Oi gente, e aí?
Tonight I’m in a good mood. Another gringa in Rio, Alvina, who I got to know through couchsurfing suggested going to a Portuguese-English exchange tonight. So around 7:30 I hopped a bus to Leme to check it out. I’m always amazed by how much my spirits are lifted just by talking to Brazilians in Portuguese. I can’t get over how friendly and encouraging they are. (I keep comparing it to my experience in Russia, which was… shall we say a bit different. ) Brazilians love to smile and they love to talk, which is amazingly helpful while I try to improve my speaking and listening skills.
The honest truth is that this language learning experience is a real challenge for me. Becoming “fluent” (or what that means to me) is certainly one of the most ambitious goals I’ve ever had, and I like to consider myself a person who generally takes on a lot.
Sometimes it’s quite tricky to find clever ways to think around the obstacles I’ve put in my own mind, the doubts I’ve come up with (and harbored for years and years) about my ability to progress, or the beliefs I have about how difficult learning should be. Sometimes I feel discouraged. Sometimes I have unrealistic expectations and the smallest errors leave me disappointed. Often I find myself moody or frustrated, or even lonely.
But each time I make just a small bit of progress, each time I step back and realize what I’m actually working towards and what I actually believe I am–as all humans are–capable of, I feel a very genuine happiness; a very simple happiness. I feel as if I’m standing at the edge of a new world, looking in: inside lies another part of the human experience, another part of me that may be buried inside waiting to emerge, a new crowd of hearts and minds to connect with.
I feel so lucky that there are so many resources online these days. Some of the most influential things for me have been the “pep talks” from people who have learned languages quickly and in depth, who’ve shared their stories with an “if I can do it, you can” philosophy. Many of these people care deeply about sharing languages, offering their own interactive learning products which are instantaneously accessible with a credit card and an internet connection. It’s never been easier to learn a language. Granted, I’m not trying to skip out on the hard work, but I’m so grateful for such accessible guidance.
What do you think about it? What ideas keep you motivated while you study a target language?
Philosophy and state-of-mind aside, I’ll save the end of this post for some practical ideas for my self-studying in the next few days.
As per my plan in my last post, I’ve defined some mini-goals for this week. The theme is MIMIC:
- Attend as many social events in Portuguese as possible, bonus points if there’s beer to loosen me up (as if Brazilians could have a social event without beer…);
- Attempt to apply ideas from Idahosa Ness’s Mimic Method to my Portuguese studying;
- Listen to the Marcelo D2 rap songs I downloaded to improve listening skills (try to memorize a good part of one song by the end of the week);
- Practice with the sound guides I found at this excellent site;
- Each day, try to watch either a Brazilian film (a couple are available on iTunes) or an hour of my chosen novela Vidas em Jogo to improve my listening. If I have the energy: try to mimic the characters’ words, facial expressions, tone, gestures while watching.
- Watch at least one episode of Moluscontos, hahaha
- On at least a couple nights: read at least 5 pages from Comer, Rezar, Amar (lower priority than speaking right now);
- Keep in mind: speaking <–> listening and understanding (it goes both ways, not just one! I need to learn those damn phonemes by trial and error… )
So those are my goals for the next few days! Now let’s see how it goes with actually following them…
In my next post I hope to share a bit about some of the strategies I’m using to improve my pronunciation, tone, and flow for spoken Portuguese. Talk to you soon.