Author: Zach Parker

Portuguese Week 1 Update

I’ve been at my Portuguese project for a week now, and I’ve made a fair amount of progress. I want to stress that I’m not starting from scratch on this, as I have had some exposure to Brazilian Portuguese in the past, and am fluent in Spanish, so this video doesn’t represent where you should be after only a week of a new language. (On the other hand, if you are already much more proficient than I am at your language a mere week after starting from scratch, more power to you!)

For those not able to watch the video, I mention that, because Spanish and Portuguese are so similar in terms of vocabulary and grammar, I’m able to use Spanish as something of a crutch at this point. Any words I don’t know yet in Portuguese, I’m able to “fake” by pronouncing the Spanish with a bit of a Portuguese accent.

One thing many people notice when learning a language very similar to one they already speak is interference from their dominant language on their new, weaker one. I’ve noticed a little of that so far, for example, in the video at one point I use the Spanish va instead of the Portuguese vai.

Still, it’s a small price to pay in exchange for the head start that the Spanish gives me at this point in the game. It will be interesting to see what other interference shows up, especially as my Portuguese starts to develop to the point of standing on its own.

For anyone else for speaks Spanish and is interested in learning Portuguese, or vice versa, here are a few helpful articles on the subject, one from Wikipedia, and another from Fluent in 3 Months.

New Language Mission: Brazilian Portuguese!

brazil-flagIn honor of the 2014 Brazil Word Cup, I’m taking on a new language project: Brazilian Portuguese.

I spent two years living in Uruguay, right in Brazil’s shadow, so I’ve had a fair amount of exposure to Brazilian media, culture, and other influences. Still, it’s one thing to have tangential exposure to a linguistic community; it’s another thing altogether to jump right in and join them!

Brazil is a fascinating country and culture, and it’s quickly finding a respected place for itself in the world. As one of the BRIC Countries, it’s predicted to be the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050. And of course there is the current World Cup, and Summer Olympics coming up in 2016.

Like many, I’ve gotten especially caught up with all things Brazil with the start of the World Cup today. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, but now seems as good a time as any to start my new project – to see what kind of proficiency I can build up in the month from today (the start of the tournament) until July 13 (the final match).

This is kind of a unique mission, at least for me, because I’m not starting the language entirely from scratch. I’m fluent in Spanish, which is closely related to Portuguese; the vocabulary and grammar are very similar, so that gives me a big head start. Actually, one of the motivating factors in this project is learning about what kind of effect previously learned languages have when acquiring new, related languages. The advantages of already knowing Spanish are obvious, but what kind of disadvantages, if any, will I face?

To be honest, this is one of my first language projects that I’ve planned out to this extent. Most of my language learning has either been in a classroom setting, living for an extended period of time immersed in a foreign country, or on my own in a very unorganized, haphazard manner. I’m taking a page from the Benny Lewis playbook here, so I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but I’m shooting for B1 (conversational fluency).

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

World, meet Zach

beachguitarHi, I’m Zach, and I’m a linguoholic.

I’ve always been really into languages. Ok, obsessed is probably the note accurate word. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been fascinated by the way different people from all over the world went about their days, their entire lives, communicating using these strange sounds and incomprehensible words, and by the fact that you could actually “crack the code” and learn to understand and communicate with anyone on the planet by learning their language.

I would go to the library as a kid and check out all the books on the different languages. I learned Spanish as a teenager, then went off and spent two years immersed in the language and culture. I also took Arabic and Mandarin in college. Over the years I’ve dabbled in dozens of languages to one degree or another.

This blog is dedicated to language. I’ll document my language learning projects, as well as post tips and advice that will hopefully help you as you take on your own projects. I hope you enjoy!