Harry Potter in Portuguese!25 Oct 2014, Posted by Learning Portuguese in
Just 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.