Definitions of key terms found in my Portuguese reviews

As I write reviews of Portuguese language lessons and courses, I find myself using words that don’t necessarily make sense outside of a language learning context. To help you understand some of those words, I’ve compiled a short glossary. When you run into the words below in my reviews, I have a specific definition in mind.

Much of the list reflects “easier” or more “basic” language-learning lingo. Whenever you’re ever confused by my choice of words, sneak a peek at my definition below.

If you stumbled on this page in search of assistance on how to learn Portuguese, I recommend starting with parts of speech and affixes). Also includes sentence structure (word order and the use of parts of speech in sentences).

immersion (immersive): used to express the sense of “direct” contact with the target language, usually indicating an emphasis on exposure to a language rather than explanations of how a language works.

intermediate: for a learner with strong command of writing, still struggling with faster speech (listening comprehension) and tricky points of grammar. Understands all Portuguese parts of speech, but few of the finer details. Can handle a wide variety of conversation topics.

learner (student): anyone who is learning Portuguese, including me and, I assume, you. More specific to this site, learners are people trying to track down useful materials that will help them speak Portuguese.

lesson: presents a way of learning Portuguese unit by unit, with each unit building on the last. Most lesson courses follow a traditional layout.

mastery (to master, to conquer): as a student, when you’re at the point that you can use a certain language function without hesitating or consulting another source.

method (approach): way of teaching you Portuguese, usually because someone thinks it’s a unique way or the best way to learn the language.

multimedia: a mix of audio (like recorded speech), visual (images and video) and traditional components.

organization (layout): the order of learning topics, entries & content, and design choices, especially in a lesson.

pacing: how a student is led through a lesson, including the amount of material covered, how consistent the lessons are, and how (and how well) the material is divided up – chapters, units, sections; days, weeks, months, etc.

phrasebook (phrase book): a selection of Portuguese vocabulary words and phrases along with their English translations, often with pronunciation cues. Phrasebooks aimed at helping you cope with the absolute basics of potentially difficult or serious situations are sometimes called “survival phrasebooks”.

program (course): a specific language learning product along with the intended use of that product.

pronunciation: how to speak the sounds of Portuguese aloud, without attention to meaning or grammar (linguists call this phonology).

source language: the language of the learner, or “native” language. When translating, the language translated from.

student: see learner.

target language: the language being learned, or “foreign” language. In translation, the language translated into.

traditional: common lesson book format. Each unit or chapter has at least one dialogue, vocabulary list(s), explanations of grammar and writing. Often emphasizes the written language.

transliteration (to transliterate): way of representing Portuguese pronunciation in written form, often with a simplified set of English sound-alike syllables (like EH-luh for the word ‘ela’). Advanced teachers and linguists prefer IPA. Transliterations in beginner materials are sometimes praised as a stepping stone or criticized as a crutch.

vocabulary: individual words and their meanings, usually focusing on content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives), especially when presented outside of a context involving exposure, like a vocabulary list.

written language: here it specifically deals with learning to read and spell Portuguese words as a standard native speaker would.

2 Responses to “Definitions of key terms found in my Portuguese reviews”

  1. nativlang says:

    Btw, that last link is a tool that lets you type special characters (like accent marks and cedilhas) if your computer doesn’t allow it. In Windows, you can also change your keyboard settings to US-International or Portuguese-Brazil/Pt-Europe if you find yourself typing a lot of Portuguese.

  2. Serge says:

    You also might have been interesting in online portuguese transliteration:

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