English Language Specialist, Julia Hedges spent five weeks delivering training workshops and plenaries to teachers in five different cities in Northeastern Brazil. Hedges partnered with the Department of Education in Recife and multiple universities, schools, and learning centers in Joao Pessoa, Teresina, Sao Luis, and Imperatriz to improve the content and pedagogical knowledge of hundreds of pre-service and in-service teachers. In fact, over 1,000 Brazilian pre-service and in-service teachers directly attended a training workshop or plenary led by Hedges.
One of the highlights of Hedges experience was a workshop she conducted alongside three Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs). The objective of the workshop was to help train Brazilian teachers and students to use the American English website effectively. Hedges and the ETAs used an audience-centered approach to provide participants with opportunities to use English for communicative purposes. For example, participants sang American songs, explored American idioms, and discussed American holidays. For ongoing professional development, participants learned about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a quarterly journal, and a variety of webinars. Throughout this workshop, Hedges and the ETAs worked together to ensure that participants were learning, sharing ideas, and having fun! “Teachers appreciated having ideas for connecting the American English language to the American culture so that they could motivate their students to learn English and to encourage those who wish to study in America,” Hedges states.
Hedges describes her Specialist project as a “mutual learning experience and an exchange of cultural values.” In addition to delivering workshops and plenaries, Hedges actively shared resources on different scholarships for students to study English in America, and discussed the strong relationship that Brazilians and Americans have with each other. Hedges states, “Throughout my project, I had an opportunity to present the American language while learning about the Portuguese language, share parts of American society with Brazilians while learning about their culture, and I demonstrated strong American core values by being accepting and open to learning about Brazilian culture and values.”
Julia received her Master of Education in TESOL from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon and a Bachelor’s degree in both English and Spanish from the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. She has taught English as a Second/Foreign Language in both the United States and throughout the Middle East to adolescents and adults.