Making the most of online Brazilian Portuguese lessons

online Brazilian Portuguese lessonsImagine that you want to start studying Portuguese or you already speak some Portuguese and want to advance in the language.

You are a bit lost. You thought about starting with Duolingo for the basics, then look for an online teacher. But you could also follow some YouTube channels, or buy a grammar book, or find a language exchange partner, or… the options are endless with the Internet!

If you decide to follow an online course with a teacher, here’s a guide to making the most of your online Brazilian Portuguese lessons!

Maybe you want to start your course right away, but it’s better to follow the steps below and start something planned instead of just rush.

First things first: the schedule and the price

*Make sure you have a good, stable Internet connection!

I wouldn’t bother to read about a teacher if the time he or she works is not good for me or if I can’t pay the price. First, decide the time you want to study and check the teacher’s schedule. If you are on vacation and it’s OK to study at any time, will the teacher’s schedule be OK when you return to work? Will it work if you have to wake up at 5 a.m. to have a lesson? Does the teacher offer weekend lessons if you want/need to study on the weekends?

The teacher offers a test lesson for free or at a discounted price, great! But will you be willing to pay the full price for regular classes? If the teacher is in a different country than you, will the payment be possible to make – I mean in technical terms: there are some places in the world that international payment is impossible or very expensive.

The schedule and price of the teacher are good for you, now it’s important to read about the teacher carefully:

  • style and personality (the teacher presents everything in a fun way, but you want it to be very serious)
  • background and specialization
  • his or her course rules (cancellation politics, payment dates, rescheduling, etc)
  • feedback from other students

Then, just after you checked all the info you can go ahead and message the teacher to schedule a test lesson!

The test lesson

Also called trial or demo class, and it’s normally a shorter lesson for free or at a discounted price to see if you want to continue with the course, if the teacher can help you with what you need, and “se o santo bate” (if you hit it off)!

Why is it important for you as a student?

During the test lesson, you’ll see if you like the style of the teacher and if you feel you can work with the teacher for a long time. Because let’s face it: you’re about to begin a course that will last some time (if you are serious about it), and it’s not productive and motivational if you have to look for a new teacher from time to time.

If you haven’t exchanged messages with the teacher before the test lesson, write down:

  • what you want to ask about the course or the teacher
  • your objectives with Brazilian Portuguese
  • the time you’ll have to dedicate to Portuguese
  • what you like to do/is efficient for you when you learn a language (if you have experience)
  • what kind of advice you want to ask for

When a student schedules a trial lesson with me I like to contact him or her before the lesson to get to know the person a little and prepare for the test lesson: I set up and share a Google document with a written test and some useful links to help the student with Portuguese.

It’s also good to know if the teacher can work with what you need if your needs are very specific. For example, I’ve had students who worked in the international trade field and it was OK for me because I also have experience in this field.

During the test lesson, ask the teacher everything considered important for you as a student and everything that will help you decide after the lesson.

After the test lesson, you have to evaluate if you enjoyed it, if you felt good with the teacher, if you think you can benefit from the lessons, if the teacher can help you if you have specific needs. You have to make a decision!

In my test lessons, if you speak some Portuguese we’ll talk only in the language so I’ll see what you know, your pronunciation, what needs to be reinforced, and how we’ll continue with the course. For example: if your level is B1, but you confuse a few irregular verbs, we won’t go back to A1, but practice these verbs in context.

Online Brazilian Portuguese lessons

I started teaching online in 2010 – out of curiosity, but in 2012 online teaching became my full-time job. Things changed so much during these years, there weren’t many teachers, students, or resources for online teaching back then. I learned a lot about online teaching, sites, apps these years and here is how I work nowadays:

  • Google Meet or Skype for video calls, but also other programs if the student needs to (for example, WeChat for students in China)
  • Google Docs for lesson notes and homework
  • Google Drive for material
  • Links in general

Before the lesson

Try to stop 5-10 minutes before the lesson. Listen to some Brazilian songs you like or review your past lesson. Write down questions you may want to ask the teacher.

During the lesson

This is the time to try and speak, to make mistakes, to ask your questions, practice pronunciation, repeat the same word or sentence many times, participate, take notes, be interested, and proactive. You’re paying for this time with the teacher, make the most of it!

If there are specific themes or grammar points you want to practice during the lesson, let the teacher know.

After the lesson

Study and review! And it’s better not to wait several days. Recently I’ve seen this Wikipedia entry about the forgetting curve. Basically, it’s better to review in the first 24 hours after you’ve learned something new. It’s the same idea as spaced repetition apps like Anki or Memrise use.

Remember that the responsibility to learn is yours, not the teacher’s! The teacher is there to guide you, help with pronunciation, ask questions and listen to your answers, correct, give feedback. But you’re responsible for learning!

  • Make your Portuguese study a habit, try to take lessons and to study on the same day and time every week. Prepare your brain for that.
  • Remember, sometimes you’ll learn and understand easily, sometimes you’ll need to make more effort to master a certain structure or pronunciation. It’s all normal and part of the path.
  • There will be occasions when you’ll be tired and demotivated, then try to remember why you are learning Portuguese. It may also be the case to take a couple of weeks’ break.
  • In this blog post, there are some ideas on what to do if you are trying to keep up with your Portuguese, but you are too busy.
  • And here you can find 43 ideas to immerse yourself in Portuguese without travelling to Brazil!

What are your thoughts on online lessons? Have you tried them before? Let me know, let’s talk about it!

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