We begin this article by discussing, briefly, the Portuguese language globally. This romance language is classified into Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese – also known as Lusitanian Portuguese. There are 9 countries that recognize Portuguese as their official language, and they belong to the CPLP – Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (PSCC). There are 250 million Portuguese Speakers around the globe, 80% of those people are Brazilian Portuguese speakers.
Virtually all of the 200 million inhabitants of Brazil speak Brazilian Portuguese. Can you imagine, with the size of Brazil, the diversity of accents and different ways of speaking Portuguese according to each region? It is understandable that sometimes it is hard to make out what Brazilians are saying.
Students face many difficulties when learning a second language such as Portuguese, for example; the form that is usually presented to them, the exposure to many rules ahead of time, the inadequate linguistic approach, the new combination of a sounds, the way a second language is conceived by its natives, when building their own speech, regionalization plus many other factors that I could mention here. Nevertheless, to learn Brazilian Portuguese is totally possible.
As many linguists say “The starting point for all language teaching should be an understanding of how people learn” (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987). Each person has its own way of learning. In order to make a faster progress, students should have a customized lesson plan according to their goals. The teacher can create a personalized experience for the student according to his/her main learning theories and knowledge. From the behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, effective factor, and now the Post method era perspectives, the teacher is able to recognize, with the help of the student, the best way he/or she consumes and retains content.
When a student is in an immersion experience, living in the target language country, they usually make progress faster. However, there are shortcuts and strategies that can be applied to those who are learning a second language outside the target language country. A prepared teacher will focus on their specifics skills. With the advances of new technologies, we had to adapt all previous knowledge with the infinite possibilities we now face in The Post Method Era. We have found an entirely different framework. Kumaravadivellu, one of the best scholars, explains in details the Macrostrategic framework, which we have to consider in the post method pedagogy. The learner and the teacher are considered autonomous individuals with no boundaries.
By taking all of this into account, it has been proven that a combination of methods and approaches have been bringing students great and successful results. The student needs to have an appropriate amount of time for homework, a series of audio, video and communicative competence activities. Besides, there are two things, they will need, that I consider crucial: to be guided by a good teacher or a trained coach for a personalized experience – such as one-on-one live lessons as e.g. on Skype – and practice speaking with other natives.
The 5-step program Cycle
The 5 step program to speak faster and efficiently, as itself says, has a focus on speaking and it’s composed of a (1) Pre-lesson Preparation; where the student takes in specific audio and visual content according to their level while saying sentences out loud to practice them before live sessions practicing with the teacher. This activity should not exceed more than 10m-15m and is followed by a take in (2) writing activity to fix the audiolingual content along the visual structures. A colloquial speech is presented to the student so they get used to how natives speak and write in a natural way. (3) Skype lesson – the student now goes to an active center position. The student needs to put into practice, live with the teacher, everything that he/she has learned until that moment. The teacher now works on other skills and brings a dialogue to reality. It’s crucial to be guided while speaking live with a native expert who knows what they are doing. It can be on Skype, for example, 30 to 40 minutes is enough. This way they will be able to start building his speech within an active process of construction motivated by cognitive and emotional aspects to speak with meaningful interaction in the target language. The next step is a take in (4) writing activity homework (1m-20m) again aimed at the student’s goal. Now the student is really into the content they are learning. At that moment, he/she is more prepared to practice speaking with more confidence, making sentences and questions, and learning the structure correctly. The teacher may insert grammar and lexical explanation if needed. As a final step for the “week” given content, the student goes for the last and fifth step (5) Skype lesson (30’ to 40’) now focused on the student experience bringing the student again to a more immersive reality. The importance of the dialogue productivity accelerates as known by the best linguists. The teacher continues to give the right shape and guides the conversation.
After taking these 5 steps, the student now is ready for more. However, the teacher makes sure the student only moves on to the next content unit if they are proficient in this first part so one can add upon what they have learned and improve faster. This method has been working out very well for my students. The following picture illustrates this cycle very well. This format gives you the ability to speak everything you are learning at that moment, so when you finish a cycle, you move to the next cycle with new content.
As you can see, this method works in a combo where the student alternates between a video lesson with an activity and a live skype lesson to practice. The student starts speaking from the very first lesson and benefits from being one on one with an expert teacher who will; speak, guide, motivate, correct, analyze and give the student all the necessary attention. The teacher provides the student with tools for its best development from a variety of materials and interactions so they speak up everything they are learning. The student works on all four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. The material is key in the process. The method covers very important skills especially for beginners. Students develop excellent listening and pronunciation in the language. The teacher sends the student extra activity on what they need to work harder. Because of the speaking skills, students will be able to communicate in many different situations in their everyday life. Besides, students have the great opportunity for a personal development, a connection between neurological processes and behavioral patterns learned through experience (programming).
If you also want to learn Portuguese as a second language, check out my Portuguese courses in Brazil. Access the link http://helloportuguese.com/our-courses/