Avenues is building a global network of interconnected campuses with shared educational objectives and common pedagogical approaches. But while our vision is ambitiously global, our focus is decidedly local — we like to say that we are “in country, for country.” That means that at Avenues São Paulo, we take Brazilian educational standards as seriously as we do international ones, and are as committed to Portuguese as we are English.
In nursery, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten our youngest students benefit from a 100% English immersion program, in which they build essential vocabulary by learning content in English. In 1st grade, Portuguese language is introduced and teachers work with students to build their confidence in the language. From 2nd grade onwards, students develop academic language in Portuguese language classes; the Avenues World Course is also taught in Portuguese, with an emphasis on literacy. The Brazilian national curriculum is integrated into the World Course, providing a global perspective on history, geography and current affairs that is rooted in the local environment.
In the 6th grade we build upon students’ strong foundation in Portuguese with more focused writing activities to develop the linguistic precision and style that are hallmarks of top Brazilian schools. We achieve this through the Avenues High Intensity Practice (HIP) writing program, in which students are given time each week to write quietly on a range of prompts, developing empathy and creativity while building discipline and concentration. Students also practice writing in Portuguese in language arts classes.
Our secondary students have the option of choosing to pursue higher education abroad or in Brazil. By focusing on academic language development, we ensure that students who choose to take the vestibular exams at the end of Secondary are as well-prepared as possible. In consultation with their dean (who also acts as college counselor), in 11th grade students may opt to focus on a Brazilian university path by increasing their ratio of classes taught in Portuguese.
By taking an integrated curricular approach to instruction in Portuguese and English, our students attain a balanced mastery of both languages and exhibit the positive cognitive consequences of bilingualism. They also develop strong social and academic skills in each language. All of the Brazilian national curricular components of Portuguese is included in our language curriculum at each grade level. We do not see English and Portuguese as belonging to separate silos, but as two important facets of an Avenues education.
The ultimate goal of language learning is to be able to transfer knowledge and skills across languages and cultures, but that is no easy task. Avenues’ unique integrated curricular approach to second language acquisition, coupled with the collaborative efforts of classroom teachers, help our learners discover the beauty and particularity of both languages. At our campus, something taught in Portuguese enhances and strengthen a student’s understanding and grasp of English, and vice-versa. We employ pedagogical strategies to help students nimbly transfer knowledge and skills back and forth between Portuguese and English.