Mission complete! Partial success – What will Benny’s next mission be?



4 gold stars for partial success

My most recent “mission” has been to try to become Brazilian in 3 months, i.e. reach the stage that several Brazilians would think that I too was Brazilian. And I can say… mission complete!!! :)

I have decided to award myself 4 gold stars for my achievements. To achieve 5 stars I emphasised that I wanted to converse for about 2 minutes in several casual social situations with the result of the other person being surprised when I made a mistake or mentioned naturally where I was from. Sadly, I didn’t achieve exactly that – but I am still very pleased with the result.

What I did do was have a few (6 at last count) locals that I had just met, who genuinely thought I was from here, each in isolated events, for up to 20-30 seconds and when I was very focussed and intentionally trying. So I didn’t reach my more generous time limit and I couldn’t pull it off naturally and casually, and especially not if I was even the slightest bit tired or distracted. Even so, the overall end-goal has been reached!

As well as the “trick a local” goal, I have achieved so much more here; I’ve greatly improved my Portuguese and will label the main linguistic achievement of this time as getting past the plateau of speaking “well”. My accent has hugely improved (even when I’m not focussed) and I use more casual and less formal language and I can tell that Brazilians are more comfortable talking to me because of this. In upcoming posts I will describe the biggest changes I’ve made to my Portuguese, to make it more Carioca.

Apart from the technical linguistic aspect, I think that what I’ve achieved from the Brazilians’ perspective is more important. Nearly everyone I talked to assured me that my accent was inconsequential and that my attitude towards Brazilians was the key factor in deciding if I was Brazilian at heart; which is way more important to them. I definitely feel like I wasn’t just another gringo in Rio to them, and I’ve made lots of friends in the process. I am genuinely feeling sad to leave my favourite country and the cidade maravilhosa. There is a famous untranslatable Portuguese word: saudades . That is what I’m going to be feeling very soon…

I’ll also summarise the social aspect of what I learned in becoming a Carioca, in a separate post. So there will be a couple more posts about what I’ve learned in these 3 months, before I wrap up this mission entirely.

What will the next mission be?

I will be home for xmas for one week, and then I am going to Zakopane for one week in Poland for the JES event for New Year’s. The first week in January I am getting a flight out of Poland to my next destination, where I will be spending 2 months. I have big plans for 2010!! I plan to take on 3 languages by September. :)

So, I hear you ask, what is the next language??

I will tell you of course, but since I’m an evil bastard I’ll keep you in suspense a little longer! I want to finish some posts relevant to the Brazilian mission over the next 2 weeks before officially starting the next one on this blog just before the end of the year!

But for those of you who want to find out sooner, I will announce it first on fluentin3months’ facebook page and then on my twitter account, this weekend! And yes, this is a shameless plug to get more fans/followers :D

Otherwise, you can leave a comment below to say what you think the next language will be. I will e-mail anyone who gets it right to confirm. Each commenter only gets one guess! ;) Some close friends and other contacts already know where I’m going, so don’t spoil the surprise please :)

Also, leave your comments to share your thoughts about this mission. Do I deserve 4 stars, or is that too generous? Is being Brazilian at heart more important than just speaking with no accent or having the right body language? Let me know you have been following this story and tell me if you’ve enjoyed it! :)



I'll send you the first lesson right away.
Click here to see the comments!
  • http://praxagora.wordpress.com/ Catherine

    Hi Benny! Congratulations on achieving your goal – even partially you've done fantastically! I'm following your blog from Greece where I'm living and working for nine months and trying to learn the language – I need to do more of what you advise and only talk Greek, but it's hard when I'm teaching in English. Looking forward to reading about your next project!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Hi Catherine! Thanks for your encouragement :)
    As I'm sure you would have seen in my post about only speaking in English, I was also an English teacher when I made that decision! I used the classroom as my means of letting me speak all the English I require, but as soon as I stepped outside of the school, I had a strict no-English policy.
    Even in my current situation, I translate documents mostly from French to English full-time. This does not help me with Portuguese, or my previous mission in Czech and won't help me in my next mission. Even so, once I click save (or send) and get up from the computer, everything I do is in my project language. So don't think that I am free from work responsibilities taking away time to speak the language ;) You can still make the commitment!! Best of luck :)

  • piotrekB

    Try Polish. One of the most challenging languages in the world :) Then Hungarian.

  • Russ Williams

    Hej, gratulon pro la brazila aventuro!
    PS: Mi feliĉas, ke vi ĉeestos JES. Mi esperas finfine renkonti vin, post tiom da legado. :)

  • http://corcaighist.blogspot.com Corcaighist

    Comhairgeadas! Ádh mór ort led' chéad teanga eile! Of course you have already chosen your next country and language. I won't guess where you will be going but I will suggest that one of the languages you try this next year will be outside the Indo-European family. May I suggest a Uralic language such as Estonian or Sámi or a minority Turkic language such as Tuvan or Tofa? For the challenge!

  • liq

    Hey man,

    When exactly will you be in Poland? Are you flying to Warsaw or Cracov (Closer to the Zakopane)?

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ Balint

    Congratulations Benny! :D Looking forward to read those posts about the current “mission” :D
    I could hazard a guess that you are going to, ummm, Russia? After the Checz project you wrote that you definitely wanted to extend your knowledge in the slavic languages family. If not, I hope it's China. :D

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Dankon Russ! ;) Vi facile trovos min, mi estos tie de la 27a!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    While I definitely like a challenge, I decide which languages I learn based on the amount of fun i would have speaking them. How easy is it to flirt with girls in minority Turkic languages?? :P :P

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Flying into Krakow ;) Most likely going straight to Zakopane, but a week later I'll have an entire day in Krakow to get to know the city before I fly to my next destination!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks Balint! ;)

  • Steve

    I predict German based on you saying that you wanted to go back to that language in the future and also that you are only giving yourself 2 months so it would need to probably be an Indo-European and familiar one.

  • Lauren

    Congratulations on the Brazil mission! I'm glad that you were at least partially able to achieve your goal if not all the way. It's still amazing that you were able to perfect your accent enough that you fooled Brazilians, even for a short amount of time. Great job!

    I'm going to agree with the last post and say you're going to learn German. I remember reading somewhere that you'd struggled with German in high school but that you were planning on fixing that problem in the near future. So you're going to be in either Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. I think Switzerland would give you too many opportunities to speak French or Italian. If I were you, I'd personally want to go to Austria. My parents have been to Vienna several times and say it's wonderful. It's definitely on my list of the top ten places I want to go to in Europe!

  • Lorenzo

    Hi Benny. Congratulations! Você está de parabéns! More importantly, I'm so happy that we share the same passion for the Portuguese language as well as the same interest in Brazil, which is also my favorite country. You've made excellent progress in the language in recent months, so now please keep it up, don't let it fade away with time, it would be such a pity! As for your mission, sorry for making such an obvious guess, but I suppose that one of the three languages you plan to take on over the next few months will be my own, i.e. Italian. Is that very far from the truth? And as far as the VERY NEXT language you're going to try your hand at, I guess it may be Greek. Totally wrong? Sorry but I'm not really good at guessing when there are so few clues available!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Great comments so far! So I'm seeing a preference for German; Your logic is spot on (both of you) – you'll find out on Saturday if that “near future” is now :)
    @Lorenzo – I'm intentionally not giving too many clues to keep people guessing ;)
    Any other guesses?

  • http://ichestudiolangues.wordpress.com/ Jessica

    Congratulations! I'm very much looking forward to finding out what the next language will be, and for some reason I'm thinking it is German… :)

  • http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/ Scott Young

    Fantastic Benny! Your an inspiration


    hey,i think you can never learn some languages in 3 months.
    i bet!
    like my language:PERSIAN.

  • Matt

    I'm going to have to take a wild and crazy stab in the dark and guess that your next language will be: Dutch! I assume that it will be something close to English since you will only be spending 2 months on this upcoming mission. I really hope I'm right!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Great guesses so far everyone!! I can now reveal that I have not e-mailed anyone to confirm their correct language choice!! Nobody has gotten it yet :)
    Those who already guessed can have another try! I'll e-mail you if you get the right answer. Otherwise, check out my facebook page on Saturday (or twitter shortly after). Time to pack my bags; I'm going to miss Brazil!!

  • Elthyra

    Congratulations on your goal ;) Even if it's only a partial success, it's already amazing! As for your next destination..hmm… somewhere in Scandinavia? Sweden maybe?

  • Gilles

    Great Job Benny, congrats on completing your mission. As for your next mission I don't know what it will be but IMO its about time you move away from Indo-european languages, I'm thinking, Thai, or perhaps Hebrew. LOL

  • Gilles

    Sorry for double commenting but I also really like the suggestion of Hungarian, somebody gave before, or Finnish, OMG so many great languages!!

  • Lorenzo

    Maybe Romanian? Or Polish?

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ Balint

    yeah I'd say hungarian too. :D

  • Steve

    Since you suggested you were interested in chatting up girls in the new language, this time I'll guess at a Scandinavian languge – Somebody just said Swedish so I'll go for Norweigan.
    If we get to have a 3rd guess than mine will be Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia – supposed to be quite simple so could manage it in 2 months.
    4th guess will be Romanian or Catalan.
    There are too many options!

  • polyannar

    Tô super feliz por vc querido!
    Nos vemos em breve!
    beijão, Poly

  • Rafaella


    Acompanho seu blog faz um tempo, pois estou aprendendo inglês e gostei muito do seu modo de aprender novos idiomas. Fiquei muito feliz em saber que você veio ao Brasil para aprender.

    Aguardo ansiosamente suas próximas missões, mas acho que a melhor foi aprender o português..rsrsrs



  • Pak

    Considering that budget is also a parameter, I think that we can rule out Scandinavia, Switzerland or Austria. Germany might be more affordable though, but I would not bet on German right now.
    In light of the recent article about romance languages, I would say Romanian.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Ive given the answer on my facebook page!! Check it out: here

  • Geoffrey

    Why not Estonian? Beautiful, vowel-rich language, musical culture like in Ireland, beautiful countryside, beautiful girls, polyglot culture and they have a statue of Oscar Wilde :) I love it there, perhaps you might too Benny.