Getting Started In Portuguese, by Sue Tyson-Ward
I have to admit that this review will be colored a bit by the fact that it comes with a cd that I was unable to use because I don’t happen to have access to a computer with a cd rom drive and the cd was not an audio cd that I could play in my car. This review is therefore not as complete as it would have been otherwise. The fact that this particular review is of a book that was meant as a companion to a cd program does mean that my own use of this book was not as great as it would have been otherwise, and that is a bit of a shame. That said, those who get this book and want to enjoy all of what it has to offer would do well to make sure that their computer has a cd-rom drive so that they can enjoy the lessons on the computer that this book comes with, because otherwise this is not a very exciting book to read and not really the sort of multimedia experience that the author of the book intended for readers to enjoy in order to learn Portuguese better.
The book portion of this work is about 200 pages included the answer key and small dictionary, and it is divided into seventeen generally short chapters. Before the main contents of the book there is some information about the author, a discussion of how the book works, as well as a guide in learning to learn, pronunciation, and useful expressions. After that the book begins with basic courtesies and greetings (1), moves on to asking where people are from (2), and then discusses where we live and work (3). After that there is a discussion of family (4), personal tastes (5), as well as what is at home (6) and part of one’s daily life (7). There are units on how one spends free time (8), holidays (9), and how one engages in transportation (10) and traveling (11). Going back and forth (12) and shopping (13) and eating out (14) take up some lessons, as well as feeling ill (15), accommodations (16), and distractions (17). Finally, the book ends with an answer key, small dictionary, and numbers. The book is helpful, if not very exciting, and is clearly meant to be used with the cd rom as it is rather plain and unexciting on its own. And I am reasonably certain that it was meant to be exciting and interesting.
While my appreciation of this work was incomplete compared to what yours will hopefully be, I can say that the text portion of the book is at least worth looking at even if it is nowhere near as exciting as it would have been otherwise. I previously listened to this series when I was doing a self-study for Catalan, and that particular option had exercises that I was able to listen to in my car, so it was a bit disappointing that this was not the case for the Portuguese volume, although I’m not sure why this was the case, as it appears to have been an .mp3 CD-ROM. The book/disc advertises itself as being an example of a learner-centered approach that includes tips on learning how to learn, having outcomes-based learning, involving the discovery system for rules and patterns and involving self-tracking, and it manages to be between the A1 and A2 level of Portuguese for those who pay attention to such matters. Overall my experience with the book was soured a bit by the technical difficulties but if your experiences is better you may appreciate it more than I did, for what it’s worth.