Speaking Portuguese is fun!
Abstract: Traveling to a place where you do not speak the language well can be difficult, but learning a language is very rewarding. I think it is cool to learn different languages in school because you can learn about the world, travel and get to know people in new places. I’m so lucky to learn Portuguese in Brazil, but you can learn any language you want!
I have now been in Brazil for almost three months, and I have learned so much about living in this country since I arrived. Part of why I am so comfortable now is because I am so much better at speaking Portuguese! When I wake up for school in the morning, I can talk to my host mother over breakfast, say hello to people I know on the street and chat with the security guard in front of my school building. I can order food at a restaurant and send postcards at the post office without any problems. I can do this because I am able to speak Portuguese and use the language in everyday life and conversations. Can you imagine going on everyday errands without knowing how to communicate or ask a question?
When I first arrived, I knew how to speak a little bit of Portuguese, and I was lucky because I could already speak Spanish. Portuguese and Spanish are in the same language family so they have a lot of similar words, but they are still two very different languages. At first, I would speak to people in Spanish with some Portuguese words. Sometimes they understood me, and sometimes they would laugh at the way that I talked. Some words that I used in Spanish mean the opposite thing in Portuguese, which made people very confused!
The way you say things in Portuguese is also very important, and some words change depending on the way you pronounce them. The words for ‘bread’, ‘father’, and ‘stick’ are very similar, just pronounced differently. Sometimes I accidentally tell people I had to speak to my bread or that I ate a stick for breakfast! Now that I have practiced, I can pronounce words in the right way, and everybody I talk to complements me on my Portuguese.
This is not the first time I have been in a place where I did not know the language very well. My parents are both from Poland, a country in Europe. When I was learning to talk, Polish was the first language I learned. When I went to my first day of kindergarten in Chicago, I did not know how to speak any English! It was very scary and frustrating because I could not tell people what I wanted and I could not communicate well.
However, by being in class everyday with teachers and other classmates, I learned quickly. I wanted to be able to join in the activities and be a part of the class. I watched movies and TV in English, read books and talked to everybody. After a short time, I could speak with no problem.
I took a similar approach to learning Portuguese. I really wanted to get to know the people and culture of Brazil, and make new friends, so I had to work very hard. Even though I embarrassed myself sometimes by saying the wrong word in Portuguese, it was important to keep talking to people and practicing. Talking and practicing are the best ways to learn how to speak a new language correctly. Now I talk to everyone I can, from classmates at my university, to the waiters at restaurants, to the police officers on the street. This has made me a more outgoing and friendly person, and I love making new Brazilian friends!
Another reason I have been able to learn so well is because Brazilian people are so nice and willing to help me learn. I can understand Portuguese better when people speak slowly, so I usually ask people to speak more slowly and loudly to me. When I do not understand a word, I ask them to explain it.
If you meet somebody or have a classmate who cannot speak English well, it is important to be patient and understanding. Learning a new language is not easy! Sometimes they may need you to repeat something or explain something. It’s a great opportunity to teach someone else something that you are good at!
Learning different languages is my favorite thing to do. Language class is always my favorite class at school! I can now speak five different languages: English, Polish, French, Spanish and Portuguese. With these languages, I can travel to many different countries around the world and speak to people that live there in their own language. I can make friends from foreign countries, and go visit the countries they live in!
When you travel and visit interesting and historical places in the world, it is good to know the local language because not everybody speaks English. Knowing the language of a country where you are makes it easier to get around, eat and do everyday things. When you grow up, it is good to know different languages because you can do business with people from different cultures.
There are many things you can do to help you learn a foreign language! I really like to listen to the radio and watch TV shows from other countries. This is a great way to learn the language while having fun. It is also fun to watch your favorite movie in a different language. There are many websites that you can use for free that also help you practice other languages.
In the end, however, the best way to learn a language is by talking to people! Talk to anyone you hear speaking another language and ask them how to say any word, just for fun!