Over the last year, I have been trying hard to learn and speak the Portuguese language. I find learning any language hard work , and Portuguese is certainly proving difficult. When I first arrived, my basic understanding of Spanish helped me with reading some Portuguese words. Quite a lot of words are either spelt the same or similar to Spanish (although a lot are different also), and so I could have a good guess when I saw words written down. However, when someone spoke the same words, I often had no idea what they were saying. Portuguese pronunciation sounds nothing like Spanish at all !
I have a couple of Learn Portuguese books I try to read,and CD’s that I listen to. They have helped me to understand the language a little bit more .However, it has taken me a year to get to Chapter 6 in my “Portuguese in 3 months” book, and now I am at the part where I don’t even understand the English explanation . Did I sleep through lessons on object pronouns after prepositions, adverbs, subjunctives,and imperatives at school? Or did we not cover them ? I think I need to go back to school and re-do English grammar before the rest of the book makes sense. Chapter 7 will have to wait.
In the Summer I went to a conversation class for a few months, where British and Portuguese people came along and spoke to each other in the language they were learning. It was good practise, and hopefully there will be another class starting again soon.
In the mean time, I have been trying to find other ways to improve my Portuguese and keep myself motivated.
Here are some of the things I have been doing.
1. I read children’s books, from the library . Fairy tales and adventure stories are good for learning to recognise verbs in the past tenses, and non fiction books are great for vocabulary. I write down new words, and make them into flash cards to read and repeat over the week .My word bank is definitely getting bigger, even though I don’t know how to pronounce the words I learn !
2 .I regularly talk with my neighbour, who does not speak any English . It is hard to know if I understand him correctly sometimes, but I feel that our conversations are getting more lengthy and that we are on the same wave length most of the time ( i hope)
3. I have been listening to Portuguese clips on You Tube, and I watch the Portuguese news and the occasional quiz or nature programme on Portuguese TV.
4. I watch children’s films on DVD, so I can hear the language, and follow it with English subtitles when I get stuck ( adult non Portuguese films are always in the original language , and Portuguese films don’t have English subtitles)
5. I have been checking out Portuguese language web sites .Remember to check whether they are Brazilian or European Portuguese, as there is a difference !
Here are a two I like a lot
www.conjuguemos.com. Useful for verbs, their tenses, and vocabulary . You can print off flash cards, and play games such as hangman, and memory.
www.livemocha.com Lots of Portuguese lessons which are structured and FREE! There is the opportunity to write and speak Portuguese,( as long as you have a microphone and speakers on your computer) submit your work, and have written feed back.
You can even go on-line to chat to native Portuguese speakers, if you are feeling brave !
The web sites are great for other languages too. So if you are learning a language check them out .
6. I am also trying to find a language partner. Someone who wants to improve their English and can help me improve my Portuguese. The idea would be to meet up for a coffee once a week for about an hour, make conversation, answer questions and help each other to improve our spoken language . I have not managed to find any one yet, but I am going to ask around .
If you are learning, or have learned another language, maybe you have tips and ideas ?
If so, please share them, and I will give them a try !