Miamian Helping Russians Learn English in Sochi

Miamian Daniel Oliveira helping Russians learn English for Olympics

Welcoming thousands of foreigners is easier if you master the common lingo and for Russians in Sochi, that means a crash course in English in time for the Olympic Winter Games.

And Miamian Daniel Oliveira is there to help.

Oliveira is helping kids understand basic English at a language school in Sochi. He grew up in Miami and studied linguistics at Florida International University, and knows what it's like to battle a language barrier.

"There are moments that I completely love what I do and then there are moments that it’s very frustrating," Oliveira said. "I’m here and I don’t understand anything."

Oliveira said he knows a few Russian words but whether he's teaching children or adults, he only speaks to them in English.

"When they’re real beginners, it’s like a child, a baby, you only talk about things that are relevant and things that are in front of them, so they really absorb language that way," Oliveira said.

Online or in classrooms, some 70,000 people across Russia are learning English through Oliveira’s program.
"I think it is very good," said 13-year-old student Sergey Molchanov, who added he'd like to visit Oliveira's hometown. "Miami is a good town, in summer I go to visit Miami."

Down the hall from Oliveira, Missouri native Tyler Meinecke is running his own Olympic-style event: hot potato. Students who end up with the ball in their hands must speak in English sentences.

"I love the look on the face when they finally understand something that Day One they were just like 'ah, this is too hard for me,'" Meinecke said.

"After class when they come up to you and they’re like ‘thank you,' I think that’s the best feeling for a teacher," Oliveira said.

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