Professora Tatiana sent me a job description today: “Google is looking for a professional who can speak and write in English, Portuguese, and Spanish fluently and idiomatically.” The post got Tatiana’s attention because of the explicit mention to “idiomatically.”
I founded Street Smart Brazil in 2008 because I saw a need for a Brazilian Portuguese program that allowed learners to learn the Portuguese that we speak in real life in Brazil. Language is very dynamic. When we are learning a new language, it needs to reflect the real world. I wrote about this before: how simple conversations can be impossible to understand if all you have is good grammar and formal Portuguese.
I myself experienced this difficulty when I first came to the US. I was fluent enough in English to score at the top range of the GMAT, but I had the hardest time talking to real people. I had learned English in Brazil in an excellent English school. However, my English was a bit old, stiff, and distanced from the language I found here in the US. This article on MatadorNetwork.com perfectly describes what happened to me when I got to the US: “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.” Very true.
Look what happens when we don’t have idiomatic expressions in our vocabulary. Below is a screen shot of a translation from Portuguese to English done by a popular online translator:
- 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!
- Onine 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 walks hand in hand with learning proper grammar and vocabulary that is appropriate for business and other formal occasions. Just think about your own language. Formal and informal are part of your everyday life. You need to have both sets of vocabulary to speak the language fluently and to be effective in doing so.
We’d love to hear from you. How do you learn colloquial Portuguese?
Learn Portuguese: 3 Great books for intermediate and advanced learners
Portuguese Lesson: Verb Ter, Present Tense & Pronunciation Tips
Language Learning: How to Create Immersion from Home
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Trying to master English idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs can be very tricky. I will show you realistically what you are facing and a simple to understand, clear path to mastering these expressions. Using idiomatic expressions incorrectly or inappropriately will make you appear foolish; but Learning American idioms correctly will give you English communication skills you never thought possible.