Cross-Cultural Experiences in Education and English Teaching in Brazil

Gain exposure to the challenges of teaching and learning English in the rapidly developing country of Brazil. In partnership with a model private school in Feira de Santana, a city 1.5 hours north of Salvador, you’ll co-teach in an early childhood, elementary, or junior high classroom. Brazil has recently been in the international spotlight after hosting the 2016 Olympics. How the country balances its economic growth while providing services like education to its citizens is an ongoing challenge you'll consider throughout the program.

This program is offered collaboratively by the English Language Department staff at Colegio Helyos, a Brazilian private school, and the Institute of Child Development, with support from the CEHD Office of International Initiatives and Relations.

Program highlights

  • Get an introduction to the process of learning and teaching a second language to children in an international setting.
  • Engage in inquiry, planning, classroom teaching and reflection as part of a team that develops curriculum in a partial-day English immersion classroom.
  • Visit schools and programs working with Brazilian children and youth.
  • Explore the music, soccer, food, beaches, and festivals of Brazil.

What our students are saying

Marissa Albritton
I grew as an educator, not only in educating children, but in collaborating with other adults and educators. On top of all that I got to see and experience an incredible part of the world: the food, pousadas/hostels, the beaches and waterfalls, live local music and dances, the list goes on and on.

Marissa Albritton
B.S. in early childhood, minor in developmental psychology
Cross-Cultural Experiences in Education and English Teaching in Brazil program

Program description

You’ll gain an introduction to Brazilian culture, learn the basics of the country’s education system, and experience first-hand what it’s like to learn a new language. Your experience will include completing readings, a homestay experience, small group projects, classroom observations, and being a part of a team of English teachers in Brazil.

In the program, you will:

  • be exposed to some of the basic elements of early childhood second language teaching;
  • help to plan and co-deliver relevant curriculum; and
  • connect language immersion theory and techniques with practice through daily co-teaching and reflection.

Considering the cultural immersion element of the program, we also encourage our students to:

  • reflect on their personal cultural adjustment process;
  • develop an effective working relationship with their co-teachers; and
  • consider the ethical dilemmas present in the provision of educational opportunity to Brazil’s marginalized communities and how they mirror similar issues in the U.S. educational system.

Program dates

Spring Semester: Jan 4 to May 4.

Fall Semester: Aug 2 to Dec 2

Note: Dates may fluctuate slightly each year.

Marina Aleixo and Frances Durkin

Marina Aleixo and Frances Durkin

Meet the program leaders

Frances Durkin is an early childhood instructor with an additional background in Latin American Economic Development and several years of visiting Brazilian schools to provide trainings and workshops. She'll support both the development of your teaching craft and your understanding of the unique context in which you'll be living.

Marina Aleixo, Ph.D., is the international programs coordinator in the Office of International Initiatives and Relations at the College of Education and Human Development. Dr. Aleixo received her doctorate from the University of Minnesota in Education, Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Second Languages and Cultures Education. She develops and implements international programs for educators and students. As a Brazilian native living in the U.S., she provides a unique vantage point on navigating the cultural differences between the two countries.

In Brazil, you'll be supported by Valesca Pantoja, supervisor of the early childhood language teachers at Colegio Helyos and an experienced English teacher. Ms. Pantoja is also the designated student coordinator for living details and other non-academic matters (excursions and health issues.)


Start with time in Rio de Janeiro, visiting school programs and seeing some of the city's iconic sites. Go to Salvador, the original capital of Brazil and an UNESCO site for its preservation of colonial buildings in the Pelourinho area. Take suggested biweekly weekend excursions from Feira de Santana to visit Salvador, neighboring beach towns, inland waterfalls, cultural festivals and other historical areas of note.

Housing and meals

Rio: Small hotels

Salvador: Homestay with Brazilian family

Feira de Santana: 8-person dorm three blocks from school. Private room and bathroom, shared kitchen and living area. Variety of food—particularly chicken, beans, rice, seafood and fruits. Students will receive a food stipend from school. All food is included in the program cost.

Program fee

The program fee for the course (Spring 2020) is approximately $8,935 for UofM students. This includes tuition, most on-site travel, three weeks of Portuguese classes, and travel insurance. An additional $4,925 out of pocket expenses covers international flights and local weekend travel, books, immunizations, weekend meals, excursions and sundry living expenses. The fee may be slightly more or less depending upon the number of students enrolled.Learn more about fees.

How to apply

All students are encouraged to attend a First Step Session through the Learning Abroad Center before applying. Visit the Learning Abroad Center's website to learn more.