The Observatory for the English Language Teaching promoted, on June 10th, the webinar “Race, Gender and the Teaching of English in Brazil: for a more inclusive teacher education”. The online event was attended by Carolina Azevedo, an English teacher at the Rio de Janeiro municipal school network, and Cintia Camargo Vianna, postdoctoral fellow in Literature Studies from the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), mediated by Cíntia Toth, senior manager for English at the British Council Brazil.
The event is part of the UK-Brazil Skills for Prosperity Programme, an initiative of the British government that aims to democratize English teaching in public schools in Brazil.
The webinar discussed how issues of race and gender are manifested in English language teaching, including the impacts caused by stereotypes and prejudices in teacher education and classroom practices, as well as ways to mitigate them.
In the opening, Cíntia Toth highlighted the importance of an intersectional look for English language teaching in Brazil. According to the survey Public policies for the teaching of English, by the British Council, data from the 2017 School Census show that, of the more than 62,000 English language teachers in the Brazilian state networks, 80% are women and only 27% declare themselves as black – a discrepancy in relation to the profile of the Brazilian population, which is composed of 56.1% of black people, according to data from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD Continua).
“This low representation shows, for the student, that he or she is a minority in that context”, says Carolina Azevedo, who is also a Master’s student in Education with an emphasis on Diversity and Ethnic-racial Relations at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ). For her, it is important that the student sees himself or herself represented in the classroom and in textbooks. This work, according to Carolina, is not just for teachers: “the work needs to be collective so that racism and gender prejudice are eradicated”, she says.
In this context, Cintia Vianna invites us to reflect on the place of the English language in secondary education schools and how issues of race and gender are dealt with in these environments. The researcher states that the discussion on racial and gender issues should be part of the initial and continuing education process for English teachers.
The event was aimed at educators and anyone interested in building more inclusive educational practices.
Check out the full webinar video below: