Q: What's the weather like there? You mentioned in your last e-mail that it
A: It never snows in Santa Cruz, temperatures
vary greatly and some days in winter (June, July and August) are uncomfortable because of rain and because most buildings
do not have central heating. The coldest it ever gets in a normal winter is 5 degrees centigrade (41 Fahrenheit),
in a usual range of 10 to 20 degrees (50 - 70 F) (sometimes windy). You certainly
need a good jacket.
Q: About the pay and accommodations.... I'd like
to briefly rephrase what I
A: Your description is right. Except for the travel expenses, you should not need to finance your stay. Except if you come earlier or stay after the semester period. Even in this case we can arrange some classes for you to teach and you can stay for free as long as the accommodations are not needed. Please note however that our program should not be regarded as a regular paying job, but rather as a unique opportunity to live in Brazil in exchange for sharing your personality and your personal experiences.
have a question about what the monthly salary is. I know that it relates to
> how many hours I work and how many hours are available. My question is:
> Can you please give me the amount, in reais, of a monthly salary? If you could
> give me a range between working 20 hours/week to 40 hours/week. This will
> help me budget accordingly, so I will appreciate your help with this.
A: Here are samples of two biweekly statements you would get assuming you taught 20 hours a week and 30 hours a week (which is more realistic than 40).
Keep in mind that before the semester is at
full speed, that number of hours will be smaller.
|Q: Thank you for your e-mail. I looked over the FAQ section but I still do not understand wages. Are teachers paid by each class taught or on a weekly or monthly basis? Also, can teachers choose to work a 30 hour week as opposed to a 20 hour week. Obviously, the cost of living is much less than the US and the cultural experience is priceless. However, I do not have savings to live on. I would need to be able to live on my wages. Is this possible?
A: Teachers are paid according to the number of classes taught. This number can range between 15 and 30+ classes a week and depends on the number of students we have as well as on teacher preference and performance.
|Q: In your experience, how much money would I need to save up
> to comfortably fund my first months in Brazil? A: This is what our former teacher and recruiter wrote recently:
In my first month in Brazil, I donít think I spent more than $100, which I spent on groceries and sundries. After that, my earnings were more than sufficient to cover my expenses and to save a bit. Candidates often ask about the money necessary to live there, and I tell them all the same thing: how much a person needs depends upon his or her spending habits. In my experience, the only teachers who were stretched financially were those who overspent on restaurants, socializing and shopping while declining classes in favour of leisure activities.
And here is another statement about finances from a teacher in 2014:
I saved around $2,000 USD, perhaps more. I did quite a lot of traveling during my breaks, Rio, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizante, Floripa, Uruguay, spent at least half of that savings, but then you get the end of contract bonus that helps you out again. I took it easy on the bar bills, but I did go out quite often, and you can always entertain people at your house on the cheap.
|Q: Is the wage
tax-free because it is non declared?
A: Yes, all the payments are free of taxes. On a trainee visa, you are eligible for a tax-free stipend.
|Q: Do you help to pay for the travel expenses?
A: Yes, we partially do. We offer a bonus of US$800 at the end of a two-semester term, which is intended to be a help for the travel expenses. However, keep in mind that for teachers coming with the commitment of staying 2 semesters but for any reason staying only one, there will be a US$150 visa fee deducted from the one-semester US$400 bonus. (See visa instructions)
need to switch my bank account. Is there a bank there that
> also operates in the United States?
A: Due to Banco Central regulations, banks cannot freely operate with overseas branches transferring foreign currency. Keep also in mind that exchange rates are slightly more favorable at travel agencies than at banks, and cash is more accepted and gets a better rate than traveler's checks. Credit cards are also widely accepted.
I use my credit card in Brazil?
A: If you carry an international Visa (the one with a golden badge) or any other international credit card, you can use it everywhere and also withdraw cash at ATMs. Even some debit cards work on ATMs for cash withdrawals.
Q: What are the other American teachers generally like, in terms of age
> and interests and how do they adapt to the local culture? Would it be
> possible to contact some of your former teachers?
A: We've had instructors ranging in age from 23 to 65. Usually people with previous experience living abroad and singles have a great time. According to our experience, couples tend to build
a little barrier against the local foreign culture. They rely on each other's observations,
make early generalizations and judgements (all always expressed in English,
of course) and eventually exacerbate negative aspects of the local culture
through mutual reinforcement. Concerning adaptation, it all really depends
a lot on each person.
|Q: In one of your responses to a question you said, "According to
> our experience, couples tend to build a little barrier against the local
> foreign culture. They rely on each other's observations, make early
> generalizations (all always expressed in English, of course) and eventually
> exacerbate negative aspects of the local culture through mutual reinforcement."
> Have you had bad luck with couples? Do you discourage couples from joining
> your program?
> Amy and I have both traveled extensively-several times together. The
> times we have been together, we have not had any of the above problems. We
> are both very open-minded and liberal individuals. We both enjoy
> experiencing other cultures, people, and places. Separate, or together, we
> each look forward to and welcome the chance to travel abroad.
A: Yes, we did have experiences with couples that were less successful than average. However, we do not absolutely have any stereotypes and would be ready to try again. In fact, couples have a few advantages over singles, one of them being the lower cost of living. Whether or not you are selected will depend primarily on other factors.
do have some questions for you. I
wish to be somewhat prepared for this experience.
A: Our students are approximately 30% adults, 20% adolescents and 50% children. Their levels range from beginners (40%), intermediate (40%) and advanced (20%). We have 2 very helpful PDF booklets by our former ESL Coordinator Linda Rayner on how to work with young learners that are available at the school. You can also request them by e-mail before you arrive.
|Q: How are things going over there? I noticed on your website that you base
> a lot of your teaching ideas based on Chomsky. In a way, it was his ideas
> which started this revolution in language instruction from a traditional
> grammatical approach to a more psychology-oriented communicative approach.
> More so, at school, we've studied theories by Stephen Krashen and Tracy
> Terrell, theories which argue for a more "naturalistic" approach to learning.
> Anyway, this got me thinking about what textbooks you have available at your
> school and whether the classes are going to be more "textbook" oriented or
> will follow more the teacher's direction. Also, is there anything special
> you'd like me to bring from the States?
offer students a teaching style based primarily on human interaction
and natural acquisition. It is quite effective with one-to-one
sessions, very small groups, and intermediate to advanced levels. However,
we have faced a bit of a challenge with slow-learning beginners. It has been difficult to convince
them that the way we do is the best for them. Some seem to believe that
without formal grammar study they won't learn. As a result,we are now offering
to all our students a special group lesson: a grammar reinforcement clinic
on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Although it's
free of charge, the attendance hasn't been as big as I expected. One explanation
perhaps is that students tend to be apathetic and take a passive attitude
instead of going after their learning.
|Q: I'm very excited about the teaching philosophy of your school
> because in Japan I taught mainly from a curriculum and books.
> It sounds exactly like what I had hoped teaching would be when
> I originally decided to make the career change to teaching ESL
> (focusing on communication rather than correctness). However,
> since there isn't a syllabus, I was wondering how new teachers
> avoid teaching their students something that was already covered
> by a previous instructor. I'm delighted to be able to write up my own
> lesson plans, but I do wonder how I'll know where to begin with those
> first few lessons, before I've had a chance to meet my students.
A: We do have an optional syllabus for beginners; a well designed book written by Linda, based on her 6 years of experience teaching Brazilians.
|Q: What kind of teaching materials do you have available there? You mentioned
> that you prefer a more improvised, conversational method. I usually like a
> little prep time and the use of printed materials on which to base exercises.
> Is there a photocopier anywhere nearby? Of course, I'm flexible, but it would
> be nice to know these things ahead of time.
A: We have a variety of ESL textbooks. You are free to choose what suits you and your students better. Many teachers prefer to download materials from the Internet. We have 3 desktop computers and a laptop with Internet access, a printer and photocopier, and a multimedia projector. Keep in mind that Brazilian students tend to be very communicative and good at languages, when compared to Asian students. It is not difficult to please the intermediate and advanced levels. Middle-aged beginners may a bit of a challenge.
|Q: Of course, I will probably become a nusiance to you with all my
> questions about Portuguese!
A: No, you won't be a nuisance. I have more than 20 years of experience in dealing with contrasts between the 2 languages and nothing makes me happier than answering questions and discussing about subjects I know. Our secretaries will also be glad to help you with Portuguese.
|Q: I'd love to be an asset by making your ESL program more "native." Are
> there any particular materials I should be looking for (children's books,
> music...?). And since you mentioned no air conditioning, what is the
> general climate I should be expecting?
A: If you know of some good materials (music is always good), or any materials
that could help, you should definitely bring them. The school will be glad
to reimburse you. It would be nice if you could let us know in advance about
the materials you are planing to bring, as we may already have some of it.
|Q: I'm planning to travel as much as possible in Brazil. Since your
> program foresees culture exchange, would it be possible to take a
> week off some time in the middle of the semester for traveling? In
> the U.S. they sell an air pass for Brazil for $450 which gives you 5
> flight coupons and is good for 21 days from the first flight.
A: We do encourage you to travel in Brazil, although we favor more the kind of local traveling, into the countryside, into the real Brazil, and cheaper than the touristy traveling in the big cities served by airports. Whatever is your traveling style, you should make plans for the beginning or for the end of the semester. However, for teachers coming for 2 semesters, there is a break of 2 weeks during Christmas and New Year. There is also a possibility of a 2-week winter break and a 2-month summer break. But keep in mind that this is only a possibility, which needs to be negotiated with the school and the other teachers because the school needs at least one teacher to cover the summer and winter intensives, as well as the private classes and the skype classes.
|Q: I was curious about the computer situation. I have my own computer (a
> nice, portable laptop!) and will be bringing it with me so that I can use
> it to work on lesson plans. Is there any way I could perhaps pay for a
> second phone line in order to use my modem and not interfere with you?
> How much will it cost to set this up? Please let me know what you think.
A: Although we have a total of 7 computers,
with 3 of them available for teachers, your computer will still be helpful. The use of the computers is
free. Our computers are networked and we have a permanent ADSL Internet
service and WI-FI.
we have CD players available to us for teaching?
A: Yes, we have 2 portable stereos that can be used. We also have a multimedia projector.
|Q: I will be bringing
a 'digital 8' video camera (I hope
> to work on a couple of little projects when I'm down
> there) and it's possible that we could use this
> in the language program as well (perhaps some
> students could create some little English language
> movies or something).
> Anyway, if you have any ideas let me know. I'm just
> trying to think of things (other than specifically
> English) that I could teach to my students, and I
> think it would be cool to teach a little about
> film/video or other things that I know a little bit
> about (like music or anthropology)... Of course, I
> really have no idea what the practicalities will be
> once I get there so I may have a lot of ambitious
> ideas that won't be practical in reality...
A: I think that it is excellent to focus on things other than language itself, especially if you have a strong leadership and manage to engage the students in activity. I'm afraid, however, you should be also prepared to sometimes meet business people with a narrow frame of mind, that miss class all the time, or apathetic adolescents.
|Q: What type of computer do you have. I'd like to bring some some files with
> lesson plans and other materials to cut down on carrying weights of books etc.
> Also what type of printer you have?
A: We have three desktop computers and one laptop running Windows. The network is connected to an Internet server 24 hours a day and there is also wi-fi. Our network printer is a laser and also a photocopier. Besides the computers, we have extra network cables. If you have a notebook equipped with a network adapter, you just plug it in and browse the net. If your portable computer does not have a network adapter, you can get one in Brazil.
you explain a little about how the
> telephone stuff will work? Kirk mentioned
> that a lot of teachers purchased cell phones.
> Do you know approximate prices for this?
> Friends and family are asking me how they
> will be able to reach me in Brazil and I'm really
> not sure. Any info you can give will be helpful.
A: Today the school is providing cell phones. Each teacher will receive one upon arrival and a R$50 deposit will be collected from the first paycheck. The up-keep of each handset will be the responsibility of each teacher. Every month the school will provide each teacher with R$15.00 worth of calls. The phones will be able to both make and receive international calls. Keep in mind however that making an international call by cell phone is quite expensive. Don’t forget that the teachers’ room computer has Skype and can be used to call any number overseas. Ask for assistance if needed. Long distance calls can also be made from the school phone lines.
|Q: You mentioned somewhere that you expect us to help with your web site
> as an informant on language appropriateness. What does this mean exactly?
A: This means that I'll be frequently asking you what expressions or sentences
sound better to your ears. As a native speaker of English with a good educational
background, you are an ideal model of linguistic competence, on which I base
my answers on the net.
|Q: You offer free Portuguese instruction for me?
There are no unaddressed costs. As stated on our web page, one hour a day of teaching pays for the accommodations
plus breakfast. The following hours provide your income which is paid biweekly and is 100% tax-free. The
stays can be 4 and a half or 6-month long, depending on whether you come earlier
for the winter or summer intensive programs. Teachers coming with a student or trainee
visa can stay 2 semesters.
|Q: What kind of qualifications are necessary to be accepted in your program?
Is it required to have a certificate like the RSA CELTA or thr Trinity?
A: Regarding the need for having a certificate for the teaching of English,
our experience has demonstrated that those TESOL preparatory courses do not
represent as much as teaching experience and personality. We are not impressed
by teaching certifications like CELTA and Trinity. They are no guarantee of
a good teacher.
|Q: I was wondering whether there are any specific qualifications needed
to teach English at your school, and if so, what are they? For example -
any previous teaching experience, or a ESL certificate etc. In addition to
this, is speaking a basic level of portuguese required also?
A: The qualifications we look for in order of preference are:
|Q: Out of curiousity, how many other people would I be "competing" with
> for your position? Do you have a number of applicants or just about the
> right number so you could take those who are serious?
A: We try to advertise our school just enough to get the right number of applicants. However, due to the difficulty in finding similar programs in Brazil, the applications have been in bigger number.
|Q: When is the earliest you can give me an answer?
people at a distance using e-mail communication has been always difficult.
Many times, after we have agreed with a prospective teacher several months
early in time, something happens in the meantime and the person ends
up changing plans. Some other times, unexpected demand for classes make new
positions suddenly available. Therefore, even if somebody is not selected at
first, we like to know if there is a chance they would still be available even
if contacted at short notice. The chance for a late notice opening is always
|Q: Why is it so difficult to find EFL jobs in Brazil?
A: Out of date legislation and therefore difficulty in obtaining work visas, unawareness of modern language acquisition theory, a market predominantly in the hands of chain schools that rely more on advertising and brand recognition than quality of teaching, low pay, and a general belief that perhaps it is not really necessary an ESL teacher to be a native speaker are the factors that make Brazil a difficult place for getting an EFL job.
|Q: Is there the possibility of private tutoring? Are your guest instructors
> allowed to tutor private lessons out of the school?
A: I'm afraid not. You would be competing with ourselves and it would conflict in the scheduling of classes in your available time. There is already a significant number of one-to-one lessons through the school. They are important for the school. Our advertising always includes the one-to-one tutoring option. These private lessons help to better fill the instructors' working schedules, and more importantly, they help to improve the good reputation of the school because the student's level of achievement is higher.
Q: Is it absolutely required that the teachers live in the accommodations
A: No, it is not required. I'm afraid, however, it'll be difficult and expensive.
Every rental contract requires a financial guarantor. That is: somebody that
owns property and signs the contract with you as a guarantor in case of no
pay. Needless to say, it's very hard to find one. Money paid in advance for
rent won't be accepted because is illegal in Brazil. Besides, apartments are
hardly ever furnished. Furnishing one would not be worth the time you would
|Q: What sort of electricity outlets do you have? Are they the same wattage
> as in the United States or is a converter necessary? Is it easier to just buy
> hair dryers and that sort of thing there than bother with adaptors?
A: Electricity in Brazil in some places is 110 Volts 60Hz and other places 220V 60Hz. Here it is 220V. Notebooks, laptop computers and electronics in general are normally supplied with converters that accept voltage input in the range of 100 to 240V. For other electronics (older laptops, portable CD players, etc) any small converter will do. But for some appliances of high consumption like hair dryers, a small converter won't do. The more economical solution in this case would be to buy a cheap hairdryer here. As for adapters to fit in Brazilian outlets (see picture), they are easily available.
I plan on bringing my own sheets/towels?
A: Not necessary. The school will provide them.
|Q: What is the standard of dress? More casual or more formal? And while
A: Dressing in town, especially in summer, is rather casual. At the school, we do not have a dress code, but while teaching we expect teachers to be less casual. In summer the instructor should avoid shorts, miniskirts, flip-flops and slippers. Especially the very popular rubber flip-flops that Brazilians wear on weekends when it's warm, give an idea of sloppiness and should be avoided.
|Q: Are there any nearby hotels in case my family/friends decide to visit?
A: Yes, there are three in a wide range of prices. But if you want to receive a visiting friend or relative and share your accommodations, the school needs to be informed as much as possible in advance. There will be a charge of R$25 a day for the accommodations for the visitor.
|Q: Judging from the past visiting teachers' experiences, is it a good idea
> to get health insurance coverage? Are they available in Brazil? I am in
> excellent health, but wonder about the different possible illnesses or
> potential for accidents.
A: The public health care system in Brazil is 100% free of charge and has improved significantly in the last few years. Today it is managed by city governments. For this reason it can vary considerably from one place to another. In Santa Cruz it is known for being above the average in efficiency. It covers pretty much everything and one can always see a doctor for a diagnostic, but can take several days in case you need to see a specialist. In case of an emergency, if you have an accident riding a bike for example, you would be picked up by an ambulance and taken to the hospital for emergency care.
|ABOUT THE PORTUGUESE PROGRAM:
these Portuguese courses taught by you and your wife?
A: Our school has a staff of 3 Portuguese as a Foreign Language teachers and we provide 4 free lessons in groups of 2 or 2 one-to-one lesson a week. Many of the foreign teachers have been very self-sufficient and acquire the culture and the language going around, joining capoeira groups and making friends with people. There are also the weekend tours. Your learning of Portuguese will depend a lot on your personality and ability to make friends, tuning in and going with the flow. But the Portuguese lessons provide do provide an important support.
In summary, if one has a critical view of the foreign culture focusing on the negative differences, victim of homesickness, one will always have a greater resistance to the acquisition of this foreign culture with its way of speaking and being. The other way around will make it a lifetime, unforgettable experience.
There is a detailed description in English of our Brazilian Language and Culture Program on our page: <http://www.sk.com.br/sk-psl.html>
|Q: My questions are in regards to the turismo cultural items that are offered
> to teachers. I noticed that there are optional Brazilian literature and history
> classes available. Are those offered through your program or through the local
> university? Of course, if selected, I plan on being very involved and dedicated
> to teaching my classes. But alongside that, learning as much Portuguese and
> holistic cultural elements as possible is also very important to me. Do most
> teachers take part in these classes during their spare time, or does doing so
> tend to take away too much time from working at the school and becoming
> involved with the local community, from your perspective?
A: The optional Brazilian literature and history classes can be arranged at our school. The bureaucracy to register at the local university is complicated and the tuition is discouraging. So, we hire teachers, possibly the same ones that teach at the university, to teach for us on a part-time basis.
|Q: Could you send me some information on the Brazilian-Portuguese
> language course and the other courses which you offer? (It's OK if they're
> in Portuguese, it will be good practice.)
A: You can read an English description of our Brazilian Language and Culture Program in our web page: <http://www.sk.com.br/sk-psl.html>. Keep in mind that foreign guest teachers working for us can have the TURISMO CULTURAL items for free, just paying for their own expenses at restaurants and hotels.
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