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How collaboration can bring Portuguese into mainstream schools

What is a language policy? How are language policies created? How do educators recognise and interpret a language policy when they see one? How does their interpretation open or indeed close opportunities for bilingual and multilingual education?

Drawing on her doctoral research and on her experiences as a mother of a bilingual child, a community school founder, a teacher and an administrator of the overseas language provision offered by the Portuguese Government in the UK, Cátia Verguete reflects upon these matters and argues for closer collaboration between the complementary sector and mainstream education.

The innovative pedagogical activities arising from this collaboration can sustain more than one type of multilingualism, benefitting all pupils, irrespective of their linguistic repertoire.

The broader study demonstrated that when Portuguese teachers were invited to work collaboratively with their mainstream counterparts, there were more language learning and teaching opportunities being created and being implemented more effectively. This could be by offering Portuguese language and culture courses throughout the school day, or by supporting Portuguese-speaking pupils in English and maths by pre-teaching them the content in Portuguese. This type of collaboration requires delving into discussions and negotiations about curriculum, timetabling and other such school structures.

The article in The Linguist, the bimonthly journal of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Linguists, is a reminder that languages policies, whether they are official governmental regulations or implicit behaviours normalised in our sociocultural daily routines, can be powerful mechanisms in facilitating or curtailing opportunities for language use and language learning and teaching.

Blog by Cátia Verguete