Students of Portuguese at U of T connect with elementary schoolchildren in Portugal

October 21, 2020 by Berenice Villagómez

On October 16, 2020, students in PRT219Y – Academic Portuguese – visited remotely a 4th grade classroom in Oliveira de Azeméis, Portugal. The online meeting was organized by Luciana da Graca, Lecturer from Camões Institute and instructor of this course and Sónia Pereira, teacher in the Escola de Brejo.

As the fourth graders were celebrating World Food Day, students Brittney dos Santos and Emily Pessoa read books in Portuguese to the children. Discussions on healthy foods also included Dr. José António Santos, a cardiologist at Centro Hospitalar do Baixo Vouga (Aveiro, Portugal). The children enthusiastically shared some of their schoolwork about food and delighted everyone with a song.

Before the remote meeting, both U of T students were hesitant to participate. Brittney said, “I was nervous and was not sure if it was something I would enjoy doing as I am not one who normally likes speaking in front of groups of people”. Emily was reluctant too, although for a different reason: “I had read in Portuguese before, but didn't feel like a strong reader and had trouble with the pronunciation of some words”.

Happily, they decided to volunteer for the virtual visit. Emily considered that the activity “would be a good opportunity to practice some reading skills and I thought it would be fun to read to some schoolkids as well”. Once the visit began, Brittney felt much more at ease: “The children and teacher we spoke in front of were amazing, they were so energetic and excited to be there. Being in front of them really made all my nerves disappear.”

Brittney and Emily enjoyed answering questions from the children. “It was awesome to be able to have a conversation with them and see what curiosities they had and think of how I could answer them” said Brittney, as Emily also chimed in: “My favourite part of the activity was (also) when the students asked us questions and sang us a song about how soup is good for us.”

Both students considered that the remote visit was overall a positive experience. “I highly recommend for others to participate in it”, urged Brittney. “I would love to participate again!”, Emily added.

Prof. Anabela Rato – Associate Chair of Portuguese Studies – also joined the visit and thanked all the participants on behalf of our Department.