Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Centro Cultural de Linguas

The break room in CCL.
During my eight days in Teresina, I spent the majority of my time at the Centro Cultural de Linguas (CCL). CCL is part of a system of supplementary public language schools in Brazil. Students attend their regular schools in the morning, afternoon, or evening and attend CCL one day a week for three hours or two days for an hour and a half. In this particular language school they teach English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Joselia, our host teacher, outside a CCL classroom.
Our first day in Teresina was a busy one. We arrived to the school in the afternoon and co-taught in seven or eight classes before the night was over. We developed a routine which involved a hastily drawn map of the United States with each of our home states, Washington and South Carolina, outlined in marker. We then went on to describe the weather, our schools, and other interesting facts. With the lower level classes we were more limited to basic conversation, but with the advanced groups, we got into some pretty deep discussions about cross-cultural stereotypes, college admissions, and the student debt crisis.

Hanging out with CCL teachers after class.
There are some notable differences between Brasilia and Teresina. Piaui is the poorest state in Brasil. And there is really no industry in Teresina outside of health care and education. While Teresina is a very modern city, complete with shopping malls, riverside parks, and nice hotels, there is a much higher level of poverty than in the capital. Students at CCL choose to be there (in addition to their regular schools), but it is not easy. They have to buy a book for the year (about $60 USD) and often pay an extra bus fare to and from language school. That keeps many kids from attending and makes it a struggle for most of the rest.

One advantage to being an a language school for a week was that we got to meet a few hundred different students. Every day we spoke with new classes. We also got to know a few of the teachers very well as we visited their classes. A downside to our schedule was that we didn't get to form very strong relationships with the students. We only saw them once for about half an hour. We also didn't get to spend much time in regular schools. I would have liked to sit in classes in public high schools in Teresina to compare and contrast with the language school and with schools in Brasilia. I guess I'll have to go back for that!

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