By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 16 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.

In this final set of articles I conclude my discussion regarding the practical side of the profession, and move on to some of the language and cultural problems foreign teachers face, as well as talk about the tools of the teaching trade.

Sessão da Tarde (Afternoon Session)
To make certain that there will be an afternoon lunchtime class, I call my student’s secretary, Snia, to confirm the session.

Hello, Snia?”

“Oi, J,” (Hi, Joe) she answers. It’s funny how after only a few weeks of teaching in-company the informality of Brazilians quickly becomes apparent. I can still remember when it used to be “Bom dia, Seu Josmar” (Good morning, Josmar, sir), before I became a regular visitor.

“Oi, Snia, tudo bem? (Hi Snia, how are you?) Is Mrcio there? I called to confirm our class.”

“Mrcio is not here. He went to see a client, but he’ll return by noontime, so I think there will be a class.”

“OK, thanks a lot. I’ll see you later. Tchau (Bye).”

I grab my case with all my teaching accoutrements and head off once more for the trip to downtown. This will be my second tour today of the Centro, with this class being a bit of a minor setback for me, but I still have enough time to work on my friend Flora’s HBO video after I return home. Besides, I need to go downtown anyway to pick it up, and could certainly use the exercise: all that bread, butter and cheese in the mornings are starting to deposit themselves along my expanding waistline.

After about an hour’s ride, I arrive in downtown at precisely noon, sign in at the front desk, and ask the receptionist to call Mrcio to let him know I’m here. The receptionist gets the secretary on the line, talks to her for a few seconds, then hangs up to tell me that Mrcio hasn’t arrived yet-but if I would like to wait for him in the lobby, I’m most welcome to do so.

Uh-oh, I’ve heard this one before. Nine times out of ten, if my students haven’t shown up by the usual lunch-hour starting time they’re not likely to appear at all.

Just then, Flora’s husband comes busting through the doors. He’s a boisterous, bespectacled fellow of about 70, with a wavy head of salt-and-pepper hair, and the rapid-fire mannerisms of a first-generation Italian descendant. He’s full of anecdotes about his time in Rio de Janeiro, and his younger days as a mechanical engineer in the wilds of West Africa.

We exchange greetings as he slips the HBO video into my waiting palms. He’s in a terrible rush, as always, and can’t really stay. No, not even for a quick cafzinho. He suggests we go out for a cup the next time he stops by. It’ll be his treat. Promise. Then in a flash, he’s gone, just as suddenly as he arrived.

I wait around for a half-hour or so, all the while conversing with the receptionist, whose English is simply appalling. Much to my general bereavement, she keeps threatening to have classes with me.

“I thought all receptionists were supposed to speak English,” I comment to her.

“Yayz, we speekee, but I needee taykee cless. You teechee?” she inquires.

“Umm… I’m kind of booked up at the moment,” I cringe, “but here’s my card. Call me in a month or two, and I’ll see what’s available.”

Against my better judgment, I once took on a receptionist as a student, but she could only have class during her lunch break. We couldn’t have any sessions on the premises as she wasn’t really a company employee (security and reception personnel are often contracted out to third-party firms) and, therefore, not allowed access to the upstairs offices. We didn’t have anywhere else to go-except to the local restaurant.

We wound up having a very one-sided conversation at a diner somewhere along Rua General Jardim, as waiters scurried about our table tending to the lunchtime crowds. I felt as if we were in the eye of a storm.

As you can imagine, it was an absolutely dreadful class. Besides, the receptionist only wanted to gossip about the other employees of the firm, which I adamantly declined to do. Thankfully, she stopped having lessons soon after that class, to my great relief.

Part 17 next week…

Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

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