TEACHING EXCHANGE PROGRAM AT S&K
—  FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS  —


1.
WEATHER

Q: What's the weather like there? You mentioned in your last e-mail that it
> gets hot? Well, does it ever get cold, because at one point you also
> mentioned something about heaters in the rooms? I don't mind hot, sticky
> weather, but it's already cold enough in the U.S., and I want to be prepared
> if it gets chilly in southern Brazil.

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.
Summer (December through March) is hot and often humid. The highest temperature that it may occasionally reach is 40 degrees centigrade (100 F).

2.
CONDITIONS ($$)

Q: About the pay and accommodations.... I'd like to briefly rephrase what I
> understood from your messages. Please tell me if this is correct or not:
> Basically, one gets paid R$25 and R$30 /hour. Rent with utilities is
> R$30/day (unless two people share a room), 5 days a week. So any hours
> worked after the first hour of the day is paid at R$25 or R$30 /hour.
> After April (for the first semester), teachers receive a minimum guarantee
> of 20 hours biweekly, and even if there isn't enough work, teachers still
> receive the equivalent pay.
> You know, I'm not concerned about making lots of money, but I'd just like
> to get the facts straight and avoid using all my savings to finance my stay.

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.

3.
Q: I 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).

-------------------------------------------------------------
20 hours/week in a 2-week period
-------------------------------------------------------------
20 private (20 x R$25) ................... R$500
20 group (20 x R$30) ..................... R$600
--------------------------------------------------------------
Total earned: ................................. R$1,100
Rent & utilities deduction: ............. -R$300
---------------------------------------------------------------
NET BALANCE: ............................. R$800 (R$1600 in a 4-week period. Minimum wage in Brazil is R$1000 a month)

-------------------------------------------------------------
30 hours/week in a 2-week period
-------------------------------------------------------------
30 private (30 x R$25) ................... R$750
30 group (30 x R$30) .................... R$900
--------------------------------------------------------------
Total earned: ............................... R$1,650
Rent & utilities deduction: ........... -R$300
---------------------------------------------------------------
NET BALANCE: ........................... R$1350 (R$2700 in a 4-week period. Minimum wage in Brazil is R$1000 a month)

Keep in mind that before the semester is at full speed, that number of hours will be smaller.
Keep in mind also that at the end of a 2-semester term there is an 800 USD bonus.

4.
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.
PREFERENCE: There are teachers that prefer not to teach a very full schedule to have more time to make friends around and practice Portuguese. Other prefer to teach as many classes as possible to save money for traveling during holidays or at the end of the program.
PERFORMANCE: In our Living & Learning Center, students (especially the private ones) are free to ask for different teachers and they usually settle for the one they connect best. So, there is a natural tendency of the friendlier and better performing ones getting more classes and getting more income.
Unless you have wasteful habits or fly every holiday to touristy destinations, you'll be able to live comfortably, at the worst.
Paychecks made every other week.

5.
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.
6.
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.

7.
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)

8.
Q: I 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.

9.
Q: Can 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.

10.
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.
Take a look at http://www.sk.com.br/guests/sk-ref.html for a list of former teachers'emails. Some of the addresses may be outdated, though.

11.
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.

12.
TEACHING METHOD

Q: I do have some questions for you.  I wish to be somewhat prepared for this experience.
> Therefore, what age group will I most likely be teaching when I start, and what level are these students?
> How much of my teaching will be to young learners and what approach do you use with them?

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.

13.
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?

A: We 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.
Concerning textbooks and materials, we have a variety of them. None of the books, however, is a mandatory course to be followed. You will be free to choose and adapt using your experience and what better suits your style and the students needs.

14.
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.
You should keep in mind that, as compared to Asian students, for example, Brazilians are a lot more communicative. English and Portuguese stem from common roots and our cultures have similar origins. Talent for improvisation rather than perfectionism seems to be a characteristic of the Brazilian culture. Therefore the need for structured learning is smaller and communicative activities tend to be more productive.
Also, when compared to ESL teaching in the US, in English speaking countries the student is already immersed in an environment of the target language and classroom time should provide a complementary role of grammar explanations and structured learning. However in Brazil, students lack the experience of real-life communicative situations and that's why they look for English conversation schools.
The first couple of lessons will give you a chance to start making friends with the students and have an assessment of their interests and difficulties. After that the planning and development of lessons become easier. Even presenting grammar topics that have already been covered in a previous semester, will provide a lot of comprehensible input and serve as a reinforcement.

15.
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.

16.
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.

17.
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.
Also, as you probably know already, we do not put much emphasis on materials and syllabus, but rather on creativity, improvisation and personality. The instructor has a great deal of freedom; consequently more responsibility. If you are the kind of person that does not feel comfortable without having a plan and knowing exactly what to do, you should look for materials that suit your style and bring them.
As for air conditioning, the climate is not very severe, but it does get uncomfortable. Some of our new classrooms are equipped with air conditioners. Our climate is officially described as temperate subtropical with an average temperature of 19ºC, ranging in average from a minimum of 5ºC to a maximum of 42ºC. It rains between 100 and 126 days a year and total rainfall is between 1300 and 1800 mm yearly.

18.
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.

19.
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.
So, if your computer has a network adapter, you can plug it in the network or you can just use WI-FI or one of our computers.

20.
Q: Will 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.

21.
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.

22.
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.

23.
Q: Could 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.

24.
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.
The website English Made in Brazil is an educational and noncommercial project that is today attracting significant attention from the Brazilian ESL community. Visitation is around 20 thousand a month.

25.
Q: You offer free Portuguese instruction for me?

A: Yes. 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.
My instruction is in exchange for yours, that is, I'm always around ready to answer your questions and I'll be always asking you questions as well. It's an informal exchange, so the more contact we maintain, the more we benefit. I really enjoy discussing language topics.
We also hire local Portuguese teachers for formal lessons twice a week. These one-to-one lessons are free, but if you like having a more intensive schedule of Portuguese conversation and grammar classes, you can hire them as private tutors.

26.
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.
ESL teaching experience is a plus, an extroverted and friendly personality is more important than academic background and the most important of all is the motivation to come and to exchange language and culture.

27.
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:
- an extroverted and friendly personality;
- motivation to come and to exchange language and culture;
- teaching experience;
- academic background;
- knowledge of Romance languages.

28.
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.

29.
Q: When is the earliest you can give me an answer?

A: Recruiting 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 good.
I do understand that you also need to make plans in advance and will do my best to make an early decision.

30.
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.

31.
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.

32.
ACCOMMODATIONS

Q: Is it absolutely required that the teachers live in the accommodations
> provided by Schütz and Kamomata? Meaning, if I had enough money saved
> to rent a nice flat of my own close to the school, would that be an acceptable
> alternative to living in your accommodations? This question is only out of
> curiousity, but I do foresee having enough money out of my own pockets to
> comfortably live in my own residence if I so desired. I simply thought that
> after spending time with your family and living in the accomodations you
> provide, I could eventually consider having a place to call my own. : )

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 stay.
A small one-bedroom apartment costs at least R$500 a month plus an initial fee charged by the real-estate agent to pay for the paperwork. There is also a building administration fee that covers the maintenance of the common areas, etc., and is about R$90 a month. Then one still needs to pay for utilities approximately R$100 a month. A very basic set of furniture, including a refrigerator and a stove would cost R$800.
Finally, because the school has substantial fixed costs to maintain the apartments, we count on occupancy and expect the temporary teachers not to move out without a significant reason.

33.
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?

AdapterA: 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.

34.
Q: Should I plan on bringing my own sheets/towels?

A: Not necessary. The school will provide them.

35.
Q: What is the standard of dress? More casual or more formal? And while
> teaching?

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.
Teachers should also wear their name tags or the school T-shirt when at the school. And please don’t wear sunglasses during the classes. Eye contact is very important in communication. It is a sign of confidence and respect.
Aside from that and from the obvious need to keep yourself neat and clean, no restrictions.

36.
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.

37.
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.
For emergency care, you are eligible from day 1 in Brazil. You become eligible for other services of the public health care after you register with the immigration. After registration, you need to prove that you live in town having a bill with your name and address. We will register you at the electricity company to have your name as tenant and wait about 1 month to receive the first bill and then apply for the health card.
So far, of more than 150 foreign teachers, only four or five needed to see a doctor, normally for minor problems or for additional prescription drugs. For example, Matthew, one of our teachers, had a knee pain some time ago (Nov. 2014). We went to the hospital in the morning and in a matter of one hour and a half he had seen the doctor, had an X-ray taken and seen the doctor again. The X-ray didn't reveal any injury and the doctor said that either it was nothing to worry about or he needed an ultrasound to further the diagnostic. We tried to get the ultrasound through the public system but it was denied. Matthew than decided to pay for one that cost about 40 USD and did not reveal any injury that needed treatment.
We are also very far from the tropical climate and the rain forest. The occurrence of transmittable diseases is very low, equivalent to the U.S. and Europe. I haven't seen a doctor more than twice in the last 15 years. However, if you are the kind of person who likes to be on the safe side, you should get health insurance. Keep in mind however that doctors, labs and drugstores will not bill your foreign insurance company. They will bill you and you will have to collect the reimbursement later when you are back home.
There is a private medicare organization (UNIMED) that offers 2 kinds of plans: with co-participation (you pay small amounts ranging from 40 to 60 reais each time you need medical help), and without co-participation (services are all free). The first costs around R$80/month and the second R200/month. Both are for a minimum period of 12 months and have grace periods that range from 30 days for a regular doctor's consultation to 180 days for complex examinations like computerized tomography, and for hospitalization and surgery.
The exchange rate in January 2016 is 1 real = 0.25 USD.

38.
ABOUT THE PORTUGUESE PROGRAM:

Q: Are these Portuguese courses taught by you and your wife?
> Have previous teachers learned a lot of Portuguese?

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>

39.
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.

We do have ESL teachers that are eager learners of Portuguese and want to have more than 2 lessons a week. For these, we charge a cost price of approximately 6 dollars per hour.

The average workload at the school plus the free time on weekends allows for many activities like taking additional Portuguese lessons, getting involved with the local community, working out at the gym, etc.

40.
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.

END

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