Posted in English

I Hold In My Hand A Piece Of Paper

I was asked if I have a copy of past exam papers. Sadly, no I don’t because I scribbled answers on them all during revision and then recycled them when I finished the exam. There are a few scattered around the web but it’s not always easy to find them because they could be on pages of any language, not just english or portuguese. Here are the ones I know about:

Firstly, straight from a boca do cavalo, there are samples of the three sections of the paper, including an audio file of the compreensão oral test on the University of Lisboa’s site. The audio part is essential. As I’ve said in my descriptions of the tests, you definitely need to do some practice with this and figure out your strategy for reading the questions and answering them while listening in the very short time available. They play each one to you twice, but the amount of time for each one is pretty small, so it’s not the sort of thing you can just wing it through.

This site, Ensino Basico, has some dummy exam papers for levels A1, A2 and B1. They don’t look like official documents but they seem pretty realistic and they have sound files too, which is great.

This site has some different specimens of three of the four sections. The page is in italian but the papers themselves are in portuguese of course so it doesn’t matter. If you scroll down, there are three links in red. You can use ctrl+F to search for “interazione” if you want to go straight to it. No audio files, sadly.

Google also turns up a few if you are prepared to sift through the various results a bit.

This one from TELC is a pretty professional looking B1 test template. It’s not quite in the same format as the official exam but it has a similar level and some of the same exercises, at least. It feels a bit wrong that I can see it. I think these exam templates are supposed to be for sale, and I’m not sure if they even realise that this one is searchable via Google, but it is so take full advantage, I say.

This one purports to be a B1 test. It’s definitely not in the format used for the official CAPLE/DEPLE exams but it might be something extra if you need more practice.

If you want to take this to the next level, I’d advise getting one of the books of exam papers. Here’s the one I used for B1 and 2, for example

You can get it online from Bertrand and download the audio files here by entering the ISBN number (9789897524622) and publisher (Lidel). Bertrand also sell a book of B2 test papers with an accompanying CD from the same company called Exames de Portugues B2, Preparacao e Modelos which might be useful if you are looking at intermediate level, but bear in mind that it covers several different flavours of B2 level test including DIPLE Escolar, which is the test given to school-age children, Celpe-Bras, the brazilian equivalent of DIPLE and half a dozen others I don’t even recognise. It’s not specific to the standard CAPLE test framework, in other words, so although it is quite chunky, it may not be as useful as it seems.

The hardest thing to simulate is the fourth part of the test, “produção e interação orais”. You should probably work with a portuguese language teacher if you’re not already, or at the very least ask a portuguese friend to grill you to develop your conversation skills. Think about how to talk about yourself, practice talking about your favourite aspect of portuguese culture – food, music, books, and practice just looking at photographs and thinking about how you would describe them if you had to. It isn’t as long or as scary as you think it’ll be but it’s definitely worth getting used to that environment.

Posted in English

Welcome Bookfacers

It’s nice to see a few people from Facebook reading my blog after I mentioned this post about my B1 exam on one of the portuguese language groups a couple of weeks back. Hello! I’ve been learning portuguese seriously for about 5 years from now and I would be really good at it if my brain wasn’t old and knackered. I live in London and my motivation for learning is that my wife is from Madeira and, although she speaks english better than most english people and all americans, it started to feel a bit pathetic that I wasn’t making the effort to break out of my anglophone bubble. I’ve been studying Scottish Gaelic and French during the lockdown too, But those are definitely just side-projects.

Most posts on here are just me doing my homework corrections online, and occasionally trying to grapple with things that I want to get my head around like awkward vocabulary, gender of nouns, tricksy grammar and subjunctives. I’m not claiming to be an authority on the language *at all* so don’t take this as gospel, but I’m glad people have found some of my posts useful.

If you’re a fellow-sufferer, say olá in the comments box.

Posted in English


I recently implied that Duolingo was not so bad, despite its Brazilian bias. I now realise, after reaching a 104-day streak in Gaelic and then having my account deleted and losing all my progress that it is a crap system produced by evil, evil people. I apologise for any confusion caused

Posted in English


One of the nice side-effects of exploring e-readers has been that I’ve come across a couple of proper portuguese audiobooks. I’ve had the most luck on Kobo but even that’s pretty hard to navigate, primarily because even when I tell it portuguese is my preferred language it insists on showing me english language titles and I don’t seem to be able to do anything as basic as search by language.

Anyway, I’ve come across Margarida Espantada which I’m reading now in conjunction with an ebiook version and Perguntem Sarah Gross, which has a good reputation. Naff all by Afonso Cruz, Joao Tordo, Nuno Nepomuceno, Ricardo Araujo Pereira – people who seem pretty mainstream, really. Still, though, it’s a good sign and I’m hoping to see more in the future.

Posted in English

How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Kindle

I’ve already mentioned that I’ve finally got over my distrust of Duolingo during the lockdown, but I’ve also found myself feeling well disposed to the kindle app on my phone. Specifically, because of the built-in dictionary. This is incredibly handy…

Proper books are still better though. So there.

Posted in English

Scotland & Portugal – Not as Different as You’d Think

I’ve been really interested in the parallels between Scottish Gaelic and Portuguese. One of the first things that made me want to get familiar with a celtic language was seeing words like Llyfrau and Eglwys on signs in Wales, meaning Book and Church, respectively. Both are very obviously related to French, Portuguese and Spanish equivalents. Of course, it’s less surprising when you realise that churches and perhaps to a lesser extent books were introduced to these islands by Christian missionaries arriving from the mainland in the 6th century speaking languages not that distantly removed from the language of Caesar. So the words came along with the physical objects.

But it turns out that this Latin influence is just the tip of an iceberg and under the surface is a much larger body of connected words, dating back to before the Romans because of common Indo-European origins. All sorts of nouns have echoes of other languages in them, often changed almost out of recognition by the tides of history. Even the phrase “ciamar a tha?” (pronounced “kimmer a ha” and meaning “how are you?”) which I’ve seen a few times in videos online turns out to be basically cognate with “como está?” which seems obvious now but I’d never been struck by it before. It’s a link between Gaelic and Portuguese, not because Gaelic is a romance language but because both come from an even more ancient root.

Scots Gaelic an Introduction to the Basics

These moments of epiphany are coming to me courtesy of an excellent, and very concise introduction to the language, “Scots Gaelic – an Introduction to the Basics” by George McLennan. It’s exactly what I need right now: definitely not a how-to book, but one that maps out how the language works and why. Now that I’ve got to a certain point with Duolingo, I have a lot of questions and this is answering most of them in a very satisfying way.

8AM. Mrs Luso is up now and is telling me about Korean (which she’s learning) and we’re comparing notes. Language-learning is freaking amazing.

Posted in English

Polly(glot) Wanna (Go) Cracker(s)

So, as I mentioned recently, since the lockdown started I have been trying to learn three languages simultaneously: Portuguese (improving), French, (de-rustifying) and Scottish Gaelic (completely new, starting from scratch). I’ve mainly been using Duolingo, but also some books, videos and so on.

Obviously since this blog is very visibly dedicated to portuguese, having occasional posts about french and gaelic is probably a bit confusing and maybe at some point I should think about changing the title to be more inclusive but I’m still seeing Portuguese as my main mission and the others as side-quests at the moment, so I’m not going to turn into one of those smug internet polyglots just yet. Give it six months though and I’ll be livestreaming myself hanging out with Benny Lewis and trying to hold a conversation in 20 languages or some nonsense.

Posted in English

Talk the Streets

I came across a new (to me) channel on YouTube today and the first video I tried was full of good tips. She’s British so she seems to be coming at it from a practical standpoint of how to get by as an immigrant in Portugal rather than doing a lot of detailed stuff about grammar. Bookmarked for later to try the rest of her videos.