Posted in English

An Unlesson

I’ve just had a meeting with a Portuguese teacher who I thought was doing something interesting. Her name is Catarina and she runs The Language Unschool.

If you hang around the various online forums where Portuguese learners congregate, you’ve probably come across a lot of teachers looking for new students among the pool of curious, interested, potential learners who are trying to figure out where to start. The teachers usually have YouTube channels with a range of topics new learners are interested in: how to watch subtitled TV, how to use Ser and Estar, how to say the days of the week and so on, and they use that to draw in paying punters.

Catarina was fishing in darker waters though. She contacted me via Reddit after I’d already been writing in WritestreakPT every day for a few weeks and invited me for a free consultation. I liked the sound of the school. The package has a few components: a smartphone app, grammar videos, group sessions activities that aim to draw out people’s Portuguese voice and getting them talking. She seemed very switched on and presented the options well.

She’d really made an effort to demonstrate her personal touch too, because she’d looked at some of my recent posts, where I’ve talked about my January yoga binge and she’d actually teamed up with a local yoga teacher and made a video about yoga in Portuguese, released on the day she contacted me 👇

As a piece of entrepreneurship, it was impressive. I felt like she was making an effort to win me over as a customer: where most teachers aim for broad appeal, she seemed to be aiming for a specific niche. That’s how it felt anyway: the approach, the description, even the pricing structure, all seemed to be tailored to suit people who had already made up their mind to stick at it long term.

Anyway, I tried out the yoga video yesterday morning . I had to turn the subtitles on because I couldn’t hear very well but the inbuilt YouTube subtitles have a black background. That created some unexpected humour, because at one point the teacher got down on the floor and… And then I couldn’t see her any more! It looked like she’d had a sudden attack of shyness and decided to hide behind the subtitles, which made me laugh out loud. Anyway, if you fancy giving it a go, maybe play with the video settings and see if you can change the subtitles so they don’t have a background.

As I’ve said in some previous posts, doing workouts in Portuguese is a good way of learning some of the more niche body vocabulary and you’ll get a decent stretch out of it too, so what’s not to like?

I’m still pondering whether to go for the course. I’ll sleep on it. I definitely like the idea, and I need something to boost me towards spoken fluency, but I’m not sure how it fits into the rest of my life. Also, with the third world war around the corner, maybe nothing matters any more.

Hm, got a bit dark there at the end, didn’t it? I caught a glance at the news. Sorry.