Covid has changed the way we think about education and, for many of us, how we are going to deal with the future. But, during a pandemic and school breaks, one fact has not changed: learning English is now more than ever a game-changing opportunity, opening doors to education, employment and connectivity with the world. The crisis has altered many traditional educational activities, and the new reality of hybrid learning brings challenging times for schools, families, students and teachers.
Our collective commitment to making learning English possible has led us to create new opportunities. The US government has deepened partnerships with Brazilian teachers and institutions to make teaching English more accessible, especially in areas where there are major learning challenges. As director of English programs for the US Embassy and Consulates in Brazil, I am proud to share with you examples of the progress we are making.
English is the language of science, business and the internet, and it is expanding educational and economic opportunities. In October, we launched the second English Olympics with ChatClass – a cultural competition on WhatsApp that involves almost half a million students and teachers interacting in English on the theme “The future of work” with the participation of Brazilian professionals for whom English was involved. difference.
This free annual event helps to overcome geographical distance and provides motivation to learn the language. Other face-to-face programs were also transformed into virtual ones overnight. A national immersion of Steam & English for students and public school teachers is being held online this month for the first time. With the new format, we and our USP partners can engage more mentors and maintain learning for new scientists, teachers and their schools for longer.
The pandemic revealed enormous optimism and creativity, as well as the receptivity and hard work of Brazilian educators. During this period, teachers’ learning intensified. Fifty public school teachers from northern Brazil participated in the digital storytelling and leadership courses offered by the embassy, leading to a proactive community that now leads free online courses for more than 350 English teachers across the region.
Adapting to the new reality is immensely challenging, but we are up to the task. We created a new podcast in collaboration with the University of Texas-Língua da Gente: Slice of Life – produced especially for Brazilians. Presenters use authentic conversations and good humor to explain the language and culture.
Our partnership with Brazil for learning English has a long history. This year, 18 projects launched by education departments, universities and federal institutes were interrupted due to the pandemic, but we make this challenge an opportunity. From March to September, we created many more projects than planned with more than 45 institutions and 540 thousand instructors and teachers across the country. Professionals in the field, from the USA and Brazil, are collaborating to improve English teaching in partnership with the departments of Education in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Paraná.
More than 100 professors from eight engineering universities have learned to integrate the language in undergraduate courses as part of a Fulbright / Capes initiative. Partnerships with business incubators in Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina are empowering underserved communities and helping entrepreneurs to connect with partners and international markets through English. Learning a second language facilitates engagement and promotes connections. With the use of new digital tools, we can cross borders and access new communities in Brazil and the USA. Visit!
By Jennifer L. Uhler – Director of the English Language Teaching Office at the US Embassy and Consulates in Brazil – 10/10/2020