'My path in and with ELT in Brazil' by Kyria Finardi

10th March 2018

I’ve always liked languages (I’m trying to learn my 5th now) and I can’t quite remember when I started to learn English as a foreign language (EFL) and when I began to see myself as an EFL teacher. I have taught EFL in Brazil for over 20 years and have been a teacher trainer/educator for almost a decade now.

As a full time professor in a public university in Brazil I am in charge of the English Language Teaching (ELT) Practicum course which is offered in the last semesters (7th and 8th) of the ELT degree course. I have about 25 students per semester and my job is to supervise undergraduate, pre-service English teachers’ practicum, discussing issues related to education in general and to English language teaching in particular.

I wear many hats – language learner, user, instructor, teacher, educator and researcher – the latter being an all-time passion that I started to develop professionally after I earned my Phd in Applied Linguistics… Now I am trying to train other researchers in Brazil on the two graduate courses I work for, the Education Program and the Linguistics Program where I teach and advise graduate students (Masters and Doctorate).

In Brazil all university teachers must teach, do research and offer services for the community and most of my projects in those three areas are related to Education and Languages. One of these projects, called “Building citizenship through language”, ongoing since 2011, offers workshops, courses and activities for the community on different topics of interest such as healthy nutrition, astronomy, and the use of technology and human rights, all of which are carried out through different foreign languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese for foreigners, French and Italian) though most commonly English.

I use the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Approach for the project and have recently helped my students, both at graduate and undergraduate level, to prepare a teaching project using this approach to teach different content (physics and mathematics, for example), through English. The project was piloted in a public school in my city and results showed that the teaching project was successful not only to teach the content (physics and mathematics) and the language (English) but also to get students and teachers involved in an interdisciplinary/collaborative project which raised everyone’s motivation and interpersonal skills.

One of the problems with the teaching of EFL in Brazil is the small amount of time dedicated to this subject in public schools. Another problem of using the CLIL approach in public schools is to find teachers who are proficient in the content as well as in the vehicular language (in this case, English). These difficulties were circumvented in this project by the involvement of content and language teachers to prepare materials together. I plan to continue sharing positive outcomes of my teaching/research experience both by teaching, presenting papers and publishing. In that sense, the scholarship that has enabled my participation in the 2018 IATEFL in Brighton will be very important to share my experience with other teachers around the world.

I have never been to an IATEFL conference before 2018 so you can imagine how excited I am about Brighton. My talk will be about two language teaching approaches, the CLIL approach and hybrid/blended approaches and the possibilities and limitations of implementing these approaches in Brazil. The underlying assumptions of my presentation are that language teacher education in Brazil faces several challenges, among which are the linguistic policies and investment in initial and continuing foreign language teacher education. In view of these challenges on the one hand, and the need to circumvent them on the other, inclusive teaching approaches represent a possible solution for this problem.

If you want to read more on hybrid approaches or CLIL you can visit my blog where I have some of these publications available for download. Click on Publicações to see the publications organized in a chronological order.

Hope to see you in Brighton. 

Kyria Rebeca Finardi is a Brazilian EFL teacher and teacher educator. She teaches at the Federal University of Espírito Santo both at undergraduate and graduate courses (English, Applied Linguistics and Education).