Bridging the Gap between Home and School: The Samoan Bilingual Cultural Maintenance Program
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This paper describes an action research project that was designed to investigate the effects of a cultural maintenance project that involved bilingual teaching for a group of Samoan students in their first year at school. The two basic assumptions underpinning this project were that affirmation of cultural identity fosters positive self-esteem, and that development of literacy in a first language provides a basis for development of literacy in a second language. As the project developed, parents were invited to take an active role in their children's bilingual literacy development. Their involvement was intended to bring the cultures of the home and the school closer together. Data collection was ongoing throughout the project and took the form of interviews with parents, teacher reflections, classroom observations, and collection of work samples produced by the children. Some findings were anticipated, for example, the increased levels of confidence in the Samoan children. However, much was learned that was not anticipated. In particular, the central role of the bilingual Samoan teacher, not just in the capacity of teacher, but as an essential bridge between the Samoan home and the school and the university research team.
Educating: Weaving Research into Practice
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