Brazillian English teachers learn new teaching strategies at UT Austin

Bevyn Howard

A group of English teachers from Brazil have come to UT to improve their English–speaking skills and acquire new teaching methods to use in their classrooms back home.  

More than 2,000 Brazilian English teachers applied to a six-week Fulbright program, coordinated by UT’s English as a Second Language Services. Only 479 were selected to come to the U.S., with 29 ending up here in Austin. The group has a diverse background from ages 22 to 55 who teach at several institutions. 

“Most of the teachers teach in two to three schools or two to three different teaching situations,” said Rachelle Bumgardner, the special programs and sponsored students coordinator. “For example, some teach pre–K in one school and high school in another school. There is even a teacher who teaches English at a prison and another who teaches at a vocational school.”

The teachers said they’re hoping to learn new lesson plans to better instruct the varying backgrounds of their Brazilian students. However, the teachers said this poses a challenge for them in Brazil because they only teach the students once or twice a week with inadequate technology.

“Each classroom here has a projector, we don’t have this in Brazil,” said Aline Goulart Correa, an elementary and middle school teacher. “There is one school that I teach at that has one only one projector (for the whole school) and we have to schedule the dates that we want to use it.”

Michele Rosa Nascimento, who also teaches elementary and middle school, said she’s excited to use the new techniques they’re learning here.  

“I thought we would just improve our English, but when we started classes we saw that they are (also) teaching us methodologies, and this is much better for us,” Nascimento said. “I think (teaching English to Brazilians) is a way of surviving in this world, a way they can have the best jobs and so they can travel alone.”

Along with classes, the group is also taking part in cultural immersion activities and weekend trips to get the full experience of being in Texas and of being in America. The teachers laughed about what they thought Texas would be like.  

“I thought there’d be cowboys, guns, country music everywhere and (it would) look like a Western movie,” said Emilia Rezende Rodrigues de Abreu, who teaches 6th through 12th grade. “But the people here are very friendly.”