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We don’t really know how to speak Portuguese properly yet, even though we have been here over two years. Sure, we cope day-to-day and have even managed to read some novels in Portuguese, but our ability to speak and comprehend plateaued after the first year and our progress stalled.
Many people say that you can never properly understand a country and its culture until you can speak the language, so we decided a couple of weeks ago that it was time to arrange proper lessons and finally learn (properly) how to speak Portuguese.
Today we had our first lesson. Our tutor, Andrew, is a local expat who has spent several years intensively learning the language. The fact he is English means he understands the key differences in the two languages, and this gives him the ability to identify the key areas we will find difficult.
I only wish we had started to do this sooner. Within ten minutes of the lesson beginning, I realised that I have been violating the correct pronunciation of words that I have been using confidently for the past two years!
We are taking lessons along with three members of our extended family who live locally. We are all at different levels of existing knowledge, but we quickly decided to all start from the beginning together, when it became clear that even the more confident amongst us had been getting some of the basics wrong.
Two of our party have already been having classroom based lessons at a local school, but the kind of teaching Andrew delivers already seems to be a better way to learn how to speak Portuguese. Large classes containing mixed nationalities and abilities tend to move at the pace of the slowest learners, and one of our party commented that the ability to ask questions of someone who shares our native language is invaluable in the context of making everything make sense.
Within the first lesson we have all already began to learn how to conjugate verbs, which I think is key to learning any language – indeed, it is the way I learned French at school. Once verb conjugation is mastered, you have the ability to look anything up in a dictionary and get your point across – from there, your pace of learning is only held back by how quickly you can increase your vocabulary.
I am very excited to finally be learning how to speak Portuguese properly. I am also excited that I can order my coffee and cake tomorrow with the correct pronunciation – and I have high hopes for a positive reaction from the lady in the local cafe!
Just one lesson in, I can sincerely give a high recommendation for Andrew’s inexpensive and well-structured private lessons. He is based in the East Algarve and travels to us to teach us in the comfort of our own home. If you are in the Algarve and want to learn how to speak Portuguese properly, I would be delighted to provide his contact details.
Here are a couple of learning aids for those keen to pick up the language: