Saturday, September 10, 2011

Update on Brazil and Portuguese

Full disclosure - I wouldn't be writing this post if Benny the Irish Polyglot hadn't told me to. I'm reading his Language Hacking Guide and I reached the section where he said I had to start a log of my language journey. I resisted for about four hours. Since I paid money for the book, I might as well try what it says.

This morning I asked a few questions in Portuguese while taking to the guy working the hummus stand at the farmers market. His name is Gilbert ("Zhilbayr"), he's really friendly, and he's from Brazil. Those last two comments seem to always go together. Brazilians have a reputation as being very friendly. My extensive data sample of three supports this generalization. Gilbert loved the questions I had and completely ignored my mistakes. The whole interaction was a lot of fun and very encouraging.

The part I'm struggling with is around Benny's advice to have a few main goals, some mini-goals that will get me there, and a plan for how to do it. Articulating my main goals specifically is not turning out to be so easy. I'm just going to have to jot something down and refine it as I go. Vaguely, I want to be able to get around Sao Paulo on as little English as possible. That's three weeks from now. I'll have some business meetings with a few people who speak no English, so I want to be able to talk about accounting and processes as much as possible with them. Also - I want to know enough to win over the visa officer at the Brazil consulate in San Francisco next week so I can get our visas issued as quickly as possible. (Otherwise I can't even go on the trip.)

I like Benny's book and the advice on his blog. (I even wish I had thought of it years ago.) Finding the discipline and the time to follow his recommendations isn't easy. But the easy way - not having goals or a plan - won't result in any language progress at all. So I'll keep reading the book, resisting his advice because it requires effort, and then caving in and following it after all.