Heritage Language Programs - Samoan

University of Hawai'i at Manoa GEAR UP Project
Farrington High School/Honolulu School District

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Address: 1564 North King Street . Honolulu, Hi 96817

Contact : Jacinta Galea'i
Instructor/Curriculum Specialist

Email: jacinta@hawaii.edu

Telephone: (808) 956-9112

Web address: www2.hawaii.edu/~gearup

Grades: 9-12

Languages/Dialects taught: Samoan

Program Description

Purposes and goals of the program: GEAR UP is a federally funded partnership between the University of Hawaii Manoa and Farrington High school. The aim is to develop students’ literacy skills and early college awareness so they can enter and succeed in college and become life-long learners through a standards-based language and culture curriculum.

Type of program: Part of the foreign language program using a content-based approach. The program is exploratory.

Program Origins: The program was founded in the fall of 2001 with federal GEAR UP funds

Parents' expectations for the program: Parents expect their children to value their culture, be able to communicate in the heritage language, and achieve academically in school.

Staff's expectations for the program: Staff and expect students to gain cultural knowledge, linguistic proficiency, critical awareness, and gain positive self-esteem so they can succeed in college and contribute to their communities.


First generation immigrants: 70%
Second generation immigrants: 20%
Children of interethnic marriages: 10%

Countries of origin: Samoa and Hawaii

Total student enrollment: 30 each semester

Identification of Heritage Speakers: The program identifies as heritage students those who come from homes where Samoan is the home language. Many students are passive bilinguals-- they understand but cannot speak the language. The rest claim Samoan as their identity, but they cannot speak. So they enroll in the class to learn the language, culture, and history. The program also uses background questionnaires and placement tests.

Percentage of students who complete the program: 95%


Number of staff in program: 5

Languages in which staff members are proficient: Samoan, Ilokano, and English

BA in English, Asian Studies, Second Language Studies
MA in English, Second Language Studies, Asian Studies
Doctorate in English, Social Anthropology

Professional development opportunities teachers have: weekly meetings

Professional development opportunities teachers need: curriculum and methodology development


Hours per week students receive instruction: 10 hours. Students are grouped in 1st and 2nd year.

Language Skills

English skills
• Listening
• Speaking
• Reading
• Writing
• Drama

Heritage Skills
• Listening
• Speaking
• Reading
• Writing

Skills and levels of language proficiency students reach by the end of the program: basic conversational, writing, and reading


• History
• Festivals
• Customs
• Traditions-beliefs
• Religion
• Folktales
• Arts and crafts
• Dances
• Songs
• Rhymes
• Social and cultural norms
• Cultural appropriateness
• Literature

Kind of student identity the program fosters: Multiple identities

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