“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

Self Reliance, Emerson, R. W.

The short version

I’ve graduated in English and respective literatures (British and American) from the University of Brasília and I got my post-graduate degree in Teaching English as a Foreign or a Second Language from the University of Birmingham. I started teaching in 1997 and I have been passionate about education ever since. I’ve been a teacher at language schools, regular (K-12) schools, undergraduate and post-graduate levels at a university in Brasília. I’ve also been a director of studies, teacher trainer, high school principal and college counsellor. I’m the current president for BRAZ-TESOL, the largest association for teachers of English in Brazil and I work as a freelance teacher trainer, online language teacher, and educational consultant.

In my career, I’ve had the chance to present plenary sessions at teacher development conferences on a national scale and present webinars internationally. I was also chosen to work together with the trainers from ETS to introduce the training course to the TOEFL iBT in Brazil. Out of the things I have done, I’m particularly fond of my work with high school students who are interested in studying abroad. I’m also a firm believer in the need to reimagine schools and the school system. I don’t think it’s broken, nor that it is bad per se; it’s outdated and it needs to be reimagined.

The long version

I’ve been teaching English since 1997 and even though I’d decided I wanted to be a teacher in high school, it wasn’t until I really started joining the teaching community – not only walking into classrooms – that I found out how passionate I am about teaching and learning. My initial idea was to teach History, and I even started my university course in History, but I wound up in a language classroom as some of my teachers had told me that it’d be nice to get the hang of teaching and experience it first-hand by teaching whatever I could before I graduated from university. It turns out I fell in love with teaching English and, after a couple of changes in my life, I ended up getting my B.A. in English and literature from the University of Brasília (Brazil) and, later on, my post-graduate degree in TEFL/TESL (Teaching English as a foreign language / Teaching English as a second language) from the University of Birmingham.

I’ve done quite a few things in my professional life so far. First and foremost, I’ve been a teacher, obviously. However, since 2003 I had the chance to join the realm of teacher trainer, which I loved. I’ve worked also as a university professor at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. I was the co-owner and DoS of a school in Brasília for 7 years. I was also high school principal in a school in Brasília, a college counselor for students who want to do their undergraduate studies abroad, and also in charge of the extra-curricular projects for high school students, which meant teaching them how to design projects and manage them successfully. I’ve also had the chance to prepare and take students to Model United Nations conferences, such as HMUN and NAIMUN – as a former RPG player, I do like these events. I’m keen on technology and its benefits for education, but I think of myself as a teachers who enjoys working with teaching in many different ways, and I also believe in the dialogic, co-constructed, and reactive nature of teaching if we are to succeed in helping our students learn.

Doing Some Thinking is the title of my blog in English (from where this site originated) as I use to, well, do some thinking on matters related to ELT and education in general – and I’ve grown more and more interested in education as a whole as time goes by. Needless to say, I also consider teaching English as education, and not simple the mere learning of grammar and vocabulary. Feel free to browse through my thoughts and comment on the posts. After all, learning is co-constructed, and the more we engage in discussions, the better our understanding of the topics will be.


59 thoughts on “About me

  1. you, shy??? c’mom
    thanks God, he gave up being a History teacher, because today we have an awesome English teacher…
    the best ever!!!

  2. hello Henrick,its really a b’ful idea to b in touch with so many ppl with different cultures, i appriciate it. I am Ruby from India, teaching english in a private college. I wud suggest that we should make this a platform whr all the english teachers exchange the modules which they apply to teach english as second language n moreover we can invite some teachers to each other’s country n host them to exchange the cultures n try to make this world a better place.

  3. How nice that you’ve become a blogger!
    You and Shaun Dowling were my teachers when I was preparing to sit a Cambridge test on 2005. I wouldn’t have passed it without your guidance!
    Best of luck with your MA!

    1. Hi Ana,

      Really nice of you to drop by. I’m glad to hear I played a small part in your passing the exam. It’s always good to know I could help. 🙂
      Feel free to come back to the blog and write comments!


  4. Sorry, but I really think you’ve written something wrong here… On what planet are you shy?????

  5. Hi

    My name is Brian Asselin and I am a recent graduate from the teachers college program at the University of Ottawa. Towards the end of school we, the students, are reminded how fortunate we are to have principles, administration, and teachers who help inspire students everyday. While in teachers college I realized how fortunate I have been to have had such great teachers in my life that have helped shape the person I am today. I wanted to say thank you to all those who go beyond the daily job requirements so I co-wrote a song entitled “You Have Made A Difference”. I would really appreciate it if you would take a couple minutes to listen to the song and if you felt so, share it with your staff.

    Thanks so much in advance
    Brian Asselin

    Here is the link on youtube

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thank you very much for sharing the song! Teachers do need some appreciation from time to time, just like anyone else. I’ll certainly share it with my staff.

      Hope you enjoy the blog and keep visiting it. 🙂

  6. Hello there. I run the Sparky Teaching blog (part of the iLearn Technology Blogger Alliance #2 and I’m just leaving this message as I can’t think of any other way of doing things… In the original subscription, my website feed wasn’t correct and so, even though I’m posting away, none of my posts are coming up on the list. I’ve contacted Kelly and she has altered the feed address, but the only way for the changes to be made is for users to unsubscribe and then subscribe again. If you feel like doing this, here was the original link that Kelly sent out: http://www.google.com/reader/bundle/user%2F13561210701575762120%2Fbundle%2FiLearn%20Technology%20Blogger%20Alliance%202

    My e-mail address is pw77-account(at)fsmail.net in case you need to contact me. Sorry to have contacted you this way, but as I say I’m at a loss as to how to sort it out any other way!

    Best wishes,

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you so much for this message! I was actually a bit of lost regarding the Blogger Alliance. I can’t wait to start participating actively in it! 🙂

  7. Hey Henrick! Remember me? Do you still play chess? I haven’t forgot our last moves 😉

    I’m writing because I’m also into education – my wife and I run a democratic school in São Paulo, and we’ve also taken part in founding an institute to promote democratic education ideas in Brazil. I enjoy you blog and am glad to see you’ve also taken this path. We should find some time to chat sooner or later.

    I always see you online at gtalk, but since you’re busy now I decided to post here. Drop a message some time.


  8. Hi Henrick, are you still in Birmingham? Me too. I know the university well (although I went to Manchester) as I live nearby. I think your blog is great, and love the title. Thinking, well day-dreaming, is a personal hobby of mine!

    1. Hi David! I so wish I were there. I’ve had to take the distance course, unfortunately. I’ve been thinking about going to Birmingham for the graduation ceremony, but that’s still uncertain.
      Many thanks for the kind words on the blog. The idea is exactly that – day-dreaming, musing, reflecting a bit, and learning.
      If I ever go to Birmingham (fingers crossed), I’ll look you up! 🙂

  9. Hi Rick!
    I was doing a little research on teaching English in Brasil, and I stumbled upon your information. It’s great to have information on teaching English in a foreign context all in one place! Nice work with the blog!

    A little info on me: I have a BS in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and am currently teaching in an Elementary school here in the United States (I am from the US and currently live here). Unfortunately, my boyfriend (um brasileiro) has to return to Brasil, and I am planning to join him there to marry and all that good stuff. His family lives in Goias state, 3-4 hours from you there in DF. Ok, sorry about the long story but here come my actual questions (thank goodness, right?)

    With my BS in TESL and teaching experience, what do you think is out there for me as far as teaching English? Is it difficult to get started in Brasil, and make a decent wage? Am I being ridiculous thinking that I could actually find a good job there? Is a language school best, or are there international schools? Do you know if there are language schools in Goiania? Too many questions I know! But I am very interested in what you have done and I have to start somewhere!

    Keep up the good work with the blog, I will be visiting regularly! Thanks again!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      I’m glad to hear it’s been useful. 🙂

      I guess all teachers enjoy a good story, especially one that ends so well. I really wish you two all the best!

      I believe there are good chances for you to find a job here. I can see two options for you: working in an international school (in Brasília I can think of four different schools off the top of my head: The American School of Brasília, The School of the Nations, Maple Bear, and the International School), or at a language institute. I believe that in any situation you’ll need your VISA and all the paper work, which might not be a problem since you’re going to get married and all that happy stuff. There are many language schools in Goiânia, but as I’m not from Goiânia I can’t really give you much more information than this. It won’t be difficult for you to find information on that, though. I guess you can find that online if you google “language schools Goiânia”, or “English schools Goiânia”. My sister is currently living in Goiânia – she doesn’t know much, but I can ask her.

      Making a decent wage… hmm, I’m really unsure about how much they pay in Goiânia. This varies from school to school, so the best option is also for you to look for many different options. You’re probably going to work in a private language institute, so they can pay as much as they want. Just so you have an idea, teachers payement in Brasília may vary from R$ 10,00 to R$ 50,00 per hour – and there’s always the possibility of private classes, and then you say how much you want to charge.

      I hope this is useful. If need be, feel free to email me at henrick.oprea@gmail.com



  10. Olá, bom dia Henrick. I read your article about teaching English in Brasília. I too was born in Brasília, but moved to the States when I was only 5-years-old. Now, I am a master’s level Counselor and Certified EFL Teacher. I have traveled to 6 countries and taught English in Erie, PA, Spain, Manhattan, New York, and now in Hanam City, South Korea. My dream is to return to the city of my birth, teach English to Brasilians, counsel American students, and learn my native language and culture again before it’s too late. My birth family actually lives in Brasília, but I have yet to meet them. I am writing to inquire if you are in need of a Certified EFL Teacher at your language institute, “Atlantic Idiomas.” I too believe in finding innovative ways to engage learners, utilizing creativity & willpower. I may pursue another MA in TEFL/TESL as well. How do you like the program at the University of Birmingham? Thank you very much for your time. I do hope to hear from you soon. I admire all that you are doing there. Atenciosamente, Lois Ann Pearo, MA, TEFL Certified

    1. Many thanks for the kind words! I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts as well, and you’re more than welcome to leave comments! 🙂

  11. Hi! I saw a post on the English Raven Facebook page that mentioned your name and that you were from brazil, so I came right over to your blog to take a look. I live in Mãncio Lima, Acre, Brazil and am looking for EFL teachers in Brazil to connect with, especially EFL teachers who teach in public schools. I am hoping to share new ideas, and insights into how to improve my teaching in the Brazilian context, especially since I was not raised in Brazil and was not trained to teach English (my degree is in Mathematics).
    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I will be visiting often.

    1. Hi Josefa,

      We’re all like a big family in the blogosphere looking for other teachers who are also willing to share and contribute to our professional development. Feel free to comment on the posts whenever you want to, and you’ll also find other ELT bloggers from Brazil on my blogroll. They’re all amazing! You may want to start by checking Valéria Benévolo, Cecília Coelho, and Willy Cardoso. Thanks for the kind words! 🙂

  12. I have read your interesting online article and blog about teaching English in Brazil and the challenges of getting students to buy-in to why they should learn English. I have a teaching credential and Master’s Degree in teaching in California but am currently employed as a partner in a small contracting company selling and installing solar electric systems. I only speak English and have an English speaking family, wife and daughters 8 years old and 9 years old. Assuming I am open to trying to learn Portuguese over time and open to acculturating myself and family in Brazil, can you advise me whether I could reasonably get employment where I could be functional in Brazil without Portuguese or Spanish capability? Is this possible? Are there any English speaking communities in Brazil?

    1. Hello Michael,

      I do believe you can find employment in Brazil without knowing Portuguese. If you’re a qualified teacher, then, you could even try to look for openings and checking what might be necessary to get a job at one of the many American Schools in Brazil, for example. English language teaching institutes might also be a possibility, as well as companies in other fields – can’t really say much in that regard, though. I cannot think of any English speaking community in Brazil off the top of my head, but there are many English speakers living in Brazil these days – I really don’t think not speaking Portuguese would be a hindrance.

      Feel free to email me or contact me on Facebook so we can carry on the conversation there.

      Cheers! 🙂

  13. Hi, Rick I was doing some research about teaching in Brazil. What’s the best city in Brazil where I can make decent money and perhaps save some to take back home?

  14. Hello Henrick!
    My name is Lorena Palma, I’m 29 years old and I have a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration. When surfing the Internet, I came across one of your articles talking about the adventures of an English Teacher in Brazil. I found it very interesting and reading your other posts and verifying you have an extensive experience in the area here in Brasília, I would like to ask you for some help. I graduated in English here in Brasilia and lived abroad for two years. One year in Ireland and another year in Dubai. I love the English language and I have an advanced level, but do not consider myself safe enough to take a classroom and teach! I am spontaneous and communicative and now that I believe that my return to Brazil is to be for an extended period, I would love to do a course that is going to allow me to be an English Teacher. I want to be a good one, educated and competent, like the one´s I had!! I would love to teach! Do you know a good course here in Brasilia? I found one in Thomas Jefferson, but it has duration of two and half years and I am looking for a shorter course!!
    Well, that’s it!
    Grateful for your attention!
    Lorena Palma

    1. Hi Lorena,

      It’s good to hear that you’re interested in doing a good job and not simply relying on your experience abroad and the fact that you can speak the language to start teaching. This is the kind of people we need more of. As far as teacher training courses go, you won’t find many that are of a short duration in Brasília, and I believe the only one that’s been around for quite a while, up to now, is the one at Casa Thomas Jefferson. If you’re looking for something more intensive, but that will give you the initial foundation to start teaching, you could consider the CELTA, from Cambridge ESOL (http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams-and-qualifications/celta/) or you could consider taking a very basic course as the Cambridge TKT (http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams-and-qualifications/tkt/). If possible, I highly advise you take the CELTA. The TKT will give you some information on the basics of teaching and it is, honestly, just a very introductory qualification. On the bright side, both CELTA and TKT are recognised worldwide.

      Alternatively, you could also start working on some informal professional development by reading loads of blogs written by English teachers from Brazil and abroad. You can find some on my blogroll and, from those, you’ll find others). There’s also Braz-TESOL, a teachers’ association that organises seminars and conferences (http://www.braztesol.org.br/site/view.asp) and there are a couple of webinars that you can attend free of charge that will give you some insight. You can also join two Facebook groups for English teachers – BRELT (https://www.facebook.com/groups/brelt/) and Braz-TESOL Brasília (https://www.facebook.com/groups/braztesolregional/) to begin with.

      Finally, if you’re looking for some self-study, I recommend you buy your copy of Jeremy Harmer’s The Practice of English Language Teaching (http://www.amazon.com/Practice-Language-Teaching-Handbooks-Teachers/dp/1405853115/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370985605&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Practice+of+English+Language+Teaching). You can find it in – or order it from – local bookstores, such as SBS, Disal and Livraria Cultura (most likely). This book will most likely be one of your main guides in terms of preparing you to enter a classroom. If you’re interested in something a bit simpler, you can check How to Teach English, or Essential Teacher Knowledge, both by Jeremy Harmer.

      And feel free to drop me a line any time. If there’s anything I can help you with, I’ll be glad to do so.


  15. Wow Henrick! Thank you very much for your quick and efficient response. Undoubtedly I will check every statement you pointed out. Again thank you! It’s hard to find people who are available to simply help without having any interest. Cheers!

    1. Hi there,

      There are a couple of blogs on my blogroll (right-side menu) and these blogs also contain a list of other blogs to follow. It’s a very interesting network of blogs written mainly by educators.

  16. I am writing a paper on blogging as a form of professional development in the ELT context and want lots of insights and ideas especially case studies where people have used blogging to gain professional visibility.I am interested in Brazil. Russia, China,Japan as well my own country, india
    Also I started my own blog vinitadhondiyal.wordpress.com
    Any chance of any post there being useful for teaching ELT in any classroom. That would help my paper!

  17. Hi, Henrick! Nice blog! Btw, do you have roots from Romania/Moldova or is “Oprea” a common family name in Brasil? 🙂 I am curious because this is also my family name.

    1. Hi Mariana,

      My grandfather was from Romania, and this is where the family name comes from. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to pay it a visit even though I don’t know any of my Romanian relatives… Oh, and it’s definitely not a common family name in Brazil.

      Thanks for paying a visit to the blog! I hope you come back!

  18. Hi Henrick!

    Really enjoying your blog! I found an article by you on Teaching VIllage and it led me here. I am relocating to Brasilia after completing my Master’s of Social Work in the U.S. in June. I would like to explore teaching English and social work in Brasilia. Any tips on where to start? I am visiting Brasilia in a few short weeks and I’m eager to speak with potential employers or places that I can volunteer my time. Would Atlantic Idiomas be looking for new and eager English teachers? 🙂

    Thank you so much!


    1. Hi Caitlin,

      Feel free to email me with your questions so we can chat better. Unfortunately, Atlantic Idiomas has closed, but I can still provide you with some information if you think that’d be helpful. My email is henrick.oprea@gmail.com



  19. Hi Henrick,
    I read your post at Teaching Village (http://www.teachingvillage.org/2010/04/22/teaching-english-in-brazil-by-henrick-oprea/)and everyone’s comments there. I’m so encouraged that I might have a way to connect with others in Brasil who are teaching English. I’m reposting my comments below as it appears you probably did not see them and this is where I should have posted them (according to Akin, who responded to my reply to your post on May 21.) By the way, we have been in Curitiba now for a full week–still working on getting documents in order and finding a place to live long-term.

    I have been a university librarian in the U.S. for over 30 years and am taking early retirement and moving to Curitiba with my husband in a couple of weeks. I was born to American parents in Sao Paulo and grew up going to Brazilian schools while being home schooled by my mom (before homeschooling was all the rage) who used the Calvert Correspondence Course for our lessons in English (I am the oldest of 5 children, so my mom had quite a challenge keeping us all on track with English/American schooling early on.) So, in my younger years I was literally “in school” from 7 in the morning until 5pm everyday. Later we came to the States for my 9th grade (high school) and when we went back to Brasil, I finished high school at the American school (Graded) in Sao Paulo. Then at the age of 18, I came back to the States to go to college. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Education with a Spanish and a Library Science concentration. Upon graduation, I taught middle school Spanish and was the school’s librarian. I decided I didn’t like teaching–at least not those particular kids, in a rural community. I then moved back close to where my parents were (they had now returned to the States for a one year furlough, and I applied for a Civil Service job in a University Library. At that library I thrived doing library work and met my mentor who encouraged me to get my master’s degree in library science. Upon completing my master’s in Library Science I went on to be a university librarian at a number of universities and colleges in the U.S. I am now taking early retirement from my last appointment, which has lasted 14 years in Florida. My husband is retired and has long wanted to move to Brasil, so, we are taking the plunge. I have gotten TESOL certification and I retire from my university library faculty position on Friday of next week. We are moving to Curitiba, having made several trips there over the last few years and are getting very excited about the prospects. Without any instigation on my part, the young man who will be our banker in Brasil, asked me on our last trip if I would consider giving him private English lessons. We took taxis a lot while we were in Curitiba in 2012 & 2013, and in various conversations I had with the “taxistas,” they indicated that there was a decided level of interest in having conversational English classes to prepare for the influx of English speakers who would be arriving for the Olympics in 2016 (it’s obviously too late for the World Cup, of course, which, by the way, we have tickets for one of the games in Curitiba. ☺) I also plan to visit some of the schools in the city and would be interested in meeting others who are now teaching English in Curitiba.

    We will arrive toward the end of May of 2014 and as soon as we are able to get settled, I will be looking to start private English lessons there to supplement our retirement income. I’m so glad to have gleaned quite a bit of information just from your post and the replies you have received.

    I’m trying to find out where the next BRAZ-TESOL conference will be as I am interested in attending and beginning to “learn the ropes” from others who teach English in Brasil. I did see that in 2013 there was the 2nd edition of The Image Conference: Film, Video, Images and Gaming in Engiish Language Teaching that took place at Cultura Inglesa in Brasilia—did you attend that conference? Sounds fascinating!! I’ve signed up for that newsletter, checked out their blog (although the 2014 info is yet to be announced) and look forward to the information. I plan to contact the Curitiba Chapter of BRAZ-TESOL and, in so doing, hopefully, start networking locally.

    I notice that no one has posted a response to your blog post since 2011, but I’m hoping you are still open to responding to my post about where the next BRAZ-TESOL conference will be—hope you might have some inside information because you are on the planning committee (I’m guessing ☺.) Perhaps my reply will prompt others who might have some encouraging words to respond to the information I have shared.


    1. Hi Debora,

      It seems like you’ve had quite a ride as a Librarian and you have thoroughly looked into what life in Brazil might be like. I’ve never been to Curitiba myself, but I’ve heard great things about the city. The blog has been going on and off ever since the time when the closing of the school I co-owned was being discussed, but I do intend to plan to write more regularly soon. I honestly thought I’d be able to have resumed my activities this January, but things are still a bit messier than I had anticipated. But I do have a look at all comments that are posted here.

      There is a lot of interest in private English lessons in Brazil and this could most certainly complement an income as you are likely to make a lot more money out of it than you would if you were teaching in a school. Wages are pretty low in most language institutes – personally I blame it on the fact that ELT is business and not education in Brazil. But we could discuss this further through emails if you’d like to learn more about it.

      Well, the next Braz-TESOL event will be next year in São Paulo, and there should be some information posted on the website shortly – there’s a banner with the dates (July 17th and 18th, 2015). However, in the meantime you should definitely contact the regional Curitiba chapter (http://braztesol.org.br/site/view.asp?p=18) – as you’ve said this in your comments I fear I’m being redundant, but I decided to share it anyway. I’m sure you’ll be able to start networking with people from Curitiba and find out a lot more about their local events as well. They are quite an active chapter.

      Depending on your budget and willingness to attend events in other cities, there are lots of smaller events held by the regional chapters throughout Brazil during the year. The one you mentioned, The Image Conference, was organised by the Braz-TESOL Brasília chapter in partnership with the founder of the Image Conference (Kieran Donaghy from the amazing http://film-english.com/ ) and IATEFL. It was a brilliant conference and we’re happy we were able to bring it to Brasília.

      Oh, and I still haven’t got any information on the venue of our next International Conference. All I know is that it is going to take place in 2016 and it won’t be in João Pessoa. 🙂

      Finally, thanks for making me revisit the post I’d written on Teaching Village a while ago. It seems I failed to reply to quite a few comments there… Well, if there’s anything else I can help you with, do not hesitate to contact me. You can also reach me via email (henrick.oprea@gmail.com), Facebook or Twitter.



  20. Aloha, I’m a student at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo (Big Island). I came across your blog on the “Four Pillars” and was relieved to find clarification on my position. I needed a strong argument to support my opposition to the following question. This assignment is based on the 4 pillars of education in the 21st century (Bernie Trilling and Charles Fidel). The question refers to the authors’ statement that “Education is falling short of equipping students with 21st century skills.” They contend that while educational goals have remained the same throughout the ages (Agrarian & Industrial), we must approach them differently in the current “Knowledge Age.” We are to agree or disagree and of course, explain our position. The 4 goals are presented as follows: 1) Contribute to work and society
    2) Exercise and develop personal talents
    3) Fulfill civic responsibilities
    4) Carry traditions and values forward
    Could you provide me with some insight on this as I am still unclear as to how I can approach it.

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