Foreign Language

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Foreign Language

Category : Articles

Learning a foreign language is not an easy thing. The difficulties commonly encountered by language learners are pronunciation, gripping the meanings of vocabularies correctly, and learning a different culture for enhancing reading comprehension.
The experience of learning Portuguese was a challenge. I was exposed to different languages in my life at different ages. I was always eager to know different languages and to be able to practice them. The idea of learning Portuguese was very familiar to me but I was worried of how much information I could memorize of the only three lessons that I got the chance to attend during my TESOL program.
Attending the first class was an experience itself. Seeing Mrs. A, who I already knew her, she was not speaking English at all. She only spoke Portuguese to the class. I was trying to understand what she was saying, but it wasn??™t easy. Some words seem familiar to the French background that I have and some are just completely new. Then I concentrated on the teacher??™s gestopedia to understand what she was trying to tell us. She was asking: ???Qual o sey nome??™ meaning ???what??™s your name??™ and I had to answer ???Meu nome e Mireille??™ meaning ???my name is Mireille.??™ Then I had to understand and answer questions like how are you , where are you from and how old are you Simple questions but very useful to start a short conversation in Portuguese with a new friend. To make sure to understand all, I was writing each sentence in Portuguese and in English translation and pronunciation. I was asking the teacher for more clarification using gesture, facial expression and little Portuguese words that I??™ve learned in the class. At the last part of the class, Mrs. A taught us little about the Brazilian culture and cities, she showed us a short movie on the Brazilian cities and the touristic areas of the country. Then we had to imagine ourselves in one of these cities and we had to make colourful drawing about the scene. Overall, it was a nice start to learn a new language. The class was full of different types of activities to simplify the understanding of Portuguese. I was very happy and confident of what I??™ve learned and couldn??™t wait to start the next lesson.
At the beginning of the next lesson, Mrs. A introduced us to the Portuguese Alphabet by eliciting answers from the whole class. Since the script of the alphabet is the same as the English or French one, it was easy to guess the phonics of the letters. Most of them sound the same as the French phonics except some, for example ???j??™ will be ???/zota/??™ and ???r??™ will be ???/eh?/??™. Then each of us spelled his or her name to the teacher to practice the alphabet. Also I had to write couple of sentences in Portuguese and then to introduce myself to my colleagues by reading it out loud in front of the class. The hardest issue is to differentiate between the genders of the words. The ending of the word would change according to the gender, if it??™s a feminine person speaking she would say ???obrigada??™ and if it is a masculine person speaking it would be ???obrigado??™ meaning ???thank you??™. We also had to work in pairs to find all the verbs and colours in the lyrics of a song while listening and watching its video clip in the class.
Learning a lot of the two classes, it was sad to come to an end. Our third and last lecture was half in Portuguese and half in English. We were allowed to communicate in English and the teacher also could answer in English. It was for sure an easier way to quickly find answers to our questions, but it wasn??™t as interesting as before when the teacher would only use the targeted language ???Portuguese??™ to explain to us . While speaking only in Portuguese to clarify any misunderstood words, Mrs. A would have introduced new vocabulary and maybe a new grammar rule.
It was a very nice time to learn Portuguese and I really wished to complete the learning of the language having Mrs. A as a teacher. She??™s a very active person, always smiling and she uses a lot of activities to explain her ideas. Her classes were nothing similar to ordinary boring language classes where the instructor would start by teaching the alphabet and then the classroom items, etc. Mrs. A??™s class were not boring at all. They were all well organized and the teacher was eliciting a lot of answers of the students. She taught us in less than 9 hours, a lot of the important items of a new language and the culture of a new country.
At the end of this experience, I could say that I had the chance to be in the place of my future students. I experienced the feeling of anxiety, confusion and then enthusiasm and confidence. I understood that I ???as a future teacher??™ have to be very careful about the level of the students??™ knowledge of the language. I believe that the success of the learner is a result of the teacher??™s input and the wiliness of the students to learn.