If we try to map out one’s language-learning journey it can be broken into these simple steps or milestones.
- Learning a few words and phrases.
- Start to speak a little
- Start thinking in the language
- Start communicating
- Achieve Fluency
With my newest adventure with Portuguese, I am at such a stage where I am not fluent but I can communicate with people.
Like most language learners I was also hitting a wall with my Portuguese. Since I had studied but not practiced the language enough. A lot of learners reach this phase but are not able to get beyond, since this is the part where you see the slowest progress also. However this is the time when you should really get going because this is when things get really exciting.
The reason it gets exciting is because this is the time when you actually start communicating with people, this is the part when you start discovering the other side of the world or in certain cases a whole new world.
Here I am going to describe some of my experiences with learning Portuguese.
Made amazing friends and uncovered amazing facts
As I have pointed out in my blog earlier, sitting here in India I could have never imagined that people in Brazil would be fond of learning about the Indian culture; perhaps because it is just so far and so expensive to get to.
So when I first started communicating in Portuguese. I stumbled upon (now a very good friend) Everton Borba, now this guy can sing Bollywood songs better than most professionals here. Speaking to him I also learnt a lot about the economy in that part of the world what people think, there is only a limited amount you can gather through international media. It may tell you what’s going on but a lot of the times the hidden truth you will find out only by talking to the people.
Also this man told me one of the most remarkable true romantic stories ever which one I tell people about in India I realise I was not the only one who was surprised or impressed. It’s true that Everton now has a number of admirers now in my country owing to his singing and his story.
Learn about the History and culture, there is way more to it than what the books have to say
I have learnt a lot about the history and the culture, how Brazil has such a mixture of a culturesand also howignorant I was about how things worked or how things were in the other part of the world. I had probably read more about our mission to Mars than about the country itself. Also, I had actually visited Brazil and not learnt so much about the mix of cultures. Probably because I spoke no Portuguese at the time, and was not really able to communicate with the people.
Opened myself up to new mindsets and new ways of living life
Another thing, I realised is that a lot of the times we can succumb ourselves to a certain point of view thinking this is the right thing to do. However, these are just viewpoints. Here in India a lot of us have a certain set path towards life, however there are other ways to think and other ways to live ones life.
There are a lot of things my friends in the other part of the world think and do which are common; whereas where I live they would be considered to be a waste of time and sometimes unacceptable. However when I ask my friends or myself why are these things unacceptable or taboo none of us actually have any answer to it.
Discovered a new language “portanhol”
One of the things I always get told when I start speaking Portuguese is that I speak “Portanhol”. So Portugués + Espanhol = Portanhol
So not only have I added another language to my artillery. I have actually improved my Spanish. It is incredible to know that sometimes even when I used Spanish sentences people could really understand what I was trying to say. Sorry to say this about my Spanish speaking friends that they cannot understand Portuguese but the other way around is actually true.
Realised how little I know or how little I could actually explain my own culture
I realised how little perhaps I knew of my own culture and history and even when I did know I found it really hard to explain to the other person.
A lot of the times I am actually surprised by the questions I get asked because things that may come so naturally to me can be very startling to the other person. Also, how the same things can be looked at from 2 different viewpoints. This actually makes you really think about these issues yourself. This was particularlytrue about issues relating to religion or marital practices here.
On certain occasions I thought that perhaps we undermine our own culture and practices relating to family and how the others were so envious about what we had.
I am becoming fond of dogs
On a lighter note before learning Portuguese I had never been fond of dogs. However when you see Brazilian people with their dogs you can’t help but become fond of them. Funnily enough their pets have purely human names, something you don’t find in India. Most of my family and friends in India call their pets Snuffy or Gucci or Hitlerand this is perhaps true for many other countries too; whereas, Brazilian pets have names along the lines of Ani or Millie or Angus. They also do not mind if a dog’s name has a part of or is very similar to their own, something people will probable take offence for here in India.
I am a big fan of Sertanejo now
Its also amazing how fascinating music in another language can be! In fact once you become fond of listening to songs in other languages you may like them more than the music in your own tongue. A while ago the only thing I would listen to mostly was techno (seriously!). However now I can’t get enough of Jorge e Matheus.
I feel good!!
The biggest of all when you start communicating in another language, the feel you get from talking to people even if you achieve a small degree of fluency is incredible. After all you have unlocked a lot of doors and are able to communicate with all the people you could not even say hello to earlier.People you speak to also feel happy since you can speak to them in their language. You get very good vibes from it and that’s when you start connecting and you can really find friends for life or in certain cases love for life.
So coming back to where we started, looking at things from a strict language learning point of view. When you feel like you are hitting a wall that’s the time when the best part of language learning is about to start. Sadly that is also when most people give up and can never experience this feeling.
So don’t hesitate go out make some friends start talking to people, create your own list of realisations and experience a whole new world!