English Portuguese (BR)
Friends of Strider

Michael Mujica on learning a new language and its opportunities

Neal Kemp June 13, 2024
Michale Mujica, founder of Lingofor.me

About Michael

Meet Michael Mujica. With over 18 years of experience in IT, he has supported complex sales and engineering solutions for companies in various segments, such as Santander, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson. Nowadays, he runs his own business in the US, Lingofor.me, an Ed-tech startup that developed a platform to learn English, Spanish, and Portuguese online.

What does your approach look like for running classes and teaching students?

We have a three-level program. During the first two levels, we work with bilingual teachers. We teach English but also speak Portuguese or Spanish, depending on your native language.

Starting at the third level, you gain access to native speakers. This approach works well because if you are scared or worried about talking to native speakers when you are at the basic level, we help you reach a point where you can comfortably talk to them.

When you are able to talk with native speakers, we continue working exclusively with native speakers. We don’t offer group or recorded classes. All our programs are one-on-one, mimicking real-life situations. This helps a lot because the conversational focus enables students to practice and improve day by day.

Let's say somebody is studying at a normal pace. How long does it take to bridge that gap between the B-level and the C-level of English?

We’re talking about a year to a year and a half to go from basic to advanced, from A-level to C-level. From B-level to C-level, I would say it takes about eight to nine months.

We used to work with companies in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Brazil, helping their workforce move from A-level to C1-level. Depending on their frequency of study, we were able to achieve this in about a year to a year and a half.

Learning a new language is not easy. I compare it to going to the gym. The first thing you have to do is maintain the frequency of the classes. You can’t expect immediate results, but with consistency, the results will come. It’s like going to the gym; the first day you look in the mirror, nothing changes, but if you go consistently for three or six months, the results will come.

There are some people who want to move out of Brazil short term or maybe permanently. What did you consider personally when moving to the United States?

There is a huge gap in IT professionals in the United States, and there are ways to move here.

I also have a company that brings people from Brazil and other countries to the US. It’s not for junior profiles; it’s more for senior profiles. You’ll need about ten years of experience or a degree plus five years of experience. If you have a master’s, it’s better, but experience alone can be enough. It comes down to your achievements, the companies you’ve worked for, years of experience, and what you’ve earned.

It’s not guaranteed for every request, but I did this process myself and have been living here for the past six years.

Are there any accents in particular that are easier for Brazilians to understand in the United States?

I would say the New Yorker accent is the easiest.

Because of the differences in accents, we work with random teachers. Sometimes, a teacher’s pronunciation is clear and not too fast, making their accent easier to understand. But sometimes, you encounter someone whose accent is challenging.

The randomized approach helps students prepare for this. It’s not comfortable, especially at the beginning, but it’s best for the long term. You will be prepared not only to talk but also to understand different people.

When you're out on the street talking to somebody, you won't get to choose their accent or how fast or slow they speak

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