Learning to Speak a Foreign Language

Categories: Brazil

One day, I was with a friend of mine in Brazil and he asked, “How does it feel to be fluent in Portuguese?” I was a little surprised because I know that I will never will be fluent. I purchased my apartment in Rio de Janeiro in May 2003, and I decided that if I were to enjoy this beautiful city, I would need to learn the language. I was 44 years old at the time, and I think it is fair to say that it is close to impossible for someone of 44 years of age to become fluent. At this point, I would say that I am conversational. I can carry on detailed conversations on almost any subject. But when I talk to Brazilians and probably a lot of Americans too, they know that I am not fluent.

When I began to study, I did two things. First, I purchased the paper every day, and I read the paper. In the beginning it was slow going. Every word that I did not know, I would write down and look it up in the dictionary. Second, I began to watch television. The most popular shows in Brazil are called novelas and I would record them, and watch them once I woke up in the morning. That was extremely difficult but if you persevere, slowly but truly was drilled into my head.

I did this for a little over two years until I met Solange. I was blessed because my wife had an excellent command of the Portuguese. After I met her, my Portuguese improved by leaps and bounds.

Here are some of the lessons of learning a new language.

1. It is hard. There are no short cuts and in the beginning you feel like you will never get there.

2. Don’t be embarrassed. I believe part of the key is to not be embarrassed when you talk incorrectly or do or say something silly because of misunderstanding. It is from these mistakes that improve your skill. I believe that the reason that all children can learn a language and are fluent is because they do not have this fear. Part of learning is overcoming this fear.

3. Lower your expectations. You have to believe that you will never speak as well as all those people around you. But that’s OK, because they will appreciate the trouble you took to learn their language. OK. That is not entirely true. Some people are kind of snobby.

A lot of people look back and wish they had learned a new language. It is a nice accomplishment and I do believe it opens your mind to be able to communicate in a different way with a different set of people.

Lagoa Bonita (3/4 Photo Sets)

Categories: Brazil, Photos, Slide Show, Travel

Our favorite trip from the hotel was to Lagoa Bonita. This tour was not as popular as Lagoa Azul and for that one reason, we were the only people at this site. There were seven of us in total. The four in my family, two men that drove their motorcycles from São Paulo (10 days on the road), and the tour guide. The views were more stunning than Lagoa Azul, and the only downside is that Lagoa Bonita is a little further from the hotel. This is offset by the fact that we didn’t lose as much time collecting the other riders and waiting for them. The kids had an awesome time. I am really surprised at how few children we saw because it is a great place for kids.

Solange Lencois Maranheses Shoot (2/4 Photo Sets)

Categories: Brazil, Photos, Slide Show, Travel

The setting for this photo shoot is Lagoa Bonita. Amazingly enough, the view here was even more stunning than Lagoa Azul and we were the only tourists there. We essentially had the entire area to ourselves to swim, jump on the dunes and of course take pictures.

It was an amazingly sunny day and I decided to do a photo set just of my beautiful wife. Continue reading “Solange Lencois Maranheses Shoot (2/4 Photo Sets)”

Lagoa Azul (1/4 Photo Sets)

Categories: Brazil, Photos, Slide Show, Travel

This will be the first of four photo sets from a marvelous vacation that we took in Brazil. The place is called Lençóis Maranheses, and it is perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It is one of the candidates for the seven natural wonders of the world.

Lençóis Maranheses is far from the beaten of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. From Rio, it is a 3.5 hour plane ride north to a small airport called São Luis. From there, we rented a car and drove for 4 hours east to reach our hotel.

Our first trip was roughly a 45 minute dune buggy ride from the hotel, crossing the mighty Rio Preguiça. Lagoa Azul is the most popular trip and there were perhaps about 12 buggies that took the trip with us. The sites were stunning and perhaps because it is so far from the rest of the world, Teddy and Jesse were the only kids on these trips. They had a great time and we took a lot of photos.