UFSC launches Brazilian Portuguese Survival Course for foreign students

08/12/2021 18:17

 Developed to be a first experience for international visitors before arriving in Brazil, and an important tool in the University’s internationalization process, the Brazilian Portuguese Survival Course arose from a clear need: a large number of international students at UFSC enter and leave the institution without learning to speak Portuguese. With this in mind, the staff from the Office of International Relations (Sinter) united their ideas and experiences with the technical expertise of the Office of Distance Education (Sead) to develop a 100% asynchronous Portuguese language course, fully adapted to situations that take place at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC).

The objective of SINTER and SEAD is to train international students, faculty and staff, who will carry out mobility and academic cooperation activities at UFSC, by offering an online, self-instructional course that will enable them to communicate in basic Portuguese. The course seeks to help in the welcoming process of the participants when they arrive at UFSC and to awaken their interest in learning the Brazilian language and culture.

The initiative, it is believed, is unprecedented and had to be created from scratch, since there were no similar courses at other universities, according to both Offices. It was developed by content experts, Portuguese/English Language teachers, and professionals from SEAD and SINTER.

For the pedagogue Joyce Regina Borges, who helped develop the course content, the main concern was to select the contents that would in fact be essential for the first contact with the Brazilian Portuguese language. She also lists some of the challenges in creating the course: being able to include some cultural aspects for a better understanding of the language; providing audio for as much of the content as possible to facilitate familiarity with the pronunciation; and being able to do all of this in a 20-hour course.

The structure of the course consists of five content modules, each comprising three lessons. At the end of each lesson, a “Practice Time” session proposes automated feedback activities to ensure students’ learning and autonomy and to check their achievements.

Division of the course into modules (Image: course screenshot).

The modules also feature the “Cultureme” session, which introduces some aspects of Brazilian culture, and the “Tip Time” session, which brings useful information to help students handle the new language.

In this journey, students will not be alone. They will receive help from Diogo, Natália and Lincoln, characters inspired by real UFSC staff members. They will also have the company of Angela, Frederick and Paloma, fictional characters who, throughout the course, share their experiences as foreign students at UFSC. All the audios of the characters in the course were recorded by SINTER staff members (Bruno Wanderley Farias, Caroline Finatti, Diogo Robl, Guilherme Carlos Costa, Luciana Miashiro Lima and Paula Eduarda Michels).

For the Secretary for Distance Learning, Luciano Patrício Souza de Castro, every distance training initiative must be seen today as a great and proven opportunity to efficiently and effectively achieve real learning results. In this sense, the Brazilian Portuguese Survival Course, as a self-instructional course, is engaging in centering the learning on the participants through the use of technologies that facilitate course completion. The course contents, educational proposal, visual aids and navigability are impact factors that guarantee learning success for those willing to survive in Brazilian Portuguese.

“The course is visionary, totally innovative, and may attract students from all over the world who wish to learn Portuguese at UFSC”, says Professor Lincoln Fernandes, Secretary for International Relations. He presents data on the increase in the number of international students at the University as a result of remote learning. Before the pandemic, UFSC had approximately 250 international students on its campuses per semester. Now, with the virtual activities, the sum exceeds twice that number of students.

Characters interact with students for a better experience in the course (Image: Course screenshot).

The course is now in its testing phase. An initial version has already been released internationally and, according to SINTER, many foreign partners are looking forward for their students to register in the course. Professor Gisele Orgado, a graduate of UFSC, is responsible for conducting the pilot course with Portuguese students at the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom.

After this first test, the course will be reviewed and will undergo adjustments for improvements. Once everything is in place, it will become available on the Moodle platform to students around the world. “It is important to point out that this course is aimed at English-speaking people, but the idea is to soon adapt it to speakers of other languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, among others” Lincoln says.

More information about the course can be found on SINTER’s website.


Translated by SINTER/UFSC

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