The best way to learn Brazilian Portuguese, or any language, is to speak it often and speak it with locals. Not only can this help you start out with your new language, it can help you improve the quality of the language you have already attained. Learning from a book or flashcards is great. There’s no better way to get the basics of the syntax and other technicalities down pat.
However, if you ever plan to get fluent and comfortable with Brazilian Portuguese, you’ll need to converse with native speakers. This will help you get more enthusiastic about the language and encourage you to learn the local slang and nuances that you don’t always get from a book.
The statistics are sobering: Only 17 percent of Americans speak a second language, where that number is at 54 percent for Europeans. If we don’t expand our knowledge of other languages, we can’t communicate with the rest of the world, we will lose business opportunities and we will lose jobs to more global-minded graduates who possess the necessary multilingual skills to succeed, says Forbes.
The problem runs deeper than simple lack of motivation or lack of educational resources. In America, we are still failing to teach language effectively. With a curriculum so heavily grounded in textual and rote instruction, our students are missing out on a very large portion of effective language learning: conversing directly with people who know the language. And with such a focus put on memorization and grammar rules, it’s easy to lose the passion of learning in between the pages of a book.
Sure, a student may be able to parrot back how to conjugate verbs, but that same student will look like a deer in the headlights when asked to actually have a conversation with a Brazilian. Learning language is about the give and take of communication, the exchange of ideas, and the absorption of nuances in body language as well as the spoken word.
The Europeans have it right. They have implemented something called content and language integrated learning, which fosters the acquisition of a new language through a whole new way of doing things: using foreign languages to teach non-language subjects.
But for now, as Americans, we need to take baby steps as we progress to that level of language learning. One powerful resource is online language learning featuring face-to-face Portuguese lessons with teachers based in Brazil. BRIC Language Systems offers a program with features customized to fit the language and student, with in-location guides, cultural training and full interactivity. Check it out for a free trial today and see if this is the right solution for you.