ClicaBrasil: Portuguese Language and Culture for Intermediate Students
Vivian Flanzer, University of Texas
Copyright Year: 2019
ISBN 13: 9781937963156
Conditions of Use
To say that ClicaBrasil, by Vivian Flanzer, is a textbook would not only be inaccurate, but an understatement. ClicaBrasil is a complete intermediate/advance Portuguese program developed at the University of Texas at Austin, and it has been in use... read more
To say that ClicaBrasil, by Vivian Flanzer, is a textbook would not only be inaccurate, but an understatement. ClicaBrasil is a complete intermediate/advance Portuguese program developed at the University of Texas at Austin, and it has been in use at that institution since 2010. The textbook is available for download at the OpenText book network, but it is actually meant to be used together with the website. The textbook itself does not provide audio, videos, or the readings that are referred by each chapter, and the students need to find them at the program website. Also, while the videos are available at the site itself, some of the readings need to be access through hyperlinks available there. Here is the example from lesson 1: https://laits.utexas.edu/clicabrasil/lesson/todos-os-dias/pano-de-fundo.html. In order to read Chico Buarque's “Cotidiano,” the reading for lesson 1, the reader needs to click on the link that takes them to Chico's own website. So, the textbook is actually not meant to be comprehended by itself hence the grade.
The program/textbook is accurate and error-free. There is, however, some bias that appears when looking at the book from the perspective of gender and race. There is an attempt to discuss key issues from Brazilian culture and society, such as the role of the “área de serviço” and the differences between “bar” and “boteco”, but the book falls short at discussing the prejudice, which is sadly a component of Brazilian culture, that arises from discussions such as what is better a “feira,” an inclusive and diverse kind of farmer’s market common all over Brazil, and the super market, which is preferred by the Brazilian middle and upper-classes, as shown on the video. The problem lays on how it appears, and how the book fails to discuss it. In what concerns the Portuguese language itself, however, the book is very accurate, error-free, and unbiased. It shows, for instance, how in Modern Brazilian Portuguese the verbal tense "mais-que-perfeito" uses the verb "ter" as an auxiliar rather than "haver."
The book is relevant and it shows several important aspects of Brazilian culture, while also serving as an useful tool to teach the language. It is extremely interactive, and all video support is very lively. Also, there is an attempt to keep up to date with the interaction between Brazilian life and technology, showing the similarities and differences from that in relation to US society. The downside of referring to technology is that it is harder for a book/program organized in 2002 to keep up with recent advancements. For instance, it mentions that Orkut was popular in Brazil but that it has been overtaken by Facebook, but it fails to mention the WhatsApp, the most common app for texting. There is a reference to the expression "mandar um zap," which as reference to the app due to the sound similarities of "zap" and What"sApp."
Yes, it is very clear and straightforward.
Yes, all terminology is very consistent.
The textbook is not very clear about its dependability of the website, mentioning it in a foreword by the beginning only once. Hence, a reader might feel like the videos or the readings are “missing” if they try to print and use the book by themselves. However, if a student/ instructor, starts their “tour” through ClicaBrasil using directly the website, and not the textbook, then there is no room for misunderstanding. Each section of the site has smaller pdfs with questions that match the content of the textbook, like matching units/sections with units/chapters, as if it was breaking down the textbook while following the content of the webpage. The textbook itself doesn't have reading sections, but only activities prompts. Questions that require either multiple choice answers, writing, or visual association. Again, I feel that is wrong to talk only about the textbook, which is in fact more like a workbook. So the modularity is excellent, if we consider the interaction between website and textbook/workbook, but poor if we don't. My grade reflects the first option.
The program/textbook is divided in 7 units, each composed by 4 sections, “pano de fundo,” which introduces a context for the lesson; “leitura,” a reading; “gramática,” covering grammar; and “Aproximando o foco;” which attempts a closer look at one topic of Brazilian culture and society. It might take some time for the reader to get used to the interaction between textbook and website, but it works just fine after it. My grade considers website and textbook being used together.
The book does not have interface issues, because all interface is handled by the website. There is a link to the website itself on the textbook by the very beginning. All the links on the website work just fine, so my grade reflects that, and not the textbook itself. I would, however, suggest that each chapter should have individual links to its counterpart from the website, and that each activity should have a link to the readings as well - whenever the reading is external to the website it would be better if the link provided was from the actual reading and not the website.
Grammar is very accurate, and the textbook activities are challenging but not overwhelming. However, the same issues that are present on the videos, such as heteronormativity and reproduction of prejudice of social roles, appear again.
The site contains hundreds of original videos of Portuguese native speakers, mostly Brazilians with just one speaker from Portugal, which makes sense given the title of the book. There is an attempt for gender diversity, with a good balance between men and women, however there is not one person who is clearly queer in any video, which shows some heteronormativity. This is a quite common feature of language textbooks, and I would not hold it against ClicaBrasil, however, personally, I think we, as professors, should talk about this failure to be inclusive if we ever want to change that. Also, there is a lot of reproduction of prejudice about social roles, for example the dance and the yoga teachers are women, while the engineer is a white male. Moreover, all African Brazilians, both male and female, depicted on videos are shown as belonging to the workers class, as housekeepers or maids, beauty parlor workers, salesperson, etc. Speakers do come from different regions and do have different accents, which is good. They also do speak spontaneously about themselves and the topics that are depicted in the readings.
Table of Contents
- UNIT 1: Todos os dias
- UNIT 2: Fim de semana
- UNIT 3: Trajetórias
- UNIT 4: Rio, de norte a sul
- UNIT 5: Na internet
- UNIT 6: Festas, compras, encontros e desencontros
- UNIT 7: Salvador da Bahia
About the Book
ClicaBrasil was developed for intermediate level Portuguese language courses at UT-Austin. People all ove the world are now using it for different purposes: self-study, classroom instruction, tutoring, or as a pastime.The lessons in ClicaBrasil integrate reading, writing, listening and reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, oral communication, and cultural activities. Numerous video clips (157, to be precise!) that show different Brazilians speaking about their lives, their culture, and their country support and enhance these activities.
About the Contributors