Teacher shortage hinders Portuguese teaching in California

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 09-12-2019 14:47:00 · 0 Comments

The shortage of teachers and the constraints of the education department are affecting the expansion of Portuguese teaching in California, where Duarte Pinheiro, deputy coordinator of the Camões Institute, found fewer students than expected.

According to Pinheiro, whom this week is accompanying writer and illustrator Catarina Sobral on a programme of workshops in California schools, there are now 1,461 Portuguese-language students in 15 public schools across the state, 11 of which are high schools.

The previous estimate was 2,200 students, as the president of Camões - Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, Luís Faro Ramos, told Lusa on his first visit to California in March.

Of the 15 schools counted by coordinating assistant Duarte Pinheiro, one is a primary school, three middle schools and 11 high schools. Two started Portuguese programmes in school year 2019/2020.

"There are challenges that have to do with the shortage of teachers, which is general in the California department of education and does not only affect Portuguese," Pinheiro said, who took up the newly created position in March.

One of the difficulties is that California only issues one-year visas to teachers, as part of some ‘protectionism’ in the department of education that Pinheiro hopes will be changed with the new superintendent, Tony Thurmond.

The high cost of living in the state also hampers the attraction of more teachers, especially in the San Jose region, where the Portuguese community has an important dimension.

Currently, the largest concentration of teachers and students is in Turlock, Hilmar and Tulare, in the central valley, and San Diego, in the south.

The Camões Institute's promotions of the Portuguese language are scheduled for 6 and 8 February in Hilmar and Berkeley, with teacher training given by Professor Isabel Margarida Duarte, from the University of Porto.

California is the US state with the largest Portuguese diaspora, with a community of 346,000 people of Portuguese origin, according to the 2010 census.


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