TimTibbitts | Harry Potter in Portuguese!
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Harry Potter in Portuguese!

25 Oct 2014, Posted by Tim Tibbitts in Learning Portuguese

HARRY_POTTER_E_A_PEDRA_FILOSOFAL_audiobookJust finished Harry Potter 1–in Portuguese!  (Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal.)  It took me almost four months.  I’ll admit that–while my Portuguese is getting better all the time–knowing the story very well helped a great deal.  It would have taken me a lot longer to hack my way through if it were an unfamiliar text.

I’ve done this before with French.  I guess HP1 has become my touchstone when I’m learning a new language, a benchmark of a certain level of proficiency.  Some insights from the experience:

1.  Reading is a great way to continue to encounter new vocabulary and to lock in grammar learning, especially with tenses.  Written Portuguese uses a lot of subjunctive imperfect, and there’s no way I would have either picked it up as quickly or cared to do so had I just come across the lesson on that tense in the text book.

2.  Familiarity/prior knowledge makes a huge difference in understanding.  I tell this to my students all the time, but reading a very familiar novel in a new language really underscores this truth for me.

My next book is book is Homeland:  Como Tudu Começou, a Portuguese translation of a novelization/prequel to the TV series. Not great literature, but I think it’ll be a nice baby-step forward for me:  The plot isn’t one I’ve already read and watched, but the major characters and the context are familiar from having watched the show.

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