Portuguese and Polish languages project

Children with a gift for languages can learn Portuguese and Polish under a new project designed to improve links between local communities and migrant workers.

Children with a gift for languages can learn Portuguese and Polish under a new project designed to improve links between local communities and migrant workers.

English-speaking pupils aged between six and 13 in Thetford can currently take up lessons in the two languages, while their Portuguese and Polish peers can try their skills at English.

Representatives of the Portuguese community in Norfolk are looking to extend the scheme, which currently operates with 40 children, and creates similar classes in Dereham and eventually Norwich.

They also have high ambitions to turn the project into a fully-fledged school for children of all backgrounds. However, Joe Barreto, speaking for the community, said everything should be developed “one step at a time.”


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“We currently have 40 children who take classes,” he says. “It's a fair mix of English-speaking children learning Portuguese or Polish and the other way round. We are looking to expand our area to Dereham and Norwich fairly soon and will bring in two new teachers, one of whom is British, the other Portuguese. There will also be Portuguese classes for Portuguese children to help them improve their chances in life. Children who learn these languages will find it easier to cope and the amount of money spent on translations will be drastically reduced.”

Mr Barreto said representatives of the Portuguese community in Norfolk are looking for funding to sustain the language school. However, if resources prove insufficient children will have to pay £5 a week for their lessons.

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The scheme is one of many community-orientated projects promoted by the Watton-based organisation Support and Integration of Migrants, Promoting Legal Equality (SIMPLE).

The group also produces a free bi-monthly sheet, The Gossip, with information and useful details in English, Portuguese and Polish.

However, as the publication relies heavily on Mr Barreto's private funds, there are fears it may have to cease.

“It costs me around £1,000 to publish The Gossip every month. This is an awful lot of money out of my pocket. I need this money for my family. I would appeal to anyone who is interested in our work to help as much as they can. The sheet means a lot to communities in Norfolk, and not just to migrant workers. ”

t Anyone interested in taking up the English, Portuguese or Polish classes, or helping The Gossip, call Joe Barreto on 07747 86064 or e-mail joebarreto.simple@hotmail.com

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