Learning a new language is harder than it seems. I’m just putting the concept out there to make sure that anyone who wants to study abroad realizes what a study abroad really entails. Having been a heritage speaker of portuguese, I thought that it would be simpler to obtain skills in formal portuguese, but there is still a great deal to learn. Most students don’t seem to thrive in grammar classes and when those classes are taught in another language, another hurdle appears.
All of this isn’t to say that learning the nuances of a new language isn’t incredibly rewarding but it is also something that you have to completely throw yourself into. Study abroads are the best way to almost completely immerse yourself in a foreign language but they are also the hardest to get through. Luckily, my study abroad classes are only students from the United States, so I get to happily interact with people that share my native language; not everyone has this privilege.
I see the sweat dripping down some student’s faces as they carefully craft their sentences in whatever way makes the most sense to them. Because spoken portuguese is something that I have practiced my whole life, I have less trouble in conversation. Written portuguese seems to be a whole nother beast though. In Brazil, people tend to converse in a very informal version of the language that completely defies many rules of the language. So as a result, most of the portuguese that I learned has to be retaught with the proper forms of speech.
I thought that I was the only one struggling in my advanced class but soon I noticed people typing into google translate and I was slightly comforted. As we discuss the material we start to ask ourselves, “what does _____ even mean?” and I feel like the camaraderie that we seem to be building makes me feel better about the difficulty of learning a language. I wanted to include an image of a few classmates studying because we seem to be doing a lot of that these days.