English Program

It almost goes without saying that speaking English is a vital skill in the modern world. The official language of 53 countries, approximately 1.5 billion people now speak English worldwide, whether natively or as a second language.

English is also the international language of communication, the internet, science, diplomacy, and tourism, as well as many textbooks and universities.

Consequently, learning English is one of the best ways to open doors for our kids. It is their “passport” to the world and better opportunities in the future. Above all, speaking English is fun!

As outlined in Our Methodology, our teaching style is heavily influenced by the UERÊ-MELLO approach. This is an internationally recognised educational model for children and young people in areas of social risk.

Adapted to include the insights of Positive Discipline, our English classes are thus designed not only to work on language skills but also have our students’ well-being at their core.

Solar Meninos de Luz Grade 8 with their EduMais English teachers at the end of the school year in December 2018
EduMais volunteer teacher Donal in the classroom with three EduMais girl students who hold their hands to their heads

Trauma-Informed Lesson Content

Traumatised by violence, children who grow up in high-risk social areas can develop learning difficulties and cognitive blocks. For example, they often struggle to associate, forget things easily, and their cognitive reasoning is slowed and impaired.

We take this into account when planning our English lessons. To best serve our students’ needs, our classes are quick, creative, fun, and stimulating. They are also very interactive, involving a lot of work in pairs or small groups with both the teacher and co-teachers.

Classes focus predominantly on oral aspects of the language. In keeping with UERÊ-MELLO pedagogy, there is no copying from the whiteboard. Instead, the emphasis is directly on speaking English.

To help our pupils construct a sense of security and self-belief, we return to and repeat topics throughout the year. As well as working on all aspects of their memory, this prevents them from becoming disheartened. Confidence breeds enthusiasm, helping our students form positive visions of the future.

Inside the Edumais Classroom

The combination of the UERÊ-MELLO methodology and Positive Discipline also has the following practical applications for the EduMais English classroom.

  • Primarily, our classroom is a positive, fun place where students can enjoy learning without feeling anxious. This is particularly important for students with low self-esteem, who believe themselves incapable of learning. With appropriate encouragement, they can eventually acquire the self-confidence to realise their potential and capabilities.

  • When students enter the classroom, we give them a warm greeting and ask them how they are. If they feel particularly bad or blocked, the chance to express themselves freely can be very cathartic. They become calmer and better prepared to learn.

  • Students sit in a horseshoe shape, creating a sense of openness. There is also no teacher’s desk in our classroom. Rather than constructing a “wall” between the teacher and students, this ensures a more democratic space.

  • Lastly, with Positive Discipline, our teachers don’t get stressed or shout. But they do respect their own limits while also encouraging the students to respect theirs. This is vital for them to learn about themselves.

Volunteer English Teaching Assistant Hamish helps EduMais students with small group work in the English classroom
Kids raising hands in classroom

Afternoon Speak English Classes

Once a week, EduMais provides English classes to students of Solar Meninos de Luz as part of their curriculum.

Our motivated volunteers teach the 3rd to 8th grade of elementary school and the 1st and 2nd years of high school. Ranging from 8 to 18 years of age, these students number nearly 200 in total.

In the first classes of the year, students create the rules of classroom conduct. They set the expectations for themselves and we hold them accountable throughout the year.

We constantly adjust the program based on the students’ language and learning development. Once they have a confident base, we start to challenge them more, pushing them on to better things.

We also monitor their behaviour, recording their social and emotional learning in every class. Crucially, good behaviour receives positive reinforcement to ensure its repetition. Indeed, in only a short space of time, student conduct has drastically improved. As has their English, of course!

Would you also like to teach English in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas?

Volunteer for free as an English teacher with us!

Volunteer with us