“Tourist Portuguese”: The Plan

As I wrote in the earlier post Eurovision and Language Learning (Link), one of my language challenges this year is to teach myself “Tourist Portuguese”. The main rule is to use only resources for German learners. I have already used German to listen to music, to read novels, and to watch TV. This will be the first time I use it to learn another language.

So how do I start teaching myself a language?

The Plan

Two years ago, when I finally took charge of my German learning, I got really lucky. A friend’s new boyfriend, who was cleaning out his house, gave me all his old German books from high school. And they were all terrific textbooks — much better than the ones my former school was using. I started carrying the first one around, reading it and working on its exercises everywhere I went: The cafeteria at work, waiting rooms and government offices, trains and buses, everywhere. And for the times I didn’t feel like “working,” I also had a “living German” book with me — like Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen. My favorite moments were when a word or construction that I had just learned from the textbook showed up in the “living German” book.

Also two years ago, when I dabbled a little in Italian, I created a similar “course” without thinking about it. I watched one video a day from the excellent series One World Italiano (Link), and filled up the rest of the time with Italian pop music and short stories. As with German, I received a little thrill whenever I understood something new because of the video of the day.

In short, when I teach myself a new language, I like having two things. First, a comprehensive grammar resource that I can study one unit at a time. And second, “living” examples of the language that I can simply enjoy. So this is also my approach to “Tourist Portuguese.”

The Grammar Resource

As with Italian, I am using a free video course on the Internet: Portugiesisch Lernen auf Deutsch by Wolter’s World (Link).

It’s much shorter than the Italian course, but that’s because just for tourists, who only need to know very basic things. If I want to keep going after I am finished with these videos, I will have to find a second resource. That will be a real challenge, as Portuguese does not seem to be a popular choice among German learners. I was really lucky that Wolter’s World had this course at all!

The “Living Portuguese”

Music is what made me start, and so music is what will keep me going. For obvious reasons, I’m starting with Portugal’s Eurovision entries.

My plan is to pick a song that appeals to me in some way. Then I will listen to it over and over until I know the melody well and the words sound familiar. I will also look up the lyrics so that I can sing along when I feel ready.

If I find a Portuguese artist whom I really like, I’ll also look for his or her other songs. Perhaps later on, I’ll also find an author or a genre that I’ll enjoy reading.

The Dictionary

I almost forgot to add that I always pair my “living language” resources with a dictionary. For two years, I did not leave the house without my German-Englisch Langenscheidt dictionary. And in an ideal world, I’d have a Deutsch-Portugiesisch Langenscheidt W√∂rterbuch for this “Tourist Portuguese” challenge.

What I do have is LEOs W√∂rterbucher, an online dictionary that translates German words into English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Polish, Chinese, and yes, Portuguese. It has been a great resource for English-into-German, so I’m sure it will also be fantastic for Portuguese-into-German. (Link)

How do you start teaching yourself a language?

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