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Portuguese in Austin June 28, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Uncategorized.

I’ve been taking Portuguese classes for the last several weeks, and I can recommend this particular class.  The class is taught by a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker, Isabela Martins, through UT Informal Classes.

I’ve had trouble finding a good resource for Portuguese instruction in Austin:

  • Austin Community College has (I believe) offered courses in the past, but they have not been able to keep them continuously.
  • There are a few Portuguese speakers who offer private tutoring, but I found rates as high as $80/hour in my asking around!
  • UT has a Portuguese department and offers a plethora of courses, but you have to enroll in the University to take them.  (The department website says that they do not allow auditing of courses, though I’ve not asked about it explicitly.)

The informal classes have been good.  I was somewhat apprehensive about doing it at first – for no good reason – because I expected an informal class to be taught in a very elementary manner by someone who may not have even spoken the language directly.  I was confident enough in my Portuspanglish (or Portunhol, as it’s known in Brasil) to skip Portuguese I and go straight into Portuguese II.

Let me assure you that I was surprised at our first assignment which was to tell the rest of the class who you were, what you were there for, what you hoped to get out of the class and whether or not you’d been to Brazil….all of this in Portuguese.  I fumbled my way through that one only to find that the entire Portuguese II class was taught in Portuguese and that most of my classmates were students who take the II class every time it’s offered, in an effort to maintain their quasi-fluent conversational knowledge.

Much of the class is reading and translating – as a group – articles from publications like Veja or watching a Brazilian video and trying to understand the language.  We also have discussion topics where we can practice our speaking with one another.  One night’s discussion topic was “Who is your favorite Brazilian composer and why?”  I would’ve been happy to participate if I knew even one Brazilian composer; unfortunately this wasn’t a topic I could discuss even in English.

Another time, the discussion topic was “I don’t like movies that _______.”  I wanted to say, I don’t like chick flicks, so I came up with:

“Eu não quer filmes que estão feitos por mulheres.”

I thought this meant “I don’t like movies that are made for women,” until the entire class turned to me, gasped, and asked me if that was really true.  I later found out that I had said “I don’t like movies that are made by women.” Oops!

In any case, if you are interested in learning Portuguese, I really recommend this class.  There is a Portuguese I class for beginning speakers and then there’s a big leap to the Portuguese II class that I’m in.  However, it is an opportunity to speak and interact with people who are interested in Portuguese and Brazilian culture, and it’s a lot of fun.

Até manhã!



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