Explore More

Antonia, From Brazil, Teaching English Online

Bridge alum, Antonia

Since Bridge graduate Antonia Paixão, from Brazil, turned her passion for the English language into a teaching career, she has aimed for higher goals and explored other areas in the TEFL field. Currently an independent online English teacher, she continues to seize professional development opportunities. She discusses her learning journey as an educator, how she’s adapted to teaching in challenging environments, and her plans to further level up her pedagogical skills.

Hi, Antonia! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m from Taubaté, a charming city in São Paulo, Brazil known for its rich culture and history. Currently, I live in Diadema, also in São Paulo.

In 2002, my academic journey began at São Bernardo College (FASB) with a degree in Literature, which encompassed the study of Portuguese and English literature, grammar, and even teaching methods for both languages. In 2019, I furthered my educational pursuits by completing a second degree in pedagogy at Anhembi Morumbi University, aiming to refine my teaching skills and practices.

Learn more about the benefits of continuing professional development in ELT.

How did you discover your passion for English?

My love for the language was undoubtedly sparked by my parents, José Souza Paixão (may he rest in peace) and Josefa Almeida Seles Paixão. Even at the tender age of four or five, they encouraged me to sing Michael Jackson songs in English, which helped me develop a natural ear for the language’s rhythm and pronunciation. This early exposure, combined with their unwavering support in enrolling me in language school at 14, undoubtedly shaped my career path.

Explore the benefits of music in ESL instruction with kids and teens.

What inspired you to pursue a career teaching English?

As my passion for the English language blossomed early on, learning became easy for me. This led me to a unique opportunity at 18 when the English school I attended, Fisk University, offered me a chance to become a teaching assistant after I aced their English proficiency test. That was in 2001, and I’ve been dedicated to teaching English ever since.

Interestingly, during my teenage years, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. My grandmother, Antonia Almeida Seles, a talented seamstress, was a huge inspiration. However, life sometimes takes unexpected turns. Looking back, I believe there was a purpose behind my path to education. Perhaps I wasn’t destined to choose teaching, but rather, teaching chose me. This unexpected journey has allowed me to positively impact the lives of many students, both in English and Portuguese.

Antonia with her Business English students
Antonia (top right) with her Business English students

You’ve been teaching for 18 years now! How have your teaching skills developed throughout the years?

In 2014, I began a period of reflection on my career trajectory, aspiring to transition into a role as a university professor. Recognizing the challenges of obtaining this title in Brazil, I sought to bolster my pedagogical expertise through targeted postgraduate studies:

  • In 2015, I completed a specialization in English language teaching at FMU, enriching my understanding of effective pedagogical approaches in language education.
  • I continued my academic pursuits by specializing in Psychopedagogy at the University Anhembi Morumbi in 2017. This deepened my comprehension of learning processes and equipped me to navigate challenges that students may encounter, fostering a supportive learning environment.
  • In 2020, I obtained a second degree in Pedagogy from Anhembi Morumbi University, broadening my understanding of diverse learning styles and educational methodologies.
  • Recognizing the importance of adapting to the changing landscape of education, particularly during the pandemic, I pursued a specialization in active methodologies at Caxias do Sul University. This equipped me with valuable tools to navigate hybrid teaching environments.
  • Driven by a commitment to ongoing professional growth, I delved into the realm of bilingual education, seeking specialized training in this field.
  • I also expanded my expertise by pursuing an MBA in Corporate Education from Anhembi Morumbi University, offering insights into corporate learning environments and higher education dynamics.

Through these endeavors, I remain dedicated to evolving as an educator and contributing positively to the field of education in Brazil.

Considering an advanced degree in TESOL? Learn more about the 150-hour Bridge IDELTOnline™, university-affiliated training that earns you credit toward an MA TESOL pathway.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Inspired by Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, my teaching transforms students from knowledge receivers into active participants. The classroom becomes a space for questioning, analyzing, and challenging assumptions, fostering a collaborative environment built on mutual respect and open communication.

Just like Freire envisioned, education empowers students to become critical thinkers and engaged citizens. Real-world contexts and hands-on learning opportunities bridge the gap between theory and practice, equipping students with the skills to navigate a complex world. This transformative experience fosters a sense of agency, allowing students to become powerful advocates for themselves and their communities, ultimately working towards social justice and educational equity.

Interested in learning strategies to build 21st-century skills in your students? Learn more about our suite of Micro-credentials in 21st-Century Teaching Skills.

What do you like most about teaching in your home country?

Teaching in Brazil has its hurdles. Under-resourced classrooms and societal undervaluing of educators are realities we face. But that’s exactly why it’s so rewarding. Here, in my own community, I witness the transformative power of education firsthand. Ignited curiosity and critical thinking skills – these are the gifts I get to share with Brazilian students, making a tangible difference in their lives.

These challenges have also made me a stronger educator. Every obstacle is a chance to innovate. I’ve become more resourceful and adaptable, tailoring my approach to my students’ diverse needs. The lack of resources becomes a springboard for creativity, pushing me to find new ways to engage students.

This passion for education fuels my fight for change. We, as educators, deserve better. Our students deserve better. That’s why I advocate for increased resources and professional development opportunities. Through collaboration with colleagues and policymakers, I strive to build a more supportive environment where both educators and students in Brazil can thrive.

Explore innovative, affordable solutions for teaching English in the Teaching English With Low Resources Micro-credential course.

You’re also an independent teacher! How do you find your private students?

Finding private students can be a challenge, but there are several strategies I’ve found helpful. Reaching out to former students through social media is a good start, but I’ve also had success by building a strong online presence with an Instagram account, which contains my teaching portfolio, and a professional LinkedIn profile.

Looking for support in your independent teaching career? Learn more about Teacherpreneur Academy, which provides training, resources, and support for independent online English teachers.

You also teach English online. How did you switch to teaching English in the online classroom?

Transitioning to teaching English online was a natural progression for me, driven by my desire to broaden my impact and adapt to the changing landscape of education. Exploring various online teaching platforms, such as my preferred choice, Zoom, allowed me to harness the potential of technology to create dynamic and engaging learning environments. However, the urgency of this transition was heightened by the global pandemic, prompting a swift adjustment to the virtual classroom.

In my current capacity as an online English teacher, I engage with a diverse spectrum of students, spanning different age groups and backgrounds, from young learners to adults. This diversity not only enriches the educational experience but also fosters cross-cultural exchange and mutual learning, contributing to a dynamic and inclusive learning environment.

Learn about some of the best digital tools for teaching English online.

a language school class of students
Before she taught English online, Antonia worked in several English language schools in Brazil.

Can you tell us more about your teaching work?

Throughout my teaching career, I’ve thrived in the dynamic world of education, from bustling language schools to public schools filled with young minds to corporate environments. Today, I continue to embrace this variety as an online English teacher, using virtual platforms to deliver personalized instruction.

My students represent a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and professions, from engineers and lawyers to educators and teenagers. This rich mix not only strengthens their English skills but also fosters a dynamic learning environment where students learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives, promoting valuable cross-cultural understanding.

Read about eight of the top learning management systems and eLearning platforms for online English teachers.

What types of classes do you give?

I cater to my students’ diverse needs and aspirations with a comprehensive range of structured courses, whether the student is a beginner seeking a strong foundation, an advanced learner looking to refine their skills, or a professional aiming to excel in the global business world.

Interested in teaching Business English? Learn more about our Specialized Certification course in Teaching Business English.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

When I’m not teaching, I recharge with captivating stories. Whether it’s getting lost in a gripping TV show or devouring a compelling novel, fiction transports me to new worlds. Meditation also plays a vital role in my well-being, fostering inner peace and focus. But the truest moments of joy come from spending quality time with loved ones. We cherish moments of laughter, connection, and relaxation – creating memories that last a lifetime.

Can you share a particular experience when you felt like you made a difference in a student’s life?

Education has the power to transform lives, and I’ve witnessed this firsthand. Take Luiz, a 13-year-old student struggling to read Portuguese in our school reinforcement program. By the end of the program, Luiz was confidently reading the Bible, a dream he’d held close.

Similarly, Iago, my neighbor who came from a difficult background, found hope through his adoptive family. In 2018, he began learning English with me. Seeing his initial struggles, I was determined to help him succeed. For five years, I provided him with free English lessons. Today, at 21, Iago speaks English fluently. He even pursued a degree in Human Resources, opening a world of possibilities for his future.

You took the Specialized Certificate in Teaching English Online as well as Micro-credentials in Teaching English to Groups and Games in the Online Classroom. Why did you decide to take these courses?

To enhance my online teaching expertise, I enrolled in the Specialized Certificate in Teaching English Online and Micro-credentials in Teaching English to Groups and Games and Activities for the Online Classroom. My research led me to BRAZ-TESOL, a trusted organization in Brazil that recommended Bridge as the leading provider for this specific online teacher training.

Learn how teaching English online to groups can increase your job prospects and earning potential.

How did these courses help you professionally?

These courses significantly enhanced my online teaching capabilities:

  • The Specialized Certificate in Teaching English Online provided a strong foundation in online teaching methodologies, assessment, and using online platforms effectively.
  • The Micro-credentials in Teaching English to Groups and Games and Activities for the Online Classroom equipped me with engaging activities to keep students motivated and participating actively. I’ve even noticed a positive shift in student engagement since taking these courses!

Looking for game ideas for adult learners? Read about 15 fun and easy ESL games for adults.

How has continuous professional development helped you grow as an English teacher?

Professional development programs and certifications are essential for me to stay current and provide my students with the best possible learning experience. In addition to the Bridge courses I took, completing the TKT Modules 1-3 from Cambridge University and the Michigan ECPE Language Assessment in 2019 has allowed me to refine my teaching methods, assessment techniques, and overall knowledge base, ultimately benefiting my students’ progress.

Learn about five strategies to get the most out of your professional development.

How would you like to further develop your English teaching career?

I’m driven by the desire to continuously learn and share knowledge. To further develop my career, I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Education and potentially transition into a college professorship. This path would allow me to not only refine my teaching skills but also inspire and equip future educators to make a positive impact on their students’ lives.

Download the eBook, Self-Guided Professional Development in ELT, to find tips and resources to help you take charge of your teaching skills and career path.

What is your advice to teachers who want to teach English in Brazil?

As a black woman who grew up in a community with low resources, I understand the challenges students can face. My own experiences have instilled in me immense patience, love, and a fierce commitment to helping others succeed. Teaching English is more than just language – it’s about empowering students and opening doors to new opportunities. So, my advice to aspiring English teachers in Brazil is to embrace these values. Be patient with your students, celebrate their journeys, and never underestimate the power of your role in shaping their future.

Interested in teaching adult learners? Learn more about Bridge’s 60-hour online Specialized Certification in Teaching Business English.

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.