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Page d'accueil // FLSHASE // Actualités // Research stay at the Federal University of Salvador de Bahia

Research stay at the Federal University of Salvador de Bahia

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Publié le lundi, 08 janvier 2018

In December 2017, Roberto Gómez Fernández, postdoctoral researcher in the Applied Educational Sciences Institute at the Faculty of Language, Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, went to the Federal University of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, partly thanks to an Erasmus+ grant. Read about his experience of this research and teaching stay abroad.

International relations office (IRO): Roberto, you spent almost 2.5 weeks in Brazil. How come?

Roberto (R):Our research in the group of Prof. Christina Siry focuses on science teaching and learning in multilingual/-cultural school contexts in Luxembourg (SciPol:Lux project). Basically, we seek to understand how science topics have been and are taught throughout history in multicultural Luxembourg, considering both local and international education policies. Many of the children we see in the schools for instance speak also Portuguese. Having a background in sociolinguistics, my particular research interest is on how Portuguese-speaking children (= lusoburguês) use all their existing languages (=translanguage) to make meaning and better learn sciences. Here we see that using several languages, including for example Portuguese, is a resource and not an obstacle for science learning.

To better understand the school system of origin of these children, we aim to build up a network with Portuguese-speaking universities, mainly in Portugal and Brazil; hence the choice of Brazil for my stay.

IRO: But in Brazil Portuguese is spoken throughout the country. Where does the multilingual/-cultural context come in?



R:This is correct, most of Brazil is monolingual, although there are still many indigenous languages, which are however not present in the school system. Getting insights into the school system there and how they foster this cultural diversity made me aware of the parallels and differences with Luxembourg.

It was great to see for instance that awareness of cultural diversity is increasing on the educational agenda in Brazil. For example, they celebrate the African-heritage and the indigenous-heritage month across the entire country, in which the children do special projects to explore history, culture, music etc. from different angles.

IRO: What did you do precisely during your stay?



R:I had arranged collaborations with three professors, one affiliated with the Federal University of Salvador de Bahia and two at the Federal Institute of Pernambuco, beforehand.During the stay, I had many meetings and gave a total of 9 different lectures to various audiences: students, researchers and professors in different areas of sciences, education or linguistics. In addition, I had the unique chance to visit four primary and secondary schools. Such field trips complemented the exchanges with the researchers and students perfectly.

Of course the situation in many schools is much less luxurious than what we are used to from Luxembourg. But even with the little resources, teachers came up with creative ways to integrate children from multi-ethnic backgrounds in their teaching.

Last but not least, I was invited to speak at the teacher training conference “IV International Congress of Licenciaturas” in Natal, gathering more than 1,000 future teachers and researchers, mainly from all over South America under the umbrella of the Programme “Awakening Vocations”, directed by Prof. Erick Viana da Silva.

IO: What could we at the University of Luxembourg learn from your stay?

R:During the conference, the very interesting programme “Awakening Vocations” was presented. Similar to the Erasmus semester, which students of the University of Luxembourg have to do during their bachelors, future Brazilian teachers can go abroad for half a year. During this stay, however, they not only study at the partner university, they also have to teach and implement a project in a school. This could be an example for our Bachelor students on mobility, especially those in the Bachelor en Sciences de l’Éducation. In my view, this is an excellent way to teach students early on to come up with creative ideas for conveying educational topics in a new way and how to implement these ideas in the actual school system. 

IRO: Anything that struck you particularly about your stay?



R:I would say the most striking is the hospitality of the Brazilians. The professors that hosted me took a lot of time to introduce me to different groups of researchers and students, to show me the schools and also the cultural and touristic highlights their cities have to offer. Even though Brazil is still experiencing an economic crisis that leads to a more difficult situation for the universities, everybody I met was so welcoming and sharing their work with me. An amazing experience!

In addition, I was surprised how little foreign languages and sciences are taught in schools. Secondary language education focuses on Spanish or English, but it is minor compared to what we teach children in Europe. Again, this fact made me reflect a lot and compare it to our multilingual context in Luxembourg.

IRO: Would you recommend such an international experience to other researchers?

R: Absolutely. Besides being able to establish various new collaborations, the stay allowed me to see outside the box and give me a new perspective on the SciPol:Lux project (PI Prof. Christina Siry). I am very thankful for having had this opportunity and I am sure every researcher could benefit from such a stay abroad. Last but not least, both Brazilian institutions are now interested in sending Bachelor students and postdoctoral researchers to Luxembourg, which could be an excellent opportunity for both countries to learn from each other.