So I finally started Portuguese classes last week and it seems to be going very well. I actually could not get into a general class because of the time I came to Brazil I missed all of the Fall classes; so instead I have a private tutor named Lavenia. She is around sixty years old and is very nice and personable. When my husband signed me up for classes, he told the woman (in Portuguese), “My wife would not be comfortable with a male instructor.” I understood what he said and told the woman (in English), “No, my husband would not feel comfortable with me having a male instructor.” So now I have Lavenia.
Lavenia has been teaching for many years and is very good at explaining Portuguese from an English perspective. For example, the “ão” sound in the word São is pronounced like the “um” sound in the word umbrella. Which I thought was very helpful, she tells me she is very strict with pronunciation and is also teaching a sixty year old Brazilian woman English. The woman tells Lavenia, “I cannot learn the “th” sound (which is very difficult for Brazilians) I am too old.” Lavenia spent three hours teaching her the “th” sound and her student finally got it.
Over the past two weeks I have learned a lot about Lavenia. Along with teaching she likes to tell me about herself (in Portuguese). She is divorced and never wants to be married again. She has no children but does have Nikki, a very cute Yorki. She lives and takes care of her mother who just turned 97 years old this week. Coincidentally the street she lives on was having a celebration for one of the public officials with a marching band and parade; so Lavenia took her mother downstairs and said “Look mom this celebration is for your Birthday,” her mother was so overwhelmed and really thought it was for her. Everyone went along with it and she said her mother was really cute about the whole thing.
Lavenia teaches almost the entire class in Portuguese and for the most part I understand. I am very grateful for the previous tutoring that I had in America which taught me the basics because Lavenia has decided I am too advanced for that and is teaching me everything! This week’s class was especially hard because she hit me with a ton of things and I now have a lot of homework to do. I hope I can continue to learn at this pace because I feel that the sooner I learn Portuguese, the sooner I will truly get to know São Paulo.