There are many successful paths to learning to speak Portuguese. You can sign up for a class, get a tutor, go it alone with a good workbook, or take an online program. These are all proven methods of study. But one concept overrides all of these methods, and that is this: you need to practice! The “use it or lose it” principle is a great truth in language study, and some people search fruitlessly for helpful situations in which to practice. One fabulous way to continue learning and to practice what you learn is to go where Portuguese is spoken.
The Azores Islands offer the ultimate environment for Portuguese language learning. The weather is temperate, the surroundings are lush and peaceful, and the people are kind and accommodating. There are exciting things, too, like festivals, urban life, and good food. An ideal arrangement is to study in the morning with native teachers, and then tour in the afternoons and evenings using your new language skills. You’ll practice when you shop, dine, ask directions, or simply converse with locals about the weather. Being in a small group would be best, allowing you to get the full attention of teachers, and enabling visits to out of the way places not often seen by the big bus tour groups.
There is nothing written that states you can’t have fun while learning to speak a new language. In fact, if you are having a good time, you are more likely to retain new information. Imagine the ease of seeing an object and calling it by its correct Portuguese name. Contrast that situation with memorizing lists of words from a book. Both methods are effective, but which one sounds more inviting?
Read more about Maria Oliveira’s Study Abroad tour of the Azores scheduled for July 2013: