Comprehensiveness rating: 2 read less
Português para principiantes is a re-working of a 1964 edition by the University of Wisconsin Extension Division ("Preface") and overall shows its datedness. The authors intend this book to be used “in conjunction with a variety of approaches to the teaching of beginning Portuguese” (4).
The manual is organized in four preliminary lessons followed by 30 lessons, each focused on grammar description. The vocabulary in each lesson is random and not contextualized in a social situation. The sentences illustrating grammar points are likewise random. Practice exercises throughout the book are translation and sentence rewriting. Online features of the book include fill in the blanks and audio files of isolated words and short dialogues. There are no images except in the cover. Cultural content is minimal. The book includes some short texts, mostly not authentic, and the authentic texts do not include bibliographic attribution. There are Appendices with verb charts.
The book follows the Brazilian Portuguese variant although in a prescriptive fashion. For instance, the authors explain that “[t]he word “you” (singular) in Portuguese which denotes greatest familiarity is tu. However, in Brazil its use is limited and often ungrammatical (used with the wrong verb conjugation). Due to this restricted use, this text will not include it…” Nevertheless, “[t]he student should learn to recognize [it]” (40). The text does include it in the Appendix. No mention is made to the fact that the “tu” form of the verbs is common in the European (referred to as “Continental”) and African variants of Portuguese.
Proficiency guidelines are absent from the methodology considerations.
Accuracy rating: 3
Presentation of grammar and grammar progression follows the structure of a grammar book, not a language learning manual - for instance, prepositions are introduced toward the end of the book after the subjunctive mode; the content and language structure of non-authentic texts are limited and/or problematic (such as the reading on Portugal).
Relevance/Longevity rating: 2
Some of the vocabulary is dated: "O nosso toca-discos não funciona, mas o toca-discos de Marta funciona" (123), but overall the vocabulary is not grounded on and organized around relevant social communication situations or clusters of social life. The content of the non-authentic cultural texts is simplistic for a College audience and outdated (such as the cultural text "Portugal").
Clarity rating: 4
The text employs simplified grammar jargon. English is used throughout the book except on cultural texts.
Consistency rating: 4
Modularity rating: 4
The lessons can be easily used as modules.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3
The organization is clear, although the progression of grammatical topics and vocabulary is not always logical and the vocabulary is not organized.
Interface rating: 2
The book is text only. The only advantage of the online book is the use of interactive fill in the blanks exercises and audio files.
Grammatical Errors rating: 4
I found a few typos such as "Brails" (366).
Cultural Relevance rating: 1
Low cultural relevance. The objective of the book is to present grammar structures.
Português para principiantes is a descriptive/ at times prescriptive grammar book that encompasses beginner-level structures and advanced-level structures (such as all the tenses in the subjunctive mode) in non-standard language learning procedure. The methodology is not communicative and the cultural relevance of the book is low.