Português como terceira língua

Recently I learned the Brazillian Portuguese version of “Right?!” Needless to say I’m very excited about this. I think figuring out colloquialisms and slang really mark an understanding of language. Now that’s not to say that I have mastered Português. But being my own proffesora has really paid off. I simply write things down throughout the day that I don’t know how to say or come across in my daily life that I struggle with and then work on it about 5-10 minutes after the kids go to sleep each night. I even have verb conjugations taped to the wall. It’s been a ton more effective than the teacher we hired when we first came to Manaus.

Being in a foreign country and not speaking the language fluently has given me an interesting perspective on things. Coming from a teaching background has also tinged that perspective a little. After sitting through a welcome assembly at Luke’s school that was completely in Portuguese and not understanding a word of it, I can TOTALLY understand why people don’t try and/or give up. After those 4 hours of my life were wasted all I wanted to do was go home and curl up on the couch. I was exhausted and had gleaned NOTHING from the day.

The experience got me thinking about English language learning in the US. Why is that such an obstacle & why does it feel like many parents of students who have a different language as their primary idioma are not trying? It’s a matter of necessity for me to learn Portuguese here. Is it really imperative that immigrants in the US learn English? Should it be required? Are resources available and not being utilized or are they simply not there?

I believe that the language issue for those already in the US will solve itself in a matter of time because the younger people will learn English through exposure, but what about the constant influx of immigrants? Is southern California destined to become more Spanish speaking than English, for example?

How would you solve this problem?