graduation!
graduation!

After six months of classes, we have graduated from beginner Portuguese to intermediate Portuguese! Yay! I can’t believe it. In order to pass into the next class, we each had to deliver presentations with Powerpoints for at least five minutes, all in Portuguese. Luckily, we could pick our own topics. I talked about myself and dumped pictures into a presentation over lunch and relied on lots of charm and small words to get me through, and also threw in pictures of my dog. It worked.

In some ways these six months passed really quickly. In other ways, those were some long months. Seven people have dropped out for various reasons, and sometimes I think about joining them. It would be nice to get four hours back in my week, to get some more money in my bank account, to not have to repeat a word seventy times in one class. (The methodology of this particular school is a little mind-numbing at times.) It goes like this, but all in Portuguese:

Teacher: “The man went to the store. Repeat.”

Students: “The man went to the store.”

Teacher: “Again.”

Students: “The man went to the store.”

Teacher: “Again.”

Students: “The man went to the store.”

Teacher: “Repeat.”

Students: “Repea- wait no. The man went to the store.”

Teacher: “Where did the man go?”

Students: “To the store.”

Teacher: “Where did the man go?”

Students: “To the store.”

Teacher: “Who went to the store?”

Students: “The man.”

Teacher: “Who went to the store?”

Students: “The man.”

Teacher, to whomever appears to be paying the least amount of attention: “Why did he go to the store? Give me a reason.”

Student: “Um. Hotdogs?”

cool map
cool map

During one of the first classes, we established that “hotdog” is one of the best words in Portuguese, especially Rio or “Carioca” Portuguese, because with the accent it’s pronounced “hotchie-doggie.” Also we always say we’re going to “Outchie-backie” for dinner (Outback, one of the only American restaurants here. Yes. It’s basically American.).

Sometimes in class I catch myself drooling, eyes glazing over. Our teacher is pretty, and has never repeated an outfit, so she is nice to look at. She has a terrible habit of being skinny but thinking she is not and lamenting the infinitesimal flappiness of her arms, or wondering why her boyfriend of six years hasn’t proposed yet (she’s 23) and then being to oblivious to the daggers being thrown from the eyes of all the 30+ year old single women in the room. But she’s definitely entertaining.

It’s simply that after being at work for 8 hours already, most of us aren’t mentally ready to be a student. Or to do anything other than eat and sleep.

this is important.
this is important.

But I really want this. I have lived here for 8 months and I’m going to live here for at least two more years, so I can’t imagine not being able to speak the language fluently and engage completely with the peeps. Some people move abroad and get absorbed into an ex-pat life…and the way we work and live and play in community together, it would be easy enough to never really learn the language. Gestures and google translate can get you to a restaurant and buy you a new shirt if you need one. But I want more than that from.

Knowing Spanish and basic Latin have really helped me transition, although my accent is horrendous. I can understand about 85% of what is spoken to me, and easily communicate my wants and needs. Although I default to Spanish more often than not, I’m doing pretty well. But there are some CRAZY differences.

Example:

“d” is pronounced like a “j.”

“m” is kind of more “n” ish in nature.

“o” at the end of a word is sometimes pronounced “u.”

and “s” at the end of words becomes “shh”

oh, and the biggest one is that “rr” is SILENT. It’s an h!

AND now I know what these symbols mean on the computer, and it has given me great joy:

ã ê ç õ ô

At the very least, learning another language has given me even more empathy for my students. Every time I do my cardio (aka go grocery shopping, which is a mile walk) and am given strange looks for not speaking the language, or am unable to find something I really want, or am too embarrassed to ask for help and just end up going home instead of doing what I wanted to do, I feel like it adds another ounce of patience to my time with my kids who are trying to learn English. And I’m just trying to buy food I probably shouldn’t be eating (“um como fala “frosting?””) while they’re trying to actually school.

only in português
only in português

There’s a lot I love about knowing a different language…you always learn cool turns of phrase or look at emotions and greetings in a new way.

I love that the word for “humming bird” is beija flor, which means “kiss the flower.” And that we kiss our shoulders when we do something cool. And that the meaning of life is “tudo bem!”

Also, this is a young Colin Firth. And the answer is “yes” to whatever he is asking.

young colin firth

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