Friday, September 5, 2008

More Adventures with Portuguese

After we had been in Brazil for four or five months, Bishop Nigri’s son, Daniel, started begging to have us teach him English, which meant me. Finally we decided that maybe we could give up part of our P-day (Saturday) and “teach” him English. He had purchased some sort of program so that he could learn English and so I used that—it wasn’t very helpful to me, but I blundered through the best I could. The first couple of Saturdays it was just Daniel, but as it was noised around what we were doing, the class grew. I realized I had to have a better kind of lesson plan, so I took the Portuguese Lessons we had been given at the MTC, and retyped them into a Portuguese to English format. I also worked a lot on English pronunciation. My dear husband was such a support in this and helped with everything but actually teaching the Saturday lessons.

There we were, two English-speaking missionaries teaching English to these dear Portuguese-speaking Brazilians. We couldn’t understand them and they couldn’t understand us, but we forged ahead with our English lessons each Saturday. I always thought that they might get tired and quit coming, but they never gave up on us. Some were members of the ward, but there were also non-members who had found out about the English lessons and participated as well.

Before leaving the MTC in Provo, I had been drawn to a Portuguese-to-English picture dictionary book that I thought could help us learn the Portuguese language. Little did I know how valuable it would be to us in teaching our little class. However, I did get myself into a fix several times trying to explain complex stuff, like the dictionary page containing all things relating to cars. Just try explaining windshield wipers, ice, heaters, and de-foggers. Many Brazilians do not even own cars in the first place, and while Brazil gets cold in the winter, they never get snow or ice. I’m not certain they ever fully understood my efforts to explain ice and snow and scraping ice off the windshields. I drew many pictures on the blackboard that day and we all laughed a lot. I was laughing at myself and the hole I was digging and couldn’t seem to get out of. They were probably laughing at my corny antics and my silly laugh.

We loved every one of those who attended our little English class and still have fond memories of them. When it came time for us to leave Brazil, they threw us a party, bringing gifts and food for us. They practiced and learned to sing one of the hymns in English and serenaded us. We were very touched at this outpouring of their love for us.



Annemarie Allen said...

I love your web page :)

I remember one of my mission companions was from Mongolia and that was how she found the gospel by going to a class to learn English and she learned by reading the Book of Mormon. It was through the Holy Ghost through reading the Book of Mormon that helped her w/ English and then she eventually became converted and was one of the first Mongolians to go on a mission and I was lucky to have her as my companion.

Gloria said...

You reminded me how I would choose a scripture from the Book of Mormon and I would present the same scripture in English and Portuguese. We always read it at the first of every class and took a copy home.

I told them to tape it to their refrigerator and read it every day. I don't know whether they followed through, but we had a different scripture every week.

Thanks for your comment.