After you get your assignment, it’s often time to learn a new language. In my case, that means 24 weeks of Brazilian Portuguese.
Coming in with Japanese, I was both a little concerned and cautiously optimistic about this process. Portuguese is supposedly much easier than Japanese, but it’s not a romance language, so the grammar will be completely new to me. I won’t have the step up that French, Italian, and Spanish speakers have.
So how does it go? Well, we spend 5 hours a day in classes of no more than 4 people with a native speaker as the teacher. And we spend an hour in the language lab. Outside of class we’re expected to study as well, at least two hours a day, to make up the 8 hours a day. Many people spend much more time. A few language savants can get by with less.
Does it work? Conditionally, yes. FSI prides itself on having some of the best language programs in the world, and it does get results. But that’s a bit of a chicken and an egg problem, right? Do they get results because their programs are exceptional, or because they select highly motivated people and then tell us we could lose our jobs if we don’t learn a language? Let’s just say, I’m pretty committed to excelling at Portuguese.
One cool option they offer is language immersion! That means that next week, for two weeks, I’ll be studying in Salvador, Bahia! I’ll be staying with a host family, and getting a chance to live in Portuguese, which will hopefully provide a big boost to my capacities! It’s also a great half-way point!
Ahh! As I wrote that I realized how true it is. I’m halfway done with my Portuguese training, which means that my departure date is really creeping up on me! I’ll tell you more about what that means for my life later.
(Above: a view from my classroom window)