Brazil’s Economy and the EFL Market: What is Coming Next?

Last week’s cover of The Economist was “Brazil’s Quagmire” in which our economy is believed to be in its worst mess since the early 1990s with far bigger problems than the government will admit or investors seem to register.  Our currency has fallen 30% against the dollar since 2013 and inflation is rising. So it is with Brazil’s economy: the harder you stare, the worse it looks. However, the impact of this scenario goes far beyond currency exchange rates or the cover of international magazines. It reaches the EFL classroom and may affect us in various ways. This short article will attempt to discuss three of these ways.

First, this economic contraction will cause language institutes to cut down costs. This might include increasing the size of classes and reducing the number of teachers. Larger classes demand the use of different teaching strategies to cope with indiscipline, individual monitoring, oral production, and student assessment, to name a few.

Second, the high costs with logistics might cause increase in the interest for online courses by adult learners. Not only are online courses cost efficient, but they also allow education across geographical and time constraints to English language learners who juggle work, familial and social schedules and necessitate access to learning in special forms. The efficacy of online language learning in relation to its face-to-face counterpart is not part of this discussion, but the potential preference towards online education as a result of today’s social demands and economic constraints.

The third and last possible consequence I would like to mention is the growth in the demand for full-day school programs that include language learning as opposed to after-school programs in language institutes. All-day schools hold the promise of improving the general conditions of classroom and non-classroom learning and of narrowing the gap between academic achievement and family background. In addition to these benefits, parents see in this alternative a way to optimize time and production in an era of crisis.

I understand this article reflects a single view of this scenario, but I meant to begin this discussion and hopefully get readers to contribute with their opinion. Please feel free to comment and voice your mind. Thank you for reading this post.

Anderson Maia

Anderson Maia is currently the dean of a campus at Universidade Federal do Pará and a PhD in TESOL candidate at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. He was the academic manager at Centro Cultural Brasil Estados Unidos for 6 years, an adjunct TESOL professor at private colleges for several years, and has been an English language educator for 15 years in both Brazil and North Carolina, USA. He holds a degree in English and an MA in TESOL from Greensboro College, USA.

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  • Stephen Greene
    Stephen Greene
    Posted at 15:07h, 11 março Responder

    Hi Anderson,

    Thanks for your thought-provoking article.

    I assume the reason that schools will be under pressure to cut costs is because their customers will be feeling the pinch and so not be able to spend as much on education as before. You seem to be suggesting the same reason for an increase in demand for online courses.

    If this is the case, then why would full day programmes be on the increase? They are usually more expensive so wouldn’t these customers also be feeling the pinch and asking their suppliers to cut costs? Or is there something I am missing here?

  • Rosana Galvão
    Posted at 18:38h, 02 abril Responder

    Economic crises are a phenomenon which vary from time to time.

    Concerning online courses, there will probably not be huge demand, due to the fact that a great deal of learners need some commitment as motivation: established time, a leader to conduct the activities, social involvement.

    As to the demand for full-day school programs, some or plenty of parents are inclined to them, mainly for the convenience.

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