Adult Language Re-Learning
January 21, 2015 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in learning a language, or more accurately re-learning it. Or even more accurately learning it better than I did in the first place.

I spent a year living in Brazil as a teenager and picked up a considerable amount of Portuguese while I was there, but it was limited in a lot of ways, as well. My vocabulary was relatively broad, but my ability to speak correctly was limited -- I couldn't effectively conjugate verbs into very many cases, for example.

I've since lost a fair amount of the vocabulary, and I still don't know the formal structural elements of the language. I'd like to revisit it, but I'm having trouble finding tools that really fit with my level of knowledge.

Introductory lessons through sites like Duolingo assume that I'm at a much more basic level than I am -- I don't need to go through the "Hello, how are you?" lessons again. But then in more advanced lessons, they often assume specific vocabulary that I don't have or grammar knowledge I don't have. So where tools like Duolingo are highly structured, I either have to spend days and weeks working through stuff I already know or I end up swamped with stuff I don't know but it assumes I do.

What options are there for more customizable language learning?
posted by jacquilynne to Education (9 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've kept up my French skills and learned quite a bit of Japanese with subtitled movies/tv shows, listening to what they say and repeating it to myself.
posted by lizbunny at 8:25 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


You will probably thrive in a formal Portuguese course.

I grew up hearing and somewhat speaking French, and when I took French in college this gave me a huge leg up. All the early issues like basic pronunciation and grammar were dead simple, and anytime we came across a word I knew from childhood I was able to just pick it right up again. ("Oh, yeah, parapluie means umbrella! Right!")

I honestly found it helpful to sit through several weeks of "Hello, how are you!" in a regimented manner, because it helped my confidence with the language a lot. This is the reason I'd suggest an actual course as opposed to something like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, because knowing the basics there can just inspire you to skip around or not commit fully to the lessons.
posted by Sara C. at 8:30 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


How about building up your vocabulary some and then taking an intermediate level course. If you build your vocab first then you shouldn't get too much unfamiliar thrown at you. it shouldn't be hard to get your vocab back in Toronto. There's a huge Portuguese speaking population and surely lots of events and people you could talk to.

Also, as suggested above, set your netflix region to Brazil (or Argentina. I'm not sure why, but Argentine netflix has lots of portuguese options) and get to some serious TV watching. I suggest dramas, as I'm finding that sitcoms don't translate well. If you decided to put both the audio and subtitles on in Portuguese they won't match. Apparently the dubbing and subtitle translations are done separately. So instead of that confusing mess, I suggest you put the either the audio or subtitles in English and the other in Portuguese. Subtitles tend to be a more direct translation. Apparently the dubbing translation tries to match mouth movements in addition to meaning.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:59 AM on January 21, 2015


I'm in the same boat with Polish. Here is what I'm doing
- memorized the characters of the alphabet so that I can read Polish, something I was never able to do before. They're the same letters as English but pronounced very differently.
- got some kids books and started reading them
- pick a different grammar topic and master it, like present tense conjugation, past tense conjugation or different cases of declensions (thats Polish specific tho)

Whenever I'm learning a romantic language, I always follow the same trends:
- memorize I/you/he/she/we/they
- memorize the verbs to be, to have, to want, to know (all conjugations)
- memorize base case conjugation pattern (for regular verbs)
- memorize definitive articles (un/una/une, le la les)
- memorize past tense conjugation
- memorize past progressive
- memorize future simple
- build vocabulary (watch tv with subtitles)

That gives me a good foundation to make up simple phrases. So if I were you, I'd google those specific topics and solidify your base.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:01 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Introductory lessons through sites like Duolingo assume that I'm at a much more basic level than I am -- I don't need to go through the "Hello, how are you?"

You might be surprised. You could easily test this by opening the Duolingo Portuguese course and trying to test out of all of the skills. If you can do that, you can safely say that you are beyond that basic level. If not, you probably have some targeted brushing up to do on the basics. I know that I have been so humbled before.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:06 AM on January 21, 2015



Introductory lessons through sites like Duolingo assume that I'm at a much more basic level than I am -- I don't need to go through the "Hello, how are you?" lessons again. But then in more advanced lessons, they often assume specific vocabulary that I don't have or grammar knowledge I don't have. So where tools like Duolingo are highly structured, I either have to spend days and weeks working through stuff I already know or I end up swamped with stuff I don't know but it assumes I do.


Duolingo doesn't assume you know anything. It actually teaches by throwing questions at you that you couldn't possibly know the answer to, and then telling you the answer when you get it wrong. So it's not a problem that it's throwing words and concepts at you that you don't know. That's how it teaches.
posted by empath at 9:34 AM on January 21, 2015


You can link up with chat room partners who speak Portuguese and want to learn English at sites such as this. You will feed off of each other. Or through text-chatting.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:22 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I actually just started Duolingo this morning to brush up on my German. It started me with a placement test and identified areas where I had mastery and others where I was still weak and presented me with the appropriate modules. I was really pleased with it!
posted by chatongriffes at 10:29 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


This may be more than you are looking for, but noted language educator Scott Thornbury wrote about his experience with something similar at The (De-)Fossilization Diaries.

Have you checked out Lang-8.com? Where you can post in a language you are learning and native speakers can correct your work. Good practice for things like verb conjugations or focus on specific grammatical points.

Hiring someone for some one-on-one instruction or just structured conversation practice in person or via Skype is probably a good idea.
posted by Gotanda at 8:02 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Coldwater Creek Replacement?   |   Help Detecting Internet Usage via Router Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.