind to the meaning of what I was doing brought awareness and empowerment concerning what I can do to contribute as a professional to people’s lives. It was a liberating discovery.

It is understood that the exercise of reflection on what we do as humans has considerable importance in the individual’s deeds as an entity that not only lives in history but also produces history. Two interesting questions posed by Yogita Aggarwal motivated the following approach: “Do we really need to have meaning in life, or can we just live our life without even pondering on these questions? How does it matter to know the essence of life when we can actually live without even wondering about such questions?” Then, I wondered, “what would be the results of bringing such discussion into class. How would students view their own academic journey after this reading and writing experience?” I was pretty curious to know what they would come up with for now that I was in the position of substitute professor in the same university about ten years later.

In this regard, students of Text and Discourse in English (2020/2) worked on different authors’ concepts of discourse, text, ideas, and meaning. Later on in that semester, as a basic text for our reflections in class, I proposed reading the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It was then that the idea of producing a text about the search for meaning in English teaching in students’ academic/personal/professional lives would be put into practice.

I would like to say that this proposal has given birth to texts that have moved me as a professor. Welcome to a journey in which you will get to know some of the English Text and Discourse students in the semester 2020/2 and how they have been going through this path to self-discovery. In each edition, two stories in different textual typologies. Enjoy it.

Reference: 

AGGARWAL, Yogita. The importance of “Meaning” in life. Available at The Importance of “Meaning” in Life (all-about-psychology.com) 

Mégui Mascarelo Sudo, 28. Majored in Languages (Portuguese, English, and Literature), a specialist in English teaching methodologies. An English teacher who has found meaning in connecting with people and communicating hope to them. teachermegui@gmail.com

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