Hugo Language: Portuguese in Three Months by Maria Fernanda Allen

Score:
1 2 3 4 5 6 (7) 8 9 10
“Seven outta ten!”

Pros:
covers a lot of grammar; exposure to wide array of written Portuguese in ten lessons; good extra material; will have you reading large amount of Portuguese by the end; can be completed in three months if dedicated; lots of practice with the written language, including translation; audio cassettes help with pronunciation (Continental/European Portuguese dialect)

Cons:
expects a lot from beginning language students; tries to present Brazilian and European variants, but always favors European Portuguese; offers little learner-oriented guidance; long vocabulary lists to memorize; exercises are mainly translation drills without much variety; focus on grammar and vocabulary out of context is more rigid than a conversation-driven method


Hugo Language Courses’ Portuguese in Three Months promises that you’ll end up with a working knowledge of how to write and speak Portuguese after ninety days of hard work.

And the work is hard for beginners, unless you were fortunate enough to study another Romance language in the past. After the letter-by-letter guide to their “imitated pronunciation” system and a page of basic phrases to memorize, you’ll launch into ten lessons covering nearly every aspect of foundational Portuguese grammar. You will also be expected to keep up with numerous vocabulary lists (few too long, but quite a few without any context). You are expected to finish with the ability to read a story, a news article, an excerpt about Brazil and Portugal, and two letters.

Lessons are divided into numbered topics, most shorter than a page. Topics tend to revolve around grammar and language functions (like “the imperfect tense” or ” ‘if’ clauses”). Verb, pronoun, noun and article tables with bold endings and a handful of usage examples dominate these sections. Usage examples are Portuguese sentences demonstrating a particular grammar topic, accompanied by English translations.

Dialogues and readings stress repetition and exposure, while exercises emphasize translation. Apart from certain fill-in-the-blanks and questions to be answered in Portuguese, the exercises involve translating a list of sentences from English to Portuguese.

The book ends with reading selections, lists of Portuguese idioms and expressions, a good verb appendix with irregular verbs, answers to exercises, an English-Portuguese vocab glossary, and a very short index of language topics.

Portuguese in Three Months takes on a chunk of what meatier, more traditional grammar courses cover over a longer period of time. It builds up a language learning system of static exposure, memorization and practice, with only terse explanations to assist you. If you’re commited to working with this course, you certainly can master a good amount of Portuguese in a short time. But its rigidity will prove troublesome for less determined students (or those searching for more guidance). That’s especially true if you prefer a more contextualized conversational approach to learning Portuguese.

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