Portuguese For Dummies, by Karen Keller

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“Six outta ten!”
straightforward, relaxed presentation; good fluent real-life phrases; audio CD with dialogs; price
lots of notes and silly explanations may distract some learners; Brazilian only (a con for European learners); some mistakes in text; odd phonetic approximations/pronunciation key may distract others (including me)

The For Dummies series faithfully showcases its wit and informality in this entry, and it does so while presenting us learners with relevant examples and believable snippets of realistic Brazilian Portuguese.

Each lesson revolves around a topic (like going to the beach), and grammar and vocabulary are presented somewhat haphazardly throughout the course. The book maintains a conversational focus.

The author takes up a lot more of the text than expected with facts and notes about culture, travel, geography and other concerns about Brazil. Suggestions for further study, 10 favorite phrases to impress your Brazilian friends (kind of salt and pepper for your speech), exercise answers and a good index end the book.

The CD reads off dialogs, conversations and phrases, and is best used when the book indicates. In other words, the audio is secondary in this course, which may hamper students looking to really polish their conversational skills.

While I applaud the attempt at more realistic Brazilian conversation, the book has its fair share of errors in spelling, grammar and some expressions. Certain teachers believe that mistakes can cost learners dearly in the beginning, so go in prepared.

All in all, it’s a good introduction if you’re looking to learn Brazilian Portuguese. You’ll need further exposure or at least other study material to get deeper into pronunciation, grammar, or more advanced speaking situations.

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