Língua portuguesa no ensino em Timor-Leste: representações sociais de formadores e formandos
Camargo, Renata Tironi de
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Timor-Leste is an island country, located on the Asian continent, whose official language is Portuguese, along with Tetun. It is undoubtedly intriguing, to say the least, that the Portuguese language (PL) survived in this territory during a period of more than 400 years of Portuguese colonization, 24 years of deterritorialization by the Indonesian military, two transitional governments administered by the United Nations, and nearly 20 years of political autonomy as an independent nation. Faced with this concern, we conducted the present study to identify and analyze social representations about the Portuguese language in Timorese education. Particularly, we set out to identify perceptions of the PL, based on the statements made by teachers and learners, and to understand the relations concerning their representations of Portuguese in the Timorese context. To this end, we conducted an ethnographic qualitative study, collecting data from questionnaires and interviews with teachers and learners. The research context was a PL course taught to professors from Private Higher Education Institutions in Dili, which are linked to the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Culture (MESCC). The course was aimed at promoting the Portuguese language in the academic context. For analysis and interpretation of data, the Theory of Social Representations, proposed by Moscovici (1978), was used as a theoretical framework to explain and shed light on the social reality of a group, while considering the historical-critical dimension of the subjects. The set of social representations identified in the participants’ statements was organized into two major categories of analysis: (i) data from a questionnaire applied to private university professors learning Portuguese and (ii) data collected from interviews with teachers who teach PL to such university professors. The data collected from the questionnaire were grouped into two categories: profile and perceptions. The former provides information that enables a characterization of the PL learners. The latter reveals that these learners represent the PL as difficult at times - and they attribute most of such difficulty to its grammatical structure - but as easy at other times. In addition, they all stated that i) they find it important to learn Portuguese in the socio-political context in which they live; ii) they intend to use PL as a working tool in the future; and iii) their lives have changed professionally and politically after the PL was made official and was implemented in Timor-Leste in 2002. Based on the analysis of the interviews, we could make inferences about representations relative to the MESCC Program, including its objectives, the learners, and proposals for improving the course. Furthermore, the PL teachers mentioned Indonesian, English, Portuguese and Tetun as languages that are used more intensively in higher education environments. As far as the PL is concerned, they made comments that indicate representations about the presence of this language in Timor-Leste, pointed out challenges posed by classroom practice, and mentioned characteristics of an emerging variant of PL that is typical of their country. Finally, it is noteworthy that the social representations discussed in this dissertation may provide useful insights for the development of language policies, with a view to improving the quality of PL teaching in Timor-Leste.
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