I teach English as a Foreign Language in northern Italy during the academic year, and during the summer I teach English for Academic Purposes at the universities in my hometown, Nottingham (UK). I am fascinated by languages and am currently trying to acquire two new ones – German and Swedish. I hope that eventually I will be able to use these two languages in my career.
Living, as I do, in a village tends to limit possibilities for attending language classes. So last year, when we finally managed to set up a broadband connection (long story!), I decided to investigate the possibilities of using the Internet to refresh my rusty knowledge of the languages I had studied and to acquire new ones. I started with a German course for beginners on the BBC website and a website called Leicht Deutsche Lernen, as well as Catalan and Spanish TV programmes. Then, one day I had the idea of trying to find a course in Portuguese for people like me who could already speak Spanish. That was the day I discovered Tá Falado (one of the resources offered on COERLL’s Brazilpod, a website of Portuguese language learning materials). I was an instant fan!
As I walk a lot during the summer, I downloaded the Tá Falado lessons onto my MP3 player and listened to them whilst walking. It was refreshing to find such knowledgeable people talking in a very friendly, unassuming and unpretentious way. From Tá Falado I went on to Conversa Brasileira. I found this project very useful, because the greatest difficulty for me with Portuguese is understanding native speakers chatting at natural speed. The videos also provide an invaluable insight into Brazilian culture, which is fascinating and also makes learning Portuguese more interesting.
Also being a writer of teaching materials for the English language for about ten years now, and being inspired by the projects of Brazilpod, I suppose it was only natural that I started to experiment with writing materials for students of Portuguese. I didn’t know how they’d turn out, but I thought if they were successful, and if I could help people get even more out of Brazilpod, that would be fantastic!
My role has changed considerably–before I was only a learner, and now I am also helping others to learn. However, I believe that there is always something new to learn, and writing these materials is giving me plenty of opportunities to do so.
Although I had published online before, I knew nothing about publishing content with an open license. I believe that publishing open materials encourages other people to learn, and as I am a teacher myself, I think this must be a good thing! Contributors have the opportunity to explore their creative side, and I personally have gained a whole new wealth of knowledge too.
Tá Falado and Conversa Brasileira can be accessed at http://coerll.utexas.edu/brazilpod/.