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Lonely American seniors help Brazilian kids learn English via web chats

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  1. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are truly the most brilliant.

    A group of Brazilian students were eager to practice their English skills with native speakers of the language. Meanwhile in Chicago, retirement home residents were simply looking for someone to talk to.

    Two problems, one solution: pair them up and everyone benefits. That's the idea behind FCB Brazil's recent "Speaking Exchange" project.
  2. Developed for CNA language schools, which boasts more than half a million students across Brazil, the Speaking Exchange facilitates conversations between keen English students and elderly Americans via webcam.

    Using "an exclusive digital tool that uses video chat technology," students are able to come face-to-face with the residents of Chicago's Windsor Park Retirement Community and hold conversations in English. The meetings are recorded and then uploaded as private YouTube videos for teachers to evaluate their students' development. 

    "The idea is simple and it's a win-win proposition for both the students and the American senior citizens," said FCB Brazil's creative director Joanna Monteiro to AdWeek. "It's exciting to see their reactions and contentment. It truly benefits both sides."
  3. A video released by FCB Brazil this week shows clips of conversations between the two groups of very different,  yet remarkably similar, groups of people.

    Many around the web have been touched by the moments captured on camera — particularly the long distance digital hugs, the "I love you"s, and one woman's assertion that her Brazilian conversation partner is "my new grandaughter!"


    One of the students even offered up his home in Brazil for a Chicago participant to visit him.


    "Are you planning some day to go to Brazil?" the young man asks. 


    "Oh I would like to!" answers the retirement home resident.


    "You can stay at my house if you want!" says the Brazilian student.


    Comments about the video from around the web prove that the Speaking Exchange concept resonates with many.


  4. According to CNA's Speaking Exchange website, the program is now looking for more participants. 


    "If you manage an institution for elderly people, and you would like to participate of CNA Speaking Exchange, it is very simple. All your institution needs is a computer with Internet access and webcam," reads the website. "CNA provides a free Speaking Exchange app to install in your computer. Then you just have to register the elderly who are willing to participate in the activity and schedule a day and time of the week for the conversations to happen."

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