Many of us have friends or acquaintances who come from other countries but who have settled into our community perfectly, never asking for any help. So often, we forget or take it for granted just how amazing it is that these people can speak a second language almost as well, if not as well, as their mother tongue.
Wouldn’t you love to be a multilingual or polyglot just like your international friends?
One of the best ways to get started with learning Portuguese is to get to grips with the basics using online language programs or blogs, and then practice, practice, practice. There really is no better learning method than actually using the skills you have learned in language classes (even if they seem few and far between!) and having conversations with others in the language.
During your learning process, you’ll find some opportunities to make use of your conversational language skills either at dedicated language sessions in venues like cafes or by attending Portuguese lessons for beginners. If you want to be a teacher’s pet and really advance your abilities then you could look out for a Portuguese pen-pal (yes, these do still exist!) or find a private tutor who can help you along with your language acquisition at whatever pace you are working at as a learner.
You may find a cafe or similar venue offering language mornings. Photo credit: Yellow Sky Photography on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA
See below some ideas of things you can do, classes you can take and places you can go to improve your knowledge of the Portuguese language.
When you hear the word ‘penpal’, it probably takes you back to your school days and conjures up nightmares of student correspondents and exchange trips but, in actual fact, penpals are a really valuable type of connection to have when learning a language.
Not only is maintaining a friendship with a penpal made so much easier now that you can correspond via email, text message, Skype, Whatsapp and more, this also facilitates a better bond by allowing you to get to know each other much faster thanks to a quicker connection and prompt replies! No more waiting for letters or postcards to arrive in the post!
What’s more, as an older student, you don’t necessarily need to limit your exchanges to discussing your favourite colour and telling them the name of your siblings and pet, you can talk about everyday life and actually use this opportunity to make a new friend or to at the very least find out about Portuguese culture.
Another great advantage of having a penpal is knowing that you have a connection who you can call on when you decide to take your first trip to Portugal.
Whether you ask to stay with them or you request their advice for accommodation in the area, it is always useful knowing someone local so that they can show you the best places to go, talk to you and introduce you to others. So, even if you and your penpal don’t click, you may happen to get on really well with one of their friends or colleagues!
Using the telephone to speak to someone in your second language can be absolutely terrifying, even for someone who is a near-native. Not being able to communicate using body language or facial expressions, nor being able to see the other person’s reactions and responses to what you’re saying (or trying to say!) can feel humiliating but please don’t let this hold you back from trying to have a spoken conversation with your buddy. The more regularly you do it, the more confident you will be in speaking to absolutely anybody in your new language!
Remember, looking for a penpal is nothing abnormal and there is nothing taboo about making friends online. Just think of the websites as an extension of your social network, enabling you to access people you may not have been able to before because of barriers such as different time zones and being oceans apart!
Write in ink if you so wish, but remember that communicating is much easier now we have mobile phones and instant messenger applications! Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) on Visual Hunt
Whilst there are some sites that do encourage dating, if this is not what you have in mind then it’s probably best to avoid this type of community just incase you put out the wrong message.
A couple of examples of websites dedicated to those seeking penpals from other countries are My Language Exchange and Global Penfriends. The first protects your personal details whilst allowing you to create a profile and check the identity of others by viewing what they’ve said about themselves and their reasons for wanting to pair up with someone as well as looking at their picture.
The latter, meanwhile, is a family-friendly website which hopes to connect genuine people with mutual interests. Its existing members have nothing but positive things to say, go ahead and see for yourself!
“Live Language offers Portuguese classes in Glasgow for you to learn or improve your language skills. [Their] Portuguese courses are designed to provide you with the skills and language knowledge you need to be able to use Portuguese in a variety of situations.
[Their] classes are small to ensure that you get the highest level of attention from your teachers. The classes integrate grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation with speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. [Their] experienced Portuguese teachers use a communicative methodology, which gives you the maximum amount of time to practice the language.”
The A1-level course costs £175 and runs weekly on a Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm between the 26 September and the 12th December. The 12-week course features small group (min 5, max 14 students) and offers a placement test on request. A course for intermediate speakers is also available at the centre.
Click here for more information.
The Language Hub
Situated at 19 Keith Street, Glasgow, these drop-in style language classes focusing on Portuguese lessons and conversation skills takes place regularly throughout October and November.
“These classes are designed for those who would like to practise their foreign language conversation skills with others and an experienced teacher (native-speaker). The class is open to foreign language users at a post-beginners / lower intermediate level. Learners are invited to a free cup of coffee or tea while enjoying a conversation on general and current affairs in an informal setting. £7-/person, please book in advance.”
Click here for more information.
Superprof, a leading platform for tutors and students to connect and form working partnerships, offers a user-friendly website on which you can instantly locate tutors offering Portuguese language services in your area, as well as those who are able to offer online tuition.
There are more than 200 Portuguese tutors listed online who can help you electronically or via video call. With prices starting from just £10 per hour, you can find someone who can meet your needs and get you moving forward with your Portuguese language lessons. Some are Portuguese natives, some are bilingual speakers, whilst others are qualified language tutors or instructors.
Be sure to read about your prospective tutor and take advantage of the one free lesson policy so that you can get a feel for their teaching methods and work out if you think you will get along in a professional student-teacher manner.
Remember, the cost does not always reflect the person’s experience and qualifications but, that said, you do get what you pay for so don’t be reluctant to pay for a good tutor and then complain that you haven’t learned what you had wanted to!
It is important to have a good relationship with your tutor so that you look forward to your lessons with positivity instead of dreading each time you come into contact.
If you choose or are forced to pick a tutor who does not live nearby, the chances are that they will set you work by sending you documents, and will also schedule some face to face catch ups via Skype or video call to ensure that you benefit from speaking and listening exercises as well as reading and writing work and quizzes.
Click here for more information.
University of Glasgow
Split across five years (including a year spent abroad), this MA in Portuguese “offers a varied programme, in which you will work in small groups with native speakers from Portugal and Brazil. The programme has long-established links with the Instituto Camões. You will have full access to [the] Language Resources Centre, which offers excellent audiovisual, digital and printed materials.
You can take a degree or Master’s degree in Portuguese studies. Photo credit: Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) on Visual Hunt
Portuguese is available as a Joint Honours programme, so you will study another subject alongside it in years 4 and 5. [They] place a strong emphasis on achieving a high degree of competence in the language. You will take Portuguese as a core language and will have the opportunity to study various aspects of culture and society, as well as developing professional skills in areas such as translation.”