Portuguese Memory Book by Harrison and Welker

Score:
1 (2) 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
“Two outta ten!”
Pros:
many of the memory jingles are clever; does a decent job of highlighting English words and word-parts that simulate pronunciation of Rio Carioca dialect

Cons:
pronunciation is Brazilian only; long list of vocabulary; no context for vocabulary; awkward technique for memorizing 500+ Portuguese words; no pacing for getting through the list (just a long alphabetized word list); attempts to justify technique but not guide student through it; very little in the way of actual language skills to help you learn Portuguese


The Portuguese Memory Book is all about vocabulary. The book presents a list of Brazilian Portuguese words along with a rhyming two-line jingle to jog your memory of each word.

The introduction explains the book’s goal: to help you remember over 500 Portuguese words through a two-line memory device. How, exactly? And what device? You’re presented with a word like negar ‘to deny’. Then, there’s a couplet: “Nay, gardening is not enough, though few deny it keeps you tough.” The first bold letters remind you of the pronunciation, the second of the meaning. All 500+ entries work the same way.

After more than seventy pages of Portuguese vocabulary and jingles, you’re given a final examination full of the authors’ rhymes. Here, you’re given the English translation of a Portuguese word in bold, and you must find the word hidden in the English phrase. Unfortunately, this gimmick tests your understanind of their system more than your knowledge of Portuguese vocabulary and pronunciation.

At the end of the book, you’ll find a pronunciation guide with Portuguese letters beside English sound-alikes. A glossary lists all vocabulary words in the book, with a Portuguese to English translation of each.

If you already find yourself devising mnemonic jingles to remember your Portuguese vocab, Portuguese Memory Book has done 500 words worth of work for you. I can’t extend my recommendation any further, though. Once the novelty wears off, you’ll be better served practicing your Portuguese reading, writing and conversation with a good dictionary by your side. In the same amount of time, you’ll cover more vocabulary and ask less of your memory.

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