Portuguese – No More Pussyfooting Around!

I’ve not written anything about my progress with Portuguese lately. No prizes for guessing why. Coz I ain’t been doing any. Sigh. Since starting this project in March, it’s been all fits and starts. The underlying reason being that I’ve failed to fully commit to it.

I’ve been circling the task as if it were some snarling two-headed harpy. I stuck my fingers through the cage a couple of times, and it took a swipe at me with it’s terrifying verb system and an extra bloody subjunctive that Spanish has had the good sense to abolish long ago.

The inertia just kept festering like a suppurating bedsore, and I’d not been able to snap out of it for those past three months.ย  Then, a couple of weeks ago, one of my blogmates started setting himself a series of challenges in order to push his Hebrew and his French to the next level.

Now, this guy has a full-time job, a wife, two young kids (one of whom has special needs), and yet he manages to bash on with it undeterred, and even record YouTube videos sounding like a reincarnated Victor Hugo, while all I’ve got to do is fabricate a couple of articles a week about the market potential of bison meat in Kazakhstan etc, saunter down the road to meet people for coffee and, once the guilt starts to impede my breathing, call my mother once a month. And I can’t find twenty minutes a day to learn Portuguese??? This cannot be!

So, ten days ago I started easing myself back into the groove by taking up Duolingo again. My skills tree had atrophied down to a brittle sprig since the last time I touched the programme, and it took me an entire week just to get back to where I left off. And while competing with aforementioned blog buddy, I’ve uncovered his secret: The pesky blighter never sleeps!

I’ve also started tackling the second half of my long suffering Pimsleur audio course (Phase 1), I should reach the end of that in three weeks.

But I know that I need much heavier guns than this. I actually need to start talking to a real flesh and blood person, EEEEEEEEEEEEK!

TarzanAlthough I’ve tried to find a local intercambio to practice with, deep down I know darn well that this won’t work. It’s way too early. Compared to me, Tarzan would sound eloquent, even with a fistful of banana leaves rammed down his gullet, and I’d rather eat live tarantulas coated in slug slime than force even a single Portuguese word through my calcified lips.

So, I’m about to launch the ultimate in Linguistic Propulsion Systems: 1-2-1 lessons.

What I need is somebody who glares at me through slitted eyes and pins me against a wall studded with red hot iron spikes until I speak, while the money clock is ticking. It’s the only way. And that somebody is Teresa from Lisbon and I’m meeting her tomorrow for the first time at 6:30 pm.

68 thoughts on “Portuguese – No More Pussyfooting Around!

  1. Pecora Nera

    Learning a foreign language is soooooo hard. After 6 years I am still struggling with Italian. I have started teaching English classes, in an attempt to convert Italians over to the English language. I think this will be much easier.

    Like

    Reply
    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      I’m not sure… the Spanish have such a limited vocal range (in terms of vowels and consonants) that it’s easier for us to learn Spanish than it is for them to learn English. Or rather, speak it in an intelligible way. I’m guessing it’s similar in the case of Italian.

      Like

      Reply
      1. ladyofthecakes Post author

        You’ve learned one. All humans are capable of this. You don’t strike me as mentally impaired, as far as I can tell from your posts.
        It’s lack of effort, and being able to run to MissS when things get tough..

        Like

      2. ladyofthecakes Post author

        So, just for interest, what strategies have you tried so far? I hate classes, and I’ve ranted on about that in various posts, lol. Necessary evil for covering the basics, but I detest them.
        1-2-1 intercambios? (Not with MissS, that never works – total strangers are better for this).
        Am trying to write a ranty post on “just picking up a language” (i.e. by virtue of living in a place where the language is spoken) – it’s like a red flag for me when somebody says that!!! That’s so not how it works… sigh.

        Like

      3. Pecora Nera

        I have a collection language discs that I used to listen to, yawn! Watching Italian films with either Italian or English sub titles is the best, Reading Italian books for young children, but it is so un cool to be sat in a cafe’ with a glass of red wine reading The little bear and the tiger. Playing cards with Italian friends.
        .

        Like

      4. ladyofthecakes Post author

        Children’s books, yawhn…. I found the Kindle really helpful, as you can buy a bilingual dictionary with it, saves so much time when looking things up.
        And then there’s the radio. For several hours a day. Noticed a big difference after 3-4 months of listening to that. It’s just hard work, no way round it.
        Fancy joining me on Duolingo? My user name is SimoneBa if you want to add me as a ‘friend’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Like

      1. pollyheath

        I’m also terrible in class situations. I don’t know about you, but I’m really skilled at fading into the background and avoiding speaking. At least the private lesson forces me to say something. Ugh. I think I need to lay down, just from thinking about it.

        Like

      2. ladyofthecakes Post author

        That’s my problem exactly. I avoid speaking at all cost. And I totally freeze up when it’s my turn.
        I’ve still got nightmares about Russian classes I had when I was 14, because we had to read aloud and I would have near panic attacks.

        Like

  2. linnetmoss

    Hilarious! I have felt this way forever about my German. Which I only use grudgingly when reading scholarly articles. I never seem to make much progress despite many stern resolutions. I have self-diagnosed the problem: I sleep 8 hours a night ; )

    Like

    Reply
  3. Anna

    What IS the market potential of bison meat in Kazakhstan? Or Russia, for that matter – bison burgers are fantastic!

    I have no idea where you’re even getting the motivation for another language you dont actually ‘need.’ I have been contemplating enrolling in the Cervantes institute here, for a 12-wk intense advanced Spanish program, but it’s 5 hrs of class every Saturday >.<

    Like

    Reply
    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Five hours of class… that’s a lot.
      Why am I doing this? Because I find it ultimately very gratifying to open a window into a new world. More gratifying than anything else I’ve ever done or will ever do, In fact.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Jennifer Avventura

    Good luck and have fun! I’m still struggling with Italian and I’ve been here nearing 6 years! My husband and I are lazy and speak mostly English together. Or wait, Im lazy, he speaks to me in Italian, I translate it in my head and response to him in English! The only time I get full Italian conversations is when I have my morning cafe down at the bar. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    Reply
    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      It does take a conscious effort. If I were sharing/living with Spaniards, I’d be totally on top of it right now. God knows how long it will take to get my Portuguese where my Spanish is…

      Like

      Reply
  5. bevchen

    You’re waaaaay ahead of me on Duolingo this week! I started doing some Spanish (felt guilty cos I’ve been taking the “easy” way out recently and only doing German). Went right back to the first lesson, realised I’d forgotten almost everything and quite after about 15 minutes. *Sigh*

    Like

    Reply
  6. Daniela

    Yay for Portuguese! You’ll do fine. I adore the language. I struggle of course, but that just comes with the territory. I do have to say I find the verb conjugation a lot easier than in Spanish. At least for the Brazilian variety, there are only really three verb endings to learn. One for eu, one for vocรช/ele/ela/a gente and one for vocรชs/eles/elas. Nรณs is mostly for written usage which is not my focus and it happens to be very similar to Spanish, so no big deal. So the conjugation is a lot simpler. Which is not to say it’s all smooth sailing… haha, but you’ll be fine!

    I went to my first conversation class yesterday and I was this close to not going but I made myself go and I even said stuff and… nobody laughed. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It actually went well and I want to go on a regular basis. There’s a couple of Spanish native speakers that I got along really well with and I’ll meet them tomorrow for dinner. Yay!

    Like

    Reply
    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Well, that sounds like an all-round success for you! Excellent. Hoping there’ll be a post on it at some point. Still struggling with that arm/shoulder?
      I’ll see how it goes with the lesson tomorrow…

      Like

      Reply
  7. Every Day Adventures in Asia

    Have no doubt you will suddenly discover that all the little bits of effort add up to a whole lot of progress! I’ve totally given up on Bahasa… the energy required to wrestle with the project has sapped enthusiasm for anything else when there. And when back home in Mumbai, I’d rather be out having fun! ๐Ÿ™‚ Aren’t we all marvellous at coming up with excuses??

    Like

    Reply
      1. Every Day Adventures in Asia

        Sigh… I miss blogging faffery!! And while home, there are always oodles of activities vying for attention. Last night had five events – we made it to two – which I thought was rather respectable.

        Love your Portuguese progress and lessons adventures updates!

        Like

  8. gina4star

    Good luck with it! I’m well impressed with multi-linguists such as yourself. Having barely managed to grasp Spanish myself, I have a lot of admiration for you, buona fortuna (word reference told me to say that ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Like

    Reply
    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      I continue to battle with my Spanish, but I’ve realised that if I waited until I’ve achieved full mastery, I’d be waiting for a bloody long time and I’m not getting any younger or cleverer! My RAM is decreasing… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Like

      Reply
  9. TBM

    My Spanish lessons haven’t been going all that well either. And I blame me. I’m lazy. I’m lazy. How do you say that in Spanish? If I wasn’t lazy I would know. I wish you luck and seriously, how does that dude do it. Hebrew and French. Yikes … did I mention I’m lazy?

    Like

    Reply
    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Actually, Spanish has a nifty way of expressing this particular kind of laziness. When you can’t be bothered to do something, you say “Me da pereza”. This means that you’re not lazy generally, but that particular activity induces laziness, but only with regard to that activity. I didn’t put this very eloquently, but you get what I’m saying ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Like

      Reply
  10. Ashley

    When I saw the title of this post, I was ready to leave a comment recommending Duolingo to you, but you’re way ahead of me! I LOVE Duolingo, and I’m actually using it to learn Portuguese too! I started using it at the beginning of this year, but I, too, have been slacking off lately. Gotta get back into it!

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s