Oct 09 2013
CLAS Summer Institute at UG-Athens on Exploring Brazil: A Window into the Language and Culture of a Country on the Rise
Portuguese is currently the seventh most widely spoken language in the world, and due to the growth of the Brazilian economy, the demand for Portuguese speakers has risen. Preparations for the World Cup and Olympics have put Brazil on the world stage. In an effort to encourage Portuguese instruction at the secondary level, CLAS offered K–16 educators the opportunity to attend a summer institute at the University of Georgia-Athens in partnership with Tulane University. Twenty-three educators from Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama attended the institute and represented various subject areas, including Spanish, French, English, journalism, landscape architecture, and K–8 education. The world language coordinator from Fulton County, Georgia, and the K–8 representative from the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese also participated.
Over the course of five days, lead instructors John Maddox (Vanderbilt) and Elise Dietrich (Tulane) introduced participants to the Portuguese language, major Brazilian literary figures, and screened Brazilian films. Tatiana Watson (North Cobb County High School, which currently offers Portuguese) presented “Bringing Portuguese to Your School—Challenges and Opportunities” and conducted a sample beginning Portuguese class for the teachers. Staff from the International Welcome Center of Cobb County Schools gave insight into the scope and needs of the Brazilian community in the greater Atlanta area and an overview of services provided to students and families by the center. Teachers were also treated to capoeira demonstrations and a tour of the Latin American ethno-botanical garden at UGA-Athens to learn about plants native to Brazil.
Fernanda Guida (UGA) shared ideas about innovative ways to teach language in her presentation, “Telecollaborative Learning and Other Multimedia Strategies in the Foreign Language Classroom.” During the week, institute participants developed interdisciplinary units to present on the final day of the institute for all to take back to their schools. On the last night, teachers celebrated at CineAthens with a Brazilian meal of fejoada and danced to the music of the Brazilian band Quiabo de Chapéu from Atlanta. The institute was a collaborative effort of Tulane, Vanderbilt, and UGA-Athens, which is home to the Portuguese Flagship Program.
Nashville teachers have continued their engagement by studying the Portuguese language via teletandem conversation groups led locally by Stephen Wenz with K–12 teachers in São Paulo through UNESP Assis. Three teachers will deliver a presentation on Brazilian language and culture at the Kentucky World Language Conference in fall 2013.