Using Portuguese: A Guide to Contemporary Usage
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  • Using Portuguese: A Guide to Contemporary Usage
  • Ana Sofia Ganho & Timothy McGovern
  • Published by: Cambridge University Press
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2004

This book goes over the Brazilian and European varieties of the language and it helps students identify the differences between the two forms. The lessons in this book pay special attention to the grammar points that English speakers have the most difficulty with and it helps them retain and learn the information in an easy and efficient way.

Review posted: 16/01/2014
Have you used this book?

Portuguese is a language spoken by more than 200 million people on three different continents. As Brazil secures its position as an important international player, learning Portuguese is becoming more and more important. If you are planning on studying Portuguese, then Using Portuguese might be an interesting book for you.

The book takes a slightly different approach than most beginner language books. Rather than jumping right into a language lesson, the book starts with a lengthy introduction about the Portuguese language and its regional variations. After this, the chapters are based on grammatical or linguistic principles rather than subject topics. Instead of labeling chapters things like “at the beach”, “in the hotel”, and “family dinner” the book titles things like, “Written Expression”, “Vocabulary”, “Verbs”, and so on.

Each chapter gives thorough explanations of everything to ensure that the student has a complete understanding of the language. The goal of this book is not to teach you a few phrases; the goal is to provide the student with a more holistic comprehension of the language, its structure, usage, and history.

Each chapter is well organized and the subtopics are presented in the index, making it easy for you to find anything you need to learn about. Although the topics are easy to find and thoroughly explained, ironically Using Portuguese doesn’t really make it easy for a person to “use” Portuguese. It’s almost as if this book is more of a theoretical book than a practical book; it’s kind of strange since practicality usually trumps theory when it comes to usability.

"Although the topics are easy to find and thoroughly explained, ironically Using Portuguese doesn’t really make it easy for a person to “use” Portuguese."

While this book doesn’t call itself a reference book, it comes across as such. The content and information is no doubt useful, but it isn’t something a normal student can digest cover to cover. Yet, if a student needs to know about nouns and gender, he/she could easily use the table of contents and turn to the right page to learn the material.

If you are a Portuguese teacher, you may want to think twice before you use this book in your class. Void of pictures and engaging content, in a lot of ways using this book will make your job all the more difficult because you’ll have to compensate by making your lesson a lot more entertaining, lest you’ll lose your student(s) interest. If however, you have serious students – the type who live for studying for major exams – then they may like the clean, crisp look and feel of the book. Using Portuguese get good marks from us for content, but low marks for usability and engagement factor.



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