|The learning tools: Paper, pen and Google Hangout|
I said “Level One.” To those Couchsurfers in Sao Paulo pressuring me to speak Portuguese right away, do not challenge me during tomorrow´s meet-up! However, I will be ready. I know you guys will still do it and I love you for that. 🙂
When I was young, I always believed that the whole South America speaks Spanish not until I met people from Brazil. To those who still believe they speak Spanish here, the answer is no. It´s Brazilian Portuguese and it´s definitely different from Portugal´s Portuguese. After three weeks in Sao Paulo, I finally decided to learn the language.
- It´s really hard to go out on your own because no one speaks English. I can´t even buy a sim card or a toilet paper without Livia´s help.
- I am having a hard time getting learning about the culture.
- One Tuesday, during a Couchsurfing meet up, I got really tired of speaking English because most of the foreigners here are already speaking Portuguese. I was the only one who didn´t.
I didn´t start right away because a lot of people (most of them has never been to Brazil) were telling me that “It´s just like Spanish! You´ll learn it easily!” On my first few days, I met Livia´s family who speaks zero English and I freaked out when I didn´t hear any Spanish similarity. I understood some words but not the entire sentence. With that, I said “I´m still okay. At least I understand something.” Plus, most of the people from Couchsurfing including my housemate (Livia) speak perfect English. I didn´t feel the urgency to of speaking the language.
But then again, Benny was right. If you want to learn a language, speak it from Day 1! Oh God, how many days have passed? 21!!! One motivating factor that drove me was meeting this girl from New York City in a Couchsurfing meeting. She´s only here for two months (for a short study abroad program until December) and already fluent in Portuguese. Again, I felt like a noob.
How I started learning…
I spoke the language right away. Imagine, not knowing any verb, phrase or common sentences, I spoke Portuguese. How? I looked for language partners in iTalki. I found Lenny, a girl from Rio de Janeiro who wants to learn English (according to her profile) but we didn´t really spoke English to each other. She said she´s currently mastering her Spanish so there´s no need. She patiently talked to me everyday, over Skype from 18:00 – 18:30 but I definitely learned a lot. I repeat, that is without any formal education in a langauge school. From that day on, I dedicated at least an hour a day to talk in Portuguese. Below are other methods that really worked:
- Watching a Brazilian telenovela.
- Listening to brazilian music (with lyrics, of course).
- Asking friends I hang out with not to speak English when talking to me.
Everything was easy except for number 3. Not everyone has the same speaking pattern or accent. I learned that some people don´t speak proper Portuguese (imagine that!) like Livia´s house helper. I also tried practicing with the gasoline girls near where I live but they seem to have their own dictionary. Unlike Arabic, I definitely can´t practice my Portuguese on the streets because my language meter will be confused.
So far, I am doing good. When people speak slowly, I understand better. Then again, Benny was right. Being fluent in three months is not a promise. It´s a challenge! I will be leaving Sao Paulo on Thursday to embark another journey and move to Pouso Alegre where Livia´s family live. I am going to teach her aunt English and I am very excited to live with her!
P.S. Aunt Angela speaks zero English. Let´s see how it will go. Will I survive? What do you think?
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