Brilliant Brazilians in ELT – in their own words….

Teaching can be a tiring, frustrating and totally annoying business to be in, but there are definite plusses to dedicating one’s working life to it. One of the ways in which an old crusty like me maintains enthusiasm is by feeding off the energy and excitement of people that I meet.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Brazil on a number of occasions, and every time I go there, I seem to meet yet more dynamic, enthusiastic teachers who enjoy their work and who light up the room when they walk in.

I have met dozens of teachers like this at conferences in Brazil, and I’ve asked a few of them to write about what they do and how they feel about their work. You will note how often words like passion/passionate, inspired, energized etc appear!

Most of the people below are also bloggers, and this is also my way of drawing your attention of blogs you might not have visited yet. 

So, with apologies to all the other great Brazilian educators I’ve met who aren’t featured, here they are in their own words.

Carla Arena

I am an Educational Technology Supervisor at Casa Thomas Jefferson, a Binational Center in Brasilia. Besides teacher training, I am in charge of the e-learning program, which started in 2007 and is in full steam. We are currently working on an m-learning program with the implementation of iPads in the classroom with student production in English as the core pedagogical premise. What I love the most about my job is to multiply what I’ve been learning with other teachers.

My professional life was turned upside down in 1995, when I first entered a class as an English teacher. At that time, I worked for the government. I simply couldn’t resist the call and quit my job to pursue my biggest passion in life, teaching. Since then, I’ve been learning every single day with my students and my co-workers, Plus, I feel inspired and re-energized with all I see and get from my online network made of tweetmates, Facebook pals, edubloggers, Pinterest network, Flickr photographers and educators.

I also owe a lot of who I am in my personal and professional sphere to a group of educators always ahead of their time, willing to share, collaborate and try out new pedagogies for the EFL/ESL classroom, the Webheads. Most of my development in the ELT world was due to what I learned with the Webheads, my friends at Casa Thomas Jefferson and my Personal Learning Network.

I really believe in the transformative power of education and the inspirational role of educators as agents of change and innovation, and technology has its merit when it comes to enhance students’ creativity and help them learn another language in a connected, hyperlinked world.

That’s why I love blogging. First, I listen and gather from my online community, and then I give my share to the educational world, talking about edtech, adding my lesson plans, and exploring new findings at and Twitter (@carlaarena).

Cecilia Lemos

Like many teachers I know, I started teaching English to make a little money while I was in college, getting a BA in graphic design. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, but little did I know I would fall in love with it. I never stopped teaching English after that.

I am very passionate about teaching and I believe in the changing power of education, the power to change people’s lives and make them better. I don’t see what I do as simply teaching my students a foreign language, it goes beyond that many times. I teach them skills, I help them develop as learners and as individuals. And I learn with them, and I develop as a teacher a learner and an individual as well. Teaching is a two-way process.

I think we can never stop learning – I certainly don’t want to! – and I have become involved in continuous professional development, online and offline. That’s something else I am passionate about. So I blog about teaching and ELT; I present and attend conferences around the world and online; I take courses; I give training sessions and workshops and more than anything I share and learn with other teachers, from all corners of the world. It’s been an amazingly enriching experience. I am especially interested in assessment, reflective teaching and the use of technology in education. I currently teach at a Binational Center in my hometown of Recife, Brazil.


Twitter: @CeciELT

Valeria Franca

I’m proud to say that I’ve been an ELT professional for 20 years.

I always dreamt of being a teacher (apart from when I was convinced I’d become a dentist, but that only lasted until I didn’t pass my Chemistry & Physics O levels). I trained as a primary teacher and took an initial EFL teacher training course at International House. On coming to Brazil, I began teaching at Cultura Inglesa, where I still work.

Today I run the teacher training/development department, something I began doing in 2007. I hope my work is still imbued with the same energy and wide-eyed passion as I had when I was in the classroom. I’m passionate about teaching. I am who I am today because of teachers who believed in my potential and allowed me to “bloom” at my own pace. This has been my principle and cornerstone as a teacher and as a teacher trainer/developer.

I love new professional challenges. I’m never happy just reading about something, I need to experiment with it personally, as I’m doing with integrating technology in the language classroom and using puppets.

I devote much of my time to supporting initiatives in the field of Brazilian ELT (Braz-Tesol Rio Chapter & National association, #BReltchat) because I believe in our profession.

Twitter:!/vbenevolofranca or @vbenevolofranca


Bruno Andrade

I grew up in a family of teachers. My mum, two aunts, an uncle and two cousins were teachers.  I vividly remember answering “anything but a teacher” when people asked me what I wanted to be in the future. The future, however, has come and here am I in the field of ELT for almost ten years. The same passion I have today began when first entered a classroom with a teacher’s guide in my arms. I felt no power, I felt no amusement. On the contrary, I felt free and liberated. I felt I could give wings to people who wanted to fly. And we flew!

I’m currently employed at Cultura Inglesa, Rio de Janeiro as a teacher and a consultant, developing projects related to technology. One thing I like to mention is that my whole perspective towards the teaching of English drastically changed when I opened my Twitter account and discovered the power of a PLN (Personal Learning Network). There are tens of thousands of teachers out there in the virtual world who are willing to share and collaborate, which immensely adds to our professional development. And that is what I feel most interested in ELT nowadays: the power of connections.

I have been experimenting with the use of technology in class for quite some time. However, as time passed by I realized that teachers need to have a better understanding of the implications of ICT in Language Learning. No piece of technology will teach our students, therefore I strongly believe that in order to reach the whole student we must aim at a way of using technology that humanizes our teaching, taking into account the unique needs of the human users.

I believe that a more humanistic framework concerning technology in class is that one that emphasizes strategies and techniques that promotes the integration and development of critical thinking skills, the fostering of student engagement and interaction, and the development of the sense of community.

You can follow my reflections at:
or on Twitter: @brunoELT

Henrick Oprea

I’ve always had a passion for teaching, but I landed in ELT accidentally. I started teaching English as soon as I finished high school, so I was yet to turn 18. I’ve had the chance to work in different places and educational settings, but I found myself in the language classroom of language institutes.

Seven years ago, I had the chance to start my own language school with a very good friend of mine, also an English teacher. I’ve always looked at language teaching as something that goes beyond the language itself – it’s education in the complete sense.

Since then, I’ve been wearing many different hats, among which the ones of teacher, teacher trainer, material developer and director of studies. It’s a lot of hard work, for sure, but the reward is being sure that we’re doing something we believe in, and the results have been amazing. The most exciting part of having your own school is being able to implement all of your beliefs in language learning and put them to the test. Currently, I’m also the president of Braz-TESOL Brasília chapter, and together with a wonderful team we’ve put up a couple of great seminars for teachers in Brasília.

I started blogging a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t sure how long it would last. There are many fantastic ELT blogs out there, and I didn’t know if I’d stand a chance. However, I found in it a great opportunity to reflect on my teaching practices and find a group of like-minded educators who also share the same passion for language teaching and learning.

I do hope one day I’ll have the chance to meet each and every one of them for more pictures as this one, in which you can see some people who inspire me in my teaching career (Ken Wilson, Valéria Benevolo, Shelly Terrell, and Carla Arena).

Giselle Santos

It was one of those rare moments that comes perhaps once or twice in a lifetime, a moment when you know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, and that happened some twenty years ago.

Nobody was more surprised than I was. Long before that, I had wanted to become a pilot, had pictured myself in a bottle-green army uniform and had vowed that I’d be nothing else but the best doctor in the whole world.

Silly me. At the age of 19, I knew it. I wanted to teach and that meant lots of hard work, moments of disbelief, tears, dusty books, shiny gadgets and many, many people who’d be willing to place their future in my hands, people who trusted me enough to sit for hours in my class. Listening to, speaking, experimenting with and discovering a new language.

I am thankful for those moments of trust and for my students. They’ve made me a better learner; they’ve made me who I am. I am a teacher and an Ed-tech consultant at Cultura Inglesa, one of the largest language schools in Brazil. I am a happy professional and I believe in the power of sharing best practices and investigating possible new ways to optimize learning and teaching.

I believe language is alive, and so is the classroom. And no lesson will ever be like another. I blog and tweet, I scoop and socialize, and all those things have made me a better teacher.

Joss Whedon said, “Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have?”

I can tell you, what other choice do I have but to teach?

Mind you, I have worn a bottle-green army uniform, have been in the cockpit of a plane and had to use my first-aid talent to help a friend, and all that because I chose to be a teacher.

Giselle Santos

Twitter @feedtheteacher

And finally, a token foreigner 😛

Graeme Hodgson

I am a teacher trainer, MA dissertation supervisor, ELT publishing professional and I speak at conferences in Brazil and other countries. I am also an enthusiast of the use of social media for Continuous Professional Development.

I began teaching English in 1989, in Brazil, and have taught all ages and levels, having run my own language school, as well as having worked with ESP and designed and delivered post-graduate courses in translation/interpreting. After working for seven years with International Publishers and for four years with the British Council throughout Latin America, I am currently Educational Partnerships Manager for the publishing department of the Cultura Inglesa chain of schools.

I am passionate about education as a path to global citizenship, including the promotion of English as a tool for social inclusion and access to opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Fortunately, my job enables me to observe teachers all over Brazil on a regular basis, so I am constantly motivated by colleagues to reinvent myself as an ELT professional and question my own assumptions about HOW language acquisition takes place!

I’ve been active on twitter since 2009 and enjoy learning daily from my ever-increasing PLN.

 Twitter: @grammylatino




16 thoughts on “Brilliant Brazilians in ELT – in their own words….

  1. Yet again, I love this idea, Ken (first Turkey, now Brazil). I get a strong sense of the energy emanating from what some misleadingly call the ‘outer circle’. If that’s the outer circle, I want to be IN it!

    1. Thank you, Scott. Teachers everywhere suffer from the same problems of overwork and not being paid enough, but i really love it when people like this can enthuse their colleagues, both the people they work with and the ones in the international community.

  2. This is a great post with great blogs. Just the motivation and energy needed for a Friday morning!

    1. Thanks, Gemma! The people are all lovely, but I got an extra buzz when I read what they wrote about themselves.

  3. Thank you for this, Ken. Not only is it nice to get to know some of the plugged-in Brazilian teachers one runs across online a bit better, this post has stirred some native pride in this all-too-hyphenated-Brazilian’s heart. It’s been way too long since I last visited the homeland!

    1. Hi, Marcos – good to know that you enjoyed reading what your quasi-compatriots have to say. Can’t be easy to get back, but worth the effort!

  4. Thank YOU, Ken, for the honor of letting us be with you once again. It is such a joy to see so many Brazilian friends shining through the wonderful work they do in Brazil and way beyond our national borders. I really feel this energy coming from Ceci, Bruno, Henrick, Graeme, Giselle, Valéria and so many other Brazilian Educators who inspire me to be a better person and professional every single day. And, you, oh, I guess you had our Turkish friends and Brazilians in a sequence, for we have so much in common! I wonder what’s coming next. Can’t wait for more inspiration.

  5. Proud to be featured in your blog (again!) and even more so for being included in such a wonderful group of teachers, people I admire and learn from. And if we sound enthusiastic and motivated it is because we really believe in the importance of education. Being an educator can be an addiction, despite all hardships we may encounter.

    Thanks for your never-ending support, Ken. Beijo!

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