Professional Experience in Bilingual Education
I am Roberto Neves Cuinica, a 35-year-old teacher at Manguendene Primary School. I have been teaching there for nine years, of which seven years were with grades one to three.
During my teaching career, I have encountered many children who struggle with common challenges, a main one being low performance in Portuguese classes. The students have difficulty expressing themselves in Portuguese and very few know how to read and write in the national language.
In 2017, I was faced with the challenge of teaching bilingual modality. For this, I participated in training sessions to better understand the methodologies of bilingual education.
Now, being a guide in the teaching and learning process (using the Changana language), I have learned that the environment in bilingual modality classes is very competitive. All the students want to participate by talking about their experience with their families or about what they have learnt in the classroom. As a result, the students of bilingual classes are very expressive and participative, demanding teachers with a high capacity to manage classrooms. However, this also means that bilingual teaching contributes to an improved quality of teaching, and a higher value placement for a community’s language and culture.
The factors that have allowed for success in my work in bilingual education include:
- Participation in training about bilingual education methodologies.
- Use of materials that promote effective learning.
- Exchange of experience among teachers and Reading Coaches.
- Use of reading books, read-aloud books, and decodable books. (These are indispensable reinforcement materials in the teaching and learning process, since they motivate students to participate in class and promote effective learning. On the other hand, the methodological guidance manuals help teachers plan and define teaching strategies.)
- Use of innovative teaching practices for method of instruction; reading, writing, and oral methodologies; and class planning.
I wish to commend the teaching of bilingual modality, as I believe that it has the potential to change students’ low achievements in class. It is impressive and fun to see grade one students reading; and for this, monolingual teachers often come to visit my classes.
I also want to mention ADPP, and thank them for the materials used to teach bilingual reading and writing, which they have supplied. These important materials motivate the students to stay in school.
Moreover, the Reading Coaches’ support for teachers in various moments (during class planning, production of materials, reading games, and class organization) has additionally contributed to the quality of teaching these students now receive.