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School of Continuing Studies | University of Toronto

ELP Success Story – Leonardo Godoy

Last summer, Leonardo Godoy made a decision to change career paths.  After a long discussion with his family and a lot of research, he left his native Brazil and came to the English Language Program (ELP) in Toronto to improve his English with the ultimate goal of pursuing his passion for teaching at the university level. 

Now pursuing his Master’s in Business Administration with a focus on Family Businesses at the Roger’s School of Management at Ryerson University, Leonardo recounts what it was like to leave his home and his family while he took Academic English. 

“It was a game changer,” he said.  “It was tough to be here at first.  I missed my family a lot.  But I had an opportunity to meet so many different kinds of people,” he said. 

“It was like I was in the centre of the world.”

While a student at the ELP, Leonardo made the most of his experience.  He volunteered over 100 hours during the 12-week Academic English course for many Toronto-based charities and festivals: Open Streets Toronto, FoodShare, and The Scott Mission to name a few.   To Leonardo, engaging with the community outside of the classroom through these opportunities, offered some surprising learning experiences. 

“I expected the English course to be intensive, but I was not expecting how much volunteering impacted me. For example, I was working in the kitchen [at the Scott Mission] and then they asked me to work and help in the front.  There I had a chance to talk to the public at the Mission.  I was not just writing or speaking about the culture of Canada.  I was living it.  I was learning how to help and communicate with the public.  For me, I thought, ‘what a nice experience to be able to do this.’”

“Volunteering was not only about practicing English.  It was more than that, it was living it. This is the best way to learn.”

Of course, inside the classroom also required a commitment of Leonardo’s efforts.  But, mastering the intensive coursework as well as making the most of one’s experiences outside the class goes hand and hand for Leonardo.  

“At the ELP, students have to be prepared to work hard.  That’s what will make the difference.  If you put in the work, it will pay off.  Go to everything, be a part of everything you can at the ELP. You have to live the experience.  This is going to make the difference over all.”

But you can’t do it alone, according to Leonardo.  And he thanks his instructors and the staff at ELP as well for helping him out.  Because the ELP staff and instructors are there to push you further—if you want.

“At ELP, when someone realizes you are interested, the teachers and the office will make time to help you.  My instructor, for example, helped me a lot outside of classroom hours to go over my work.  If you show you are interested, amazing things will happen,” he said. 

When asked what English skills he still uses in his current academic endeavours, he laughed. “I am using all the knowledge I got here at ELP right now.  I am still opening the files and exercises I received here right now to help me with my work.”

Now reunited with his family and starting his new challenge, Leonardo is excited, not just for himself, but his family as well.

“I am sure soon we will be happy here,” he said. 

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