Give Your Portuguese Teacher a Break… And Benefit from It
Some time ago, you’ve decided to learn Portuguese and, perhaps, hired a Portuguese teacher to help you.
(By the way, if you’ve been meaning to take classes with me, I do encourage you to get in touch now—available slots are going fast)
You started by having one class every week. That seemed enough, but you didn’t see such quick progress.
Then you decided to up the ante: now you’re having two classes a week. You start to pick up momentum. Words come to mind more easily… Conversations don’t seem daunting anymore…
Then you reach a passable level of fluency. It’s exciting and interesting—now you can talk about subjects like your family, what you think about the new state of politics…
And after a couple of months, you realize that’s all you can talk about. You don’t sense progress anymore. You feel you are wading through mud.
You think about a good strategy. And come to think of it, last time you needed to progress faster you just had more classes.
Then you come up with a great idea: what if I had five classes a week?
A Better Way to Learn Portuguese
Having five classes a week will tremendously benefit your Portuguese. You will speak faster.
But if there’s something else that I learned it is this: only speaking more won’t help.
I know, this might sound counterintuitive coming from a Portuguese teacher like me, but hey, I want what’s best for you. You are my student. It’s my duty to help you make the most out of your time and money.
If you have that time to invest in learning Portuguese and want to overcome that intermediate-level “rough road,” then you should be taking fewer classes.
And you should be reading instead.
What’s the Logic behind Reading to Improve Portuguese?
If you let me, I can speak about that for days. But you don’t have that time, and I’m not that smart. So, I’m giving you only three good reasons for giving your Portuguese teacher a break:
Getting More Exposure to Portuguese
If you’re like most of my students, you are in an English-speaking country surrounded by English-speaking people who don’t even know what Portuguese is.
You’re having classes—probably with me—and you get to speak Portuguese for about two hours every week.
And then you watch some Brazilian TV shows or listen to Brazilian Portuguese podcasts.
But you know what? It’s really hard to get enough of what you need with only that.
If you watch TV shows and listen to podcasts, sometimes you don’t know what those words mean, and it’s not always convenient to stop the clip, pop your laptop open, visit two or three dictionary pages, type in a word and look it up.
You can do that with a book—and because books are virtually on all the time—and they don’t need to be recharged—they are very convenient indeed.
Getting More Exposure to Correct Portuguese
Another problem with TV shows and podcasts is that the Portuguese they feature isn’t always correct.
That’s especially true of Brazilian TV and nonspecialized podcasts.
Our language is very informal, and people hardly ever care to speak it correctly (I’m reminded of the word “meio” that Brazilians can’t seem to use correctly).
So, you’ll end up picking up the wrong stuff. And, without correction, you’ll use wrong expressions and structures, something that will flag you as a gringo immediately. It’ll always draw attention to how—not what—you’re speaking.
Because books have been vetted by an editor and proofread by a professional proofreader, you’re very unlikely to encounter silly mistakes that might take root in your mind.
Getting More Acquainted with The Culture of Portuguese Speaking Countries
And the third thing is, you’re not only learning Portuguese — you are absorbing a new culture and making it your own.
You don’t want to make mistakes all the time — sometimes they’re fun, but they don’t need to repeat every other hour.
And, there are some things about our culture that you’ll never grasp from a simple everyday conversation. Things like our history, why Brazil is like what it is like… Our true soul lies on the pages of several interesting books.
But How Can I Find Suitable Books for My Level?
A great way to do that is by reading Portuguese graded readers.
They are books adequate to your level. And sometimes they feature very interesting stories that will deepen your knowledge of our culture.
But beware: most of the graded readers for sale online are nothing but Portuguese translations from questionable English books. You don’t want to mess up with your Portuguese right now.
And if you want to read authentic Portuguese books, you can also go for authors who write accessible yet interesting Portuguese.
In the end, you have a very good reason to give your teacher a break and still improve your Portuguese by leaps and bounds.
So, have you been reading any Portuguese book these days? Share it with us in the comments below.