Effects of Portuguese Heritage Schooling (Escolas Oficiais Portuguesas) On Language Attitudes, Cultural Identity, Academic Performance, and Educational Aspirations Of Portuguese American Students: A Comparative Study

Antonio Maria Veloso Bento
Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell - UNITED STATES, 2000
May, 2000
Doctoral thesis


The purpose of this study was to investigate and compare the effects of Portuguese schooling (Escolas Oficiais Portuguesas) on the language attitudes, cultural identity, academic performance, and educational aspirations of two groups of Portuguese-American students. One group with at least five years of Portuguese Heritage Schooling (PHS) was compared with another group which had experienced neither such schooling nor bilingual education (NPHS). The study involved a total of 236 subjects: 120 in the PHS group and 116 in the NPHS group. The subjects were 12 to 17 years of age and lived in southern New England.

The statistical methods utilized to analyze the data included descriptive statistics such as frequencies and measures of central tendency and inferential statistical techniques including chi-square, t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedures.

The independent variable "Portuguese heritage school attendance" was operationally defined as a dichotomous variable with one group having five to nine years of Portuguese Heritage Schooling (PHS) and the other with no attendance at such schools (NPHS).

Two research instruments were utilized: The Bento-Ribeiro Cultural Identification Scale (B-RCIS), a 36-item instrument to measure cultural identity and language attitudes; and the Socio-Educational Portuguese Profile (SEPP), a 22-item instrument developed by this researcher to obtain data on demographics, language attitudes, cultural identity, academic performance, and educational aspirations.

The study revealed significant differences between the two groups. Students who attended Portuguese heritage schools reported the following: (1) more positive attitudes toward the Portuguese language; (2) higher cultural identification with Portuguese culture; (3) higher academic performance; (4) higher educational aspirations. Furthermore, this study revealed that students who attended Portuguese heritage schools experienced the following: (1) higher frequency of active participation in their communities; (2) closer ties with Portugal; (3) higher frequency of Portuguese television viewing in their homes.

In conclusion, regularly attending Portuguese Heritage schools (Escolas Oficiais Portuguesas) has significant educational benefits for students, preserves the Portuguese language and culture within the community; and helps in bonding the 200,000,000 Portuguese speakers into a meaningful and universal LUSOPHONE COMMUNITY.