Language in schooling in Timor-Leste

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Through its history of colonisation, occupation and independence, Timor-Leste has developed a unique linguistic ecology where official and other languages represent particular status and power in various domains. In the education system, Portuguese maintains a higher status and teachers aim to teach it, yet Tetum is used to enact vital roles that give students access to curriculum content. This paper looks at how the language policy in Timor-Leste has developed around the goals of a newly independent nation and contrasts this with how teachers have attempted to teach students within this policy. It suggests a re-focus on both languages as pedagogic aids, to develop the power of both languages to assist students in learning content and language.


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