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Five articles for English classes to encourage discussion on Brazilian culture

It didn’t take me too long to realise that in class, when my students are given the opportunity to offer their perspectives on Brazil and Brazilian culture…they’re very likely to take it! I especially find this to be true when they have a textbook in front of them that they don’t really want to use.

Here’s looking at you Market Leader!

So if you’re looking to encourage discussion on Brazilian culture in your classes then below are five ideas for articles to take into class with you. If you have some tips on other articles you enjoy teaching, feel free to share the links in the comments section below.

What Jamie Oliver’s Brazilian gaffe tells us about our deep emotions over food- The Guardian


Not long after the World Cup, Jamie Oliver appeared on the TV show Saia Justa, where he was asked for his opinion on some of Brazil’s national foods. In hindsight, he probably should have kept his opinion to himself. After sampling the beloved brigadeiro, quindim and beijinho he eloquently described them as “a load of old shit, fuckin’ horrible!”

Naturally, this less-than-subtle response created a media storm with Brazilians taking to their social media accounts in their droves. They slated both him (understandable) and the state of British food in general (I won’t lie, I was shocked by this!). As a British guy hearing Brazilians diss my nations culinary delights, I wasn’t sure if this was some sort of joke. ‘Surely Brazilians can’t be talking about all the delicious food I grew up on?’ I naively assumed.

Well, then I took this article into class with me to see exactly what my students thought about my nation’s dishes, only to discover their thoughts were less than favourable! After my bruised ego had recovered (and I’d blogged about it), I’ve since used this article on Jamie Oliver to discuss a range of topics in class- such as Brazilian foods, national pride, attitudes to foreigners criticising Brazil and how we should all be behaving abroad.

Click here for the article.

Sainsbury’s customer shocked after checkout assistant refuses to serve her because she was on her mobile – The Daily Mail


Poor Jo Clarke, not only does she have parents called Tom and Gerri but a few years back she was involved in a dispute with a checkout assistant. Jo was in her local supermarket buying her groceries when she got to the checkout and decided to call her brother. Unfortunately, the checkout woman wanted her customer’s full, undivided attention at the time, so she refused to serve Jo until she got off her phone.

Many of my students laugh and joke that this article is incredibly British. “This would never happen in supermarkets here in Brazil Andrew!” And this is exactly why I bring this article to class with me, because the inevitable discussion on why this is the case fascinates me.

Click here for the article.

Curiosidades Brasileiras  - Blog Post


Back in 2013, a French guy named Oliver was living in Belo Horizonte. He observed 65 aspects of Brazilian culture that he found to be the most curious, blogged about them and soon after this post (written in Portuguese) went viral. It has also proved to be very popular in my classes.

Generally, what I get my students to do is to read five of these observations at a time, translate the ones they find the most interesting and then discuss these with me. I have been known to spend a good few classes on this activity because it is fun, engaging and the translation side of things can also prove challenging.

Click here for the post.


Do different languages confer different personalities?  - The Economist


If your student is edging towards advanced level, this blog post from The Economist isn’t just rich in vocabulary but it is also a very thought-provoking read. Again, it doesn’t directly reference Brazil or the Portuguese language, but I find hearing my students giving their opinions on whether or not they feel their personality changes when speaking English is interesting.

Recently I’ve also started to team this article up with a listening exercise, The Brazilian Gringo Youtube Video on How to Act More Brazilian in Conversations. In this video, Josh discusses the ways in which some Brazilians will naturally interject when you’re speaking to them to show that they empathise with what you’re saying. However for us native English speakers, we might interpret this as Brazilians rudely interrupting.

Why do Brazilians do this? Is it simply a cultural thing, or does syntax also play a big part in our behaviour when we interact?

With this example getting the ball rolling, my students tend to be open to offering their own experiences on how they’ve had to suppress/learn habits when conversing in English.

Click here for the post.

Rise in women returning to domestic work a sign of tough economic times in Brazil  -    The Globe and Mail


Since the release of the film Que Horas Ela Volta? (This film was given the name of The Second Mother in English) a few months ago, the role of the maid to Brazilian households has become a national talking point. So bringing an article to class on this subject has allowed students to articulate their thoughts in English on the matter.

As a foreigner who still isn’t completely accustomed to the culture of domestic help (I touched on this subject in my blog post Brazilian Culture vs Downton Abbey), this article gives me the opportunity to learn more about my student’s views on this intriguing profession, and debate the future of the maid industry in Brazil in light of the current economic climate.

Click here for the post

Do you have any other suggestions for articles to use in class? Let me know below!

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