I started a Portuguese class this morning.
I know, I know. On paper, it seems like a strange idea. Let’s look at a few facts:
1. The class is at 8 AM. That’s normally enough to activate my Sitzveto in and of itself, but to top it off, it’s at 8 AM on a Saturday.
2. I already speak German and Spanish, and I can speak enough English to make a living based on that very ability. Plus I’ve already got a couple years of Swedish and about a year of Chinese under my belt. Instead of being crappy at yet another language, why not work on ironing out some of the kinks in those other ones first?
3. Did I mention it’s at 8 AM on a Saturday? I know this doesn’t seem like a bit deal to a lot of people, but I usually go to bed around 1:30 or 2:00. Factoring in the time needed to get ready, make coffee, and drive 20 minutes to class, this seriously cuts down on my sleep time.
And yet I started the class. So did Angela. I guess that solidarity with her is one of the motivating factors, but in the end it was probably all about the money, or lack thereof. Our boss is worried that he’ll not have a Portuguese teacher in the future, so he offered to let all five of us English teachers join the newly-started Portuguese class for free, in order to cover for the teacher in an emergency. Or, if after a year or two the teacher moves on, one of us could theoretically take her place.
That actually could happen, I suppose. Our teacher is a veterinarian from Brazil, but she’s teaching at the moment. As it turns out, though, she’s a very good teacher, but I guess she’s wanting to actually do what she spent years learning. Which is understandable. But since I already teach English and German classes at our language school, I don’t think I’d be first on the list to be given a Portuguese teaching job. But I guess you never know.
The class dynamic is a bit strange, too. There are normal students –about 7 teens and young adults– and then 5 teachers. It’s like I’m in 21 Jump Street or something, and I’m worried if one of us answers a question in class, the “real” students will mutter “Narc!” under their breath. In fact, two of the students are actually my former English students. Now I know how a crooked cop feels when he gets sent to jail and runs into all the cons he helped put in there. Except I’m not a crooked cop, and the two students in question were actually among my best students… so it’s an imperfect analogy. Sue me. It’s almost 2 AM and I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
In any case, the class was good, and my coffee worked to keep me awake for the three hours. I also did a short “Who Am I?” presentation on Stephen King. It’s pretty easy to understand Portuguese, especially Brazilian Portuguese, since it’s pretty close to Spanish in a lot of aspects. That’s reassuring, because when we went to Portugal two years ago, we had a very different experience. We could read and understand about 80% of what we saw, but the moment anyone actually spoke to us, our understanding dropped to about 5%. And that even goes for Angela, so I know it’s not because I’m not a native Spanish speaker. I guess there’s something about the Portuguese accent compared to the Brazilian that makes it harder for us to understand. I often think Brazilian Portuguese sounds a bit like a drunk person speaking Spanish, but Portuguese Portuguese sounds like Russian.
So, we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for reading–obrigado, and whatnot!
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