I wrapped up my five-week Portuguese learning project last night with my final video.
My goal for this project was to reach level B1 of the CEFR in five weeks. While reaching for that level in such a short period might usually be a tough task for someone with a monolingual English-speaking family and a full-time day job, I felt confident I could reach my goal because of the similarity with Spanish, which I already speak fluently.
Experiments with shortcuts in related languages
In fact, part of my reasoning was to experiment on how the learning process is affected when you already speak a closely related language. There are numerous resources online that give an idea for how long it should take an English speaker to learn a language, depending on the similarities and differences, the “difficulty” of the language.
Spanish and Portuguese are both listed in the “Level 1” languages – the easiest class of languages for an English speaker to learn. Still, some estimates say it should take upwards of 600 class hours to learn these languages. I wanted to know how long it would take for a Spanish speaker to learn the closely related Portuguese.
We don’t really have a similarly closely related language in English. Because of the huge influence of French after the Norman Conquest of Britain and the dramatic grammatical shifts that occurred in Old and Middle English, the similarities of English to its Germanic cousins aren’t nearly as transparent as in the case of Spanish and Portuguese. True there is Scots, but it’s not very widely used or even well known outside of Scotland. In contrast, Spanish and Portuguese are both well known and widely spoken. In fact, both of these languages have more speakers outside of their countries of origin than inside.
Where I’m at
As I mention in the video, I feel comfortable using the language at a B1 level now. In fact, with the right preparation beforehand, I can sometimes even function at a B2 level. Still, for the most part I’d confidently say I’ve reached B1 level.
Going forward, while I won’t be putting special focus on Portuguese for now, I’ll continue to use the language and maintain it, and maybe even improve it, albeit probably much more slowly than during the last several weeks.
I’ll also be getting ready for my next project. What will it be? Stay tuned!