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This an update to Holly’s Portuguese in 3 Months mission.
In my last article, I introduced my three-month Portuguese mission.
In this article, I’ll share the “Day Zero” video I made to kick off this project, as well as the first few days of my mission.
What Did I Do Before my “Day Zero” Video?
My “Day Zero” video was recorded for my review of Michel Thomas Total Portuguese, which is a seven-hour audio course (we’ll be publishing the review soon). It demonstrates the level of European Portuguese that one could reasonably expect to achieve after completing the seven hour course, plus two to three lessons with a teacher on Skype, to practise a bit with a real person.
I deliberately didn’t do much preparation for the “Day Zero” video. I wanted it to provide a realistic view of what the Michel Thomas course can help you achieve. All I did between completing the course and recording the video was take three Portuguese lessons on italki, and I filmed the video at the end of my third lesson.
How did I feel about making the video? Terrified!
Speaking a language badly is nerve-wracking enough… recording yourself doing so is even more of a challenge! I felt especially nervous as I have never deliberately recorded myself on video before, outside of school projects. This was all new territory for me! What’s more, I deliberately didn’t do any language-based preparation. I didn’t know what the subject of our conversation would be until our lesson began. I knew I would sound slow and stupid, and miss the majority of what my teacher said.
The only preparation I did was to watch Lauren’s Russian mission videos for an idea of what to do during the video, and to help calm my nerves.
So, let’s take a look!
Here’s the “Ground Zero” Video of Me Speaking Portuguese.
Warning: this is quite slow and painful to watch – as should be expected. Be sure to activate the English subtitles if you need them.
If you got all the way through it, congrats 🙂 . As slow and painful as it looks on video, it was probably three times worse in real life. I did a lot of editing so it wouldn’t be thirty minutes long. But I still left in some of the awkward pauses and my struggles to understand and be understood, to give a realistic view of my Portuguese level.
What Happened After the Video?
After I made the video, I wrote up my thoughts for my Michel Thomas product review, and I stopped learning Portuguese. About three weeks later, I realised that I missed my daily Portuguese practice, and my lessons with Tatiana.
I went back and rewatched my video, and was proud of how well I had done with so little experience, and of how I never switched to English even when it got tough.
I surprised myself at how much vocabulary I had used in the video – vocabulary that I had forgotten by the time I watched the video a second time. With new languages (even those you’ve only been learning for a few hours), it really is use it or lose it!
I didn’t want to forget what I’d learned. But I was forgetting! I needed to do something about it.
Then I realised: Of course! I could do a three month Portuguese mission! It would keep up my motivation, and I could make videos to track my progress.
My aim was to be able to hold conversations in Portuguese at the end of my three month mission.
My previous article outlines all of my goals for this mission. In short, I wanted to reach B1 level using almost exclusively speaking and listening resources, with virtually no reading or writing. I did some research to find some promising-looking resources, and then I dove in.
The First Few Days of My “Portuguese in 3 Months” Mission
PortuguesePod101 teaches Brazilian Portuguese, and up until this point, I had only ever studied European Portuguese. But I’ve successfully navigated a range of dialects and accents in English, French, and to a lesser extent, Thai, so this didn’t worry me. Besides, I was really interested in getting to know both major Portuguese dialects equally well. I didn’t see any harm in starting out by splitting my time between both.
I blasted through thirty lessons of PortuguesePod101 in my first week, listening to them on my daily walks. I started with some Absolute Beginner lessons, but was pleasantly surprised to find them a little bit on the easy side, so I moved on to Lower Beginner and Beginner lessons instead. They were perfect for my level, and enjoyable too.
On top of that, I listened to the following:
- NHK World Radio Japão – A fifteen-minute daily news podcast in Portuguese covering stories from Japan and around the world. I listened very actively, but admit that I struggled to understand any of the headlines.
- Got Talent Portugal – The classic British talent show whose format has been exported to dozens of countries around the world. I enjoyed the judges’ personalities and would return to this TV show again and again throughout my mission.
- Agua de Mar, a telenovela from Portugal. I got through thirty minutes and had to call it quits because the cheesiness distracted me from active listening. I put this show in the throwaway pile.
- Music: After some research, I found the Portuguese band Quinta do Bill (“Bill’s Farm”). They’re a Celtic-Alternative Rock band. I love Celtic-influenced music, so what could be better?
I didn’t manage to get on italki in my first week to practise Portuguese conversation. Not a very good start! But I did get onto Duolingo, and instead of typing the Portuguese translations, I switched my phone’s language to Portuguese and dictated the answers. It was a great way to practise my pronunciation; after all, if the computer could understand me, a teacher certainly would.
Despite not speaking with a real person, I was still fairly happy with my first week of Portuguese. I did a few exercises every day, and I feel that they really improved my listening comprehension. For speaking practice, I planned to (figuratively) kick myself in the ass the following week.
How did things go after that? Stay tuned for my one-month Portuguese mission update and video, coming soon!
Questions or comments on my Portuguese mission? Ask away! I’ll check the comments and reply regularly.