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01869 338890

Teaching, caring & learning Portugese in Brazil

Teaching English at CIEP and at Salguero Samba School.

Lizzie teaching on her gap year in RioI taught English to children of mixed ages and abilities in two different institutions. Before I left I attended a two-day intensive TEFL TIME course organised by Travellers but other than that I had no previous experience of teaching. The most important thing is to be flexible, resourceful and creative and just throw yourself into it.

 

Lessons and classes can vary. Some were half an hour, some two hours - which sounds a lot but time flies when you're in the classroom! We were given guidance on what level the children were at and what topics they had covered before. This was helpful when planning lessons so as not to repeat what they had already learned or in some cases to repeat it if necessary. The main focus for us was conversation and getting the children to communicate with one another in English so it involved finding fun ways to encourage them, this can be fun for you too!

Caring for children in a Crèche

I was also placed in an inner-city Crèche and was immediately made to feel very welcome by both children and staff. I admired the whole ethos of the Crèche, parents that could afford it paid for their children to attend but those that couldn't pay were equally as welcomed. Many of the children lived with social and learning difficulties as a result of impoverished living conditions and disrupted family lives. It was important to be mindful of this and be considerate and attentive to each child's needs.

 

Although we were there to try to teach English to the children, this was in a very relaxLizzie and staff with the children at the crecheed Teaching was done in a relaxed manner through playenvironment where playing with, caring for and loving the children was seen as equally, if not more, important. I absolutely loved my time with the kids and I found it difficult to leave. On my last day the kids made me a poster and I was presented with a watermelon with a candle on top (this was not some weird Brazilian tradition they merely had no time to bake a cake!). I was also delighted and a little speechless when they took me on a surprise trip to a nearby Samba school and I was treated to seeing the kids samba moves!

 

Learning Portuguese

I signed up for a few Portuguese lessons a week alongside my project. After buying some ‘teach yourself Brazilian Portuguese' tapes and failing to pick much up before I left I thought the lessons would help me get the most out of my project. I was right, in that although it's not essential to speak the language it can allow you to feel more independent and also to become more involved in the projects. They organized the lessons to fit around my teaching and my language teachers were very accommodating when I would arrive rushed from school/crèche without having done my homework due to a late running lesson or bad traffic!

 

My lessons were one-to-one which was fantastic as I could move at my own pace - in my case this was pretty slow! We covered practical topics such as purchasing goods, food and drink, transport and helpful classroom phrases. I also got useful tips from my friendly teacher on where was best to shop and go out in Rio! And every lesson I was offered Coffee (which I learned to drink short and black with lots of sugar) and sometimes homemade cakes!

 

My Time in General

I can't speak highly enough of my local coordinator Fabio, he was great! Always available and constantly checking in with us to make sure we were happy with everything. He introduced us to the schools and the children but also to the City. He took us out to sample local food, music and dancing, we also saw him in action practicing Capoeira (he teaches it). Anything I needed to ask about my projects or Rio, he had an answer for and I'm very grateful to him for ensuring I had such a good time.

 

The Art Hostel where I stayed was amazing, it is in a great location, a very safe, vibrant and interesting area of the city and I felt really welcomed and thrown into Brazilian culture during my stay, they also pushed me to speak Portuguese which was great!

I had an unforgettable time in Rio de Janeiro and although I didn't visit at Carnival time there was still a vibrant party atmosphere. I'm not a big football fan but Futebol is an entirely different ball game and seeing Fluminense Vs Boca Juniors game at the huge Maracanã was a highlight of my trip. With a volunteer placement I was able to see sides of the city that most tourists brush past or don't see at all.

 

I would definitely recommend Travellers Volunteering to anybody that wants a challenge and is ready to get stuck in! Or if you're interested in spending time to get to know a place and its people. In addition anyone seeking to gain experience, whether it's teaching or something else, you are given responsibility and a chance to prove yourself that might not be open to you in this country, so I say go for it!

 

THANKS!

 

Lizzie Faithfull's two placements in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were arranged with Travellers Worldwide.

 

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