Last Monday I attended a talk sponsored by Braz-Tesol (Brazilian Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Marcelo Barros presented a brief but content-loaded overview of the situation of the language teaching outlook in Brazil today.
The language education market in Brazil is extremely fragmented lacking official associations that would really represent the interests of English teachers around the country. Braz-Tesol and state organizations such as Apeoesp (Association of Teachers of São Paulo state schools) or Apliesp (Association of Teachers of English in the State of São Paulo) represent a small percentage of teachers.
The fragmentation of the English language teaching industry:
binational language institutes
independent language schools
How do they see each other? As in any market economy, they see each other as competitors, but not only that, the University educators look down on all the other teachers as if they were a lower form of life. Also teachers working at languages schools or institutes look down on teachers in state or city-run schools, as not even knowing English themselves and how can they be able to teach it? State-run teachers also see independent language schools as the death knell for the teaching of languages in regular classrooms. Binational language centres as the British Council, Cultura Inglesa or Alumni, also look down on independent language schools as unprepared to teach given that the former emphasise native speakers as teachers and the latter would have to resort to humble Brazilians trying to make a living.
The reality is that English teachers at language schools or self-employed have been imparting knowledge to millions around the country, making up for a huge gap in the education level provided by regular grammar schools at all levels.
The Brazilian Association of Franchising – ABF, estimates that 2-4% of Brazilians speak some English – which creates a significant linguistic elite in a country with around 220 million people.
The Brazilian economic boom decade between 2002 and 2012 also represented a bonanza for language teaching, with a peak in the number of people studying English in Brazil.
It is estimated that today there are little under 1 million people studying English in Brazil. But why do so few people study that language? Why is there such a high dropout rate?
To be continued… .