January 25, 2018 at 2:50 pm

OPIE Selected to Host Brazilian Training Program

Brazilian teachers take a selfie with Rufus.

Brazilian teachers take a selfie with Rufus.

Ohio University’s Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) is one of 17 institutions nationwide selected to host a Brazilian teacher-training program

Over the course of its 50-year history, OPIE has become well known for the outstanding teacher-training programs it has hosted for educators from throughout the world.

This semester, OPIE is one of only 17 programs nationwide selected to host the PDPI Brazil English Teachers Program. Administered by the Institute of International Education and funded by the Brazilian government, the program is part of the Brazilian government’s strategic plan to improve English language teaching and teacher training in all of Brazil’s states.

“It’s a competitive process,” Dr. Gerard Krzic said of being selected to host the program, adding that OHIO hosted the same program in 2014. Other institutions selected to host this semester’s program include Michigan State University, the University of Delaware, the University of Miami and the University of Texas at Austin.

Nineteen Brazilian elementary, middle and high school English teachers arrived on the Athens Campus on Jan. 14 to participate in the six-week program dedicated to the study of the English language, the practice of English teaching methodology, and exposure to U.S. society and culture. The teachers are residing in Weld House on OHIO’s South Green and attending English fluency, methodology and technology classes taught by OPIE faculty.

The teachers will also be engaging in many social and cultural activities on the Athens Campus, in the community and around the state.

“They are going to visit the elementary schools, middle school and high school in Athens,” Krzic said. “They will also be visiting the Ohio Statehouse and the Ohio Department of Education and doing a weekend homestay in Cincinnati through the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.”

Brazilian teachers participating in the PDPI Brazil English Teachers Program pose for a photo with Aaron Schwartz, an associate lecturer in OPIE, at OHIO’s Living Learning Center.

Brazilian teachers participating in the PDPI Brazil English Teachers Program pose for a photo with Aaron Schwartz, an associate lecturer in OPIE, at OHIO’s Living Learning Center.

Andrea Johannes, an associate lecturer and assistant director of student services in OPIE, is facilitating the group’s on-campus cultural exchange activities. Among those activities is an abbreviated version of the “Ongoing Orientation Workshop Series” OPIE requires of its intermediate level students.

“These workshops are our way of helping to support our students beyond their initial orientation session,” Johannes explained.

The workshops are designed to help program participants adjust to life in the United States and at OHIO and make meaningful connections with Americans as well as to encourage them to participate in events on campus.

According to Johannes, four of the series’ six workshops include working with Patton College of Education students enrolled in Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Michael Kopish’s global education class. Those workshops will feature an intercultural interview, a virtual cultural tour of the Athens Campus, a global issues discussion and a culture of food discussion and potluck– all designed to allow the students to share and discuss their cultural backgrounds and identities.

The teachers will also be participating in OPIE’s International Conversation Hours, which are open to all members of the OHIO and local communities. The first International Conversation Hour of the semester is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Jefferson 160. See a complete schedule of this semester’s events

“We really try to foster an environment that gets our international and domestic students to get to know one another and take advantage of all of the enriching programs occurring in our community,” Johannes added.

Among the activities the Brazilian teachers will be encouraged to participate in are athletic events and OHIO’s Performing Arts and Concert Series. Dr. Krzic noted that his office is always looking for ways to facilitate community interaction with OPIE students, and individuals with suggestions can email him at

“My first study abroad experience was in Brazil when I was an undergraduate,” Dr. Krzic said, “so, for me, it’s always a delight when Brazilian teachers visit our community. The University has ties to Brazil, but having these teachers here strengthens our ties and will add so much energy not only to Gordy Hall but to the greater Athens community. To me, more than ever – and I’m not being political – but any way we can foster interaction between people from outside the United States and Americans we ought to.”

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