October 23

goal setting in portuguese

So much for being more active again. Recovery of the surgery is slow and I’m still in a sling all day and night and dressing myself still is the worst torture known to mankind. I’m also almost always within reach of the ice machine, and no, not the kind that gives ice cubes for the cocktails, the medical one that constantly pumps ice cold water.

But enough whining. I have been keeping up with Portuguese and I still really do enjoy it. Sure I have to push myself to get the homework done or even to do the Skype lessons, but after I’m done I always feel really excited about it. A few weeks ago I set myself the goal of reading a book in Portuguese and while the front runner is still Ensaio sobre a cegueira, meaning Essay on Blindness by  José Saramago, I figured I start with something a bit easier. I got Ayrton by Ernesto Rodrigues on my iPad. I much prefer an actual book but you can’t beat the dictionary on an iPad. I figured the book is very fitting and I am actually interested in reading it which is really what matters.
I remember picking up Memorias de Idhún early in my Spanish days. We read the second Harry Potter book in English class, so I figured something like that would work for Spanish too. But I just could not get myself to care about any of it and had to force myself to slave through another page. I really should have known, because I never cared for Harry Potter either.

Anyways, back to the book, reading it is one of my goals and surprisingly enough I can actually read whole pages without a dictionary. I may not get every word, but I do understand the meaning. So now I figure that maybe reading the book isn’t quite the right goal, because thanks to Spanish I can pretty much read it already, but I’m still pretty far from having a proper conversation.

So last week I attended a conversation class in Portuguese. I really had to force myself to go, because while I’m fine (-ish) to stutter around in a one on one situation, being in a group is a whole different story. It went well though and of course nobody laughed out loud at my feeble attempts to tell them about the Swiss tradition of Burning the Böög.
I do want to attend the class on a regular basis. It helps that there’s a pretty big range of levels. The group consists of 8 people and is very international, Mexican, Argentinian, South Korean, American, British, Swiss and even one proper Canadian. I got along really well with the native Spanish speakers and for the first time I really did completely confuse the languages after the class. During the class it was fine, all Portuguese and then after I had a quick chat with the Argentinian and then the teacher asked something in Portuguese and that was that. So switching from Portuguese to Spanish is fine, but back again isn’t going to happen any time soon. I also catch myself confusing pronunciation of both languages when I read out loud, but other than that, I can keep them straight in my head.

In other news I also did sign up for the Cambridge Proficiency Exam in early December. I think I am pretty well prepared and should be able to pass it. The writing is probably still the weakest, but I have time to write a few more essays and get them corrected. I’ve also learned that less is more. I tried to make them sound all smart and intelligent, but what they really want is simple. Especially the two texts that need to be summarized follow a very standard formula of ‘text one supports…’. Oh well, I shall do as they ask.