Today, Professora Tatiana sent me a job description that caught her attention. It read, “Google is seeking a professional who can speak and write fluently and idiomatically in English, Portuguese, and Spanish.” What particularly stood out to Tatiana was the explicit mention of “idiomatically.”
I founded Street Smart Brazil in 2008 after recognizing the need for a Brazilian Portuguese program that mirrors the language as it’s genuinely spoken in Brazil. Language is dynamic, and when learning a new one, it’s crucial to reflect the real world. Simple conversations can become challenging if your knowledge is limited to formal Portuguese and grammar rules.
This was a challenge I faced when I first moved to the US. Despite scoring highly on the GMAT, indicating fluency in English, I struggled with everyday conversations. My English, learned in Brazil from an excellent school, was somewhat outdated and formal, differing significantly from the everyday language in the US. An article on MatadorNetwork.com sums up my experience perfectly: “Take this student out of the classroom and away from the textbooks, though, and they will encounter a world of language that breaks those rules. In advertising, online, and in conversation, language becomes far less structured.” This is incredibly accurate.
The absence of idiomatic expressions in our vocabulary can lead to misunderstandings. Here’s an example where a popular online translator fails to capture the essence of the Portuguese language:
- Portuguese: Estou esperando há mais de uma hora. Vocês me tiram do sério!
- English: I’ve been waiting for over one hour. You guys make me so mad!
- Online translator: I’m waiting for more than an hour. You take me to seriously!
Here is another great example:
- Portuguese: Malu não fala inglês, mas ela se vira quando vai aos Estado Unidos.
- English: Malu doesn’t speak English, but she gets by when she goes to the US.
- Online translator: Malu does not speak English, but when she turns goes to the United States.
Learning idiomatic Portuguese is as important as mastering proper grammar and vocabulary suitable for business and formal contexts. Consider your own language; both formal and informal expressions are essential in everyday life. To speak a language fluently and effectively, you need to be well-versed in both.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you learn colloquial Portuguese?