Posted on July 4, 2017
Creative Portuguese: Learn through speaking
My new publication has arrived! After years working on this method and textbook, it’s finally on sale.
The idea with this method is to make the student learn through conversation, asking and answering to questions in a set of particular verbs that will trigger certain tenses. To date, there is no other book that focuses on conversation like this for learning Portuguese (and probably the same for other languages). Some books that are marketed as ‘conversational’, will only show you phrases about how to order food or how to order a taxi. They only ask you to memorise lines, a very old approach that is not effective at all. The Verb Set Method is about having a real conversation and it’s intended to be used between teacher and student, or student and his/her native language partner (it could be a family member or a What’s App friend).
The concept is, as pointed out in the book’s epigraph:
One learns grammar from language, not language from grammar. (Toussaint-Langenscheidt)
I have been using this method now for a long time with my students. I have never seen so much progress! When students learn through textbooks, they struggle to memorise conjugations tables, which many times they will forget or not use what they have learned. Sometimes students learn how to read through grammar methods, that’s absolutely true. But when it comes to speaking, they lack the confidence and don’t remember things quickly. Through conversational practice, students learn words and expressions they tend to use in their mother tongue and also gain confidence.
So how does it work?
The student looks at the verb set sheet. Then the teacher asks him or her questions. When the student doesn’t know a word, he/she will ask “como se diz…” (how do I say…) and then the teacher will help. This way, the student will learn through speaking. After this round, the student asks the same (or similar) questions to the teacher. This way, the student learns how to ask things as well.
There are 18 sets in the book. Enough to become fluent in the language, as long as you master each set. Let’s see an example:
Above we have SET 9. In this set the student will be practising Saber (to know), Conhecer (to know, to meet), Encontrar (to meet, to find), Conseguir (to be able to), Ficar (to stay, to become, to be situated), Ajudar (to help). The tense focus are Present and Past (PPS) and at this stage the student is already working with irregular verbs. The idea is that the student will learn how to use each one of these verbs and the proposed tense conjugations. As soon as he ‘masters it’, he can move on to the next set. Have a look at some questions related to this set:
The last few sets, set 16, set 17 and set 18 are theme related. So for example, SET 18 is about Posse e Propriedade (Ownership and Property). The verbs are Emprestar (to lend), Devolver (to return/to give back), Alugar (to rent, to hire), Reservar (to reserve, to book), Trocar (to change, to exchange), Vender (to sell). You can see how these verbs are related. Learning them through asking and answering questions is a great way for transforming the learning experience into a real life experience.
Finally, I just would like to point out that this book can be used for learning Brazilian and European Portuguese. Many times when I taught group classes, the language school I used to work for asked the students to buy the book in a single dialect (not their fault, as there are no many options for mixed dialects!). So sometimes we had European Portuguese books, but half of the students were learning Brazilian Portuguese. This was really frustrating as there are so many differences! This new method is the perfect option for mixed dialect classes.
In future I’m hoping to translate the method to be used for learning other languages as well.
12/06/2018 UPDATE: Now a version of this book for learning Italian has been published. Same method. The title is: “Creative Italian, Learn through speaking”. Check it on: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/199974974X/
Creative Portuguese is available on Amazon:
US and rest of the world: https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Portuguese-Learn-through-speaking/dp/1999749731/