SEE Learning Portuguese (PLE)

“From the World to Portugal” Interactive Learning of Portuguese as a Foreign Language

The aim of the European Stamp is to boost one of the European Union’s fundamental objectives, i.e. encourage people to learn foreign languages. As such, the EU rewards and stimulates innovative approaches to language learning and teaching by awarding this seal of approval to a limited number of projects that meet its criteria.

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We are confident that “Do Mundo até Portugal” was a motivating, holistic experience for all concerned and both original and creative. We invited a small number of exchange students from 8 different countries to immerse themselves in the Portuguese culture for an extended period. Staying with host families enabled them to experience the Portuguese way of life and use of language in a way that transcends traditional classroom activities. Students also joined in with intergenerational family festivities such as Christmas and Easter gatherings. These personal interactions gave them a genuine need to use the functional language they studied in class in order to communicate with their hosts and with each other in their multi-lingual group activities.

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To complement this informal language learning, formal language lessons employed an active methodology and our teachers made effective use of multimedia to introduce aspects of Portuguese and Lusophone culture into the classroom. Students were actively involved in making videos, recording interviews and researching projects. We took our students to national newspaper offices where they had a hands-on experience of working with the press. As well as being interviewed for the newspaper, they also visited a major national radio station and their interviews were broadcast live. Trips to local markets, shops, museums and other neighbourhoods where students were encouraged to talk to local people also formed part of the structured learning programme.

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We also gave participants the chance to venture deeper into Portugal by taking them to often-overlooked destinations from the north to south of the country. They were able to see, hear and taste for themselves the rich heritage of the country and sample different regional dishes – food being an extremely important part of Portuguese culture.

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Since our participants were constantly improving their Portuguese language skills in both formal and informal settings, we used a social and emotional matrix in addition to standard tests to evaluate their progress against Common European Framework Reference standards. The results were outstanding and show what a difference this kind of holistic learning can make.

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