The best way to learn Portuguese: adapted or non-adapted books?

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Are you thinking about start to read books in Portuguese but you’re not sure if you’re ready for that or you don’t know how to choose a useful and interesting book? If yes, you definitely should take a look at this!

The best way to learn Portuguese: adapted or non-adapted books?

What are adapted books

Adapt means to change something that already exists in order to make it fits to some specific necessity. Therefore, adapted books are books with changes. In our case, the adaptation is made in order to help students in learning process.

How to adapt a book

In Caravela School we follow several steps, principles and rules when we adapted a book. Here we will tell you how we do it because this way you’ll better understand what is it.

The first step is to choose raw material, that is to choose the original book. Here are one rule and four principles:

– The author of the book must have died at least 70 years ago, otherwise we will be violating copyright.

– The themes of the original book should not be too specific. For example, a book about a numismatic enthusiastic who is always talking about his job doesn’t fit.

– It should have a lot of dialogues.

– It is better when the book is relatively famous. In this case there are bigger chances that the student already read the original version in his mother tongue. Also when the book is famous usually the desire to start to read it is bigger too.

– It shouldn’t be too big; otherwise students may not read it until the end.

The second step is the adaptation. Before start the process, it is necessary to decide to which level it will be adapted. In each stage of the learning process students have specific needs and when teacher gives something they don’t need, it will be like giving oats to a lion. Therefore, teacher should know exactly what students know, what they need and what they are able to assimilate. Once answered this questions, we can start the process, following these principles:

– Words, expressions and grammatical structures less likely to be used in real life situations should be changed by those ones that happen more frequently. Here the goal is to give content that students can use and also made the book “easier to digest”.

– The speech should be “updated”. The way people talk change over time. The goal is not to talk like the grandparents… of our grandparents, but like a contemporary person.

– What isn’t necessary shouldn’t be there. Parts with vocabulary and grammar not likely to be used in real life, e.g. long descriptions or technical details, should be removed, if that doesn’t influences the comprehension of the story.

– If something completely new for the students will be there, it should be highlighted. It helps students to understand that the new thing wasn’t learnt yet, but it’s possible to understand the text anyway.

Advantages of adapted books

After this you can see that an adapted book, if the adaptation was well done, has much more applicability in real life situations. In other words, we can say that these books have a daily life language instead of literary language. Reading them, students can develop text comprehension and learn new words, expression and structures. Other advantage is that it is possible to learn new words in context. Consequently, it is not necessary to use a dictionary or translator every time we see and unknown word or expression.

Finally, it is much more engaging to read a full book instead of texts or dialogues. Thus students can have much more contact with the language.


We hope this article was useful and help you to make good decisions when choosing the right materials in each stage of your learning process.

So far the Caravel school has offered a wide range of adapted books to its students. We have books for every level from A2.1 (in level A1 is not recommended).

Soon we will start publishing some of our books. Therefore, those who are not our students will also have access to these resources.

Finally, if you want to get in touch with us, you can find Caravela School in Caldas da Rainha and Matosinhos.

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