Since birth, Georgia State University undergrad student Kathleen Costa has been exposed to different languages, cultures and dialects.
Costa was born in America but grew up speaking Portuguese as well as English thanks to her native-born Brazilian parents.
During a trip to her parent’s home country when she was 16, Costa worked a summer internship at SpeakClub in Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro.
“The summer job at SpeakClub helped me realize that this is what I want to do and this is what I love,” Costa said.
This summer, Costa is gaining workplace experience — leveraging her diverse background and English teaching experience — to help Georgia State students in the Intensive English Program (IEP) acclimate to life at an American University.
As part of her internship, Costa oversees hosting two weekly, in-person events through the Department of Applied Linguistics & ESL designed to help students practice their English-speaking skills while also networking with students from across the globe.
“I really like how it feels like I’m helping these students,” Costa said. “You get to a country, and you want to make friends and I’ve just really enjoyed seeing the students become more open and less shy.”
One of the events, “The Intercultural Conversation Exchange” is hosted every Wednesday. Students also have the opportunity to practice their English off campus during “Fridays in Atlanta” events which allow students to explore their surroundings of Atlanta and learn about the history of the city.
Recently, Costa and IEP students have taken trips to Ponce City Market and the Martin Luther King Jr., National Historical Park.
“We play games, eat snacks and they can make friends. They’re able to work on their English without being in a classroom setting and they seem to really enjoy it,” Costa said. “Sometimes we go to museums or history centers, and they learn more about the history of Atlanta.”
Costa said there’s more than a dozen students participating in the weekly events and come from diverse backgrounds like Asia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Russia and the Dominican Republic of Congo.
“I really love talking with the students because they’re really funny and have great stories. They’re all really smart and I’m really impressed with how they immerse themselves in the English language,” Costa said.
Through her internship, Costa also serves as a communications liaison, making flyers and promoting the Applied Linguistics department.
Costa is enrolled in a dual degree program which can allow her to receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Applied Linguistics on an accelerated schedule. After graduation, she plans to get an additional master’s degree in computational linguistics and pursue a career working at a larger language instruction platform such as Duolingo.
—Photo by Raven Schley