A Warm and Fuzzy Success Story


Hi there, it’s Jo again 🙂

This time I have joined up with one of our past super- students to blog about where his English journey has taken him. So let me introduce you to Sho…

Sho Kashiwagi is 25 years old and has been living in Australia on and off for nearly five years . After finishing his undergraduate studies in Japan, Sho moved to the Gold Coast. He first attended Langports in February ’08, then later that year in November, and then again in January ’09 (we must be pretty good, or something!). Fast forward to July 2012 and Sho is still hanging around! Actually he’s just popped back in to tell us about his new job opportunity… a position at his old University in Japan, lecturing in Tourism and Management, in both Japanese and English.

So how did he get to that point?

Here comes the warm and fuzzy success story…

When Sho first arrived in Australia in 2008, he really had no plans apart from wanting to experience Australian culture; learning English was a small part of that. He knew he needed some English to get by, but his goal, like many others, was ultimately to be able to make himself understood.

Sho’s first English encounter was with the Customs Officer at Brisbane airport, and went like this…

What is your purpose in Australia?


How long are you planning to stay in Australia?


The Customs Officer couldn’t be bothered trying to communicate any further, so let him through the gate.

‘Great’, thought Sho, ‘I can speak English!’

On his first day at Langports, despite the misunderstanding at the airport, Sho tested into level three (pre-intermediate). During his first few weeks he started to understand his teachers’ instructions and could communicate easily with other students in the school.

‘Time for another goal.  How about university in Australia? Nah, too much effort, I think I’ll try to get to level five’.

The main obstacle for Sho was that he HATES reading. Even in his studies in Japan he found that he did not have the concentration to focus on long texts. He knew getting his English skills to level five would be a challenge, but he was ready!

With perseverance and a lot of hard work outside of the classroom, Sho made it to level five. He made a conscious effort to speak English inside and outside of the school. He joined sports teams where he could meet new people and lived and worked with people from different countries, so he ALWAYS had to speak English. This made Sho a very confident communicator; however he was still finding it difficult to concentrate on his reading. The idea of attending university in Australia kept playing on his mind…

In a Monday morning interview, Sho expressed to his teacher that he had thought about completing his post graduate studies in Australia. At that moment, saying it out loud confirmed to Sho that that was what he wanted to do.

His teacher recommended the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) class, to prepare his for the IELTS test and for the skills needed to study at University in Australia. This class, at the start, was a challenge for Sho. There was a lot of focus on reading academic texts, as this is what students are exposed to at University. Sho’s technique to overcome his fear of reading was to read the assigned texts and to summarize them once he got home. This is a skill that he was taught in the EAP class and something that he has continued to do throughout his studies. Sho passed the EAP class as well as getting a score of 6.5 overall in his IELTS exam. This meant that Sho was well on his way to achieving his goal. The next step: choosing a university. Why not go for the best? He applied to the University of Queensland and was accepted into their Master of Tourism Management program.

The Masters degree was going to take him 18 months/three semesters of full time study to complete. Sho was the youngest on the course by about 10 years. The other students were professionals with families, living a completely different life than him. Luckily, all the students had the same motivation and worked really well together.  The first semester was the hardest; however with the help of the other students and the skills he learnt from the EAP class he was able to get through the semester and not only pass, but achieve distinction in all four of his papers! Champion! Sho continued to overcome obstacles, passing every paper and even receiving two High Distinctions in his last semester. He had done it!

Sho hardly had time to ponder the next stage of his life before answering a phone call from his old university supervisor in Japan. Sho had kept in touch with him and told him of his studies in Australia. The supervisor was getting in touch to offer him a position at the university, lecturing in Tourism. Sho couldn’t believe his luck! He was absolutely elated that all his hard work had paid off. Never did he think that he would be an Academic!

Sho has remained a big part of the Langports family. We love the fact that he would pop in and keep us updated on his studies. Every time he was in the college, the staff would comment on how fantastic his English was.  We are so proud of him and his achievement.

So this is where Sho is today. He is sitting in front of me, chatting away fluently, with only a hint of an accent. He is 25 years old, fluent in two languages, has completed a Masters Degree in his second language; a feat that most of us are unable to do in our first! He is confident young man who once had a goal that he thought was so out of reach. With the support of his fellow students and his big Langports’ family, and with a whole lot of determination, his dream became a reality.


So, what advice can Sho give to you?

Speak English ALL THE TIME! Join clubs or sports teams. Work and live with people who are not from your country. You have the rest of your life to practice your own language.

SUMMARIZE. Whether this is what you learnt, what you read or what you heard. Summarize the key points in your own words and you will remember things a lot better.

Set goals. If you think your ultimate goal is unrealistic, then set yourself short-term objectives as a way to achieve your major goals.

Ask questions. Especially for those of you who are still studying. You are lucky that you have so many friendly staff members to help you.

Read EVERYTHING; not only the texts that your teacher gives you, but everything around you: newspapers, magazines, instructions, shampoo bottles, EVERYTHING! You get used to seeing words in context; you can work out the meaning then start to use them in the phrases you have learnt.

Thanks for reading 🙂

And a special thanks to Sho! Good on ya mate!