Luiz Amaral, PhD
Professor of Portuguese and Spanish Linguistics
University of Massachusetts Amherst
I am a Professor of Portuguese and Spanish Linguistics, the Director of the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Program in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and an adjunct faculty in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am also the Director of the Polyglot Lab.
I work with second language acquisition, bilingualism and language instruction for minority languages with a specific focus on Spanish and Portuguese in the US, and indigenous languages in Brazil. Some of my research projects study the symbolic representations of interlanguage properties and bilingual grammars, especially at the morphosyntactic level. My applied work focuses on supporting minority language maintenance and indigenous language revitalization through pedagogical initiatives that range from the design and creation of pedagogical materials to language program development and teacher education.
In my free time, I like to study other languages, meet people from different places, read about Brazilian history and culture, play the guitar and sing.
Overall, what really motivates me is the belief that learning other languages is the best way for people around the world to share personal and cultural experiences, which can ultimately contribute to mutual understanding and respect. Hate is a symptom of ignorance, and ignorance is the product of isolation and lack of learning experiences. When you learn another language, visit other places and meet new people, you stop fearing and hating the world you don't know. That is why I work to promote the study of multiple languages and support educational projects with bilingual speakers of minority languages.
Decolonization and Language
Language is the tool human beings use to pass on their knowledge and cultural traditions to future generations. Throughout the history of mankind, the English language has been used as an instrument to annihilate and replace local cultures. No other language such as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Russian or Chinese has been so pervasive on a global scale. Linguistic colonization has not stopped because there are fewer territorial invasions in the modern world. Much on the contrary, it has intensified through instruments of academic and cultural domination. Monolingual "internationalization" in English is one of the most recent forms of neocolonialism inside and outside academia. To support true decolonization it is vital to promote and respect knowledge production and dissemination in other languages. If you want to take a concrete step towards decolonization, learn another language and go beyond acknowledging other peoples existence in English.