Here, I am going to write a series on how I learn Portuguese. It will be listed under the category ‘Learning Portuguese’ so easily found on the left category list. Each entry post title shall be listed as Pt. 001, Pt. 002, Pt. 003 and so on to maintain order if viewed as a whole.
I’m doing this because this blog is like an open diary and also, for others to perhaps discover various methods used, in the learning of Portuguese. I’ve been in Portugal a little while now having wanted to live here for many years.
These days, I consider that I do live here as I am becoming established on a more permanent basis. Before I came, one of my greatest concerns was learning the language. At times I was convinced I could, at others, I though not and then there were times when I just didn’t know what I thought. I have purchased countless books, various CD or MP3 and a selection of dictionaries both good and bad. I have also downloaded a large amount of material via Youtube.
It may be thought that given such a variety of material at my disposal, I would be in a good position to now learn Portuguese with relative ease. To date, this has not been the case. First off, there is always the problem that whenever you undertake to find Portuguese language material, you are bombarded by that which is the Brazilian variant. In this case, it seems to me that a great number of publishers deceive potential students. Almost always, they fail to make clear what is actually being offered in the product.
The colours or the flag of Portugal are frequently displayed giving one to belief that the content is continental Portuguese. This is generally not the case and to my mind, deliberately deceptive. The Brazilian flag is green, yellow, blue and white and if the content is Brazilian Portuguese, then that is what should be used. That’s my first gripe. Next we come to language content that mixes both Continental and Brazilian and this really makes me mad. As a good example, Teach Yourself Portuguese by Manuela Cook is the pits when it comes to this. On the whole, the book content may be good, but as to the accompanying audio material, it becomes extremely confusing as both European and Brazilian speakers are used.
Perhaps I’m being too picky. I think not. If you were learning to write English, you would not expect American and British English spellings to be in the same educational text-book unless there was a valid and clear indication for such from the outset. In some respects, I feel that some of the difficulties of learning, especially continental Portuguese, is due to the mishmash of so-called educational material.
To date, my biggest problem has been getting my head, mouth and ears around Portuguese pronunciation and if you can’t pronounce it, how can you hear and understand when such words are spoken to you. At first, it seems impossible and having educational material mixed between Brazilian and continental Portuguese simply adds to the difficulties.
Continental Portuguese has 14 vowel sounds and accents are used to show their pronunciation: á, â, ã à, ç, é, ê, í, ó, ô, õ, and ú. In the case consonants, the letter h is silent and the letters r, s, z and the combinations like nh, lh, ch, rr can prove very challenging. The Brazilian language and Portuguese is different.
So far, I’ve learnt a little and I’m sure I could have done better. Due to this, I’m going back to basics. I’m in Portugal and can therefore immerse myself in the language. Step one follows.
Pt. 001 – Learning Portuguese
The image above is a screenshot of e-LOCAL in the main. You can see that there is a dialogue section and also, you can play the conversation. The green, yellow, red and grey band on the right is a small floating keyboard that allows me to type Portuguese characters. It is available free from. See here for more information. e-LOCAL is an online course estimated to take 50 – 65 hours to complete. On completion, you should have attained level A1 in the Portuguese language. Note, it is European Portuguese with associations to Coimbra University. The cost to undertake the course is euros 20. I shall be taking this course, backed further with other educational material I currently have at my disposal. Future ‘Learning Portuguese‘ post parts shall be posted as progress reports. You, me and everyone can do this if determined, so let us do so.
What is e-Local
E-LOCAL is a project financed by the EU and carried out by 9 partners (6 universities and 3 secondary schools) from 6 different Countries: University of Bologna and ITCS Rosa Luxemburg (Italy), Adam Mickiewicz University and ZSO 2 Charles de Gaulle (Poland), University of Debrecen and Tóth Árpád Gimnázium (Hungary), University of Coimbra’s CES (Portugal), University of Lapland (Finland) and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium).
E-LOCAL promotes multilingualism by developing original learning tools and materials for 6 languages: Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Portuguese. In the e-LOCAL courses the acquisition of linguistic skills (level A1 according to CEFR) combines with the attendant acquisition of cultural competence, thanks to the use of English as vehicular language. Main target users are students from universities and schools.
The e-LOCAL courses are centered on the adventures of Anna and Alex, two Erasmus students arriving for the first time in one of the six e-LOCAL countries. You will follow them in their adventures, share their experiences, new contacts and progress in language proficiency. But their story is only one of the parts that compose the e-LOCAL courses. You will find also useful grammar explanations and exercises, as well as texts on culture and daily life of the people living in that country.
Are you ready to explore the e-LOCAL world?