ASU Global Launch innovates English language curriculum in Brazilian K-12 schools

By

Samantha Talavera

This week Global Launch, Arizona State University’s English language learning unit, will say goodbye to 34 Brazilian K-12 educators who participated in a teacher training program at ASU as part of the U.S. Department of State and Regional English Language Office Brazil initiative.

Participants of the six-week “Bilingualism in Brazilian Public Education” program, launched this January, engaged in a rigorous in-person training program to improve teaching practices and methodology in Brazilian K-12 schools, as well as to learn innovative best practices for using English as the language of instruction.

Through networking with experts and peers within the teaching English as a second language (TESOL) industry, observing classrooms, researching U.S. education standards and revising lesson plans, each educator will not only be qualified to implement innovative best practices to enhance current Brazilian curriculum in bilingual schools, but will also be able to provide objectives and assessment for colleagues in Brazil seeking professional-development opportunities. The goal of the current initiative is to increase Brazil’s English proficiency ranking, which currently sits at 53rd out of the 88 countries assessed in 2018 by English First, an organization that studies global English proficiency.

“The Brazilian government recognizes the impact that English can have on the well-being of their country and its citizens, so much so that English language instruction has become mandatory in public schools. In fact, studies show that higher proficiency rates in English directly correlate to better economic and social development,” said Dianna Lippincott, Global Launch’s director of strategic innovation. “ASU and Global Launch are also uniquely qualified to produce this program given successful implementation of similar teacher training programs in Peru, Mexico, Iraq and Vietnam.”

Along with pedagogical training, Global Launch integrated cross-cultural experiential learning into the curriculum to help teachers better recognize the importance of cultural understanding and language training through immersion in English-speaking spaces.

“Learning English in a non-English-speaking country poses many challenges to learners, in particular the inability to practice outside of the classroom with native English speakers and the inability to learn about American culture through interaction with native speakers. By providing language immersion opportunities, such as lectures and field trips around Arizona, participants will find more success in creating their own authentic and meaningful language experiences and will gain a better cultural understanding of Arizona and the U.S.,” said program lead Alissa Nostas.

As part of their research, the educators also presented at the Innovative Practices in K-12 Education conference, which was attended by teachers from countries including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Uganda, India and Finland.

At the program’s end this month, participants attended a reception to meet local Brazilian expats and hear firsthand accounts of the usefulness of the English language on their road to professional success.

“We hope this experience transforms teachers into leaders and advocates for quality bilingual models for future capacity building in the areas of bilateral education, such as English language, STEM and study in the United States," said Jennifer Uhler, the regional English language officer for the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. "These educators will become trainers and role models for other Brazilian states and municipalities who would like to begin teaching more subjects in English.” 

For more information about the “Bilingualism in Brazilian Public Education” program or Global Launch international partnerships, please contact Dianna Lippincott at dianna.lippincott@asu.edu.