January 30, 2013

University hosts visiting Brazilian teachers

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is hosting 30 English teachers from Brazil for six weeks as part of an international professional development education program.

In addition to taking classes on methodology, American culture and language, the teachers are visiting local high schools to observe American high school foreign language classes.  They also are speaking with local school administrators in comparing teaching methods here and in Brazil.

Media Advisory

For more information on the Brazilian English Teachers Program or to arrange interviews with the visiting teachers, contact Kevan Self, a lecturer in SIU Carbondale’s Center for English as a Second Language, at 618/453-2265.

The visiting teachers began their study here on Jan. 14.  SIU Carbondale is one of 18 universities in 15 states hosting the first group of 540 teachers.  The Brazilian English Teachers Program is a collaboration involving the Institute of International Education (IIE), CAPES -- a foundation within the ministry of Education in Brazil, The Fulbright Commission, and the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. 

Cheryl Ernst, director of SIU’s Center for English as a Second Language (CESL), said bringing a “dynamic group of teachers” to the internationally recognized program “is vital to diversification of international students on the SIU campus.”  While here, the teachers are sharing Brazilian culture, “not just polishing their English or learning new teaching ideas,” Ernst said. 

“Our curriculum is solid and our faculty are world-class, but this is a ‘win-win’ for knowledge and culture sharing,” said Ernst, who is currently on a recruiting trip to Southeast Asia with fairs in Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar (Burma).

“When these teachers return home, they can be the best proponents of CESL and SIU, and they can help bring Brazilian students to our campus,” she said.  “Recruiting abroad is difficult; these teachers who have visited SIU, interacted in our community, and enjoyed what we have to offer will relate those experiences to their students.”

Patricia Krejcik, a lecturer with CESL, was on a recruiting trip to Brazil in September.  Students there are excited that SIU Carbondale is part of the “Science Mobility Program,” and expressed interest in attending the University, she said.

Krejcik and Kevan Self, another lecturer in the program, said the majority of visiting teachers are high school and private institution instructors, and some work with a government program teaching English to adults.

The teachers are also taking the opportunity to see the ways that teachers present their class material.  Krejcik said one Brazilian teacher visiting a local high school was pleased to see a local high school Spanish instructor teaching students similar to how she does in Brazil.

The Brazilian teachers are also visiting with CESL students on campus.  The exchange of cultural ideas and opening up students’ horizons is important, Krejcik said.

“It’s an honor that we were selected to receive these students and we hope it will lead to similar groups coming in the future,” Self said.

In addition to visiting classrooms and speaking with local educators, the group is also experiencing some of the local history and culture.  The teachers are visiting local churches and local families are hosting the teachers for dinner.  In addition to attending a Saluki men’s basketball game, the group will visit St. Louis and observe classes at Soldan International Studies High School in St. Louis; go the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.