Olá a todos! Today we will talk about why you should learn Portuguese in Portugal and how to make this experience richer and more interesting.
Homogeneous groups versus heterogeneous groups
When you study in your country, probably your Portuguese class will be made of students who have the same mother tongue (homogeneous groups). This has positive and negative aspects.
Let’s start with the good ones. First, you can discuss with your classmates in your mother tongue, which is comfortable. Second, if the teacher masters the students’ mother tongue, it will be easier to understand their difficulties and adapt to their needs. Lastly, you can start to speak Portuguese before you come to Portugal. So, you can save time and start immediately speaking with Portuguese people in Portugal.
However, there are also some disadvantages. For example, you will not have a total immersion in the Portuguese language. At the same time, it will be more difficult to find a native teacher out of Portugal. Moreover, in a homogeneous group you will be with students which have the same perspective of the Portuguese language and the same difficulties as you. Lastly, if the method isn’t enough communicative, the students could have insufficient contact with the language.
On the other hand, if you learn Portuguese in Portugal, probably you will study in a heterogeneous group. It means you’ll learn Portuguese with students from different countries and with different mother tongues. In addition, teacher should never suppose that students speak English, because there are students who want to learn Portuguese but don’t speak English. Otherwise, if do that, teacher will prevent the students to learn Portuguese.
How to solve this? By using the communicative method! We don’t forbid students to use other languages in the classroom (e.g. English). However, step by step, interactive and systematic approach, we notice that is not necessary to use other languages besides the Portuguese language. Actually students really enjoy it and we see that this way is much more efficient. Therefore, there’s no reason to don’t have as much contact with Portuguese language as possible.
Now we will talk about communicative competence. Communicative competence is based on linguistic or grammatical, textual and discursive competences. In few words, linguistic or grammatical competence is about how much grammar and vocabulary you know. In turn, textual competence is about how able you are to classify texts and use what you read in specific situations. Finally, discursive competence is about how you can adapt and use your linguistic or grammatical and textual skills in different situations of live.
Nevertheless, the main problem of students who studied Portuguese language out of Portugal and came to us is the unbalance in these three competences. Usually they have the linguistic competence more developed than textual and much more than discursive. Consequently, they can do the exercises on the book, but they can’t communicate with people.
So, since the first day, these three competences should be developed at the same time.
The role of oral comprehension
Let’s talk about one of the biggest mistakes when people start to learn Portuguese. Usually they start by grammar and study only grammar. Then, they add some vocabulary and sometime later, they try to write phrases, messages and texts. Finally, when they feel more confident, they start to express themselves orally.
Everything looks well, until the moment the student understand one thing: he/she can’t communicate with natives! Consequently, frustration and demotivation appear. Why this is happening?
That happened because student misses the most important part of process: the oral comprehension! And why is oral comprehension the most important?
First of all, oral comprehension usually needs more time to develop. For example, grammar you can learn and immediately use it. Vocabulary needs some time, but after some repetition it will be permanently memorized. Read and write isn’t too difficult when you know grammar and vocabulary and, if you have enough oral interaction and conversation practice, you will also be able to speak. Although, in order to understand native people you need to listen constantly, because brain needs time to get used to a new language. That’s why often student can’t recognize words that they just learnt when they listen them.
On the other hand, when you understand people, you can ask them and interact, even if your Portuguese level is low yet. Whereas, if you don’t understand people, you won’t be able to talk with them, even if your other skills are high. In general, Portuguese people understand foreigners, even if they do a lot of mistakes, which is good, because it allows keeping a conversation easily. Although, if you are not able to answer or do what people ask you, they will think you simple don’t know Portuguese language. Consequently, they will not try to talk with you in Portuguese and you’ll lose the opportunity to practice Portuguese.
Why should I Learn Portuguese in Portugal?
Everywhere is a good place to learn Portuguese. However, learn Portuguese in Portugal has some advantages which you will enjoy.
First, you’ll have much more probabilities to find a native teacher and an heterogeneous group. As we told before, if the methodology is appropriated, you’ll have much more conversation and contact with the language in the classroom. Second, you will have more chances to develop the oral comprehension, because you will listen native speaking all the time. Finally, you will have the opportunity to check your skills in real situations of life. Maybe you will make some friends and keep practicing Portuguese with them.
It’s never too late when it comes to learn Portuguese! Learning Portuguese in Caravela School means to have a worry free passport! You will learn Portuguese with a native speaker and it will be easy and enjoyable! Let’s start to speak Portuguese!