A group of South American teachers have come to the U.S. as students.
The university was chosen as one of 18 in 15 states to host the Brazilian English Teachers Program. The first 30 of 540 teachers arrived Jan. 14 and will stay six weeks. Kevan Self, the special groups coordinators and lecturer for the Center for English as a Second Language, said the teachers will take classes that involve language and pronunciation, American culture and methodology.
Self said teachers will observe local high school classes as well. The program gives students and teachers an insight into other cultures’ daily lives, she said.
“Our focus is to teach English as a second language, and they are teaching it as a foreign language, so there is similar methodology,” he said. “They are comparing teacher styles.”
Patricia Krejcik, CESL lecturer, said CAPES, a Brazilian Ministry of Education foundation, and the Fullbright Commission put together a selection process and chose the 540 teachers from 1,500 applicants.The students take courses with CESL students, she said.
“It’s been very interesting to see the exchange between these Brazilian teachers and the students,” she said.
Krejcik said many Brazilian program participants think they are behind on the newest instructional techniques. However, she said they use many of the same techniques CESL uses.
The program also allows a cultural exchange that goes beyond educational value, she said.
“I think it does benefit Brazilian students as well, because these teachers will go back to their universities, to their high schools, to their language programs, with a different view of what life in America is, and who Americans are,” she said. ”I think that helps a lot.”
Krejik said the program has been a two-way street to help university CESL students as well as the Brazilian teachers. The program helps facilitate a professional network and communication between teachers and students.
Jailson Gomes, a Brazilian English teacher from Pires Do Rio, Brazil, said his program experience has broadened his mind and improved his English, but it has been hard to go abroad six weeks and be away from family and friends.
Gomes said he has enjoyed the trips the group has taken to St. Louis and the Arch as well as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.
“Observing the history we have been taught has been great,” he said.
Gomes has observed at three different high schools, and he said the U.S.’s teaching styles are similar to those in Brazil.
“Methods and technology here makes it easier to teach here, though” he said. “The differences are with technology are methodologies.”
Gomes said the experience has made him more versed in American culture.
“We know lots more about the culture here, and it will help us to help other students have a better idea of American ways,” he said.
Gomes said the most difficult challenge is adjusting to American cuisine.
“I won’t say it is bad, but it is different,” he said.