Helping Brazilian English Teachers Build Professional Skills

From left, Brazilian English teachers Kelly Silva, Fernanda Queiroz, Victor Ernestu, Lucelia Alcantara, and Ruby Rocha are polishing their skills in the School of Education and Human Development's new residential learning program. 
By Richard Westlund

From left, Brazilian English teachers Kelly Silva, Fernanda Queiroz, Victor Ernestu, Lucelia Alcantara, and Ruby Rocha are polishing their skills in the School of Education and Human Development's new residential learning program. 

Helping Brazilian English Teachers Build Professional Skills

By Richard Westlund
Thirty high school English teachers from Brazil are spending six weeks at UM in a new skill-building program.

Raphael Silveira, an English teacher in Recife, Brazil, is looking forward to building his professional skills through a new residential learning program in the School of Education and Human Development’s Department of Teaching and Learning. “I have always wanted to improve my abilities as a teacher,” he said. “Being able to come to Miami through this exchange program is a dream come true.”

Silveira is one of 30 high school teachers taking part in the University of Miami Six-Week English Language Certificate Program for English Teachers from Brazil (PDPI), hosted by the Department of Teaching and Learning (TAL).

Luciana de Oliveira, TAL professor and chair, developed and directs the PDPI program, and Ana Maria Menda, TAL assistant professor of professional practice, is the PDPI coordinator. Faculty instructors include de Oliveira and Menda, as well as Professors Mary Avalos and Ji Shen, and Sabrina Sembiante, an assistant professor from Florida Atlantic University.

The six-week residential PDPI program, which began January 16, includes segments on oral communication, reading, writing, linguistic and grammatical knowledge, and the intercultural aspects of English. “This is the first time we have been able to offer this program, which incorporates the latest English-language teaching methodologies,” said de Oliveira.

Acting Dean Walter G. Secada welcomed the teachers at a kick-off lunch on January 16 at the Shalala Student Center. “This is a great opportunity to learn about our University and our community, while building your skills,” he said.

PDPI participants from northeast Brazil will learn about the latest methodology for English language teaching at elementary and secondary levels, visit local K-12 schools, participate in enrichment activities on and off-campus, and learn about U.S. culture and life.

“I have been teaching English to secondary school students in Igarassu for six years,” said Roberto Nascimento. “Our professional development programs focus on Portuguese language and mathematics, rather than English, so I’m looking forward to learning new ways to help my students.”

The TAL department received a grant from the Institute of International Education to support this program in the U.S., and the Brazilian teachers are supported by a grant funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Fulbright Commission in Brazil.

De Oliveira noted that the PDPI program is part of the Brazilian government’s strategic plan to improve English language teaching and teacher training in all states in Brazil. It is a component of a larger initiative to grant 100,000 scholarships for the best students from Brazil to study abroad at the world’s best universities.