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Research Project


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Research Project

  1. 1. Rhode Island CollegeFSEHD – Instruction to Classroom ResearchFNED 547-01Instructor: Dr. Janet Johnson Final Research Project Francisca Silvia Lima May 2011  0 
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION:“ Fala português! Essa semana é do Português!”(Speak in Portuguese! This is Portuguese week!) “Speak in Portuguese! This is Portuguese week! You must speak inPortuguese!” These were my words to my 2nd and 3rd grade students when Iheard them speaking in English during Portuguese week. They are enrolled in adual language program with a 50/50 model, which means that 50% of the timethey have to speak in English and 50% in Portuguese. In my setting, we dividethis time weekly. In one week they learn everything in Portuguese and in thefollowing week they go to the English class to learn in English. The main goal ofa dual language program is to promote bilingualism and biliteracy. Hence, it isrequired that teachers maintain the target language a hundred percent of thetime while they are giving instructions or socializing with students. As the Portuguese teacher, I started to question how I could make mystudents more aware of the importance of speaking Portuguese with me and withtheir peers. I realized that just asking them to speak in Portuguese was notworking. Most of my students learn Portuguese as a heritage language. It meansthat Portuguese is not their first language. They are learning it because theirparents want. So the majority of them speak English as their first language.Facing this obstacle, I felt the pressure to investigate what teaching strategiesand techniques would enhance my students’ Portuguese speaking skills.  1 
  3. 3. Therefore, in this paper I argue that the level of Portuguese speaking in adual language Portuguese/English classroom will increase if the teacherdifferentiates activities and integrates reading, writing, and listening withspeaking. Another effective way to promote Portuguese speaking in the samesetting is to group students into cooperative learning groups, according to theirlevels of proficiency in Portuguese as well as gender.“Hello, Hola, Olá”(English, Spanish, and Portuguese) I have been teaching at the same school for about 7 years. It is amulticultural, urban, and dual language school. It currently enrolls gradesKindergarten through 5th grade. It has a student teacher ratio of 18-1, withteacher assistants in all Kindergarten and 1st grade classes. It uses a duallanguage bilingual education model, in which all students learn 50% of the time inEnglish and 50% of the time in either Spanish or Portuguese, depending on theprogram strand of choice. For this reason, students need to develop all languageskills in two languages. They basically learn content through the language ofinstruction. Therefore, they need to listen, speak, read, and write in twolanguages. All the language teachers (Portuguese/Spanish) are bilingual, but themajority of English teachers are monolingual. There are about 306 students enrolled at this school. One third of thesestudents are enrolled in the Portuguese strand. There are three classrooms foreach grade level, two in Spanish and one in Portuguese. This school has 47 staff  2 
  4. 4. members, including classroom teachers, teacher assistants, two specialeducation resource teachers, a reading support teacher, a nurse, a librarian, abehavior specialist, a speech therapist, a social worker, the principal’s assistant,and the principal.“Nós falamos Portguês!” (We speak Portuguese!) I am currently teaching Portuguese to 2nd and 3rd grade students. My 2ndgrade class has 17 students. There are six boys and eleven girls. Seven of themcome from Cape Verdean families, five from Portuguese families, three fromAmerican families, and two from Brazilian families. My 3rd grade group has 18students. There are 13 boys and only 5 girls. Twelve of the students come fromCape Verdean background. There are three students whose parents areBrazilian and three whose parents are Portuguese. As I have mentioned before, I teach in dual language setting. Hence, Ihave to teach all the content areas, Science, Math, Reading, Writing, and SocialStudies in Portuguese. My students are required to speak, listen, read, and writein Portuguese, during the week they come to my classroom. I teach them everyother week. One week they go to the English class and the following week theycome to my Portuguese classroom.  3 
  5. 5. I do not have any teacher assistant or reading support for Portuguese.The curriculum is the same for both languages, but as I teach in Portuguese, Ihave to translate, create, or adapt the curriculum according to my students’needs and levels of proficiency. For this reason, working at this environment has been challenging, but atthe same time rewarding. Facing these challenges helped me to be moredetermined to research ways to make my students to succeed as bilingualPortuguese/English speakers. From these thoughts, my research question arose.I decided to investigate “What teaching strategies and techniques will enhancemy 2nd/3rd grade bilingual students’ Portuguese speaking skills?” This paperoutlines the strategies I used to support my students’ speaking of Portuguese insocial and learning situations.”METHODS:“Como se diz “Oh my God” em Português?”(How do you say “Oh my God” in Portuguese?)- A 2nd grade boy asks a girl in hisgroup. After deciding what I wanted to investigate, I started to gather data. Icollected data from both groups, during a period of twenty days, ten days foreach group. Within these days my research went farther than my expectations.What I envisioned began to appear like pieces of a puzzle that you put togetherto see the whole picture. Gathering different kinds of data helped me to keep  4 
  6. 6. track of how much Portuguese my students were speaking and when they werespeaking. At the beginning of my research, I started to take notes of differentmoments of my teaching. I used a Teaching Journal to collect this data.Everyday, after school, I took notes and observations of when my students werespeaking in the target language, with whom they were speaking, and what kind ofstrategies facilitated them to speak in Portuguese. Throughout the day, I wrotebullets in post-its, so I could remember what to write after school. I first started with the 2nd grade group, without any specific moment. Ifocused more on when they were speaking Portuguese and what I thought washelping them to succeed. During the first week of observation, I realized that itwould be more effective to focus on the main blocks of my teaching, such asMorning Meeting, Reading, Writing/Social Studies, and Math. So, from thesecond week on I tried to write specifically about those moments. I also decidedto observe my students interacting socially with me, or their peers. I haveobserved them during recess, snack time, lunch, or quiet time, when I was notgiving instructions to them. During those moments, I wanted to find out if theywould speak Portuguese socially with me, or with their peers.  5 
  7. 7. Writing about my daily routine in my Teaching Journal was very useful toreflect about my own practice. It also helped me to identify patterns that I was notaware of before. My second way to collect data was an Observation Checklist. Aftergoing through my Teaching Journal notes, I decided to pay closer attention to thestudents who were speaking in Portuguese and when they were speaking. It wasalso a good way to identify their level of proficiency in speaking. My ObservationChecklist had the following categories: who speaks P (Portuguese) with theteacher; who speaks P with their peers; who speaks P during instructions (Math,reading, etc); who speaks P in social interactions (recess/snack/lunch/quiet time);and their level of Portuguese. With this other tool, I was able to identify andquantify the students who were speaking more Portuguese, the ones who werespeaking with me and their peers as well as to identify their level proficiencywhich I categorized as very low, low, medium, good, or excellent. I have collectedit during a period of five days in each group. I used one consecutive week, fivedays, for 3rd grade, while for my 2nd grade group I collected two days in one weekand three days on the following week. My Observation Checklist also allowed me to use another means to collectdata. As it was extremely hard to have the checklist in my hands and keep trackof all students throughout my daily routine, so I decided to videotape mystudents interacting in the classroom. For each group, I made the decision to  6 
  8. 8. videotape them during two specific times in the classroom: working incooperative learning groups during reading workshops, and sharing a piece ofwork after that they had written about it. My goal with this new tool was toobserve if working in cooperative learning groups and writing before speakingwould help them to sustain their speaking in Portuguese. As my research progressed, revealing new thoughts, I finally decided totake a closer look at other relevant aspects for my findings. Therefore, I decidedto survey my students. My intention was to confirm if the results of my previousdata were accurate. This survey had about eight multiple questions and two openended questions. As I said before, it was a way to complement the data I hadcollected before. I asked questions such as: Do you speak Portuguese at home?Which language do you speak mostly at home? Do you like to learn Portuguese?With whom is easier/more difficult to speak in Portuguese? Name three friendswho help you to speak Portuguese at school. When is it easier to speak inPortuguese in the classroom? Why is it important to learn Portuguese? What isthe easiest for you, speak, read, understand, or write in Portuguese? This surveywas done in Portuguese. I wanted to ensure that their answers were honest, so Iread aloud and translated it to English, especially when they couldn’t understandthe meaning of words. The results of this survey allowed me to validate some ofmy previous results and to prove that I was going on the right track.  7 
  9. 9. All four types of data were useful to conduct this research. Reviewing andcomparing each one of them was essential to find patterns as well as theanswers for my research question. The themes emerged from this research aresupported by the data I have collected throughout this investigation. I haven’tfound anything surprisingly new, but I have confirmed what literature proves to betrue.LITERATURE:“Posso ir para nurse? Eu tenho uma stomachache!”(Can I go to the nurse? I have a stomachache.) I have been teaching languages for more than ten years. Since I startedmy teaching career, I have heard from different authors and linguists that in orderto teach a second language, teachers need to focus on the teaching of the fourskills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They also need to speak thetarget language all the time, avoid translation, and try to expose students to thatlanguage’s culture as much as possible, using authentic language resources.This recipe seems to be easy, but when it is time to put the ingredients together,there is always something missing! With this research I am making an effort todevelop strategies and techniques that will allow my students to speak in thetarget language. Second language learners usually learn the “input” better than the “output”.Hence, L2 students will have more difficulties in speaking the target language  8 
  10. 10. fluently than reading or understanding it, for example. Even having years ofexperience in a dual language Portuguese/English setting, I have always beenconcerned that my students are not speaking enough Portuguese, especiallywhen they are speaking with their peers. They are either speaking in English ormixing the two languages. Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan (2000) state that, “it isnatural for EE (Enriched Education) students to sometimes mix aspects of thetwo languages they are learning” (p. 61). Students do this for different reasons.First, the native language is stronger and controls the second language.Secondly, the students might mix the language when they do not know thevocabulary they need to speak the target language. The same authors also wrotethat, “even later, when proficiency has been attained in both languages, studentsmay mix the two languages purposefully for social reason; this is referred to ascode switching” (p.63). Although I have noticed all the aspects, described above, in myclassroom, I truly believe that I need to emphasize the use of Portuguese solelyas much as possible with my students. That will help them to become moreproficient in the target language. On the other hand, being bilingual, I catchmyself code switching sometimes in different kinds of situations. Teachers maycode-switch in order to negotiate lesson content, encourage participation, givepraise and enforce discipline (Willans, 2011). Furthermore, code-alteration, i.e.switching languages (or codes) in the same conversation, is an extremely  9 
  11. 11. common practice among bilinguals, although code-alternation patterns may varyconsiderably even in the case of one individual (Musk, 2010). But, even though I understand that code switching is normal, I believe thatmy students need to gain fluency in both languages without mixing them up atfirst. After acquiring oral fluency in both languages, they will be able to code-switch responsibly, the way true bilinguals do. The literature indicates that codeswitching should be avoided in dual language setting as much as possible. AsCloud, Genesee, & Hamayan defend, the first reason for avoiding code switchingin the classroom is the fact that “it will be easier for students in the long term ifthe two languages they are learning are kept as separate as possible so theyhave clear expectations of when and where the use of each language isappropriate” (p.65). The second reason for not allowing code-switching isbecause at a 2nd/3rd grade level, students’ language is still developing. “They arecode switching because it is easier, and not because they are controlling the twolanguages for social reasons and in a skilled way” (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan,2000, p.65). Taking this into consideration, over the last seven years, I have tried touse strategies to develop more oral language skills in Portuguese with mystudents. However, I truly believe that I need to be more consistent and use theones that have proven to be more effective. Researchers have found that“students will benefit more from cooperative learning if they understand that  10 
  12. 12. communicating and sharing with peers is a language learning strategy that theycan apply outside a class setting” (Gömleksik (2007). Other authors believe thatteachers should “provide an optimal language learning environment” to their L2students (Cheng, 1996). The same author also suggests that teachers should“create opportunities for confidence-building social interactions, such aspracticing show-and-tells, in which students can share culturally familiar objectsand skills”. For this reason I have tried to incorporate this strategy during myMorning Meeting everyday. I also feel that I have a significant responsibility for teaching my studentsall language skills, reading, writing, listening, and speaking. I believe that 2nd and3rd grades are important years for my students’ development as second languagelearners. If they do not acquire the foundation of the language during theseyears, by the time they go to 4th grade, it would be harder for them to keepprogressing in their Portuguese learning. The literature also indicates that two-way immersion bilingual programsare known for their separation of languages deliberately and systematically, bythe time of the day, or day of the week, or subject area, or teacher (Palmer,2009). In my situation, I teach week-to-week, only in Portuguese, all subjectareas. It is very intensive and overwhelming sometimes. I feel like I am alwaysbattling with my students to choose Portuguese over the powerful dominance ofEnglish. Palmer (2009) states that students in two-way classrooms are all  11 
  13. 13. expected to develop bilingualism and biliteracy, and given the extent to whichEnglish serves as the language of power in the U.S., it does seem that teachers’options are limited in terms of encouraging their students to maintain and deepentheir hold on the minority language. But, even though, I believe that teachers canmake a difference if they are really committed to research and use their findingsto better support their choices in their classrooms. In order to inspire myself to continue this research, I have decided toobserve my students’ speaking skill in Portuguese and try to find teachingstrategies and techniques that will enhance this skill. Musk (2010) found, in hisresearch about code-switching and code-mixing in Welsh bilinguals’ talk, threedifferent groups of students: Welsh-dominant, “Floaters”, and English-dominant. Iwill apply his findings to my classroom because I believe I have the samepattern. I consider some of my students to be Portuguese-dominant. At firstglance, I believe this group of students usually shows confidence in speakingPortuguese because they either speak it at home or because they havePortuguese as their first language. The second group, the “Floaters”, mix bothlanguages when trying to maintain a conversation in Portuguese, either with me,or with their peers. A third group, the “English-dominant”, is the one who speaksmore in English than in Portuguese. Therefore, after identifying these groups inmy classroom, I think my goal with this research is to try to find strategies that willguide all of them to speak in the target language during the time they arerequired to.  12 
  14. 14. How am I going to accomplish this goal? I believe my role, as theinstructor and also as a bilingual model for my students, is extremely important.Developing strategies, techniques, scaffolding, and differentiating are some ofthe ways I have found to accomplish my mission. On the other hand, I willcontinue to use English during the moments that I think it will be necessary,especially to breakdowns in communication or for clarification during discussions,or with individual students who require more explanation. Willans (2011) statesthat teachers alternate between languages in order to enhance understanding orto relate topics to experiences outside class, thus accommodating students’needs. This same author also found in his research that the teacher’s presenceinfluences the use of the target language. She found that interactions in whichthe teacher is involved are carried out entirely in the target language, while thosein which only students participate are carried out entirely in their native languageor in a mixed code of the two languages. I need to be aware of this fact and try tofind ways to socialize more with my students or to promote more groupdiscussions with them. In addition to socializing and having discussions in groups, I will also try toincrease the moments of storybook reading in Portuguese everyday. Researchshows that storybook reading benefits oral language development by exposingchildren to storybook discourse patterns and by structuring conversationalexchanges to meet the needs of young children (Kabuto, 2010). Knowing that  13 
  15. 15. storybook reading can benefit my students’ oral performance will help me to thinkabout ways to connect reading to speaking during the reading workshops.Sharing about books they read, making comments or suggestions about thestories, having discussions about books or texts read previously, suggestingbooks, etc. are some of the strategies I will try to incorporate in my classes on adaily basis. Furthermore, I will also emphasize more the practice of cooperativelearning groups in my classroom, as a way to promote successful oral languagepractice in Portuguese. Research demonstrates that collaborative quality insocial learning redefines learning through guided practice, which provides aperspective to help up focus on the varied ways that children learn as theyparticipate in and are guided by the values and practices of their culturalcommunities (Kabuto, 2010). Social Studies and Science are great areas to try touse more cooperative learning groups. I will organize groups based on languagelevel proficiency, mixing up students with different levels of speaking. Interactingand making conclusions about the content learned could help my students tosustain the use of the target language. Finally, I will also try to mix genders when I group my students. Manystudies have proven that female students use more language learning strategiesthan male (Ghee, Ismail & Kabilan, 2010). Other studies also show differences inlanguage acquisition according to gender. Xiong (2008) wrote in her article about  14 
  16. 16. gender differences in language acquisition that girls develop their pronunciationorgan earlier than boys. For this reason they are better in listening andexpressing than boys (p. 09). For this reason, I will make sure the girls in myclassroom are able to work with the boys as partners, or teams. As my 3rd grade group has more boys than girls, I will try to form groupswith, at least, one girl in order to encourage boys to speak more. I will try to dothe same with my 2nd grade group. Differently from the 3rd grade, 2nd grade hasmore girls than boys, so I will try to put at least one boy in each group, during mygrouping activities in general.ANALYSIS: This research has helped me to find important information concerning myPortuguese students ability to speak Portuguese on a daily basis. In order tosupport the claims that I made, I had analyzed my data, which allowed me toidentify possible themes or patterns that guided me towards my claims. Theseclaims are also supported by literature that supports and gives more informationlinked to my findings in this research.  15 
  17. 17. “Hoje eu li um conto de fadas. O título do livro é…”(Today I read a Fairy Tale. The title of my book is…) - A student sharing about abook he/she read during reading workshop. My first claim is that differentiating activities and integrating reading,writing, and listening skills improve speaking fluency. By analyzing my data, Ihave realized that students in both groups spoke more Portuguese when theyhad different kinds of resources and texts to support them. Examples of theseresources are journal entries, graphic organizers, word wall vocabulary, posters,pictures, dictionaries, videos, Total Physical Responses activities, etc. Analyzing my teaching journal notes, I have observed that most of mystudents were able to speak in Portuguese during my Read-aloud lessons. WhenI read a book aloud, students were able to use pictures or text as a resource tounderstand better the story. I usually write on the board important informationabout the book, such as title, author, main characters, plot, etc. So, I think thiswritten information associated with visuals, give support for oral production,facilitating their speaking. “O Gato de Botas” (PussinBoots) A good example that illustrates how differentiation and integration of otherskills work to improve speaking was observed on my Teaching Journal notes ofMarch 3rd, 2011 during my 2nd grade week. I read aloud the book “O Gato deBotas”. That week I was teaching about Fairy Tales and my 2nd graders werevery engaged in the lessons. ES, who usually has problems to focus and sit still,  16 
  18. 18. was “focused and listened to the story”. After I read, I asked partners to talkabout some parts of the story in pairs. After that, I asked some volunteers toshare to the whole class. A total of seven students out of 17, volunteered to retellthe story. I asked comprehension questions to the rest of the class and they wereable to answer my questions in Portuguese. I had differentiated the questions tothe ones who are low. Instead of a wh-question, I asked them a yes/no question. Observing the videos, I also noticed that my students were able to speakin Portuguese more often, if they had a written support in their hands or on thewalls to look at. It was easier for them to share during morning meeting, or toshare about a book they read, or a project in Social Studies, if they had writtenbefore about the subject they were supposed to talk about. Writing before themoment of speaking, helps them to organize better their thoughts. “Eu gosto muito disso!” (I like this so much!) – A 2nd grade boy referring to the Portuguese pastries in his Socia Studies project. During the presentation of a Social Studies Project, my 2nd graders wereenthusiastically speaking in Portuguese about a country they chose to share.Each student had a poster with pictures and labels describing the pictures toshare with a partner. A lot of them knew exactly what to say and used a lot ofvocabulary that they had learned previously at home when they writing theposters with their families. SV wrote about Cape Verde. Her poster had beautifulpictures and she was able to point to the pictures and tell us specific information  17 
  19. 19. about each picture. She described each picture with details and she was veryexcited about her presentation. EL dressed up in a Chinese costume andpresented her poster about China in details. She had worked very hard with herPortuguese, but she was not only reading the poster, in fact, she was explainingdetails about the Chinese culture and people. Another student who surprised mewas DF. He wrote about Spain and he was able to read all the labels in hispictures and also answer simple questions about it. DF is a new student whospeaks very low Portuguese. Each student was able to present their postersaccording to their level of Portuguese, which allowed me to differentiateinstruction and integrate skills in order to improve their Portuguese speaking.“Eu acho que eu tenho um 3 porque eu não falei em Português o tempo todo.”(I think I have a 3 because I did not speak in Portuguese most of the time.) - A 3rdgrade student evaluating himself at the end of an activity in cooperative learninggroup. Another data that supports this claim is my checklist observation. I haveobserved in both groups that when my students are working in cooperativelearning groups, they are able to speak more Portuguese. I usually set upexpectations to my cooperative groups before grouping them to work in groups.One student is the one responsible to sustain the target language. I call thisstudent “polícia” because he/she has to remind the other students to speak inPortuguese. They also have to help each other with the right answer to the taskthey are doing together. They also have to do an evaluation at the end of theirwork. In this kind of group activity, the students who are better speakers or betteracademically are able to help the less fluent speakers or the students with less  18 
  20. 20. academic skills. It is a good opportunity to group students according to their levelof proficiency in Portuguese, academic strengths, social skills, and gender. I have observed four cooperative learning activities from each group. Mostof them were during reading, social studies, or playing a vocabulary game. Thetable below shows the number of students who spoke Portuguese during the fourtimes that I observed them in cooperative learning groups.Language 2nd grade students 3rd grade studentsSpoke only in Portuguese 06 0Spoke mostly in 02 05PortugueseMixed Portuguese and 07 11EnglishSpoke mostly in English 02 02TOTAL 17 18 As the results of the table above show, the majority of the students areable to speak Portuguese at a certain level during this kind of activity. Only twostudents from each grade spoke in English the entire time.  19 
  21. 21. “Sra S., tu podes me ajudar por favor?”(Ms. S., can you help me, please?) – A 2nd grade girl asking for help during Mathclass. My second claim is in regards to the correlation between gender andspeaking Portuguese. By analyzing different kinds of data, I have observed thatin both groups girls are speaking more Portuguese than boys. My second gradegroup has 11 girls and 6 boys. In contrast, my third grade group has 13 boys andonly 5 girls. Through the analysis of my teaching journal notes, I was able toobserve that my 2nd grade group is speaking Portuguese more fluently than the3rd grade group. I took notes of the students who were speaking morePortuguese in both groups with me or with their peers. The table below showsthe number of students, by gender and grade, who had four or more entries forspeaking Portuguese in my Teaching Journal. Number of students who spoke only in Portuguese with the teacher 7  6  5  4  Boys  3  Girls  2  1  0  2nd grade  3rd grade   20 
  22. 22. Another source that supports this claim is my survey. One of the questionsin my survey asked who they considered to be a good Portuguese helper in theclassroom. There were four girls with the highest number of votes in the 2ndgrade group and 3 girls and a boy in the third grade group. By videotaping their social interactions in the classroom, I have also foundthat it was easier for the girls to maintain a conversation in Portuguese. The boysseemed to be more resistant to speak Portuguese among themselves or evenwhen they were talking to the girls. In a video taken on March 28th regarding aposter project, 9 girls were talking enthusiastically about their project inPortuguese. In contrast, there was only one boy who brought his project to sharethat day, but he was not able to sustain his presentation in Portuguese. My checklist observation also shows evidence of girls speakingPortuguese more than boys in my classroom. I have observed for four days inthe second grade group and five days in the 3rd grade group who was speakingin Portuguese with me. The table below shows the number of students bygender, which spoke only in Portuguese with me during different times of myobservation.  21 
  23. 23. Number of students who speak Portuguese with the teacher 10  9  8  7  6  5  Boys  4  Girls  3  2  1  0  2nd grade  3rd grade  Although the table above shows the same number of students for 3rdgrade, it is important to note that there are 13 boys in that group and only 5 girls.“Quem vai ser a polícia do português hoje?”(Who is going to be the “Portuguese police” today?) My third claim is that more fluent speakers are able to help less fluentspeakers to improve their speaking skills in Portuguese. Besides me, as thePortuguese teacher, there are two other Portuguese teachers who usually cometo my classroom. One is the social worker and the second one is a substituteteacher who comes once in a while to assist me. I also consider some studentsto be fluent, especially the ones who speak Portuguese at home with theirparents.  22 
  24. 24. Within my data collection, I was able to identify similarities in my findings.My observation checklist, for example, shows that on March 15, a total of 10students, out of 17 2nd graders spoke a 100% in Portuguese either with me orwith the students who were sharing during Morning Meeting. I have alsoobserved that on March 25th, a number of 11 students out of 18 in the 3rd gradegroup maintained their conversations in Portuguese during the time threestudents were sharing during Morning Meeting as well. Morning Meetings offer agood opportunity for students to share something that has happened to themoutside school. It is also a moment that students can ask questions or makecomments about what they have heard. Through the analysis of my teaching journal notes, I realized that most ofmy students spoke Portuguese with me during recess, snack or lunch, periodsthat I usually interact socially with them. An illustration of this observation wasmade on March 1st when I wrote the following quotation in my journal about the2nd grade group: “During snack time I shared about my trip. They seemed to beinterested…and asked me questions. A couple of students came to me to sharesomething about their families. They both spoke in Portuguese.” This pattern wasobserved during seven days out of ten days of observation in the 2nd grade andfour days in the 3rd grade group, out of ten days of observation. I believe, as Iam the model and as I speak Portuguese with them all the time, it seems to beeasier for them to speak in Portuguese with me.  23 
  25. 25. The survey is another data that supports this claim. When students wereasked with whom they think it is easier to speak in Portuguese, myself and theteacher assistant got the highest number of votes. A total of 13 students from 2ndgrade, out of 15 who answered the survey, thought it is easier to speakPortuguese with me. Five of these students also said it is easier to speak with theteacher assistant and five thought it is easier to speak with their friends. When Iasked the same question to the 3rd grade group, 16 students answered that it iseasier to speak with me. These same students also voted for the teacherassistant and the social worker. The three of us are fluent speakers ofPortuguese. The social worker usually comes once a week to my classroom towork with them and she speaks Portuguese fluently. Through my observation checklist, I have also noticed that the most fluentstudents were the ones who spoke more Portuguese during the cooperativelearning groups. In both grades, I have mixed students with different levels ofPortuguese to encourage the low-level students to speak more. The videotapesof their interactions show the ones who are more fluent encouraging the oneswho are less fluent to speak in Portuguese. On March 24th, for example, I haveobserved that 7 of 11 students in the 3rd grade were able to sustain the use ofPortuguese during a Social Studies activity in groups. A number of four studentsmixed the two languages and number of 6 students chose to work individually. Ihad grouped them by taking into consideration their level of Portuguese.Additionally to this example, I have also noticed that on March 15th, a total of 11  24 
  26. 26. students from my 2nd grade group spoke Portuguese with the social worker whocame to my room to teach them how to show respect to each other. She usuallyasks them to role-play situations. These students were able to use Portugueseduring her class and to interact with each other speaking Portuguese.Conclusion:“Estou pronto para perguntas e comentários!”(I am ready for questions and comments!) – Sentence prompt students useduring morning meeting after they share about something. Trying to develop speaking skills in Portuguese in my classroom hasdefinitely been a challenge. At the beginning of my research I wanted to find outstrategies and techniques that would enhance this skill with my 2nd and 3rd gradestudents in a Portuguese bilingual setting. For this reason, I started collectingdata to support my investigation. Through the analysis of this data, I foundpatterns that helped to me to understand better my role as a teacher in order topromote Portuguese fluency in my classroom. Reflecting and researching aboutthis subject has also increased my learning as a second language teacher andresearcher. I believe this research has also collaborated for my students’ growthin Portuguese speaking. Throughout this process, my investigation also led me to look for literatureto support the claims that I found. Other researchers’ views have provided newthoughts about my second language teaching practice as well. Whether I ampromoting Portuguese to engage my students or leading them, as a fluent  25 
  27. 27. Portuguese speaker, I understand that is my responsibility to find strategies andtechniques to enhance their Portuguese oral competence. Through the analysis of different kinds of data, I came out to the conclusionthat, as a fluent Portuguese speaker, I had a huge impact in their Portuguesespeaking performance as well as other fluent speakers of Portuguese whointeract with my students everyday. I realized that differentiating activities on adaily basis and integrating reading, writing, and listening to speaking will enhancetheir oral performance as well. And I finally became aware that there is acorrelation of speaking Portuguese with gender, so grouping my studentsaccording to their Portuguese language performance and gender is also anotherto way to successfully promote Portuguese speaking in my classroom. As my investigation on this particular issue comes to the end, it is myintention to continue my research practice in this area in order to improve mystudents’ Portuguese speaking and my own language teaching skills. Forexample, I wish to further investigate in which ways my students’ families aresupporting their children’s oral language at home. I understand that thedevelopment of bilingualism presupposes the conscious effort by parents to usethe target language at home. I also want to investigate what skills and strategieshave worked for my colleagues at different grade levels. As we teach in the sameschool and the same language, I believe we all should have similar expectationsand work on the same page.  26 
  28. 28. This research project has finally taught me that reflecting about mylanguage teaching practice and paying a closer attention to my students’ needsare essential for my growth as a language instructor. Going through the processof collecting data, analyzing, and finding relevant information about my studentshas definitely opened my eyes for a different way to innovate my secondlanguage teaching practice.Bibliography:Cheng, Li-Rong L. (1996). Enhancing Communication: Toward Optimal Language Learning for Limited English Proficient Students, pp. 349-352. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Vol. 27. San Diego State University, CA.Cloud, N., Genesee, F., & Hamayan, E. (2000). Dual language instruction: A handbook for enriched education, pp. 63-67. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.Ghee, T., Ismail, H., & Kabilan, M. (2010). Language Learning Strategies by MFL students based on genders and achievement groups. US – China Foreign Language, ISSN 1539-8080, USA. Vol. 08, No. 1 (Serial No. 76).Gömleksiz, M. N. (2007).Effectiveness of cooperative learning (jigsaw II) method  27 
  29. 29. in teaching English as a foreign language to engineering students (Case of Firat University, Turkey). University of Firat, Faculty of Education, 23119, Elazig, Turkey.Kabuto, B. (2010). Code-switching during parent-child reading interactions: Taking multiple theoretical perspectives. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. Vol 10 (2) 131-157.Musk, N. (2010). Code-switching and code-mixing in Welsh bilinguals’ talk: confirming or refuting the maintenance of language boundaries? Department of Culture and Communication (IKK), Linko¨ ping University, Linko¨ ping SE-581 83, Sweden.Palmer, Deborah K. (2009). Code-Switching and Symbolic Power in a Second-Grade Two-Way Classroom: A Teachers Motivation System Gone Awry, Bilingual Research Journal, 32: 1, 42 — 59.Willans, F. (2011). Classroom code-switching in a Vanuatu secondary school conflict between policy and practice. International Journal of Bilingual Education & Bilingualism, 14(1), 23-38. doi:10.1080/13670050903576038. Xiong, X. (2008). On Gender Differences in Language Acquisition. Sino-US English Teaching. ISSN1539-8072, Volume 5, No. 11, USA.  28 
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