The greatest problem that volunteers teaching English to kids are facing in Brazil is the lack of motivation. The kids don´t feel the need to learn another language, sit in the classroom after school again. Many of them are just forced by parents to come and even not because that parents understand the importance of learning, but just because they want to watch their favorite telenovela in calm.
How to make them wanting to learn? Challenging but possible. We have some great examples when people even without knowing any Portuguese, made the kids listen attentively and participate. Here are 5 tips based on our experience of volunteering teaching English in Brazil:
1. Games, games, games
How to make kids interested in English if the only thing that they are dreaming about is to go back to the street to play with the friends? Right – also play with them, invent more interesting games than those on the street. They are already tired of sitting in the school classroom, what they need is to spend the energy.
2. Make them laugh
Don´t be afraid to look silly. Pretend you are an actor at the kids theater and make them laugh! They will pay more attention and may be catch some English words you are trying to bring them by.
3. Ask for their help
You are a “gringo”- make it work for you. Make them teaching you Portuguese using English. It will make their brains work in the active mode, trying to speak English to you because poor you are not able to speak their language.
4. Talk to them the language of Samba
As you know Brazilians are very musical nation. They learn to dance and sing before they can walk and talk. Take advantage of it. The girls would love to understand what Justin Bieber is singing about. Bring some music and sing with them. If you make some choreography – even better!
Show them your love. They will love you in response and will be passionate about English. Here is what the small João (5 years old) said after the lesson of Kate: “Eu não entendi nada o que Teacher falou, mas a semana que vem eu quero aprender Inglêz com ela de novo” (engl. I did not understand anything what the Teacher said, but next week I want to learn English with her again). Kate was a volunteer from France and did not speak any Portuguese in the beginning. She showed so much love to kids , that they were crazy about finding the way to communicate to her, and very quickly understood that this way is through speaking her language.