This special issue stems from two thematic panels on language and education in the Lusophone world which took place in 2019—one at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and the other at the University of Sheffield. The issue examines the tensions between the linguistic diversity in the Lusophone world and the largely monolingual education systems that remain in place to this day. Taking the education system as a key site for both the reproduction and the contestation of inequality, the issue reflects on how deeply engrained monolingual and monoglossic1 ideologies serve to marginalise local languages and local varieties of Portuguese, and the implications of this for access to and participation in education, and for broader questions of social mobility and social justice. As such, in this issue we take a critical approach and in line with Kramsch (2020) we contend that linguistic research can make a crucial contribution to understanding key social, ideological, and political power struggles.
Through this issue, we wish to carve out a space to discuss language and education in the Lusophone world from a range of professional, disciplinary, and geographic perspectives. The special issue includes contributions on Brazil, Cabo Verde (and the Cabo Verdean diaspora in Portugal and Galicia), Mozambique, and Angola, which approach the theme of linguistic inequality from a number of different angles, such as: the importance of codification of emerging standards for linguistic legitimacy (Undolo); the inclusion of home languages in school in the context of migration (Samartino; Cardoso); transformative, L1-based education in postcolonial contexts (Bermingham, DePalma, & Oca; Chimbutane); and use of non-standard varieties in education (O’Neill). The articles are written in English and in Portuguese or Galician.2 All articles are available in the language they were originally written in, as well as in their translated form, in order to challenge the Anglocentrism of scholarship and maximise opportunities for access, dissemination, and impact. The authors are from all career stages—from doctoral student to professor—as well as educators who draw on their extensive, first-hand classroom experience. An inclusive and open approach to scholarship, and accessibility and availability to members of the academic community, is at the centre of this project—both as regards the multilingual, open-access nature of the publication, but also the theme of the issue, which focuses on issues of linguistic inequality. We bring together this group of authors to emphasise the importance of promoting dialogue between different groups in order to challenge the circular and at times siloed nature of academic discourse, where opportunities for dialogue between researchers and practitioners are limited. In this respect, through this issue, we wish to highlight the symbiotic rather than oppositional relationship between research and practice.
Socio-Historical Context of Language and Education in the Lusophone Countries
The Portuguese Empire was extensive, stretching from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil through parts of Africa, coastal points of the Indian subcontinent, to what is today the Chinese administrative region of Macau and the independent nation of East Timor. The effects and extent of Portuguese rule, the settling of its citizens in the colonies, and the establishment of its language and administrative rule were not uniform, since the Portuguese Empire functioned in extremely diverse ways—this is important in explaining the extent to which Portuguese is spoken and taught in the modern states, and its linguistic vitality with respect to the local, indigenous languages. The specific history of the Portuguese Empire, and in particular its favouring of trade and commerce over the founding of educational institutions, is also influential in why the Portuguese language stands out from the languages of other European global empires in that its modern-day forms spoken outside Europe are markedly different from those spoken within Europe, and many are classified as creoles.
In Brazil, until 1759, education was the responsibility of the Jesuits and other religious groups. However, teaching was primarily for the instruction of agrarian elites, and the emphasis was on learning Latin, Greek, philosophy, theology, and the humanities. Whilst in early colonial times there was also an effort to teach Portuguese to the Amerindians and their mixed-race offspring, termed mamelucos, these efforts declined after the death of Manuel de Nobrega3 in 1570 (Pessoa, 2015, p. 156). The Jesuits adopted a policy of linguistic assimilation (Estenssoro & Itie, 2015) and a number of linguae francae—referred to as general languages— arose that were based on the indigenous Tupi-Guaraní languages. These became the most prominent and widespread languages in colonial Brazil and continued to be so in some areas until as late as the nineteenth century. The colonial neglect of matters relating to language and education is also reflected in the Portuguese Crown’s staunch refusal to grant the colony its own university and printing press, both of which had major effects for the linguistic development of Portuguese in Brazil, as both contributed to the wholescale lack of a linguistic model for colonists to emulate. This situation is in stark contrast to Spanish America, where, from the start of the colonial period, there were universities and printing presses.
Despite a number of top-down educational reforms in the middle of the eighteenth century, there was a general lack of interest in Brazil in providing Amerindians and “barbaric” others with education which, when combined with a lack of material resources (royal teachers, teaching manuals, special budgets), meant that the reforms were not duly implemented (Saviani, 2013; Ribeiro da Silva, de Caldas, & Galgania, 2018). Moreover, what resources were available were directed to the local colonial concern of the reforms, which was to educate the elites who had grown in number and in type (Saviani, 1996). O’Neill (this issue) shows how this pattern is repeated in the Brazilian Republic with efforts, resources, and novel teaching methods being directed towards the ruling elite, for their further education and credentialisation, instead of towards public primary education. Even in the mid-twentieth century, education was still the preserve of the rich in Brazilian society and it was not until the 1960s, with what has been called the “democratisation of education” (Soares, 2002, p. 166), that students from less privileged backgrounds had more access, albeit to a system that was underfunded and lacked materials and fully qualified teachers (Pietri, 2010, p. 70). Thus, despite there being a fixed standard for Brazilian Portuguese based on the usage of European Portuguese writers from the Romantic and classical periods (Faraco & Zilles, 2017, p. 158), access to this artificial standard was, until recently, extremely restricted. Moreover, given the disregard for education and Brazil’s particular sociolinguistic history, the speech of Brazilians has, for centuries, been undergoing substantial linguistic change distancing it from this artificial norm.
Colonial education only began in Africa in the 1930s (see Chimbutane, this issue). Prior to this, there was never any organised spreading of the language in the African region and its islands but “spontaneous Portuguese diffusion by explorers, merchants, sailors, and missionaries” (Spolsky, 2018, p. 77). Schools and churches disseminated the Portuguese language, sanctioning what did and did not count as a legitimate language, and at the same time promoted Western values in order to create a sense of loyalty to the Portuguese Empire. As Chimbutane (this issue) highlights, a discriminatory education system was implemented: the colonists and those deemed civilised, given the title assimilados, studied in the official education stream, where they were trained to participate in state administration; the indigenous peoples were relegated to a rudimentary educational stream where the emphasis was to “nationalise” and “civilise” them. Language was central to both streams.
There are currently five former Portuguese colonies in Africa which preserve Portuguese as their official language of administration and education and which, along with Equatorial Guinea, collectively form the PALOP4 countries. While Portuguese is the official language of the PALOP, it is not the first language of the majority of people living in these countries and contact with other languages in addition to L2 acquisition of Portuguese by non-native speakers is, as was the case in Brazil, catalysing linguistic change and distancing it from the European standard. Nonetheless, since independence, Portuguese has been used as a lingua franca by the countries in the PALOP. It has been argued that, beyond its pragmatic value for transcontinental communication, officialising the language was also a way to evade engagement with the linguistic diversity of the respective contexts (Azevedo, 2005).
When compared to Brazil, the linguistic vitality of Portuguese is lower in the PALOP; there is less overt linguistic nationalism, and historically there have been fewer efforts to promote local varieties of Portuguese (Baxter, 1992). In Angola and Mozambique, however, normative debates have gathered momentum in recent years: endonormative standards of Portuguese have been proposed and movements that advocate for the standardisation of local indigenous languages have emerged (Soares da Silva, 2013; see also Undolo and Chimbutane in this issue). These sociolinguistic debates are taking place against a backdrop of increasing numbers of speakers of Portuguese and a strengthening of the economies of Mozambique and Angola on the international stage, which has brought about greater engagement with Lusophony and the sharing of Portuguese symbolic and cultural resources (Gorski Severo, 2016, p. 1322).
At present, on both sides of the southern Atlantic we see that many dominant language ideologies from the colonial period hold strong: Portuguese continues to be the language of prestige and social mobility while local languages are not deemed appropriate for formal domains. Furthermore, the nation-state model adopted by many former Portuguese colonies is underpinned by linguistic ideologies which stem from eighteenth-century German Romanticism, whereby a social group’s right to statehood, territory, and political autonomy is thought to be fundamentally linked to their linguistic homogeneity (Gal, 2006). This gave rise to monolingual and monoglossic ideologies (del Valle, 2000), whereby it was considered that legitimate states need just one standard language, which has a stable, focused, defined grammar and whose written form displays minimal variation. It is to the reproduction of this linguistic ideal that the population should aspire and by which their social success is measured. This ideal, however, is in direct contrast with not only the multilingual societies of the successor states of the Portuguese colonies but also the native varieties of Portuguese which emerged/are emerging and which can display much variation and be markedly different from the standard written form. As Samartino (this issue) argues, the standardising and homogenising education systems of liberal democracies fail to promote spaces of social and cultural discovery in favour or creating docile, loyal citizens.
The former countries of the Portuguese Empire which still have Portuguese as an official language are, therefore, a set of geographically distanced countries, with hugely diverging populations in terms of their overall numbers and their ethnic and linguistic diversity, not to mention rates of L1 speakers of Portuguese. What unites all these countries is that the Portuguese language is the vehicle of state education and administration, and the language used by official media outlets and big business. It is therefore the language of power, prestige, and opportunity, as well as being, in some countries, the language of daily communication for some people. What is apparent, then, is a stark contrast between the linguistic diversity across the Lusophone world and the largely monolingual education systems that remain in place to this day, which privilege a small proportion of people who speak, or have access to, standard Portuguese (European Portuguese in PALOP; Standard Brazilian Portuguese in Brazil).
Ideological and Theoretical Considerations to Postcolonial Education
As noted above, Portuguese, as a pluricentric language, is largely conceived of as having two standards (European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese). These standards are considered “symmetrical” varieties in the sense that they enjoy similar levels of prestige, albeit for different reasons (Soares da Silva, 2013). For example, while European Portuguese has an established history as a colonial language and is considered the “original heartland” of the language, which enhances its level of prestige (Muhr, 2012), Brazilian Portuguese has a greater geographic spread and number of speakers. Additionally, both varieties exist in standard, codified forms, and both countries have a presence on the international stage—the former as a member state of the European Union, and the latter as an emerging economic player with an international profile in music and football (Soares da Silva, 2013, p. 146). We wish to move beyond this binary categorisation (see also Álvarez López et al., 2018) and argue for the importance of emerging, non-dominant varieties of Portuguese, especially given that an exponential rise in speakers of Portuguese (in the PALOP specifically) is expected by 2100 (Nunes Martins, 2018). Furthermore, we contend that when non-dominant varieties of Portuguese are taken into account (e.g. Undolo in this issue), Portuguese is very much an asymmetrical language, in the sense that some varieties are afforded more prestige than others, internally and externally, and such prestige is often linked to factors such as the size of the community of speakers, political power, and historical legacy. Further asymmetry exists when one considers not only non-dominant varieties of Portuguese, but also the local indigenous languages that coexist alongside them; the latter are especially relevant in postcolonial contexts (Bermingham et al., 2021).
Postcolonial educational models in the Lusophone world have, for the most part, taken a monolingual approach, underpinned by pedagogical theories from Europe and North America (Wolff, 2017; Heugh, 2021). However, in the last several decades, there have been calls for transformations in education in postcolonial contexts. Such calls have highlighted the importance of embedding local languages and cultures into the curriculum, thus seeing sociocultural values and educational needs as interconnected and symbiotic (Alidou et al., 2006), as discussed by Bermingham et al. and Chimbutane in this issue. While these innovative, multilingual models promote the use of home languages and non-standard languages in the school, they emphasise also the role of the dominant language as the language of global communication. The success of these new approaches is reflected, for example, in results of projects across Africa which show that education policies that promote multilingualism have led to increased student participation in the classroom and greater interaction between students and teachers due to a move away from rote learning and lecturing practices that are characteristic of monolingual models (Adama & Glanz, 2010; Lawrence Gordon & Harvey, 2018; UNESCO, 2016). Furthermore, such projects have found that multilingual education was linked to increased academic performance from students in all subjects, demonstrating how multilingual education is about more than just equipping students with linguistic skills. Cardoso, in this issue, highlights the importance of including students’ home language in the education system to enable them to capitalise on their existing knowledge. Samartino, also in this issue, explores the other side of that coin, reflecting on how linguistically and culturally homogenous class groups can contribute to entrenching social and educational inequalities.
Although postcolonial contexts are usually characterised by multilingual practices, the educational models are frequently subtractive, for example early-exit models (Heugh, 2012). In these cases, the goal of the education system continues to be for students to become proficient in the standard, dominant language, and inclusion of the L1 (normally in the early years of schooling) is seen as merely a stepping stone to this. These models are usually underpinned by ideologies that see learning more than one language at a time as problematic (see Samartino in this issue) despite research showing this not to be the case (Byers-Heinlein & Lew-Williams, 2013; DePalma, 2010; Yow & Li, 2015). With reference to non-standard varieties of a language (e.g. local forms of spoken Brazilian Portuguese), these are often considered degenerate forms of the language and not suitable for educational contexts (Britto, 1997; Massini-Cagliari, 2004; O’Neill & Massini-Cagliari, 2019). Various scholars (Patto, 2010, 2015; Soares, 2017a, 2017b) have even argued that the education system itself can perpetuate and reinforce such beliefs via the reconceptualisation of linguistic differences as linguistic deficiencies, which are often believed to be the result of cultural and cognitive deficiencies.
Moreover, in low- and middle-income countries, there is often resistance from stakeholders such as policymakers, teachers, and parents to adopting L1-based education (Adama & Glanz, 2010; Kananu Kiramba, 2018) or accepting non-standard forms of language in educational contexts (see Bermingham et al. in this issue). This resistance is at odds with a large body of academic literature that argues for the benefits of multilingual education and L1-based education, and for challenging monolingual, standard ideologies in education (Bamgbose, 2000; Chimbutane, 2011, 2018; Djité, 2008; García & Kleifgen, 2010), as evidenced by the explosion of research on translingual practices and a proliferation of academic neologisms (e.g. metrolingualism, translanguaging, polylanguaging) to describe and examine fluid language practices and question the concept of languages as discrete, bounded units (García & Wei, 2014; Jørgensen et al., 2015; Makoni & Pennycook, 2007; Pennycook & Otsuji, 2015). We therefore follow Kramsch and Zhang (2018) in questioning why, despite the growing post-structuralist and postmodern approaches to language that we see in academic debates, language teachers and other education stakeholders such as textbook publishers continue, overall, to ascribe to structuralist, monoglossic5 views of language.
In the context of challenging negative views about non-standard varieties of a language, there is a wealth of publications, especially in Brazil, underpinned by what Soares (2017a) defines as the theory of differences and the proposal of bidialectalism. Such an approach endeavours to recategorise negative deficiency-based views of non-standard forms as mere natural differences that are neither better nor worse than those of the standard. Within such a theory, students who naturally use such forms are therefore made aware of the linguistic prejudice towards them that exists in society but are taught to become bidialectal so as to reap the benefits that this offers. O’Neill (this issue) draws attention to the limitations of such theoretical stances, highlighting how they aspire to achieve social change via a “principle of error correction” (Lewis, 2018) whereby the focus is on academics changing beliefs of individuals via sharing what is conceived to be their objective, scientific, and expert knowledge about language but not analysing the political, historical, and social factors that sustain and reinforce such beliefs and the material structures that endorse and promote them. O’Neill draws on theories of Bourdieu (1986, 1991) to highlight how societies are often structured in economic and social ways which reinforce linguistic hierarchies and determine the different social values ascribed to different languages/language varieties.
In this way, declarations from academics, usually though not exclusively from the Global North, about how standard language ideology subverts natural linguistic fluidity and how language is merely “a social activity whose regularity is the outcome of temporarily conventionalised patterns of usage” (Wee, 2010, p. 12), run the risk of not paying sufficient attention to the sociolinguistic object of study: how languages are perceived by speakers and the crucial role that socially constructed ideas of normativity and value play in these perceptions. Consequently, linguistic theorising can become irrelevant or ineffectual in important debates (Cameron, 2013) or even mal-interpreted as opinions from the far left, or “illiberal left” (The Economist, 2021; O’Neill & Massini-Cagliari, 2019, p. 50). Note that here we are not disagreeing with specific theoretical conclusions about language (which we broadly agree with) but highlighting that intellectually there has been a mismatch between theory and practice and insufficient consideration of how dominant, monolingual, and monoglossic ideologies can not only be deeply entrenched in the minds of some speakers but also deeply ingrained in the value structure of society and continuously reinforced by everyday linguistic practices. As Lippi-Green (1997) notes in her discussion of the “myth” of the standard language, standard language ideology is circular in nature, in that the standard language is usually spoken by educated people, but we consider them educated because they speak the standard language. Language ideologies, therefore, become so rooted in society that “their origin is often forgotten by speakers, and are therefore socially reproduced and end up being ‘naturalized’, or perceived as natural or as common sense, thereby masking the social construction processes at work” (Boudreau & Dubois, 2007, p. 104). Indeed, Chimbutane (this issue) notes how in Mozambique, colonial monolingual perceptions and practices are hampering the advances made in terms of ideology and legislation towards multilingualism. These monolingual ideologies are deeply entrenched in society; as Gramling (2016, p. 3) notes, “monolingualism is woven into modernity’s most minute and sophisticated political structures, and it is clearly not yet inclined to be waved off the stage by a university professor”. The complex context of the Lusophone countries, therefore, provides us with new paradigms to intervene in these issues and theoretical debates taking into consideration the historical situation of the Global South and theorisations therein and attempting to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Spolsky (2018) makes the point that the Lusophone countries show how changes in the language ecology of a community are the result not only of national language policies but of a host of other factors. For example, he highlights the important role played by non-linguistic forces such as demography, war, civil strife, and economic breakdowns, which can divert people’s and institutions’ attention away from language issues and also weaken or block certain management efforts aimed at change. He therefore concludes that there is a need to look at language (language policy, in his case) in the wider context. We agree with this conclusion and add that the majority of contributions to this special edition highlight the need to look at this wider context with respect particularly to pragmatic and material considerations. That is, resource-based issues related to the access to legitimised and quality alternative teaching materials, which reflect more closely local linguistic practices, be they in Portuguese or other languages. These considerations include matters relating to the codification of languages/language varieties, their legitimisation, and general acceptance by speakers. Additionally, teacher training and the availability of and access to pedagogical materials is of central importance, as emphasised by Cardoso and Samartino in this issue. These constraints are substantial and involve a significant amount of material and other resources, which may be lacking. In this respect, the Portuguese standard has had a significant head-start, over three centuries’ worth if not more, with respect to the newly formed/forming varieties of Portuguese and indigenous African and Amerindian languages. While advances have been made in the standardisation of certain national languages of African origin, there is still much work to be done and, as Bermingham et al. (this issue) note, political will and financial input is necessary. Bermingham et al. also note how, in Cabo Verde, the ideology of language standardisation figured strongly in political discourse and also was present in teachers’ discourse. They suggest that this factor may well prove the most effective in blocking the future development of bilingual education in Cabo Verde and relate it to what they term “postcolonial resignation”. In the present context, this term could be used to describe the inevitable acceptance of monolingual education in Portuguese when faced with the extent of variation in languages, a lack of research on this variation and perhaps lack of material resources to carry out the research, combined with the potential disrupting political, social, and economic effects of proposing a standard or changing the existing standard.
We align ourselves with recent studies (Álvarez López et al., 2018) that emphasise the need for more research on the linguistic properties of the different new varieties of Portuguese and native indigenous languages. However, the idea is not to have a situation in which these new varieties are thoroughly researched and codified in idealised forms by a group of academic researchers, who then proceed to equip the languages with sufficient teaching materials so that they can oust Portuguese from its prominent position atop the education system. Rather, what we are advocating is a moving away from a monolingual hegemony and towards seeing variation in language and multilingualism as a resource, which can improve educational outcomes overall, as well as reducing inequalities. A useful theoretical concept developed in the Global South is what the South Africa-based scholar Christopher Stroud has termed the exercise of “linguistic citizenship” (Lim, Stroud, & Wee, 2018; Stroud, 2018), which implies an active participation on the part of speakers to exercise control over their ways of speaking. Within this framework the classroom would not be an ideological space (in the sense of Hornberger, 2005) in which monoglossic ideas of Portuguese as a hermetically sealed, discrete, and fixed entity dominate. Moreover, the model of education would not be one in which the teacher, endowed with the requisite knowledge, transfers this knowledge to the students, who are conceived as passive recipients; this “banking” model of education was fiercely denounced by the renowned Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire (Freire, 1996). Rather, the classroom could be conceived as a space of Freirean dialogue in which, in the specific context of speakers of non-standard varieties of Portuguese, the teacher could ask how the standard form differs from the students’ usage, if all students’ usage was uniform, and explore the ways in which language can be used in accordance to style, context, and communicative function, in which the written word and the different ways in which it is employed will certainly feature (for initiatives of this type in English, see also Moore & Spencer, 2021). Samartino, in this issue, reflects on how the school can act as a space that promotes constructive dialogue and enables students to reflect critically on the complexities of their social reality. In this way the teacher-student dichotomy is broken down and replaced with a problem-posing model of education that acknowledges what students have to bring to the dialogue. Chimbutane, too, reports on successful endeavours along these lines in bilingual education in Mozambique but notes that sociocultural gains will not be enough to sustain and ensure the success of bilingual educational programmes. He argues that these programmes need to provide both linguistic and non-linguistics skills that allow citizens to participate in all spheres of social life, including the political and socioeconomic spheres.
Overview of the Contributions in This Issue
O’Neill reflects on how, in Brazil, language is often regarded as a problem within educational contexts, and the response of academics in both linguistics and education studies has largely been focused on combatting linguistic prejudice against non-standard varieties of Portuguese. He questions the effectiveness of such recognition-orientated strategies and argues that there are more fundamental structural problems with language and education in Brazil. He identifies these as the linguistic distance between the speech of the great majority of Brazilians and the official standard norm, and the uncertainty as to whether the education system is designed to teach this standard norm or, paradoxically, to assess the extent to which it is acquired. He offers an extended socio-historical overview of the Portuguese language in Brazil from independence to modern times in order to establish why there is such a gulf between the written official standard and actual linguistic usage, and analyses modern education policy documents where he finds no strong emphasis on ensuring that students achieve active, advanced proficiency in the standard norm. O’Neill argues that recognition-orientated strategies aimed at changing attitudes towards non-standard forms of the language need to be accompanied by strategies that advocate for structural changes in (a) the standard language to make it more readily resemble the actual speech of Brazilians and (b) how this standard is used as a means of instruction and assessment.
Chimbutane analyses the interplay between language ideologies, policies, and practices in the education system and wider society of postcolonial Mozambique. On the basis of theoretical and empirical studies, and practical experience of other postcolonial countries, he argues that in the colonial and postcolonial periods the linguistic policies and practices that were adopted in Mozambique were ideologically motivated by considerations of what the ideal citizen or state should be at that time. In the colonial period, linguistic policies and practices were rooted in a Eurocentric ideology of civilisation and assimilation. In the period immediately following independence, and in the context of nation-building projects, the dominant ideology was a drive towards national homogenisation. This ideological drive lost impetus in the 1990s, when the prevalent ideology and discourse started to become one of unity in diversity. Chimbutane’s analysis leads to the conclusion that despite recent changes towards a positive valorisation of multilingual practices in Mozambique, both at the level of discourse and legislation (the latter including the introduction of bilingual education at primary level and important laws endorsing the use of Mozambican languages in public administration and local government), Mozambican society is still dominated by a monolingual colonial mindset and its concomitant institutional practices. He argues, therefore, that unless changes in both mindset and structures take place, any declarations or legislation in favour of multilingualism will not lead to substantive changes in day-to-day language practices. Finally, with specific reference to bilingual programmes, he notes that for these to be successful and be accepted by the various stakeholders—including by local communities—the ways in which such educational programmes can provide linguistic and non-linguistic resources that allow citizens to participate in all spheres of Mozambican social life, including political and socioeconomic spheres, must be made clear.
Bermingham, DePalma, and Oca explore the introduction of a bilingual Cabo Verdean Language (CVL)/Portuguese educational programme in two primary schools in Cabo Verde. Specifically, the article explores the reasons for ongoing resistance to the widespread introduction of CVL as a medium of instruction in schools, despite the documented benefits of bilingual education, by drawing on qualitative interview data with key stakeholders (teachers, activists, and politicians) and examining the language ideologies that appeared in their discourses. The article finds that while bilingual education seeks to resolve the “access paradox” (i.e. developing educational models where children are not forced to choose between their community languages or global languages) a monolingual ideology was present in the discourse of participants, particularly in the discourse from the political sector. Bermingham, DePalma, and Oca contend that the uncritical approach to standard language ideologies taken by the participants in their study could be one of the main obstacles to the adoption of bilingual, L1-based education in Cabo Verde. Like Samartino and Cardoso, in their article, Bermingham, DePalma, and Oca identify teacher training for bilingual education as an important step for making meaningful changes in education and note that what is currently missing is policy building based on academic research, which would include a consistent and formal implementation of bilingual education across the country, teacher support and training, and a clear discussion and negotiation of this model with families and local communities.
Cardoso analyses the sociolinguistic context of the Cabo Verdean education system. Specifically, she examines innovative bilingual educational models that introduce the Cabo Verdean language (CVL) as the language of instruction in schools, both in Cabo Verde and within the Cabo Verdean diaspora in Portugal. As a participant in Let’s Talk at School—Nu ben papia na skóla (2002–2005) and Turma Bilingue [Bilingual Class] (2007–2012)—two education experiments carried out in Portugal—and coordinator of the Si ka fila tudu ta fila un ponta [If Everything Is Not Achieved, at Least Something Is] project in Cabo Verde, Cardoso brings her decades-long experience as an educator to bear on this research, and makes an important argument for the use of minority languages in classrooms to maximise the learning experience and potential of students by fostering opportunities for the development of children’s bilingualism and biliteracy. Cardoso reflects on the challenges and opportunities inherent in establishing bilingual educational programmes in Cabo Verde and calls for greater investment in the training of teachers and the creation of appropriate teaching materials (activities which she undertook as part of her action research project), which she argues will require political courage to prioritise the issue of language in schools.
Samartino focuses on the school-based social integration of children of Cabo Verdean (migrant) descent in the Galician region of Spain. Samartino’s study is based on her first-hand experiences and observations as a teacher over the course of nearly twenty years. This provides us with an important professional and direct experience of the situation under analysis—a perspective often missing from academic discourse. By focusing on the Cabo Verdean diaspora in Galicia specifically, Samartino cautions that access to and participation in education should not be taken in isolation as measures of academic success. Rather, she argues that, in contexts of migration specifically, successful educational models must lead to academic achievement across the student cohort, and that such achievements are inextricably linked to students—both migrant and local—being provided meaningful opportunities for the development of their personal and cultural identity. The findings of her study point to deeply engrained subtractive language ideologies in the education system, whereby learning a (minority/immigrant) language is seen to detract from learning another, leading to the invisibilisation of immigrant languages and cultures. From a practical point of view, Samartino points to the lack of funding for teaching resources and the increasingly demanding workload of teachers as key hindrances to the implementation of new and transformative educational models. Furthermore, she explores how the textbooks being used in present-day classrooms are unsuitable for local needs: despite the ethnic and linguistic diversity of classrooms in Galicia, textbooks are found to perpetuate hegemonic ideologies. This article shows us how education is a key site for reproducing as well as contesting inequality.
Finally, Undolo presents new and ongoing research from the Variedade do Português de Angola (VAPA) project on the variety of Portuguese spoken in Angola, specifically on the plans to create the first ever monolingual dictionary of Angolan Portuguese. Undolo builds on previous research which has highlighted that in Angola, on the one hand, a national educated variety of Portuguese is emerging and, on the other, the use of Portuguese in accordance with the norms of standard European Portuguese, the written standard for Angola, is not correlated with speakers of high socio-economic status. These speakers use the emerging educated variety, which, the author notes, is based around the speech of the capital, Luanda. This variety acts as a centripetal force with respect to the other varieties of Portuguese spoken in Angola and contributes to the national and cultural cohesion of the state. Undolo contrasts this with the standard variety from Portugal, which he defines as acting as a centrifugal force, since speakers are not usually exposed to this form of speech and do not connect with it. Undolo draws attention to the lack of research on and resources for Angolan Portuguese and, in particular, the need to determine exactly what the linguistic properties of the educated variety are. The dictionary project which he describes contributes to this endeavour since its aim is to map out the lexical usage of this variety. Methodologically, the study follows a linguistic approach based on the analysis of carefully selected corpus data. Specifically, data from a set of corpora from social media is used as the empirical basis of the project since in official documents, publications, and in formal communication contexts of official institutional bodies there is always a stringent observation of the European standard variety. The results of the research show that there are various linguistic processes and means by which the Angolan Portuguese lexicon is being enriched and expanded. Of particular interest is the fact that borrowing of words or structures from Bantu languages is not the main source of neologisms. Rather, other processes internal to the Angolan Portuguese linguistic system dominate, such as reductions or abbreviated forms and other different types of semantically and morphologically motivated neologisms.
This issue attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice, where idealised theoretical solutions for education may be rejected by stakeholders because they do not provide students with the relevant highly valued linguistic and symbolic capital necessary to compete in the linguistic market, to use Bourdieu’s terms (Bourdieu, 1977). The gap between theory and practice has been identified as a perennial problem of issues related to language policy and education. Here, too, the Lusophone countries offer a new perspective. As the contributions to this issue highlight, multilingualism is the norm in most educational contexts (Bermingham et al.) and in African society in general. Moreover, Undolo (this issue) notes how, in Angola, standard European Portuguese is not correlated with speakers of high socio-economic status. Rather, these speakers use the local, emerging educated variety, which, Undolo notes, acts as a centripetal force with respect to the other varieties of Portuguese spoken in Angola and contributes to the national and cultural cohesion of the state. There is also a growing awareness in many Lusophone countries of the challenges that arise from having a standard language for education that can be so far removed from the everyday speech of students. Combine these factors with recent tendencies to view diversity positively and the result is a social situation that is propitious for a transformative or, in the terms of Freire, an emancipatory approach to education in which speakers are key agents in changing the monoglossic and monolingual education system, based on the principle that their society is a multilingual one/based on a culture of heteroglossia.
Although language cuts across social issues, and is particularly important for academic success (Benson, 2014, 2021), it has not received sufficient attention in development discourses and initiatives. This lack of engagement hinders opportunities for meaningful development to take place (Harding-Esch & Coleman, 2021). However, in order for such progress to be achieved, it is necessary to foment dialogue between stakeholders across national and disciplinary borders. In this special issue we have tried to bring together a cross-disciplinary perspective that rejects the hegemony of knowledge from the Global North—a perspective that is much needed when examining questions of linguistic inequalities and education in countries located in the Global South.