English Proficiency Biggest Challenge for Brazilian Scholars

The Brazilian minister of education, Aloizio Mercadante, recommended that students who intend to use scholarships to study abroad through the Science without Borders (Ciências sem Fronteiras, CSF) program should already be studying a foreign language to facilitate the application process. To date, CSF has released funds for 14,600 scholarships for Brazilians to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and math at the best universities in the world. While 3,700 are already abroad, over 10,000 are expected to leave in August.

“Operational challenges are few and inconsequential. The real challenge is English proficiency,” explained Mercadente. Students selected for the program must obtain a minimum score on the language proficiency exam, like the TOEFL, to prove that their proficiency in a foreign language is sufficient for advanced study in the host country. Students can study language on scholarship for up to six months before the beginning of their program. If after this time they do not pass the exam, the foreign institution will not accept them.

Mercadante recommends that students begin studying a foreign language as soon as they begin at a university. “Students starting college this year should already be learning another language so that next year they can apply and take the proficiency exam. That way they won’t have to wait around. They need to take the initiative,” he remarked.

Brazilian students will be able to study in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Finland, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.

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