Lindsey Faucher

Student teaches English to schoolchildren in Portugal

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Student teaches English to schoolchildren in Portugal

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
Junior Lindsey Faucher, who is studying psychology and international relations at the University of Miami, had the opportunity to apply the skills she has learned to support child development as an instructor and mentor to young Portuguese children.

Junior and Stamps Scholar Lindsey Faucher is majoring in international studies and psychology at the University of Miami. She spent two months of her summer in Lisbon, Portugal, as a part of Absolute Internship, where she could choose from 11 different site locations. Faucher opted to teach English to young students at Associação Infante de Sagres, a private school offering education to children from ages 3 to 10, including those with special educational needs.

Faucher just returned from Portugal and shared her thoughts about her experience in the southern European country.

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I researched online about various internship abroad programs and Absolute Internship stood out to me because of the wide range of professional industries that I could select from for my internship. 

Where did you live?

I lived with other interns at a student residence, located about 15 minutes from the center of Lisbon. Conveniently, my internship was a five-minute walk from the student residence. 

Did you learn the language?

It was not a requirement to know Portuguese, since my role was focused on communicating to the children in English. However, since I enjoy learning languages and had the desire to fully embrace Portuguese culture, I decided to do independent language lessons, where I practiced for about 30 minutes daily. 

My comprehension of the language improved significantly as a result of constantly being surrounded by it. I would often do a language exchange with the children, where I taught them a word in English, and they would teach me the equivalent in Portuguese. By the end of the program, I was able to navigate my way through everyday situations like ordering food and communicating with a taxi driver in Portuguese.  

What attracted you to this internship?

The mission of the school where I worked is to provide a complete and inclusive education to all children, including those with special educational needs. This aligns closely with my interests. Because this past year, I've had the opportunity to work on research focused on early social and cognitive development. Therefore, I've was able to use that previous experience in more of an applied sense, while also learning about the cultural differences that exist in Portugal. 

What were you doing there?

My daily responsibilities consisted of developing activities and lessons for the English class, assisting with activities in the special needs classroom, and working to facilitate the summer beach program. This was a program where roughly 300 students were brought to a beach in the Lisbon area after the school year ended. And my role was to ensure a safe environment for the children and to communicate with them in English. 

Did you have any experience in these areas?

Prior to working this summer, I did child psychology research in the University of Miami's Social Cognition Lab, where I worked with associate professor Elizabeth Simpson on projects related to early social attention, oxytocin in relation to emotional reactions, and autism. 

How did your education, so far, help you with this experience? 

I've been able to apply information taught in my psychology classes to real-world situations and problem solving.  For example, in my Child and Adolescent Development course, I learned that around the ages of 3 to 4 years old, children are developing the skills to share with their peers. Being aware of the social behaviors that children demonstrate greatly benefitted me in Portugal, as I was able to have more patience and understanding with my students. And it also allowed me to encourage more positive interactions between them. 

After graduation, I hope to teach English abroad a second time before applying for graduate school. In the future, I hope to pursue research that will somehow meld my interests of psychology and global cultures. 

What were some of your favorite experiences while you were abroad?

My favorite experience in Portugal was the celebration of Festas dos Santos Populares (or Holiday of the Popular Saints). For the entire month of June, the streets are beautifully decorated with streamers, and grills on every corner serve the Portuguese specialty—sardines. The excitement surrounding this holiday was unlike anything that I have ever experienced, and it was remarkable to be able to fully immerse in Portuguese culture for eight weeks.