As of 1/31, when I’m drafting this post, I have 14 lessons left on Duolingo. Each lesson has five rounds, so that could take me a while to get through, and I have been slacking lately (it’s been a Month and a Half), but I’m refocusing on completing more lessons each day right now, and I’d like to see myself finish out Duolingo before I go to Portugal in March. That’ll be almost a full two years since I started learning, which is just wild to imagine. I can’t remember the exact date, but I’m at 665 days right now, which means I’m damn near close to two years.

Thus, what’s next?

In my 2022 Goals post, where I outlined a lot of different, and often ambitious goals, a new section was added for travel, and I am very excited about it. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for friends, a significant other, what-have-you, to be able to travel with, and I finally got sick of waiting and just decided to do it myself. I mean, why not? If no one else can get their shit together to join me in seeing the world, then I’m going to see the world myself and not wait for other people. I’ve got a five-year plan right now that will hopefully continue on after that (Portugal, Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, Italy), and I want to be able to see one country a year for two weeks. Obviously, my first country was going to be Portugal for many reasons. A few of my books take place there, my great-grandfather is from Madeira, and it’s somewhere that I’ve been dreaming about for years now.

Obviously, I’m not saying I’m going to learn every language for every country I go to–although wouldn’t that be something–but I wanted to be able to communicate with the people of my homeland when I went to Portugal. Originally, I just started learning Portuguese because it’s the language of my heart, but as I started deciding that I wanted to travel, I knew that I wanted to be serious about this learning. And I won’t lie, I’ve definitely skipped a couple days in the last two years, but I can proudly say that those days skipped probably amount to a week at most. Otherwise, I’ve made sure to practice every single day, and I want to be able to continue on after I’ve finished with Duolingo.

I ended up doing a lot of research to figure out which direction I wanted to go in once I was done with Duolingo. They offer Brazilian Portuguese, which is obviously not the Portuguese that my great-grandfather spoke, but I knew that they were similar enough that I could probably get by. However, if I want to continue on, I have to make a decision. Learning European Portuguese is a lot less accessible on the Internet, and I live in an area that’s highly populated by Latin countries, so the odds of me finding a Brazilian teacher are astronomically high in comparison to an European one. Not only that, but many of the characters that I write are from South America, speak Portuguese & Spanish that doesn’t originate in Europe, and it’s the version of the language that I’m going to encounter more in my daily life. So, the question became, do I want to continue with European so I can speak with people for the two weeks I’m in Portugal, or do I want to continue with Brazilian so I can speak with people in my own city?

One of the biggest things that forced me to make the decision was this video. It breaks down the different pronunciations of words and makes it pretty clear that while you’re probably going to be able to understand one if you know the other, there are some major differences that are going to make it a slower understanding. When watching this video, it was much easier for me to follow the flow of the Brazilian language, and given all the factors, this was pretty much the turning point for me.

And so, while I’d love to figure out how to learn European Portuguese, I think Brazilian Portuguese makes a lot more sense, and is going to be a lot more accessible, for me. This wasn’t the end, though. Deciding which version of the language I was going to learn was such a baby step in what came next, and I am a little daunted about what’s next for me just thinking about everything that’s waiting for me.

I ended up purchasing several different types of books. One of my goals this year is to read five books in Portuguese, so I knew that I wanted to find books that would actually interest me. Yes, I want to read Fernando Pessoa, but that’s probably not the best place for me to start, so I set out to find a few queer contemporaries, which there were an astonishingly easy amount to find, and picked those that I thought would hold my attention the most. I’m going to be doing a lot of work to read these books, so I want to make sure that they won’t be ones that bore me with the actual content while I’m working through the language.

Ugh, just look at these! They’re so beautiful. Enquanto eu nao te encontro was definitely on my radar already just because of how beautiful the cover is, and because one of the blogs I follow was excited about it, as well. I’ve read another of Vitor Martins’ books, Here the Whole Time, but in English, so I’m very curious to see how he writes in his native language.

But that’s not all! (That felt very infomercial.) I knew that if I didn’t continue learning and working my way through lessons, the language would fall away from me so fast. It’s the primary reason why I can no longer speak French (definitely one of my next languages to tackle), and I don’t want that to happen with Portuguese, so I also went full college Mary is pretending she’s going to minor in a language and got some grammar books.

I’m not going to drop covers because that’s boring, but I got:

  1. Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar Workbook by John Whitlam
  2. Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar: A Practical Guide by John Whitlam
  3. The Routledge Intermediate Brazilian Portuguese Reader by John Whitlam
  4. The Oxford New Portuguese Dictionary

I can’t believe I bought grammar workbooks, this is insane, and I love it. My goal with these is to pretend I’m still doing Duolingo even when that program is over. I don’t think I’ll jump into learning another language right away when I’m done with Duolingo, though I definitely plan on learning more through that platform eventually. For now, though, I’ve got 14 lessons to complete before March, and then it’s time to dive into these workbooks, start making my way through the queer contemporaries, and slowly build my fluency in the language of my home and heart.

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

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