Heritage Language Programs - Portuguese

Portuguese, California State University- Fullerton

Program: Arts, Letters, and Sciences
Department of Modern Languages and Philosophy

Contact: Elmano Costa / Director, Center for Portuguese Studies

Address: 801 W. Monte Vista Ave.
Turlock, CA 95382

Email: ecosta@csustan.edu

Telephone: 209-667-3638

Fax: 209-667-3358

Institution: Four-year university

Languages/dialects taught: Portuguese

Course level: undergraduate

Course sequence: the university offers a minor in Portuguese. It is a sequential program.

• beginning
• intermediate
• advanced l

Purposes and goals of the program: We have a large Portuguese immigrant community in the service area of this university. The purpose of this program is to promote the language and culture of this community and give them the same status as other languages taught on this campus.

Type of program
• Part of a foreign language program:
• An independent heritage language program

Program description: The Portuguese program qualifies as a heritage program because the vast majority of students who take the courses do so for the purpose of language maintenance. The program was founded in 1990. The community pressured the university to start the program and then provided funding to get it started.

Faculty and administration expectations for the program: The expectation is that this should be a bonafide foreign language program on par with the other languages offered by the Department.


• First generation immigrants: 5%
• Second generation immigrants: 90%
• Non-ethnic background: 5%

Countries of origin: Most of the students have parents who were born in the Azores Islands of Portugal.

Total student enrollment: 25

Age of students: Average 22

How the program identifies who is a heritage speaker: It is done informally in the classes by
• Oral interview
• Instructor assessment in class

Percentage of students who complete the program: 5% get a minor in Portuguese

Percentage of students who continue to study the heritage language after completing the program: Very few

Possible reasons for student withdrawal from the program: For most, the Portuguese program is a personal quest and not their major. Thus they take only a few courses.

Students' attitudes toward the language varieties they speak:
Many are apprehensive at first, feeling that their language is a mixture of English and Portuguese and not grammatically correct.


Total number of faculty teaching in the program: One

Number of Part-time instructors: One

Languages in which faculty members are proficient: Portuguese (Continental)

Level of faculty proficiency: Very proficient (native speaker with formal education in Portugal)

• Teacher certification from California
• Credential in Portuguese
• MA in Spanish and Portuguese

Professional development opportunities for faculty: Through the California Foreign Language Project, she has access to workshops that focus on foreign language methodology.

Professional development opportunities that faculty need: Often, they need both instructional methodology and their own language development.

Course Levels:
Face-to-face course title: 1010
• level: Beginning
• number of hours: 4 units
• hours per week: 4 hrs
• length of semester: 14 weeks

Heritage Skills
• listening
• speaking
• reading
• writing

Skills and levels of language proficiency that students reach by the end of the program: Those who complete the minor are very fluent.

Culture taught
• history
• festivals
• customs
• traditions/beliefs
• religion
• folktales
• social and cultural norms
• cultural appropriateness
• literature
(No special content courses are offered for heritage speakers)

Kind of student identity the program fosters: The program promotes both use of language and cultural knowledge, which lead to increased pride.

Methodologies and instructional strategies used in the program: The program uses standard methods for foreign language instruction.

Textbook Bom Dia

Other materials used for instruction: Many instructor-developed materials are used.

Technology used in the program: We have been piloting the use of Forum software to deliver all or part of the program online.

• Chapter tests
• Mid-term tests
• Final exams
• Performance-based tasks

Opportunities that heritage students have outside the college to use their heritage language or develop their cultural knowledge: The community is a rich resource with many clubs and churches where Portuguese is used regularly. However, the program does not require involvement in these activities.

Financial support
• Institutional/regular course
• Ethnic/cultural organizations
• Heritage home government
The Portuguese government paid for the lecturer to teach Portuguese for about 10 years.

People who solicit funding for the program: The community does most of this.

Kinds of assistance or collaboration the program would you like to receive from other entities: To find sources for grants and other funding opportunities.

The system for graduating students and granting credit for study: These are regular university courses, and credit is given as per the standard format.

The program does not track students' overall academic achievement or career goals, but faculty members conduct research on heritage language issues. For example, the director of the Center for Portuguese Studies has published several articles on Portuguese immigrants.

Examples of challenges the program has experienced:
Having adequate students for more advanced courses

Additional comments: When the community puts pressure, the university responds.

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