Language Exchange Across Generations: Brazilian Teens Learn English By Speaking To U.S. Senior Citizens

Exchange programs have been around for decades, but a new innovative language project is taking it to a more digital level.

The Speaking Exchange project is linking up Brazilian students who need help practicing their English skills with elderly American retirees.

Developed by FCB Brazil and implemented by a CNA language school in Leberdade, Brazil, the pilot program has paired up students with seniors at Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago.

A video on how the program works shows pairs carrying on conversations via video chat, discussing their families, hobbies, pasts and futures — developing the most unlikely of friendships and relationships.

The differences in age and background make the interactions remarkable to watch.

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One exchange has a young boy in Brazil who smiles as he speaks with an elderly man. The man is seen holding up a black-and-white photo of a couple.

“This is your dad?” the boy asked. The man responded: “That’s me and my wife when we were young!”

“Oh you were good-looking when you were young,” the boy said. “And you’re still good-looking.”

Another interaction has an older woman and a female student, who is talking about her family.

“I love with my older brother. He has 23 years,” the young student said.

The older woman responded: “Do you know instead of saying ‘He has 23 years,’ you could say, ‘He is 23 years old.’”

The recorded videos are then uploaded privately on YouTube for teachers to evaluate student development, according to AdWeek.

“The idea is simple and it’s a win-win proposition for both the students and the American senior citizens,” said Joanna Monteiro, executive creative director at FCB Brazil. “It’s exciting to see their reactions and contentment. It truly benefits both sides.”

One particularly heartwarming conversation is about travel.

“Are you planning someday to go to Brazil?” the young student asked.

“Oh I would like to!” the older man said, to which the student responds with: “You can stay in my house if you want.”

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