Portuguese-Language Students in U.S. Schools
ELL/CLD/ Bilingual students academic ‘errors’
or miscues in speaking, reading, writing or spelling, explained
by their primary language’s influence on English, are
to be expected. These miscues are developmental, and they
do not constitute a learning problem or (dis)ability. They
are an indication of a natural phenomenon of linguistic interaction between the primary and the second or the new language.
Assessment is defined as the collection of data with a purpose and evaluation is making sense of the data collected in comparison with a criteria. In the case of ELLs suspected of having a disability the huge challenge is in evaluation. Why? Because many evaluators interpret the assessment data from second language speakers with native English speakers and that contributes to misevaluation of these student's performance during their learning of a second/new language. Please refer to Debora's video clip reading an English text and the research in second language acquistion.
you are faced with the question: “Are the errors or
miscues in speaking, reading or writing the result of a linguistic-cultural influence
or are they an indication of a learning disability?”
The first step is to be familiar with the three kinds of laws that ensure a fair assessment-evaluation. Second is to ask yourself:
- What do I already know about linguistically and culturally
responsive assessment related to the Portuguese language and cultures?
- What critical questions do I have about understanding my student’s
language(s) and cultural needs?
- What knowledge do I need to seek that supports my
effectiveness as a nondiscriminatory teacher/assessor of these student's performance and ways of knowing?
- Why do I need to be culturally and linguistically competent to evaluate an ELL student suspected of having a disability?
To begin to explore the answer to some of these questions,
you are invited to link to STARTING
POINT before initiating an intervention or a referral for eligibility
assessment of an ELL/CLD student at the beginning, intermediate or
even advanced level of English proficiency
Valid interpretation or (re)interpretation of the assessment data collected
on a Portuguese-speaking student suspected of having a disability, you need to have general and language specic linguistic and cultural knowledge factors.
- The main characteristics of the English language. Please refer to what teachers need to know about language
- The stages of second language acquisition and the
levels of proficiency in English and Portuguese
- The difference between fluency and proficiency (BICS
- Factors that influence second language acquisition
- Similarities and differences between second language
acquisition and learning disabilities indicators.
- Research on program outcomes in Language Learning Education in the USA and in other countries.
- The main characteristics
of Portuguese and how they differ from those of English:phonology, morphology,semantics, syntax and pragamatics.
- What linguistic influences from Portuguese are predictable in English reading, writing and spelling?
- Knowledge about cultural diversity and culturally responsive pedagogy (or lack of it).
- Understanding about the influence of culture in teaching and learning.
- Knowledge about each student's country and culture(s) of origin including values, ways of knowing, schooling,religion and health practices.
- Knowledge about the acculturation process for students including stages of acculturation and cultural identification.
- Knowledge about the studentís family cultural background (e.g. values, beliefs,
child-rearing practices and behaviors), how similar or
how different it is from U. S. majority culture and implications for culturally responsive pedagogy
- The influence of Cultures in the student's cultural identity and self esteem
- The influence of each student' s culture on performance in learning and motivation
To be able to explore the distinction between linguistic
differences and learning disabilities, many educators need
to enrich their professional knowledge with an upgrade
in diversity education, which focuses on cultural and linguistically
specific information (Wilson-Portuondo, 2004).
NOTE: Portuguese-speaking students come from a diversity
of countries and academic backgrounds. This site only focuses
on those that come from Brazil & Portugal including the
Azores and Madeira.