June 30, 2008

5 Ways to Get Started Learning Portuguese On Your Own

Have you decided or at least thought about learning Portuguese, maybe a while ago, but you don't know a word of it yet? Here are a couple of things you could do right now, without the help of a Portuguese teacher:
1. Get a Teach Yourself Book with audio.You could order one right now from an online vendor... or you could just take a walk and go get a copy from the library for free. There are a lot of books out there that would probably use to get started (check out some possibilities here). I find the Teach Yourself and Living Language books to do a decent job at it (I usually don't use them when I am teaching, and if I do, I find myself doing little corrections and using other sources all the time... but I think they are great if you are doing it on your own), covering basic expressions, conversation with some grammar and cultural notes... If you just want to start by picking up some quick phrases, I find Pimsleur audiobooks to be really great.
A couple of things you should have on your check list: make sure you get a book with accompanying audio, otherwise it will be really tough to pronounce things correctly (even if they try to explain it with phonetic spelling...)... and make sure to get the correct version of Portuguese (if you are here, you are probably going for Brazilian), as Portuguese from Brazil and from Portugal are quite different.
2. Try Language Learning Software.
There are also courses you can do on your computer and it seems that new ones will keep coming up. As with teach yourself style books, language learning software often offers structured programs with progressive ordered lessons you can do in your own pace, but with extras like integration of audio with the text, more interactivity etc... I recommend Mango Languages (Ok, so I work with these guys... but the recommendation is legit :-))... Another very popular option is Rosetta Stone.
3. Look up websites for beginners.You probably already know it: there are tones of stuff on the Internet for free. You could learn some quick words, do one of many quick basic courses around, including a the ones in this great collection of resources. The great thing is that you can start immediately, and for free!... The downside is that these sites are often put up by well intentioned speakers/ learners who may not know much about language teaching, so the content and pedagogy may be all over the place. Unlike teach yourself books and computer software, these are often not well organized into lessons... so I recommend doing 3 in combination with 1, 2 or a teacher (but you could definitely get started now, while you wait for your book to arrive!).
4. Try one of the lessons on YouTube.
As with the websites mentioned in 3, there is a lot of material teaching Portuguese available for free... though here things are really messy! Search for "Portuguese Lesson" and similar term and you will find some potentially funny and other bizarre stuff, as well as lessons. Content and quality varies a lot and, as far as I have seen, tends not to be structured enough to be your main source of learning for a long time... but you can certainly use it to complement your learning or to get started right now! Here are a couple of videos that you may try.
5. Sign Up for a Podcast.
A couple of my students swear by this method (and I can actually see that they have learnt a lot this way!). There seem to be a couple great podcasts out there, mostly free and available immediately! Some of them do offer some structured lessons and are presented in the context of conversations, similar to the basic organization that you often find in self-paced teach yourself books and learning software that I have been mentioning. BrazilianPodClass and BrazilianPortuguesePod seem worth a try.
Now you can just pick one of these 5 and finally start!
P.s.: Let me know how you go (even using your newly acquired Portuguese if you want!).

June 28, 2008

Practice Portuguese with Some Great Videos

The University of Texas has made available some excellent videos for Portuguese exercises. The videos show little snipets of Portuguese speakers discussing various topics, covering all levels. Here are some suggestions of how you may use them:
  1. Choose a video according to your level. Don't expect to understand everything, especially if you are a beginner. (If you have just started, they may be a little too hard... you can try some of the resources here for a while first).
  2. Watch the video a couple of times, without reading the transcription.
  3. Quickly summarize what you understood, in Portuguese if possible (say it out loud, if you can or just in your mind if you are in public and that is too embarrassing).
  4. Listen to the video again, this time reading the transcription at the same time.
  5. If you understand most of the main ideas of the video, now pay attention to some of the words that you didn't understand. Look up some of them in a dictionary, or ask your Portuguese teacher.
This is a great thing to do every once in a while between lessons to imrpove your comprehension and vocabulary.


June 25, 2008

Bem-vindos!!! (= Welcome!)

What to expect from PortugueseTips
This blog is intended for learners of Portuguese as a second language who want to add to their learning with some regular quick facts, tips, links, new words etc. Posts won't be necessarily lessons every time. The idea is that you can come back here (which will be easy if you subscribe to the rss feed :-)) a couple of times a week and feel that you've learnt a little something new. Some of the posts will be aimed at beginners, some, may be aimed at an advanced level and written in Portuguese (I'll make sure to tag them appropriately), but there will be something for everybody.

Why come here (rather than just doing portuguese lessons)?
Chances are that, even if you have studied a lot of Portuguese, you will find something here that you just didn't get the chance to come across in a lesson. For example (I may tell you some slangs da hora (= cool) that I may hear from my cool Brazilian friends, point you to a nice site or cover things not to say to your girlfriend's parents or in a business transaction... Plus, if you have lessons say, once a week (as many of my students do), you can keep Portuguese a little be more active in the in between.

About me
My name is Ananda Lima, often confused with Adriana Lima because of our very similar names, physical appearance and Portuguese teaching abilities. ... ok, maybe she is prettier... but I think at least I am a better teacher! :-) ... I was born and bred in Brasília (the capital of Brazil) and I have been teaching language and linguistics (as a private tutor or in different schools) for over 10 years now (only because I started early! :-)). I also have a background in linguistics, and have done research on Portuguese grammar. I teach private lessons in New York City and online. (What about you? What brings you here? Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments).

Now that you are in, let's get started!