I think we’ve all suffered at the hands of lackadaisical teachers; ones who seem to only care about calling the roll and then letting students do as they please.
Conversely, we’ve all most likely had experience with a micromanaging teacher; one who breathes down students’ necks to make sure no lesson time is wasted.
Either of those pedagogies may have gotten the job done – don’t we remember especially those teachers who made our class time uncomfortable?
However, modern educational science supports the idea of teachers being ready for their charges, and being in charge at all times, with no discomfiting tactics allowed.
What about you? How will you get ready to teach your Portuguese language classes?
Whatever your methodology, let your Superprof give you a hand in planning your language course and imparting vocabulary in such a way that your students thrive and learn under your guidance.
What Will You Teach?
Besides the obvious – you will teach Portuguese, of course!, this question has several ramifications, not the least of which would be which style of this Romance language will you teach?
As you well know, European Portuguese is to Brazilian Portuguese as British English is to American English.
True, one can understand the other, but there is a whole spectrum of nuance that might get lost between the two variations.
Also, the vocabulary, while similar, has a different tone and pitch, and some expressions, the same in either language, mean different things!
Thus it would be a good idea to determine at the outset of your teaching venture which style of Portuguese you will teach.
If you are conversant in both, then, by all means, advertise that you are capable of both – but establish different classes for each!
The next question would be: what level(s) will you teach? Are you a qualified teacher of Portuguese?
If you are only just mastering the language of Lisbon yourself, you may teach anyone who is below your level of foreign language learning, maybe to beginners.
If Portuguese is your second language – you are considered bilingual, you have more possibilities in teaching others this lovely tongue.
You may teach:
you may also consider language lessons exclusively for children
Intermediate Portuguese or Advanced language skills
Conversational Portuguese – this would be a great choice to learn the language before a holiday in Lisbon or Rio!
Naturally, if you are a native speaker of Portuguese, you may teach any or all of these types of lessons too, but native speakers should heed an extra word of caution.
It is sometimes difficult for native speakers of a language to grasp that their students do not understand language concepts that they themselves have long internalised.
The concept is called Sprachgefühl, a German word meaning ‘the feeling of the language’.
It is true that any language’s native speakers give little thought as to why their grammar and vocabulary works as it does.
Go ahead, put it to the test: ask any native English speaker why ‘would’ is pronounced ‘wood’ instead of phonetically – ‘woe-oo-l-d’?
So, if Portuguese is your native language, you may have to slow your natural inclination toward rapid-fire Portuguese speaking down, and give a thought on how you will explain how to speak difficult words.
Furthermore, you should take extra time going over verb conjugation, especially for irregular verbs!
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What Materials Will You Use in Your Portuguese Courses?
Here again, we recall those teachers whose over-reliance on textbooks left us vaguely hungry for better answers.
Have you ever heard a teacher say: “Read your book! The answer is in there!”?
Although there is nothing wrong with teachers insisting that their students make use of any phrase book selected for them, there is something so painful about a teacher with so little spontaneity that a question will throw the entire lesson off track.
Thus it would behove you to not only choose your teaching materials well but to know them inside and out.
Textbooks: do you have a few titles in mind?
They should work as a tool to study, but not be the entire lesson. Otherwise, your students would soon get bored, reasoning that they don’t need any language classes if reading a book will give them the knowledge they seek.
Language courses should generally be interactive and have a good balance of active and passive skills exercise.
Except for Conversational Portuguese classes, where the focus would be on listening and speaking skills, all other classes should be fairly evenly divided between reading and writing, listening and, of course, provide ample time for students to speak.
Besides textbooks and worksheets, you may consider other classroom tools such as flashcards, posters and, if your teaching space is equipped with a computer and projector, you might design some Powerpoint presentations.
Using Media in Your Portuguese Classes
Generally speaking, it is not people under duress who undertake to learn a language. Most often, people seek to diversify their linguistic ability out of sheer desire.
Thus it is a good idea that you, their instructor, to make the class as engaging, lively and fun as you can. One way to do so is to play Portuguese music – perhaps at the start of class, or you could build an entire lesson around music!
Language and culture are intrinsic to each other. Therefore, as a Portuguese teacher, you must bring Portuguese culture to your students at every opportunity.
You might build an entire class around the concept of Fado, for example, culminating in students penning their own Fado lyrics to share with the class.
Most emotive song wins!
You may incorporate Portuguese movies into your curriculum. What a great way for your students to enjoy a slice of Portuguese culture all while being exposed to native speakers’ dialogue!
What facilities can accommodate the noise and excitement of this type of Portuguese teaching methods?
Naturally, you cannot simply show films every class, nor can you let everyone dance around and play music all of the time.
You have to budget your lesson time carefully in order to meet learning goals.
How to Build a Lesson Plan for Every Portuguese Class You Teach
A lesson plan is a teacher’s guide to each and every teaching session; one s/he drafts him/herself.
Far from being static, a lesson plan should be a dynamic document, flexible in every way.
That sounds rather counterintuitive – planning a lesson whose plan might change at any second, but every experienced language teacher will tell you that rigidity has no place in the classroom!
Your basic lesson plan template comes with a header, which should include information such as: how many students for that lesson, what level Portuguese are they learning, what the topic of the lesson is and what teacher and student expectations are.
There may also be a segment allotted to expected difficulties and how you might overcome them.
The greater part of your lesson plan should be devoted to a minute by minute breakdown of classroom activities.
Let’s say your lesson is scheduled to last 50 minutes; here is how to give a complete lesson in Portuguese in that time.
For the first five minutes of class, you may engage in an icebreaker – a conversational activity designed to put your students at ease.
A few rounds of ‘I spy’ would be effective if you have been studying colours: “I spy, with my little eye, something red!” (spoken in Portuguese, of course!) and all the students should call out red objects, using only Portuguese words, until the correct one is guessed.
The next portion of your lesson plan should indicate study time. This is the time that you would talk the most, imparting new language. This ‘study’ action may take up to 15 minutes but no more than 20.
Once you’ve given your students that dose of new information – shown a film segment perhaps, or shared a song, it is time for them to get busy. There may be writing involved, either in groups, pairs or individually, after which they will do the talking.
You may plan on 7-10 minutes for the writing portion, depending on the assignment given.
So far, you have spent more than half your class time.
For the next 15 minutes, it is your students’ turn: they will demonstrate their proficiency with the new knowledge when they speak Portuguese, incorporating the language instruction you have just imparted.
You get to hang back. Listen, smile, nod... correct mistakes?
A word of advice: unless a mistake is severe and recurring – maybe someone consistently using phrases or verb tenses incorrectly, it would be best to not step in when an error is made, lest you dam the inspiration, confidence and competence.
Unless it is a fantastically glaring mistake, you can safely wait till the last few minutes of class time to communicate those corrections.
Besides possibly correcting any mistakes of Portuguese pronunciation or conversation, the last 5 minutes of the class should be dedicated to wrapping up this lesson with a teaser of the next one.
A good wrap-up would be a word game, using just-learned vocabulary, or maybe serial conjugation: each student takes a pronoun until everyone has had a chance to shout out a verb ending.
And then, it’s a cheerful ‘vemo-nos a próxima aula!’ as your students file out the door.
Being well-prepared, knowing what you want to include in your curriculum – textbooks, films, podcasts and the like...
If you have your activities well balanced and ways to ensure comprehension, you may confidently step in front of the class and give your students their best learning experience ever.
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