Minicourse in Berlin teaches “survival issues” in Portuguese

Animations and games that require the use of Portuguese are some of the solutions to promote the Portuguese language at the language fair in Berlin, an initiative of the Portuguese Embassy.

Professor Raquel Miranda-Kliem shoots a coloured ball. Whoever picks it up should answer a question in Portuguese.

The first to catch the ball responds with little effort: “My name is Thomas.” He is close to sixty and willing to learn more and better Portuguese, after having visited the cities of Coimbra and Lisbon.

In the front row is the Polish Andrej Poljak. He came from Warsaw to Expolingua, the fair of languages and cultures of Berlin, which celebrates this year the 31st edition.

“I like foreign languages, learning new languages is my hobby. But Portuguese from Portugal is very difficult, I have a hard time understanding it”, confesses the Polish who claims to speak more than a dozen languages.

Raquel Miranda-Kliem, a teacher and employee of Instituto Camões, works in the dissemination of the language, in the city of Berlin. It organizes the mini-course of Portuguese, with a duration of 45 minutes, five years ago. Today has a full room.

“In the first year, I began to present the verbs ‘ser’ and ‘ter’, so that each person could introduce himself/herself. Later I realized that many already know some Portuguese, so I could move on to another level on questions that they would put if they travelled to Portugal as tourists, for example, in a restaurant, in the doctor, in the hotel “, the teacher exemplifies.

They are “survival issues,” adds Raquel Miranda-Kliem.

“Ask a hotel if we have a reserved room. When we arrive at a café, know how to order a cream cake, a latte, a Berlin ball. how can we complain about a tummy ache, for example, knowing how to ask where a museum is, or a pharmacy, “explains the Portuguese teacher.

The mini-course held at Expolingua, which runs this Friday and Saturday in Berlin, has a varied audience, from high school students to curious who have visited Portugal and Brazil and know some Portuguese. Over the years, the teacher of the Camões Institute guarantees that the interest “has increased”.

At the back of the room, a group of students from a school in Brandenburg are following the lesson carefully and answering the questions, sometimes timidly, sometimes with laughter. They follow the teacher’s phrases through an orange paper distributed at the entrance, where there is, for example, a photograph of a Berlin ball.

“Questions arise about the pronunciation, such as ‘orange’ or ‘I wanted’ or ‘rice’,” says Raquel Miranda-Kliem, accompanied by Gustavo Gomes, a Portuguese teacher, a Brazilian variant at the University of Heidelberg.

“I will complement and explain some of the peculiarities of Brazilian Portuguese, especially with regard to some phonetic aspects, pronunciation and possibly syntax or lexicon, that is, in the choice of words,” says Gustavo Gomes, stressing that the mini-course is “very engaging”.

“I note that there are more students looking for basic levels of Portuguese, but there are fewer who deepen their knowledge and move to more advanced levels,” says the professor at the University of Heidelberg, stressing that the Erasmus program has “helped a lot to promote the Portuguese language”.

According to figures advanced by Instituto Camões, the number of students enrolled in Portuguese classes, from the government’s initiative, remained stable. In both 2017 and 2018, 2800 students enrolled in Portuguese courses in Germany.

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