With an active Brazilian Cultural Institute situated in the Houston metropolitan area, the city is filled with Portuguese native speakers.
Not alone is it home to those that have derived from the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world (with a population of over 200 million); the city has also welcomed those native to Portugal since the late 1900s, and there are multiple forums and ex-pat pages such as Internations in which natives can connect.
For those that aren't native speakers, however, there are ample opportunities to learn.
From group-based lessons for varying age ranges, there are various community centers and language learning establishments offering courses for beginners, intermediaries, and those at an expertly level.
Although it isn't as prevalent as Spanish and Mandarin across schools in the States, it remains one of the world's most popular spoken languages. And cities across the country, including Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, are experiencing a notable rise in popularity amongst English speaking residents looking to gain fluency in the language.
So, why would you opt to learn Portuguese as opposed to another language?
Why Would You Learn Portuguese?
Well, Portuguese is recorded as the sixth most widely spoken language in the world.
From a business perspective, it is now more common that companies prefer their workforce to be fluent in more than one language, especially companies that conduct their business internationally.
Yet, despite the high volume of Portuguese speakers across the world, few people decide to learn the language; opting instead to learn English, Spanish, French & Mandarin.
In respect of the current economical climate, European and North American companies are conducting their business in Brazil, due to its increasing prominence in the global market.
It is also considered the language of the romantics. Often labeled as the world's most attractive language, a high concentration of those that opt to learn Portuguese do so for pleasure.
With a plethora of archaic literature and popular music spawning from both Portugal and Brazil, if you are a fan of music, this presents a formidable reason for those that are interested in the international art scenes.
Also, having a fundamental understanding of a 'secret' language can put you at a competitive advantage over others. As discussed earlier, Portuguese isn't usually the main 'go-to' for native English speakers, and this particular language skill can stand out on your resume.
If your ambitions are to become a multi-linguist, then Portuguese is what is considered a 'gateway language', acting as a foundation to better understand other Latin-derived languages such as Italian, French & Spanish.
With around 80% of vocabulary containing a similar derivation in Spanish & Portuguese, it is often recognized that those who speak these languages can still, to an extent, understand and converse with each other.
This is a great opportunity for language enthusiasts. And, if you are embarking upon cultural/international studies, having a strong understanding of the languages of the countries in which you study will ensure your understanding and appreciation of such learnings exist.
Finally, for all of the traveling enthusiasts, you have a number of places in the world to visit in which Portuguese is the mother language, and even a basic knowledge will help you adapt and appreciate the cultural experience.
Brazil is celebrated for its vastness of culture and beauty. From the Amazonian rainforests to the riveting nightlife of Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro during one of the world's largest and most recognized carnivals.
Learning the very basics will be appreciated by the locals, and this will allow you to interact more effectively with those that call Brazil or Portugal their home.
Tutor vs Teacher: Establishing The Differences
Teachers, typically, work with anything between 3-150 students per class!
If you are studying at either an undergraduate or postgraduate level, you are more likely to share your lecture halls with a higher volume of students, whereas group-based language learning classes usually hold anything between 5-25 students.
So, what's a tutor?
Well, tutors usually serve several purposes.
Either to compliment learning which is done so in structured education i.e. a language specialist who further supports a child after they finish school, or alternatively, they are used effectively as the main source for learning, and this is usually more common with adults.
Tutors tend to work on a one-to-one basis with their students and similarly, each holds potential benefits and downfalls.
Analyzing the Benefits
- Think of yourself as a socialite? Some students thrive in the learning environment whilst in the presence of others, and if this is you, it will most probably be beneficial for you to enroll in a group-based language course.
- Generate a network. The more individuals you study with, the more people you will meet with similar ambitions and goals. Meeting up for a coffee before class and revising together through the week's learning materials can be a motivational outlet for some.
- Structured learning, usually from a guided curriculum. Most language providers will follow a regimented system that reflects the student's proficiency level. For some, this offers clear guidelines and expectations that can help keep them up-to-date and organized with their learning.
- Provides the student with a tailored learning style. An experienced tutor will likely assess/identify how their student best endorses information. From this, they will tailor their approach to fit the needs of the individual.
- Allows focusing on problem areas. With a one-to-one educator, they will assess which areas the student requires the most help with. From this assessment, they will plan future learning sessions in alignment with the students 'weakest' areas.
- Poses more opportunity for questioning. The student is in a position to query learning principles, and in doing so, will be answered straight away, preventing potential confusion during the learning process.
Analyzing the Pitfalls
- It doesn't take into account a student's pace of learning. Naturally, we are all unique. And in being so, we learn in different ways at varying speeds. If there was a particular learning concept you struggled to understand, the teacher may not wait until moving on with a new concept.
- Less opportunity for questioning. If you are in a classroom with 30+ students, you may become a burden on the others that are learning if your hand is raised every minute. This would interrupt the flow of the lesson and therefore some queries may not be answered.
- Hiring a tutor can be expensive. Although educators do offer varying hourly rates depending on their experience level, those at the very high end of the profession may charge up to $100 per hour for their services.
- The student/tutors' schedules must align. If there isn't a set day/time period of which lessons occur, sometimes the lessons may become inconsistent in regards to time. It is imperative that both tutor and student identify a set period of time each week/fortnight in which the lessons will take place.
Portuguese Tutors in Houston
Fortunately for Houstonians, there are a wealth of language tutors specializing in the learning of Portuguese
A quick search on the Superprof website will present several tutors within different areas of the city that are currently available to take on new students.
Ranging from $22-35 per hour, each tutor comes with varying levels of experience and educational backgrounds.
Firstly, it is important to identify if the tutors are willing to travel to conduct their lessons, and establishing the distance between where they live helps to establish if the commuting times are manageable.
Every tutor currently on the platform offers their first lesson for free which is a great way to help the student understanding if the tutor is a good fit.
They can be reached directly through the website, and their usual response times are highlighted on their profiles to help you understand how long it will take for them to respond to your request.
With the development of technology and high-speed internet, more tutors are now offering the chance for lessons to be conducted online. Although there are benefits to this i.e. neither student nor tutor needn't step out from their home; there are also some potential pitfalls.
Firstly, connection issues can often exist which can diminish the overall fluency of the lesson.
Furthermore, students have been noted saying it can feel less personal, and without the physical presence of the tutor, there is more potential for distraction.
It is advised that students trial as many tutors as possible. This helps to identify which is the best fit for your situation, whilst also establishing which educator has the skills and credentials that are most reflective of your language learning goals.