Monday, May 5, 2008

Teaching Portuguese Language and Brazilian Culture

Generous support from CETL and the Department of English and Foreign Languages enabled me to attend the Ninth Congress of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) in New Orleans, March 27-29, 2008. BRASA is the major international organization focused on multidisciplinary Brazilian studies. The conference had approximately 1,000 attendees from the US, Brazil, and other countries. Remarkable this time were the number of panels dealing with Portuguese language and culture pedagogy and related issues. This increase, I believe, has been stimulated by the steady expansion of Portuguese language instruction in the US (WSSU initiated its program in fall 2005), the publication of new and very good materials for beginning learners in the US, and the recent implementation of an internationally administered standardized, multi-skill proficiency test in Brazilian Portuguese. Aside from the shared theme of culture and language instruction, there were two threads that ran through these presentations were (1) the integral connections between culture and language and (2) the utility of the World Wide Web for both finding and storing relevant materials.

I attended one panel and presented in another on this broad topic. The first panel, "Questions of Identity in the Study of Portuguese as L1 and L2 ("Questões identitárias no estudo do português como L1 e L2") included presentations "Challenges for the Teaching of Brazilian Culture to Foreigners" ("Desafios para o ensino de cultura brasileira para estrangeiros") by Monica Rector (UNC-Chapel Hill), "Identity and Language: Matters of Usage ("Identidade e língua: questões de uso") by Ricardo Borges Alencar (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro), "Portuguese in the Current Context Is Portuguese without a Text" ("Português no contexto atual é Português sem texto") by Regina Igel (University of Maryland, College Park), and "Active Poetry: Incorporation of Poems into the Teaching of Portuguese Language" ("Poesia ativa: a incorporação de poemas no ensino de língua portuguesa") by Sophia Beal (Brown University).

As far as the integral connections between culture and language are concerned, while language teachers have long taken for granted the importance of culture (broadly conceived) in language instruction, in the 1990s, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) lead the development of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning. The "five Cs," as these are known, are Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Teachers and authors of materials have felt emboldened since the publications of the standards to integrated language instruction with other dimensions of worlds in which languages are used. The integration and overlap of the five Cs lead us to inject thoroughly and systematically types of instruction into the earliest course in the language instruction sequence. Thus, while the vehicle of these is linguistic, the skills are cultural. Again, these contents are not new to instructors but integration into the elementary-intermediate curriculum often is. Two new textbooks, as well as supplemental materials, deal with these matters. Ponto de encontro: Portuguese as a World Language by Anna Klobucka, et al. (Prentice-Hall-Pearson, 2007) courageously brings both European and Brazilian Portuguese and formal and informal registers together in the belief that the learner should not have exposure restricted but should learn early on how to deal with these differences. Working Portuguese by Monica Rector et al. (Norton, forthcoming) as well as Prof. Alencar's presentation underscore the pragmatics of oral communication in Brazil, understanding of which is useful not only to Americans doing business in Brazil but also the general learner. Prof. Beal's presented ingeniously constructed lessons using canonical yet accessible Brazilian poetry to teach multiple language skills to elementary students. These lessons are supplemental to the regular use of Ponto de encontro. Finally, Prof. Rector's textbook is unusual in that it is explicitly informed by Paulo Freyre' pedagogy of the oppressed and "dialogue" adult educational practices synthesized by Jane Vella in On Teaching and Learning: Putting the Principles of Dialogue Education into Practice (John Wiley Sons, 2007) and previous books. In short, culture is not just an appendage of the language class, it is intertwined with it.

The panel on which I presented was "Innovative Strategies for Strengthening Portuguese Language Programs." We learned practical details about the design and administration of "CELPE-Bras Portuguese Proficiency Exam," from Mary Risner (University of Florida), who also presented an "Overview of Initiatives to Promote Portuguese." The CELPE-Bras test is an important breakthrough because, if students can get to testing sites, the test is free or very modestly priced, and it is widely acknowledged in the Portuguese-speaking world and among area specialists in the US. We got a window on "the making of" the video that accompanies Ponto de encontro from one of the co-authors herself, Clémence Jouët-Pastré (Harvard University. In both this and the previous session we had fruitful debates about the merits of both Ponto de Encontro and Working Portuguese because co-authors were present. Denise Gomes Leal da Cruz Pacheco (UCLA) presented on "Teaching Foreign Language and Didactic Materials in the Face of New Information Technologies" ("Ensino de línguas estrangeiras e os materiais didáticos face às tecnologias de informação e comunicação," which seemed to echo Prof. Igel's presentation and center on the obsolescence of the print textbook expecially for full integration of the five Cs. While it is good to be reminded of this, there is something to be said for the maintenance of the print text especially for teaching communications skills insofar as they are portable and unify the class tactically. I presented on "Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE): U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program: Focus on the HBCU Experience." WSSU is a partner in two FIPSE grantee consortia, of one of which I am the PI. Insofar as these consortia are focused on student exchange and language/culture learning they have been crucial for leveraging on-campus interaction and co-curricular activity related to Portuguese and Brazil. One of my central points, based on WSSU student testimonials, was that, although the theme of the exchange was "The African Diaspora in Brazil and the US: A Comparative Approach," and although most of the coursework in Brazil and the US were centered on that theme, what the students remark at most is the experience of being taken out of a majority African American institution and going back into a majority white institutional context in Brazil, and then returning to WSSU. They also comment on how US Black identity is both mirrored and challenged by Afro-Brazilians' daily experience. One Fisk student, participating in a different consortium but studying in Salvador--one of our partner cities, summed things up: "[the experience] helped me understand the meaning of 'African Diaspora.'" From my perspective, I believe the study abroad experience in conjunction with coursework at the home institution is the best route to accelerated language proficiency and progress in all five Cs. I have a Power Point on the exchange that I am happy to present at WSSU.

In regard to the World Wide Web, we were given URLs for a number of useful sites for teachers in our field, including links to demos of Prof. Beal's classes. These are of more use to specialists, but I can provide these addresses upon request. We also learned of two useful print sources for teaching Brazilian culture: Gilvan Muller, "Language Policy in Brazil: Monolingualism and Linguistic Prejudice," Language Policy 3.1 (2004): 3-23, and Tracey Novinger and Donald Haughey, Communicating with Brazilians: When "Yes" Means "No" (University of Texas P, 2004).

13 comments:

Bryce Wesley Merkl said...

Interesting story and analysis. Here's another website that might be helpful in teaching Portuguese:

Português wiki browser

RITM said...

Uau, tanta informação! Fiquei inspirada--e quero assistir a próxima conferência de BRASA. Obrigadão!

--Elena with Atlantico Books: www.AtlanticoBooks.com

Anonymous said...

Wholesale handbagsTHE SNOW wholesale clothingSTARTED TOWholesale jewelry FALL SEVERAL wholesaleHOURS BEFORE wholesale electronicsHER labor beganwholesale clothing. A few flakes firstwholesale handbags, in the dull ghdgray late-afternoon wholesale furnituresky, and then Furniture Wholesalewind-driven swirls Wholesale jewelryand eddies Ceramic tilearound the edges of Micro sd cardstheir wideWholesale clothing front porch. Wholesale JewelryHe stood by herWholesale fashion jewelry side at the windowWholesale costume jewelry, watching sharp gusts of snow billow, then swirl and drift to the ground. All around the neighborhood, lights came on, and the naked branches of the trees turned white.

Anonymous said...

High pressure blowerOutside,Industrial fan snow continued Industrial blowerto fall quietly Commercial blowerthrough the darknesswholesale, as bright andchina wholesale thick as staticwholesale shoes in the cones of wholesale clothinglight cast by the ghdstreetlights. Replica watchesBy the time he rose and looked out the window, watchestheir car had become a soft white hill on the edge of the street. Already his Replica Watchesfootprints in theRolex Watches driveway had filled pressure blowerand disappeared.
He brushedpressure blowers ashes from his fanshands and sat onblowers the sofa beside his wife, her feet propped on pillows, her swollen ankles crossed, a copy of Dr. Spock balanced on her belly. Absorbed, she licked her index finger absently each time she turned a page. Her hands were slender, her fingers short and sturdy, and she bit her bottom lip lightly, intently, as she read. Watching her, he felt a surge of love and wonder: that she was his wife, that their baby, due in just three weeks, would soon be born.

Anonymous said...

china wholesaleShe laughed. wholesale"Why not?" she asked.wholesale digital cameras "You're the doctorwholesale digital cameras."
"I'm just an wholesale electronicsorthopedic surgeon,"wholesale mp3 he reminded her.mp4 watches "I could tellpsp accessories you the ossification pattern for Wholesale Mp4fetal bones, Wholesale Mp4but that's mp5 playerabout it."2gb mp4 player He lifted her foot。

Anonymous said...

The Nets wow goldwent 9-7 in October and November, wow goldand they went 6-10 in January. The falloff offensively haswow gold outweighed the improvementdefensively. But we see wow goldnow that the fast start was a bit of a mirage.

Anonymous said...

There aredofus kamas three teams that appearkamas dofus twice above. The Thunderdofus kamas are on the right end of kamas dofusboth lists. They'veacheter dofus improved bothbuy kamas offensively and defensively, acheter kamasthanks in part to how horrible they were early in the season. They had nowhere to go but up.

Anonymous said...

These areworld of warcraft gold relatively smallcheap wow gold sample sizes, wow orand factors otherwow power leveling than how world of warcraft goldwell the wow poteam is playing (injuries, schedule)wow orhave certainly buy wow goldhad an effect. But the Nets'cheap wow gold improvementwow power leveling on the wow powerlevelingdefensive end dofus kamasisn't too hard tokamas dofus explain. They had a lot of roster turnover and Lord of the Rings Online Goldhave several LOTRO Goldyoung players, LOTR Goldincluding two rookies, flyff moneyin their rotation.flyff penyaSo, as their team buy flyff goldhas grown together ffxi giland their young buy ffxi gilguys have Final Fantasy XI giladjusted to the buy Warhammer goldspeed of theWarhammer gold game, they've improved defensively.EverQuest 2 gold"Experience is a eq2 platlot of it," says rookie Ryan Anderson, who has started the last 12 games in the absence of Yi Jianlian. "I know I've improved a ton defensively this season."

sushil kumar said...

Outstanding work ! Your web page has given me all the answers I desired .
Locksmith Mesquite tx
Locksmith In Bayonne NJ
Locksmith Oakland CA
San Jose locksmith
San Jose locksmith
San Jose locksmith
Locksmith San Jose CA
Locksmith San Jose CA
Locksmith Bolingbrook
Locksmith Bolingbrook
Bolingbrook Locksmith
Locksmith Bolingbrook
<a href="http://railway-online.com/

nikeairmaxshoe said...

Even if, in the beginning, the requirement was generally concentrated within the East Coast previous your USA
From here, Nike Outlets,
the acceptance of air blood flow pressure one went up by continually. air blood flow pressure one carried its accomplishment out in to the whole world.and made

abercrombiefitch said...

Thank you for your article to share with us, our online store Nike Outlets, have a good product Nike Air Max shoes, interested welcome to come in and see 2011 Cheap Nike Air Max Online Store, Hot products: Nike Air Griffey Max 1 Shoes. Best Nike Shoes .

baele said...

So how is the Nike vapor soccer shoes changed? Visually. the new Vapor football boots have undergone the same new paint work as the Nike Mercurial Superfly boots and now feature the updated asymmetric, Nike soccer cleats fluorescent.but now it's time to take a look at the boot Nike mercurial vapor . - the original Nike Speed boot!New products Nike Football Boots for us.

Mamun said...

This can be a finest article for this subject matter I've ever read. I'm really quite satisfied with it. Maintain running a blog!

take it with you