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Monday, September 1, 2014

‘Brazilian Fridays’ teaches Brazilian culture, Portuguese language to UWRF

Published October 31st, 2013

The UW-River Falls campus has recently enrolled a record-high 150 international students this fall, creating opportunities for students on campus to interact with elements of different cultures, such as the recently developed “Brazilian Fridays” program.

“Brazilian Fridays” is a pilot program that launched on Friday, Oct. 25, which focuses upon Brazilian students teaching elements of the Portuguese language, as well as the culture of Brazil to students interested in learning. The program is also aimed at allowing the Brazilian students to gain a better understanding of the English language through teaching.

“Brazilian Fridays” is composed of a group of Brazilian students who serve as instructors during the program. These students are attending UWRF as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility program.

The Brazilian Scientific Mobility program is funded by the Brazilian government and allows students to pursue undergraduate studies overseas, fundamentally in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Students who apply to the program are accepted based upon the score achieved on a test taken after the completion of high school. According to one student who is involved in the program, 30 percent of students who take this test have the goal of entering the Brazilian Scientific Mobility program.

The program originally intended for students to carry out their education in Portugal. However, with limitations on total student enrollment in Portugal, the program then searched for other places to send the students. This led these Brazilian students to be sent to the United States, and ultimately UWRF. With the unexpected obstacle of learning the English language, the students now must take English classes and are also expected to attend UWRF for three semesters in order to gain a better understanding of English.

There are different levels of English classes that the Brazilian students must take while attending UWRF ranging from beginning to transitional. According to full-time CVTC English Language Learner (ELL) instructor and instructional lead for this collaboration Lynette Neibauer, there are 20 students in the Beginning English course as well as 18 students in intermediate classes with the remaining of the 50 students at the transitional level in their English education.

The beginning level students attend English classes all day while attending field trips every Wednesday to businesses. These field trips fulfill an industrial safety requirement for their program as well as promote the development of contacts for an additional internship requirement. Students at the transitional level attend other University courses throughout their time at UWRF.

Many of the Brazilian students involved with “Brazilian Fridays,” as well those individuals who were in attendance on Oct. 25, saw the program as a positive experience.
“Students study German or Spanish, but it is interesting that people want to learn Portuguese [as well],” said Grazielle Souza, a junior involved in the Brazilian Scientific Mobility program.

“It was a wonderful experience to learn a little about the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture,” said English Language Transition (ELT) Instructor Charlie Lavin, with regard to his involvement as a ‘student’ at “Brazilian Fridays” program.

The group of Brazilian students plan to continue with the weekly “Brazilian Fridays” program which will be continuing for the remainder of this semester, ending on Dec. 13. The group will not meet on Nov. 29, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

For more information contact Carolyn Brady at carolyn.j.brady@uwrf.edu.

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