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3 Tips to Engage With Students From Brazil

Updated on May 11, 2020
Xplor profile image

Xplor has been teaching ESL online since 2015. He will probably continue teaching until 3000. Find more of him at @giamo_son.

Teaching English as a second language (ESL) online for the past 5 years has been a blessing and an amazing experience. I have learned so much about countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Japan and many others. However, one of the cultures that has captivated my heart and I have been learning more about since teaching ESL online is Brazil!

Before I began teaching I didn’t know that much about Brazil. The only thing I knew for certain is that there were many soccer legends from the South American country such as Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldihno and many others. And an assumption I had when I thought about Brazilians is that most of them had the appearance of indigenous people.

Looking back now it’s safe to say that my assumption was incorrect. The fifth largest country in the world is filled with lots of diversity and people who look nothing alike, but are still equally Brazilian.

As an online teacher I am able to use what I have learned about the country to help me engage with my Brazilian students and more importantly increase my chances of getting more teaching time with them, which ultimately means more $$$ (: .

These are three tools to help you engage with your students from Brazil.


Bae and her friend
Bae and her friend

Importance of Small Talk

A typical lesson with a new student online usually begins with some introduction questions such as, “How are you?”, “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from,” “Why do you want to practice English,” etc.

After determining the level of the student from the introduction I will usually jump into the lesson. As an online teacher it is important to have a level of structure in your class even with new students, which is why I created a blog full of lessons varying from grammar to conversation and everything in between. These exercises are all task based and my mission as a teacher is to guide the student through each one.

However, what I have noticed with some Brazilian students is that even as I begin the lesson they still will ask questions about me that are unrelated to the task such as, “ Do you have another job?”, “How do you feel about Miami?” “What did you study in university?” etc.

These types of questions that are unrelated to the presented lesson are relational.

For Brazilian students, especially in the beginning, it is more important for them to know WHO the teacher is compared to WHAT the task will be.

So if I do not complete all of the tasks I had planned I know that’s ok. Because what’s more important is that the student feels like there is a strong chemistry between us as people.


Colatina, Espirito Santo
Colatina, Espirito Santo

Learn About The Cities

I have received calls from students all over Brazil. However there are people from some cities that I talk to the most.

Knowing a little bit about each city and their general location can go a long way into impressing a Brazilian student.

Many times I have had a Brazilian student ask me if I had visited Brazil before because they were surprised with my knowledge of the country.

Below is a list of some of the common cities you may receive calls from and a little information about each one.


  1. São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil by population. Moreover, it is the largest city in all of South America. People consider this city to be the New York City of Brazil, because of the amount of white collar professionals that work there. Many students from São Paulo have called me from their office.

  2. Also it’s important to realize that the name of the city is also the name of the state that it is in. Within the state of São Paulo I have received calls from Campinas and Osasco.

  3. Rio de Janeiro is a seaside city in the southeast region of Brazil. This city is famous for beautiful beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema. Brazilian students tell me that a lot of people from Sao Paulo do not like Rio de Janeiro due to some cultural differences. According to people from Sao Paulo, the people of Rio are too easy going, too relaxed and too nonchalant. Also, the crime rate for theft is high in Rio.

  4. Santa Catarina is a state in the south of Brazil. Many people call from different small cities there. This state is unique because even though it is in Brazil a lot of the architecture is reminiscent of Europe. This is because there are a lot German and Italian descendants in this state.

  5. Curitiba is the capital city of Paraná which is directly north of Santa Catarina and is a neighbor of Paraguay on its western border. This city is very affluent and many people from there think of their city as being above the rest of Brazil.

Small Facts Go A Long Way

As an online ESL teacher engaging with your student quickly is vital to having a good lesson. However, there are a few barriers that stop teachers from connecting with their students immediately.

One way to overcome these barriers is by using language or terms that the student already knows.

For example if I ask a student “What did you eat for lunch?”, and then he or she looks at me blankly, obviously they don’t know what lunch means. So instead I will modify my question and ask, “ Did you eat feijoada, today?”. Typically they will understand because everyone knows about this dish in Brazil.

Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock has heard of the Brazilian dance called, samba. This dance is particularly popular around the time of Carnival.

However there are other dances in Brazil that may not be famous around the world, but every Brazilian will know such as frevo, pagode, funk, axé, forró and several others.

So in conclusion please use these three tools to better engage with students from Brazil! De nada!


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