Some of you may be wondering how I am teaching myself Brazilian Portuguese. I don’t have a teacher and I am not taking classes. But I am still learning. Want to know my secret? Read on…
Chatting with Natives
After mastering the basics (and I mean the bare minimum basics!) from a small Brazilian Portuguese grammar book, I became anxious to start practicing my newly acquired language with native speakers. I heard about this language-learning website called live mocha. This website has since changed my entire learning experience.
On livemocha, you can do free lessons and submit audio recordings to be reviewed by native speakers. My favorite part about the website though, is the fact that you can instant message or speak with native speakers at any time. Since I am a visual learner first and foremost, I use this feature mostly for instant-messaging. But I have used the audio feature several times as well, and that has proved immensely helpful, as I can practice my speaking and oral comprehension.
All the people I have chatted with on the site have been nothing but encouraging, telling me how well I speak and congratulating me on my Portuguese (which is really not good at all – it shows how nice Brazilians can be!). Most of them are extremely helpful as well, and correct all my mistakes. Most also are surprised as to why I am learning Portuguese, as they claim that there are not many “gringos” (or foreigners of Brazil) out there who want to learn their language. One guy even told me that, before me, he had never spoken (or written) in Portuguese with a non-native speaker!
Livemocha has definitely been the most useful tool at my disposal and thanks to the many helpful “teachers” I’ve had, I feel like I have already come a long way from when I started three to four months ago. But despite the many benefits, like any website, you just have to be wary of some of the people on there, as there are some who are just looking for dating or even sex (ew). But normally it’s easy to weed those ones out!
Grammer and Vocab
For learning grammar and vocabulary, I have downloaded several Brazilian Portuguese books onto my kindle. I take notes on what I learn and record them in two notebooks that I have (one small one for travel and one large one) and post-it notes, that I stick on the wall of my apartment. Don’t believe me? See the image below for proof.
I also have downloaded Brazilian podcasts onto my iPod, which I try to listen to on a regular basis. This is very helpful as well, since each podcast is between about twelve and eighteen minutes long, and includes a dialogue based on some subject. My iPod touch provides both a written and an audio form of the dialogue; that way, I can listen to the dialogue and read it at the same time. Since oral comprehension is the hardest part for me, this is extremely helpful.
Other Blogs and Websites
As I mentioned earlier, I also have been following a Brazilian Portuguese blog. This has been very useful for teaching some basic things but also some of the things that my books don’t (such as slang and different expressions). Although one thing I have learned about slang: it depends on the region! Cariocas (people from Rio) use different slang than Paulistas (people from Sao Paulo) who use different slang than gaúchos (people from Rio Grande do Sul), and so on. I’ll get more into that another time.
Finally, last night I discovered something else: a website that teaches a different word or expression each day. I find that when learning a new language, it’s best to learn just a little bit at a time-you don’t want to force-feed your brain with information!
Well, those are all of my learning/self-teach methods…for now at least. So now you know my segredos (secrets). Shh, don’t tell!