Paula O'Sullivan

Teach Enrich Empower

Missionary work in Brazil and Mexico

Two years ago I was in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, I was with a missionary organisation who taught English as a foreign language in a prison for young men. I joined with the team and saw how much of an impact this has on their lives.

One guy was 20 years old, had learnt English with the team that goes into the prison and when he was released, he got a job cleaning in a hotel, but one day there was a complaint at the reception desk and the customer only spoke English and the person behind the desk only spoke Portuguese. The guy asked if he could help and he managed to be able to sort out the problem; when the manager saw this, he gave him a promotion, which helped him and his family.

I saw how important TEFL can be in different countries; I realised I want to be able to do this too. So when I returned to England for 5 months I signed up to do a TEFL course with The TEFL Academy. I really enjoyed the course and seeing how I can actually do this and equip others to learn and be skilled up too.

Now I am living in Tijuana, Mexico working with a mission organisation which builds houses for families, work with the women and the kids in the red light district, those in the prisons and community teaching English to them. It’s great to see how the children and other adults learn and how enthusiastic they are to learn English, so much so I don’t get the chance to practice my Spanish!!

This summer I took a team of 12 students to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where for 3 weeks we taught teenagers and adults who were living in the community below a dangerous favela how to speak English. This was a time of encouraging them and teaching them in a skill that they didn’t have.

Seeing the youth and adults enjoy their classes was such an amazing thing for me and seeing them grow in confidence in speaking in a different language was so good. We used games, worksheets, songs and dramas to help make them feel comfortable and to have confidence in what they are using.

I am now back in Mexico, I am looking to return to Brazil in the near future and use the TEFL qualification in places like the favela where the poorest people live to give them a skill and education/employment.

Having this qualification has opened doors and opportunities for me I could never have imagined, but it has also improved the quality of life for the people I have taught and gives them opportunities for more education and employment.

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