Listening Part II: Tips, Talks and TV

Here are some tips, talks and TV resources I have found useful.

Tips There is a comprehensive list of talks in a great blog I recently came across, Hacking Portuguese. The site’s author, Lauren, has excellent tips, links and resources. The link I give is to the listening advice. It is varied and helpful. They are also mostly Brazil-focused. This is something the author is very open about, but she occasionally provides Portugal-related links. As well as Portuguese-specific supports, she has great practical advice that is transferrable to learning any other language. I found her section on Portuguese for Spanish speakers very illuminating. Some of it I had already stumbled upon, but she has laid it out very clearly.

Talks One of the sites Hacking Portuguese mentions is TEDx Talks. I recently listened/read one and found it useful. One of my frustrations with a textbook I have for the DIPLE (the Portuguese exam I’m preparing for) is that the listening exercises lack a transcript. So, if I am studying by myself and don’t catch a word, there is no way of finding out what I missed. The TEDx Talks often have transcripts. Recently, I listened to this one by a maths teacher from Brazil, on failing. The transcript is beneath the video and highlights where you are. So, if you miss your place you can catch it again. This video had few graphics, which was just as well because it had subtitles in English that were very prominent. So, instead of watching the video, I read and listened to the speaker. Listening and reading helped me build vocabulary and work on my listening. There is also a TEDx Lisboa. Some of these have transcripts. For example, there is this illuminating one on being a Black woman in Lisbon that has a transcript and subtitles only in Portuguese. TED talks have their detractors, but as a language learning tool, they have distinct advantages. As well as the transcripts, they are varied in accent and pace, which is very helpful.

TV I recently downloaded the app for RTP, the Portuguese national TV and radio station. It is a curious thing trying to navigate TV stations when you don’t have a frame of reference for the channel. There is a degree to which parallels can be made to BBC1 and BBC2 or RTE1 and RTE2 with RTP1 and RTP2, but there are also programmes that are unfamiliar and ways that the Portuguese versions (cookery programmes, for example) have particularities that give an interesting insight. As ever, language learning is about embracing another’s culture(s). So far, I’ve only surfed some of the programmes and more attentively watched Sexta às 9, a news and current affairs programme. News is a good place to try and push language learning. There are always similar ‘global’ events and then local news that stretch comprehension. It is frequently presented in a pacy fashion. Watching news is an interesting insight into cultural nationalism (pace Benedict Anderson) and encourages you to think in terms of a comparative analysis with familiar modes of media presentation, a kind of Media 101.

Audio-visual material is useful. The images usually provide prompts for the content that should help in comprehension. I try and mix it up between different forms, resources, and locales. Also, active listening (see the link on Hacking Portuguese) is tiring. So, I try and do it regularly and not much more than the average 20 mins of a TED talk.

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