Winter Learning Opportunities at Notre Dame Draw Brazilians to South Bend Classrooms

Author: Bill Schmitt

This winter the University of Notre Dame is privileged to host 30 English teachers from Brazil, and an extra welcome offered by the South Bend community is expanding this international experience to local students and educators alike.

The Brazilian visitors were selected from a pool of over 1000 applicants to come to the United States to improve their English and their instructional abilities. A pivotal piece of their six week stay will be an opportunity to spend time in classrooms in the local South Bend public schools. Each will collaborate with a local teacher to exchange ideas, plan lessons and engage in instruction.

This unique exchange initiative, through which the Brazilians will aim also to gain new insights into U.S. culture, has threefold support—from the U.S. government’s Fulbright Program for international educational exchanges, Brazil’s own government, the University of Notre Dame.  The project is directed by Dr. Joyce Johnstone of the University’s Institute for Educational Initiatives.

Notre Dame is one of several U.S. universities participating in this exchange. Through the Institute for Educational Initiatives, Notre Dame will host its Brazilian guests between Jan. 10 and Feb. 22, 2014.

Teachers at several South Bend schools—Washington and Clay High Schools, as well as Brown and Jackson Intermediate Centers and the Dickinson Intermediate Fine Arts Academy—will partner with their Brazilian visitors starting Jan. 28. Faculty members at these schools have generously volunteered to serve as mentors for team-teaching on a couple of afternoons every week.

The Brazilian teachers are already fluent in English but are eager to respond more fully to their country’s demand for expert language teaching that prepares students for the global job market.  In addition to their participation in the South Bend Schools, the visitors will participate in many social and cultural activities throughout the area, as well as intensive workshops on the Notre Dame campus.

Content for the workshops will be derived from the curriculum for teaching English as a New Language (ENL) offered as part of the Institute for Educational Initiatives and its Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) teacher-licensure program. 

A group of graduates from the ACE teacher formation program, who already know Latin America because they have taught English in Chilean schools, will serve as coaches for the Brazilians as they experience all the details of their first long-term visit to the U.S.

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For more information:

Jennifer Dees, Institute for Educational Initiatives (

Sue Coney, South Bend Community School Corp. (

Bill Schmitt, Media/Communications Specialist (