Project Raizes Brasileiras (PRB) leads community-based activities to address the issue of background language maintenance among stakeholders of Brazilian community in Brisbane. PRB understands that community languages maintenance is a collaborative work among children, families, schools, immigrant and local communities. Starting in 2016 as an independent project, Raizes Brasileiras expanded in 2017/2018, delivering Portuguese-language courses, cultural workshops for children, cultural community-based events, training workshops; involving a sum of 75 children, 10 educators, over 400 parents, numerous bilingual professionals, local businesses, performers, academic researchers, and incorporated associations. In 2019/2020, PRB expects to develop similar activities, reaching a superior number of participants and deliver a pilot prototype of didactic material for background language learners of Latin-American languages.
History of Raízes Brasileiras
Raízes Brasileiras (PRB) is a non-for profit community project affiliated to ABRASSO since 2017. This project has a recent history that has started with a motivated mother (who is also a linguist and cultural/language teacher) and has become in two years a community project, involving over 75 children in classes, 10 professionals in teaching, and numerous parents in volunteering. Through this democratic and inclusive project, we are offering a bilingual complementary education for our children to grow up united, secure of their cultural and bilingual identity, and ready to face a globalised world of the 21st century.
Raizes Brasileiras started in 2016, leaded by Dr Lilian Fleuri, a PhD in linguistics, a lecturer of Latin American Studies at the University of Queensland, and a Brazilian mother of 2 fully trilingual children aging 5 and 8 years-old. It started as an indenpendent project organized at parents houses with a group of 5-7 Australian-Brazilian children, aging between 3-6 years-old, who had been immersed in a bilingual environment since babies. The main objectives were to maintain the bilingual identity of this group, and to promote the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture through games, writing, artistic and technological activities. This group kept united and commited to the classes for the whole year, and the results where positively perceptive. Now, at the end of 2018, this same group members are best friends, they speak to each other in Portuguese and English, and are able to engage in writing and oral activities with resourcefullness.
In 2017, the project opened to the community involvement, opening the groups for more children to participate, and More structured, Raizes Brasileiras incorporated 2 other language teachers and used a community hall to run the classes, and worked on defining a learning pathway. The year of 2017 counted with 2 groups of children, summing up a total of 25 students enroled throughout the year.
The year of 2018 opened with a inaugural class and a seminar for parents to explain how to raise bilingual children. With a wider commitment of the community, PRB has now a team of professional bilingual educators formed by 4 teachers and one pedagogical coordinator, teaching over 40 children from 1 to 12 years-old, and one group of non-Portuguese speaker parents. Raizes Brasileiras is now a project affiliated to ABRASSO (Australia Brazil Association) and sponsoured by Brisbane City Indoor Sports Centre, which offers the space for the classes and meetings.
Raízes Brasileiras has organized two Festas Juninas in 2017 and 2018, one Carnival for children, and 1 Brazilian Children's day in 2018 with the full support and involvement of the Australian-Brazilian community of Brisbane. Project Raizes Brasileiras was presented in the academic field of heritage language teaching, at the UQ (South-South Dialogue), UCLA (University of California), UFSC (Federal Universtiy in Brasil), AUSIT (Australia Association for Interpreters and Translators of QLD), and ESAQ (Community Language Schools National Conference).
The role of project Raizes Brasileiras is to foster community-based activities to promote community language maintenance and community union. Family and community participation has proven to be effective in heritage language transmission and maintenance (Melo-Pfeifer, 2015, Chan, 2016). Based on the affirmation that “management of participatory processes is key to successful community participation” (Chan, 2016), project Raizes Brasileiras acts as a management mechanism that guarantees the Brazilian community participation on cultural and educational activities engaged in the process of Portuguese language teaching and maintenance. Raizes Brasileiras, throught the engagement of families in language teaching, integrates, in a collaborative work, the learner (children and non-Portuguese speaker parents), his/her family, and the Brazilian community in the creation, organisation and execution cultural and educational events.
In 2019, as a project affiliated to ABRASSO, we reinforced our link other two Brazilian community-projects, BRAZA FC and Forro Brisbane, to offer community-based events in Brisbane.
Raízes Brasileiras has been developing a model of community-based education through methods of project-based learning to involve students in projects that exchange and collaborates with their surrounding community. It started in 2018 and took shape in 2019. During school time, children develop basic knowledge in topics of their interest. Whereas our staff and parents help to organise community-events, the children work hard to present their outcomes in these events. These are all the events we organised or participate in 2019:
Carnaval-Mirim (february): offering cowbell and masks workshop for children
Festa Junina (july): students from Raízes Brasileiras presented a Brazilian bush dance and the traditional interpretation of a Backcountry wedding (created by the own children and presented in Portuguese);
Dia das Crianças (october): students studied the tradition of Boi-Bumba in several states of Brazil, built and decorate a Boi-bumba, and created a text and interpreted the Boi-Bumba play at the party for other children.
At the local community, Raízes Brasileiras participated in the Pocketfest, bringing a Story Corner, where some of our students translated and read, in English, Brazilian folktales to other children. They also talked about the indigenous culture in Brazil and gave a Peteca Workshop. (Pocket Garden Carnival) , at Carnaval-Mirim, mobilized the community to develop cowbells and masks for children during the party; at Festa Junina, Raizes worked with our students to present a "Backcountry wedding" (casamento da roça) and Brazilian bush dance (quadrilha) Brazilian community, participating collaboratively in every cultural event promoted by ABRASSO plan to expand the project to the wider context of Latin America, offering also Spanish courses, focus on the culture of Hispanic-America. Contact if you have any interest in Spanish language.