1. You majored in Portuguese and English at the University of São Paulo (USP) and also have a degree in education. Why teaching?
Teaching inspires me because it allows me to provide my students with opportunities to develop their expression in a foreign language and their views of the world. Therefore, what I do impacts what students can do, in the new country they are living -- Brazil. It also may influence the future actions they may take. Who knows if their Portuguese will affect their ability to communicate, or help to make decisions when they're out in the world as the CEO a of a multinational company, the secretary-general of the UN, or the founder of a start-up company which positively impacts the world?
2. What’s your favorite podcast? Why?
I listen to lots of podcasts. I love Hidden Brain, Invisibilia, and Braincast, but my favorite one is Mamilos - Jornalismo de Peito Aberto. The main goal of the two hosts is to discuss controversial or important themes with the help of subject experts. However, what really inspires me is that rather than just trying to prove a point, everybody in the podcast is engaged in building bridges and being open to new perspectives and points of view.
3. You have co-written several coursebooks for teaching English. What’s your favorite part of being a published author?
I like the amount of creativity you are allowed to put into writing a coursebook. Having an exciting idea and being able to put it into practice has always made me happy. I also love thinking about how this kind of material can impact, support, and guide teachers and their classes.
4. Did you have any nicknames growing up and do you have one now?
I was named after my Spanish great-grandmother, Laureana Castanho. Since Laureana is long and unusual in Portuguese, I have had tons of nicknames: Lau, Laurie, Lauren, Laura, and even Lana. Different people call me by specific nicknames. Friends normally call me Laurie, my oldest and closest friends say Lau, and my family calls me Lana. Here at Graded, my coworkers call me Lau and my students call me Ms. Lau.
5. You teach Portuguese as a second or additional language. If you could identify one thing that international students learning Portuguese could do to improve, what would it be?
I would say it's the realization that learning a language is inextricably related to learning about culture. Being open to a new culture gives you greater experience with the language and, of course, more experience with a language opens you up to the culture. Learning a language allows you to see the world in a different way, through a new lens. Moreover, learning a new language makes your brain even more complex! For instance, in Portuguese and other Latin languages, the whole feminine, masculine, singular, and plural choices for nouns and adjectives certainly change how our brains process information. Isn't it beautiful that languages shape the way we think and see the world?
6. If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be?
I wouldn't be so short-sighted! I have been wearing glasses since I was seven!
7. Do you have any pets?
I have an adorable Yorkshire Terrier named Mel. Like the owner of any pet, I love her to the moon and back. She has won the hearts of our whole family.
8. What’s the last movie you went to the movie theater to see? What’s your view of the movie?
One of the last movies I saw is Tully. I found it extremely accurate (and disturbing). It is a candid, yet sensitive, look at being a parent, especially a mother.
9. What would make you totally content right now?
I know it's wishful thinking, but what would really make me happy right now is to witness people truly putting the needs of the community before their own. Community can be just a group of friends, or it can be much bigger – such as a school, neighborhood, city, or country.
10. What is your favorite thing about Graded?
My favorite thing about Graded is its sense of community and its diversity. I teach or have taught American, Swedish, Argentinian, Colombian, Korean, Japanese, South African, French, Danish, Mexican, and Spanish students -- to name a just a few! I also love learning, and each and every day I learn something new because I work here. I learn a lot from my students! I also love to see how Graded students take a leading and enthusiastic role in their learning journeys.