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Brazilian Scholars Visit Otterbein

Brazilian Scholars Visit Otterbein

Four Brazilian scholars are back home in time to celebrate the Olympics after spending July at Otterbein, teaching and learning alongside the instructors and students of Otterbein’s Central Ohio English Learners’ Education Collaborative (COELEC) Summer-Plus Academy (SPA) and Otterbein’s ESL program for international students.

The Academy is a U.S. Department of Education, grant-funded project designed to increase the capacity of area schools to address the needs of PK-12 English learners (ELs).  At the Academy, approximately 45 ELs in grades 6-10 from the Westerville and Columbus communities came to campus each day for three weeks to work on their English skills. Seventeen teachers in the program practiced applying their new techniques for integrating literacy and language learning in engaging projects with the ELs.  Projects included using mathematics to design scale drawings of tiny homes, creating public service announcements for addressing hunger, writing personal narratives about immigration, and others.

The Summer Plus Academy provides:

  • Teachers with instructional strategies to improve content delivery and to expedite English language learning
  • Project-based, language and literacy learning for ELs
  • Financial support for pre-service and in-service teachers to earn course credit toward the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) endorsement

This summer, four Brazilian scholars participated in the Academy and ESL programs as part of a unique scholar-in-residence program and educational exchange.

In March, Otterbein representatives, including Kristin Bourdage, chair of the Department of Education, and Erin Johnson, Coordinator of Otterbein’s ESL Program, visited southern Brazil to learn more about the country’s educational structures, standards and practices for teaching language, and teacher education programs.

In July, four scholars from the Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR) in Brazil came to Otterbein to primarily learn new techniques for language education and pedagogy for teacher education. The scholars are all involved in language education, with two teaching English, one teaching French and one teaching methodology, or “teaching future teachers.”

While on campus, the scholars split their time between learning and teaching. The visiting scholars took classes with Bourdage in the morning. They then spent two hours in the classroom applying their new knowledge while teaching university-level ELs at the University’s ESL program. In the afternoon, the Brazilian scholars learned alongside other pre-service and in-service teachers in the TESOL course.

According to Brazilian Professor Angela Walesko, her home university has a language program for immigrants, but does not have courses to teach language instructors how to work with immigrants in the classroom — something she plans to change. Walesko said the majority of immigrants in their program are from Haiti and Syria.

Otterbein will continue the exchange program with a future visit already in the works.

The scholars

John Fiorese holds an undergraduate degree in pedagogy and is currently earning a second undergraduate degree in English language and literature at Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR) in Brazil. He is student-teacher at the Languages without Borders Program (English) and English teacher at the Language and Interculturality Center at the same university.

“It is interesting and challenging not to be able to use my first language (Portuguese) to explain vocabulary and other concepts as I am teaching English, because my students don’t speak Portuguese or English. The experience will help me a lot and is opening my mind to new methods of teaching.”

André Luiz Galor has a degree in English and Portuguese language and literature at UFPR. He is a teacher and pedagogical assistant at the Language and Interculturality Center CELIN at the same university. He participated in a teaching program at UFPR called Programa Institucional de Bolsa de Iniciação à Docência from 2010 to 2013. His activities in this program included teaching English in public schools, carrying out research, presenting papers at conferences and offering workshops.

“I’ve learned a lot about the concept of coaching in training new teachers. I’ve learned concepts that I can apply immediately in my practice in Brazil. I am planning to get a master’s degree, and I have many new ideas for topics I would like to study, like project-based learning.”

Joao Arthur Pusley has a master’s degree in linguistics at UFPR, where he is a French language and literature professor in the Humanities Sector. He works in the Department of Modern Languages and in a project of teaching Portuguese to immigrants in which the students of Portuguese and modern languages participate. The project is called “Brazilian Portuguese for Humanitarian Migration” and started in 2013 through a partnership between the Modern Foreign Languages Department, the Language and Interculturality Center and its Tandem Center.

“It has been interesting to see how Otterbein’s program works with public schools, teaching their teachers how to work with immigrants in their classrooms. We have many immigrants, and my program could reach a larger audience if we worked with the public schools, so we are working on a similar concept.”

Angela Walesko holds a master’s degree in applied linguistics at UFPR, where she is now a professor in the Education Sector, working in the Department of Teaching Theory and Methodology and in a project of English for Academic Purposes in the same department. She currently is earning her doctorate degree in applied linguistics at UFPR, and her area of research is English as an International Language and English teaching pedagogy. She also works as a pedagogical coordinator at the national Language without Borders Program (English) at UFPR.

“I learned at Otterbein that our program should be linked more to schools and real life. I am going home with many ideas for projects and I plan to write a project for state school teachers. As language teachers with foreigners, we all need to have awareness about their experiences. We exist to help with their education.”