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Boise to Barbacena: Brazilian kids learning English by listening to Idaho show

You’ve probably heard Michelle Heart’s voice if you’ve listened to Boise radio much over the past decade or so.

First on Kiss FM, then later at 107.9 Lite FM, Heart’s been waking up Idahoans with a bright sunny voice and stories about her cat, her husband, and love for Boise.

And lately, she’s been helping junior high school students in Brazil learn English.

“Over the last week I’m seeing 18% of our online listenership is from Brazil and I couldn’t explain it,” Heart said. “Then I get a message from Brazil saying ‘we listen all the time.'”

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That message came from a junior high school teacher at SESI Senai Barbacena in Barbacena, Brazil – about an hour outside of Rio de Janeiro.

“He’s a junior high teacher and teaching and trying to motivate his students during the pandemic,” Heart said. “He stumbled across our app and assigned them to listen.”

Heart doesn’t know how the teacher found the station’s app, but she recently gave a shout out to her new South American audience.

“It’s the first break of my show, so I say ‘this is really cool, I got a message on our Lite FM app from Renato Sant’Ana who is listening in Brazil. Good morning to SESI in Barbacena, Brazil!'”

‘Hi Michelle’

Sant’Ana wrote and asked if Heart could say something motivational to his students, and she encouraged them to keep working on their English.

Then, the students started to engage.

“The next day I had 14 messages from his students saying ‘Hi Michelle.’ I have a feeling the assignment was to message me in English.”

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Now they’re even texting with emojis.

“They were using emojis… emojis are the universal language,” she said with a laugh.

Heart is happy to help the young listeners.

“Junior high is around the time I first learned about broadcasting,” she said. “The things they learn today are things they may do for the rest of their lives.”

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Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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