English in Brazil

The article below talks about Brazilians’s English abilities. I find her arguments a little weak. I think that learning a language has to do with developing the right habits that help you to practice and continually improve and increase your knowledge. What’s your opinion?

Força, English Teachers!

So two EFL proficiency studies have recently been updated. These studies are performed by English companies. The companies test the English levels and abilities of non-native speakers in many different countries. Though each study has some flaws, their results are pretty consistent and they’re the only data available, so they can at least give us a general idea.

On one test , Brazil scored 5th worst out of 54 countries.
On another test , Brazil scored 7th worst out of 80 countries.

That means Brazilians have some of the least fluent English in the world, despite the fact that Brazil has the highest number of English schools per capita out of every country studied.


It’s not because Brazilians are stupid by any means — it’s because almost all teachers are non-native with no experience with native English. It’s because most English schools are strictly for-profit endeavors focused more on turnover and selling overpriced teaching materials than on, you know, actually teaching English. It’s because most teachers rely on outdated teaching methods that have been proven to be unsuccessful (Audiolingual method, anyone?). It’s because relatively few Brazilians have regular contact with native English speakers and fluent, natural English. (Movies and Rhianna songs don’t count.) It’s because quality textbooks are insanely overpriced and therefore inaccessible to most learners.

In my opinion, education is weak in the country in general, so as I’ve written before , even we trained teachers face challenges trying to use things like deduction and critical thinking skills to teach a foreign language. Other linguistics studies have proven 2 things: 1. that people who have more abilities (i.e., a bigger vocabulary and higher reading levels) in their first language have an easier time learning a second language; and 2. language abilities and mathematical abilities go hand in hand — kids who receive a good education in math have an easier time learning a second language, and vice versa. (That link I just posted above reaffirms what I wrote in that post that I linked to — it’s because both math and language learning rely on deduction!)

Anyway, these results are frustrating, but that’s just because they remind me about the frustrating aspects of my job. We English teachers here in Brazil certainly have our work cut out for us! Let’s hope these statistics improve sooner than later.


Key Terms…
  • weak ↔ fraco
  • has to do with ↔ tem a ver com
  • continually improve ↔ melhorar continuamente
  • knowledge ↔ conhecimento
  • So ↔ Então
  • updated ↔ atualizados
  • performed ↔ realizada
  • levels ↔ níveis
  • flaws ↔ falhas
  • scored ↔ marcou
  • of the least ↔ dos menos
  • despite ↔ apesar de
  • the highest ↔ a maior
  • out of every country studied ↔ de cada país estudado
  • strictly for-profit ↔ estritamente para fins lucrativos
  • endeavors ↔ empreendimentos
  • turnover ↔ volume de negócios (número de estudantes entrando e saindo)
  • overpriced ↔ caríssimo
  • rely on ↔ dependem de
  • outdated ↔ desatualizado, antiquado
  • insanely ↔ loucamente
  • weak ↔ fraco
  • trained teachers ↔ professores formados
  • critical thinking skills ↔ habilidades de pensamento crítico
  • higher reading levels ↔ níveis de leitura mais elevados
  • go hand in hand ↔ são relacionados, ocorrem paralelamente, são indissociáveis
  • have our work cut out for us ↔ temos um grande desafio
  • sooner than later ↔ logo (em vez de mais tarde)


go hand in hand são relacionados, ocorrem paralelamente, são indissociáveis
if two things go hand in hand, they exist together and are connected with each other
Crime usually goes hand in hand with poor economic conditions.
I thought ability in math and music were supposed to go hand in hand, but Tyler’s much better in music than math.
have our work cut out for us temos um grande desafio
To face a large task or project.
If he plans to translate all the idioms, he has his work cut out for him.
if you have your work cut out, you have something very difficult to do
We’re training a completely new team, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.
sooner than later logo (em vez de mais tarde)

sooner than later:

In the fairly near future; fairly soon.

My heart says sooner than later but my head says procrastination is more likely.  
He never seems to put pressure on himself to get things done sooner than later.  


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