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(For classes of students, literate in Creole, attending Basic Education in Guinea-Bissau)

(A proposal of Fernanda Dámaso and Lino Bicarique's, which remained unfinished in June 1987: 2nd revision by Lino Bicari in April 2002)


"Guinean Creole, if ignored, becomes the enemy of Portuguese, but it can become the language's best friend, if it's taken into consideration while the other's being taught".

The Portuguese program proposed is exclusive and specific for students of Guinea-Bissau due to the fact that Portuguese has a special linguistic relationship with Guinean Creole, a West African language that all Guinean children learn prior to learning Portuguese in school.

No child in Guinea-Bissau has Portuguese for his mother tongue nor his language of normal oral communication, every child speaks Creole or quickly learns to speak it during his first contacts oustide of his original ethnic environment. A school that properly intends to teach in Portuguese from first grade onward, will take a few months to teach students who only speak ethnic languages to speak Creole fluently.

Creole, being the most widely diffused language of communication and the one expanding most rapidly in the country (55% of inhabitants in 1987 and 70% in 2001), should actually be considered the mother- or near-mother-tongue of the majority of Guinea-Bissau's children: in fact, in urban centers, along the great highways of communication, and in many rural areas, such as the Bijago Archipelago, for example, Creole is the main language of communication among the multi-ethnic population. Because Guinean Creole has characteristics of West African languages, it's easy for this part of the continent's populations, including the children, to learn it.

At the same time, Creole, whose origin is linked to Portuguese, has phonetic, morphological, and syntactical relations with the language, which ought to be considered during the development of a Portuguese curriculum.

Therefore, the Portuguese teaching method for a Guinean ought to be a specific method that explores and points out the divergences and convergences between the student's tongue (Creole) and the language he must learn (Portuguese), and work to avoid those interferences of the former upon the use of the latter.

a) The primary benefactors of this program are Guinean children who, after having attended the 1st phase of Basic Education (B.E.) in Creole, speak, read, and write in this national language and should begin learning Portuguese. In addition to being literate in Creole, these students will have qualified as graduates of the B.E.'s 1st phase, meaning they'll have acquired the theoretic content, the abilities, and the behaviors set forth as the goals of this 1st phase in the national curriculum.

Note: For these students, development of the program can begin in the 3rd trimester of the second year, or in the beginning of the 2nd phase of B.E. Thus, a time can be dedicated to the program's daily reading, and three time periods for the the curriculum's Creole-language contents, so that the students may arrive at the end of the B.E.'s 2nd phase (the 4th year) with familiarity of its contents and also good basic oral, reading, and writing abilities in Portuguese without Creole interferences.

b) Adults literate in Creole will also have here, with a few adaptations, a specific methodology for learning Portuguese.

c) The program's methodology can also be adapted for the teaching of Portuguese to children taught in Portuguese from their 1st year.

For the proper application of this method, the teacher should foremost study Creole and its origin and history, including its phonetics, morphology, syntax, and writing, and use the language in practice; in applying this method, he should note all the phonetic, grammatical, morphological, and syntactical differences between Portuguese and Creole and be ready to correct students upon noticing their spoken and written Portuguese errors influenced by their Creole backgrounds; the workbooks will guide them in this direction.

Political-historical reasons for the choice of Portuguese as official language:

• The words of Amilcar Cabral (round-table conference in 1969 – Conakry) .....
• Political decision by Guinea-Bissau's Government.
• Historical-cultural heritage: Portuguese is a part of the Guinean cultural heritage, in such a way that this language wa not only a means of communication, but also a vehicle for ideas, for concepts of life, space, time, nature, and the transcendental which passed, in large or small quantities, for better or for worse, from Portuguese culture to that of the people of Guinea-Bissau.
• Practical need for the use of a written language, a language for public services, documentation, scientific studies, and international communication.
• Portuguese is the common language of the 8 countries in the CPLP.
• Portuguese is an international language.


Bring students to:

a) Communicate orally (and in writing) in Portuguese, by means of the acquisition and practice of its phonetics, vocabulary, mophological forms, and syntax - the basics, the essentials, and those corresponding to "Portuguese standard" and thus comprehensible to all Lusophones.

b) Realize that the study of Portuguese is important for Guineans due to their country's historical, cultural, and political identity.

c) Use and understand Portuguese in human interactions, and in other situations where a literate Guinean may find himself: attending meetings or lectures, conferences or assemblies; reading the country's written literature (historic and administrative documents, books, newspapers) which is predominantly in Portuguese, as well as documents necessary and useful for all citizens; listening to Portuguese-language radio or TV programs.

d) Reach a linguistic level sufficient for new students of Secondary Education in Portuguese.

e) Use Portuguese with international contacts, especially within the community of CPLP countries.

Lino Bicari
April 2002

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