Archived Articles 2011

Volume 5 Fall 2011

“Teaching and Learning Portuguese as a Heritage Language”

It is understood that thematic issues have the potential to galvanize intellectually challenging reflections about the very choice of the topic explored. For this volume we anticipated questions such as: 1- why does Portuguese as a Heritage Language deserve an entire issue of the PLJ?; 2- what does “Heritage Language” mean?; 3- why did editors add a new section to this issue?; 4-why are the community reports focused on Brazil?

Portuguese has been a heritage language in the US since the colonial times. Multiple waves of Lusophone immigrants from different countries kept this status quo alive.  It was, however, during the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, with mass Portuguese-speaking migration, that Portuguese established itself as a heritage language. That is, a minority language surrounded by a dominant language and, therefore in danger of disappearing in the second or third generation.

Like other immigrant communities, the Lusophone communities fight against the loss of identity and struggle to maintain the language, which is the way of being and thinking par excellence. One of the classic approaches to this issue is to establish community schools that aim at preserving language not only at the basic conversational level, but go further and teach the most prestigious dialects and their written versions. Since Portuguese immigration to the United States is much older than Brazilian, there is a much larger and older network of Portuguese community schools that has been amply documented in books (Chamberlain 1979, Vieira 1980, Castanho 2010), websites (, and in this volume (see Serpa & Lira). Gradually, in the past ten years, the Brazilian community has struggled to preserve its own identity by creating community schools. Due to the recent appearance of Brazilian Portuguese speaking immigrants, it is understudied and at times invisible. This was the basis for having a section devoted to the voices from the community focused on Brazilians. Our goal is twofold: we want to document these new experiences and, at the same time, establish an intellectual dialogue between these communities of practitioners and researchers. The section “Voices from the Community” provides a sample of some of the most vibrant initiatives supporting Portuguese as a Heritage Language.

Finally, the five scholarly articles included in this volume reflect various approaches to understanding the phenomenon of Portuguese as a Heritage Language. Jouët-Pastré reports on a large-scale national study of the motivations of heritage and non-heritage learners to (re) learn Portuguese. Ferreira & Gontijo present a comparative study of statistical similarities and differences among diverse groups of learners in two institutions in Massachusetts. Serpa & Lira report on their findings of the state of K-12 Portuguese language education in Massachusetts while Figueiredo discusses her pedagogical approaches to teaching Heritage Portuguese in middle school classes. Valdez reports on the teaching of Portuguese as a minority language in France and analyzes the cultural stereotypes presented in pedagogical materials used there.

Portuguese for Heritage Speakers

Why, Who and Where? Portuguese Language Learners and Types of Motivation
Fernanda Ferreira and Viviane Gontijo
Bridgewater State University and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Mapping the World of the Heritage Language Learners of Portuguese: Results from a National Survey at the College Level
Clémence Jouët-Pastré
Harvard University

Portuguese as Heritage Language in Public and Private K-12 Schools In Massachusetts
Maria de Lourdes Brasil Serpa
Solange de Azambuja Lira
Lesley University

A representação da cultura de uma língua minoritária: manuais de português na França
Maria Teresa Travassos Valdez
University of Massachusett Dartmouth

Teaching Portuguese to Brazilian Students at a Secondary School in the U.S.A.
Vanda Figueiredo
Fuller Middle School

Educação e cultura brasileira para falantes de herança na região de VA, MD e DC
Ana Lúcia Lico
Associação Brasileira de Cultura e Educação

Criando memórias brasileiras – Falantes de herança que aprendem brincando
Keyla Zorzella
Mensageiros da Cultura

Projeto Contadores de Estórias: Uma história de sucesso
Valeria D. da Silva-Sasser
Projeto Contadores de Estórias

Brasil em Mente – o Brasil para os brasileirinhos e suas familias multiculturais
Felicia Jennings-Winterle
Escola Ciranda Cirandinhas

Fundação Movimento Educacionista dos E.U.A
Arlete Falkoviski
Professora do Núcleo Educacionista

Movimento Educacionista
Dione Q. B. Santos.
Professora do Núcleo Educacionista