“How’s language going?” you wonderful people have been asking. First off, thank you for asking! Thank you for caring.
Language learning is best described by this picture:
I am the determined toddler reaching out for Portuguese and each sentence is either going to be very rewarding or a complete disaster. 😉
Logistically, Matt and I have class together with our teacher, Suzanna, Monday through Fridays upstairs in our happy little air conditioned guest bedroom. We have pulled a patio table in there and three chairs. From about 9am until noon we learn and practice new Portuguese (European) vocabulary and sentences about that vocabulary. The hardest for me is conjugating the verbs with the right pronouns… oh right and remembering the vocab words too. 😉 We usually take 2 breaks during that 3 hour period which are mostly dependent on the girl’s needs. We’ve gotten into a good rhythm where one of the breaks happens around snack time and the other one is more dependent on my brain exploding or evading a kid tantrum that’s escalating downstairs.
In the afternoon, Matt and I split up (no, don’t fear for our marriage. hehe) with two different conversants. Matt’s conversant is Paisano (I’m sure I just butchered spelling his name, but it is pronounced py-zon-noe) and my conversant is Laura. We spend 2 hours reviewing the vocab from the morning and heading out into the community to learn new vocab/sentences on the go.
Matt came out of the gate strong with some Spanish background to build his Portuguese foundation and I have been building my Portuguese foundation new stone by new stone. Sometimes I sit in a lesson time with Suzanna and I literally can feel my head spin. Hehe. And sometimes things just click by the grace of God. I love that before each morning and afternoon session we pray (rotating the prayer person for that day). I am also beginning to memorize the Roman’s road Bible verses in Portuguese.
Rachael and Abi also get the privilege of learning Portuguese while they await their Portuguese school to begin sometime in January (on the African school schedule). Rachael and Abi are learning the same way Matt and I are in regards to the GPA approach of exposure to the language through pictures instead of through the medium of translating words from English (which takes longer for your brain to engage since it’s an extra step to translate in your head and then produce the Portuguese equivalent). Rachael and Abi initially studied together for 2 hours in the afternoon, but now are each having an hour of one-on-one with their teacher, Elsa (yes, she’s royal). It is exciting to watch the light in their eyes as they understand and form Portuguese sentences.
Hannah and Eden are learning Portuguese informally through Emilia, our Portuguese-speaking house helper, who wonderfully and patiently identifies objects and actions for us all as well as gently corrects our pronunciations. It’s so cool to see in a handful of week the difference in the little ones’ understanding of Portuguese as Emilia’s words become more familiar. Hannah has begun speaking the Mozambican greetings to our guard, our language teachers and Emilia. And Eden has been repeating Portuguese words and utilizing a few Portuguese words to communicate to Emilia (i.e. “thank you”, “cookie type crackers”, etc.).
I’m really proud of my girls for their hard work to communicate with others here. We’ve been hanging up pictures around the house, forming Portuguese sentences as a family and doing a lot of team work to try to do our best to understand and communicate in Portuguese with those around us.
Some days it’s really slow and up-hill and some days it feels a lot more natural.
But each day is one step closer to fluency. =)