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EMI courses in Brazil grow to more than 1,000

A growing number of higher education institutions in Brazil are recognising the importance of offering English as Medium of Instruction courses, as the number of EMI courses rose from 671 in 2016 to over 1,000 in the first semester 2018, according to a new report.

FAUBAI is keen to emphasise that other languages are available. Photo: gabyps/Pixabay

English courses make up around 85-90% of courses available in languages other than Portuguese

The Brazilian Association for International Education (FAUBAI) and the British Council, which surveyed 84 HEIs in Brazil, said the data reflects the sustained growth in activities offered in English as well as Portuguese for foreigners.

“We are a country [that is becoming] more and more globalised”

“Internationalisation is growing and increasing in the whole country and it’s on the agenda of all universities,” explained Renata Archanjo, UFRN international relations deputy officer. “We are a country [that is becoming] more and more globalised.”

Executive director of FAUBAI Renée Zicman highlighted that of Brazil’s 2,400 HEIs, many do not offer international activities, but that number is increasing and the organisation has been promoting the internationalisation of the country’s universities.

“We have been [telling] universities that by offering opportunities in English [they will] be able to receive international students,” she said, adding that it is important to point out that EMI courses are being offered in all five regions of the country, including the Amazon region.

“Our universities are very concentrated in certain regions of the country, but we have all sorts of universities and HEIs doing this in all regions of the country, public and private. It means the whole system has understood.

“The idea is not just to offer opportunities to take classes in English or participate in activities in English, but also to be able to live in this beautiful country and be able to share Brazilian culture and learn Portuguese,” Zicman added.

Archanjo explained that Portuguese language lessons offered free to visiting scholars help them integrate into Brazilian academic and sociocultural life. A federal program – the Language Without Borders Initiative – has been important to fund and support language activities within universities, she continued.

“Any EMI courses must also be offered in Portuguese, meaning sometimes universities must double the hours”

“[Learning Portuguese] is not only important for the student to participate in the life of the city, the campus, but it is important for all the relationships they establish within the period that [they] stay abroad,” Archanjo said.

Archanjo also explained that internationalisation strategies such as Capes-PrInt, which targets post-graduate level, will boost international activities within universities.

Postgraduate courses make up a larger proportion of EMI courses on offer, but it’s “normal” to have fewer EMI activities at undergraduate level, according to Archanjo.

Maria Leonor Alves Maia, president of FAUBAI, added that any EMI courses must also be offered in Portuguese, meaning sometimes universities must double the hours.

Despite this, the growth in EMI courses is very encouraging, she added.

“The increase – if the trend keeps going – means that in the next two years, it will keep going higher and higher,” she commented.

Brazilian universities are beginning to recognise that offering courses in languages other than Portuguese is “a way to communicate better with the world”, she said.

English courses make up around 85-90% of courses available in languages other than Portuguese, but FAUBAI is keen to emphasise that other languages are available, for historical or geographical reasons.

“We are a country in South America with all neighbours which are Spanish speaking, so why not offer some courses in Spanish,” Archanjo interjected.

“It’s not [only] another language,” Alves Maia concluded. “It’s another way of looking at things and opening opportunities to dialogue.”

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