Progress with Portuguese


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EVERY EXPATRIATE who has relocated to the Algarve has been through, or is currently going through, the task of learning Portuguese. When Sheila Watts’ book, Practical Portuguese was published in 2003, it was welcomed by those residents who initially saw the language as an intimidating prospect. Three years on and Sheila has gathered enough material for a second offering, Progress with Portuguese.

“It’s important to note that this is not a sequel” states Sheila, furthering that “anyone, who has a basic grounding in Portuguese, will be able to use and benefit from this book.”

Like its predecessor, Progress with Portuguese is intended for residents rather than tourists. Much of the content focuses on situations residents will encounter with Portuguese on a daily basis. Rather than moving onto more advanced techniques, Sheila describes her new book as more of a sideways progression, which will not only consolidate the material in the first book, Practical Portuguese, but give readers the opportunity to build on what they have already learnt.

The early chapters in the book revise some of the material presented in Practical Portuguese, clarifying the aspects of Portuguese that differ the most from the English language and, essentially, make it tick.

One new and interesting topic that is rarely dealt with in other textbooks is how to get to grips with using a Portuguese dictionary. Although it may seem a fairly obvious task, understanding the many meanings that one word can have is often a stumbling point for many learners, who can end up using a word in completely the wrong context.

Another helpful area the book deals with is medical matters. Resident’s often have to deal with difficult situations in Portuguese hospitals where it’s unlikely that you can rely on staff to be able to communicate in English. Sheila covers how to ask for basic necessities in hospitals, including explaining problems you may have, how you are feeling and anything you may need.

Progress with Portuguese also takes business activities into consideration offering first aid for telephone conversations. The book also helps readers cope with the practical requirements of living in Portugal, such as dealing with utility companies, maintenance or even the dreaded taxman.

It has always been Sheila’s intention to create a book in a chatty, light-hearted style, which is easy to understand and different to the traditional style of textbook. Sheila found that many students see traditional methods of teaching to be “very confusing, and ultimately this disheartens and discourages people from learning”, adding that “both these books focus on being easy to read and clear about their intentions.”

Sheila moved to the Algarve in 1987, after teaching Modern Languages to adults in the UK. She learnt Portuguese within her first few years of arrival, after being thrown into the intricacies of the language while running her property management business and having to overcome the practicalities of Algarvean life.

Once Sheila retired, she began teaching Portuguese and began writing her own material for the lessons, as the majority of available textbooks were not suitable for the adult residents she taught. It was these lesson plans that formed the basis for her first book, and it’s her ongoing experience in teaching that brought the most effective exercises for residents to get the grasp of the language to the fore.

The foundations of Progress with Portuguese came together from the ongoing feedback from her lessons since her first book. “The reaction from the first book has been very positive and I hope that Progress with Portuguese will be equally as successful,” said Sheila. Although she immensely enjoyed making her second book she has no plans, as of yet, to release a third publication.

Part of the profits from Progress with Portuguese will be donated to the Associação Oncológica do Algarve (AOA), the Algarve Cancer Association, who Sheila has supported during her time in the Algarve. Well-known watercolour artist, Ray Figg, has once again kindly provided the artwork for this book in support of Sheila and the AOA.

Progress with Portuguese will provide a great head start for those who believe they will have trouble getting to grips with the language. Although it would aid some to be able to refer to the first book, it is clear that Progress with Portuguese can stand on its own as a separate entity. Most importantly, Sheila’s advice to students is to “use what you know as much as possible. Once the confidence is instilled, even the most basic learner will be able to communicate effectively.”

Practical Portuguese and Progress with Portuguese provide people with the tools to learn, but ultimately it is up to the reader to utilise these tools in the most effective way possible. Sheila strives to make things as simple as possible for her readers, providing “maximum effectiveness with minimum effort”.

Progress with Portuguese will soon be hitting the shelves and will cost 10 euros. It will also be available  from The Resident office in the coming weeks.