Menino Deus (Child God) is a poor neighborhood located on the periphery of Santa Cruz do Sul, RS, Brazil and is home to around 600 low-income families. The Menino Deus Speaks English outreach project commenced on March 23rd, 2005 as a social initiative undertaken by the Schütz & Kanomata Language Institute in conjunction with the residents’ association, with the South Brazilian Association of Cultural and Educational Exchange (ASBI), and the city government. The initiative is in its fifteenth year and currently involves about 30 children and adolescents who have the opportunity of not just learning another language, but of learning more about American or British culture. Community leaders act as hosts for foreign instructors, who also have a chance to learn about the Brazilian reality in all its nuances and depth.
The main focus of the Menino Deus Speaks English project is to keep young people away from the street life and delinquency and provide them with a window on a foreign culture. The program also aims to awaken low-income communities to their potential for development while raising participants’ self-esteem through an exchange between residents and foreign visitors.
As well as providing an opportunity for the largest possible number of barrio residents to learn English, the project also seeks to identify and select especially dedicated and talented learners to be awarded bursaries to study English at the Schütz & Kanomata Language Institute. Those most deserving of the bursaries are chosen based on participation in the classes offered in the barrio.