In the old days Latin was the “other” language taught in middle school and college. Later, and up until the 70’s French was the favored foreign language taught in middle school and high school. As Brazil progressed into industrialization and modernization, French was replaced by English to fulfill the curricula requirement for “Modern Foreign Language”. Students would typically have English classes from the fifth to eighth grade. These were not at conversational level by any means. Typically there was a beginner level book containing grammar and parts of speech for each grade. The teachers typically did not speak English and normally had a college (undergraduate) degree in Liberal Arts (“Letras”) with some emphasis on English. So, the contact with the English language by the student was through a teacher who did not speak English; the student then learned some grammar of a language they did not speak. This very unrealistic method/practice is still common in Brazil — the first attempt to study English is by first trying to learn the grammar without having acquired a decent vocabulary, listening skills, pronunciation skills, or oral comprehension. How can one learn grammar of a language they don’t speak or understand? How can someone teach a language they don’t speak themselves?
In Brazil if someone wants to learn to speak English they they have to enroll in one of the many private English schools spread throughout the country. These are usually small businesses that hire teachers based on their own criteria. In many cases the teacher never left Brazil and has little or no experience with the language in a natural setting. Normally they have acquired some fluency and speak with a heavy accent. In some cases the teacher is a young person who was fortunate enough to have been able to live abroad in some kind of student exchange during high school. These courses are expensive and only a small percentage of the population can afford. Obviously the more expensive of these schools have video programs and sometimes are lucky enough to be able to hire native speakers — there isn’t an abundance of native speakers of English with a work permit living and teaching English in Brazil.
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Filed in: Ingles Americano