C. Ravasco

Instituto Politécnico da Guarda / UDI (PORTUGAL)
Recent years have shown that immigration policies, on one hand, and globalisation, on the other hand, have changed the way we interact with people from other cultures.

Portuguese schools have been one of the first places to integrate newcomers and to find new ways of dealing with different cultures and foreign languages. Teachers, non-teaching staff and pupils were, at one time, the pioneers in finding new educational, social competences to integrate children that talked different languages. Besides, schools were also the first institutions to feel the needs for new communicational and linguistic tools in children. This is to say, schools were the first formal contexts where the need for new linguistic competences was indeed embraced.

Later, legislation was produced in order to organise the different practices that were already spread through the country schools.
Particularly, laws were made to legislate the integration of children who were attending portuguese schools although they were not portuguese native speakers. At the time, there were immigrants coming from portuguese speaking countries but also from China or from the East of Europe and language was really an issue. Simultaneously, English emerged as the language spoken in Europe, as a cultural language, as the language for business. Older portuguese students had weak fluency in English. Something had to be done at an earlier age. Some projects had already been implemented successfully but they were “unofficial”. English teaching became legally suitable in primary schools. The legislation produced translated the philosophy and the conception of multiculturalism and multilingualism as important tools to live peacefully in a global society.

In this paper, I want to contextualise the laws that have been produced and explain what is being actually done in primary schools in English language teaching and in Portuguese as a foreign language teaching.