By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
November 13, 2015

So you are thinking about spending some time in Brazil but you feel the language to be a problem. In fact, Brazilian Portuguese is not the easiest language to learn, and things get even trickier when dealing with spoken Portuguese, which is full of slangs and expressions that sounds a lot different from written Portuguese. With that being said, some dedication and time will get you through these obstacles. Below, we have compiled 8 tips for bginners learning Brazilian Portuguese.

1. Get yourself a English-to-Brazilian-Portuguese dictionary: If you are serious about learning Brazilian Portuguese, this one is a must have. When trying to read in Portuguese, you will be coming across many unfamiliar words and expressions. With a dictionary, you will not only be able to understand and learn these expressions but also learn how to pronounce then, which is something you will need in the future.

2. Read something in Portuguese as often as you can: Reading is one of the most important activities for you to build your vocabulary and become familiar with the language. There are plenty things to read, from books, blogs, news websites and much more. A suggestion is to read the news in Portuguese at least a few times a week. Some of the most popular news websites in Brazil are <a href="http://www.estadao.com.br/">Estado</a>, <a href="http://www.folha.uol.com.br/">Folha</a> and <a href="http://www.uol.com.br/">Uol</a>.

3. Keep a language notebook: One practice which can be really helpful for beginners is keeping a language notebook. In this notebook, you should write new words and expressions that you have learned. Studies have already shown that writing down things help to consolidate them in your memory, even if you never read what you wrote down again. And if you need to check what you have learned, you will have it written down.

4. Watch movies and series in Portuguese: Brazilian Portuguese sounds a lot different when spoken. One way of getting familiar with it is by watching movies and series in Portuguese. Brazilian cinema has a wide array of excellent movies, and are a great choice if you want to get familiar with Brazilian culture while you learn the language.

5. Seek out someone who you can speak Portuguese to: This tip is essential if you want to train your conversation skills. The best thing you can do is find someone who you can speak Portuguese to in real life, or at least through skype. If this isnt possible, you can find many places where you can interact with Brazilians on the internet. One option is debating in forums and facebook groups in Portuguese. You can also look for a Brazilian pen-pal with whom you can hone your skills. For those that enjoy computer games, a good option is to play a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) in Portuguese. Many games such as Ragnarok Online, The Duel and World of Warcraft have a Brazilian Portuguese version, where you can find plenty of people to talk.

6. Listen to Brazilian music: Brazil not only has its own musical styles but it also has many vibrant music scenes. Delving into Brazilian music is a great opportunity to improve your vocabulary while you enjoy yourself and expand your musical repertoire.

7. Learn the jargon of your topics of interest: Once you start to understand the basics of Brazilian Portuguese, try learning the jargon of your fields of interest, or you might find yourself in trouble when trying to talk about these topics.

8. Be consistent: Last but not least, be consistent with your learning. Try to work on your skills constantly, and do not go for long without practicing, and review the things you have learned by using them as often as you can.

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
November 13, 2015

In the streets, parks and beaches of Brazil, one often sees groups of people gathered in a circle, playing instruments while two people inside the circle sway, kick and dodge to the rhythm of the music. This is capoeira, a Brazilian martial art practiced through all of Brazil, especially in the northeast of the country.

No one knows exactly when capoeira originated, but it is believed that it was created by slaves in the 16th century. At that time, slaves were forbidden from practicing martial arts and their cultural traditions as well. They were also constantly subjected to torture and violence, and those that tried to run away were chased by “capites-do-mato”. In order to learn self-defense, it is said that the slaves created a new form of martial art and disguised it as a dance. The movements of capoeira are characterized by the way fighters sway and by the wide variety of kicks that they employ, as well as the acrobatic quality of the movements. Elements of diverse African cultures were also mixed in capoeira, making it a matter not only of self-defense but also of cultural identity.

Training sessions usually took place near the “Senzala”, which was the building where slaves were kept. But fights would sometimes take place in fields with small shrubs which were called “capoeira” at the time. This is where the name of the sport came from.

In 1890, Deodoro Fonseca, who was the president at the time, signed a law that made capoeira illegal, as it was considered subversive and violent. Later on, a capoeira master known as Mestre Bimba created a new style of capoeira known as “capoeira regional” (regional capoeira). Bimba would present his style in 1930 to Getlio Vargas, who was the president of Brazil at the time. Vargas enjoyed it so much that he made it legal and turned it into a national sport as well. Bimba also created the first capoeira gym in 1932 in Salvador and named it “Academia-escola de Capoeira Regional”.

His teaching method and style represented an important step in the development of capoeira. He began the tradition of training in an enclosed space, introduced a course curriculum and a systematic training method. He also fixed a defined instrumental arrangement to be played in a capoeira “roda” (circle). The arrangement consisted of a berimbau, which is an instrument composed of a bow and one string, and two pandeiros, which are hand-framed drums very popular in some Brazilian styles like samba and pagode. But his greatest contribution was probably the idea that capoeira should be disseminated and made widely accessible through the use of legal institutions.

In fact, he contributed enormously to the popularization of the sport. Once capoeira gyms became a thing, they spread like mushrooms after the rain, being found all through Brazil and even in many foreign countries. Because of his contribution, many practitioners consider Bimba the father of modern capoeira. His style is also the most widely practiced form of the sport worldwide.

Training capoeira is a great way to improve cardio, strength, flexibility and learning self-defense. At a capoeira gym one also learns discipline and gains confidence as his skills are honed. Last but not least, training capoeira is extremely fun, as well as being a great way to make friends. Whether youre looking to get in shape, lose some weight, learn to defend yourself or just have some fun, capoeira is a great choice and well worth a try.

By John Fitzpatrick
November 3, 2015

(Header Image: Celebrating 25 years of missionary activity in Angola)

An exhibition has just been held in São Paulo to mark 25 years of missionary work in Angola by members of the Brazilian Order of Franciscans.

The event was held in the historic So Francisco church and attracted hundreds of visitors, including worshippers and tourists.

The Brazilian Franciscans began their mission to Angola following a call made in 1982 by the global leader of the Franciscan Order, John Vaughn, an American, for them to go to Africa as missionaries.

The Brazilian order chose Portuguese-speaking Angola and the first missionaries – brothers Pedro Caron, Jos Zanchet and Plinio Gande da Silva – arrived in September 1990 right in the middle of the civil war that followed the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975.

(Image: A home is being built in Luanda for trainee nuns.) Despite the hardships, the Brazilian missionaries established a presence in four different provinces – Luanda, Malange, Quibala and Viana – where they preached the Gospel and looked after the spiritual and physical health and education of the local people. Some of their buildings were damaged during the fighting.

They were joined a few months later by Frei Odorico Decker who is a familiar figure to anyone who knows the So Francisco church.

Frei Odorico spent 10 years in Angola during which he travelled the country from north to south on foot or bicycle accompanied by his faithful harmonica which won him many friends.

“I went everywhere dressed in my cassock and playing my harmonica and visited families and old people who could not leave their homes. I brought comfort and the Eucharist and prayed with them. The war was going on and life was very hard for these people who welcomed me. Often I was the only outsider who had visited some of these places,” he recalled.

(Image: Frei Odorico spent 10 years in Angola during the civil war.) Frei Odorico was a keen photographer and many of his pictures were on show at the exhibition. He also wrote a book about his African experience.

The Brazilian venture into Angola was not a one-way process. The Franciscan lifestyle attracted many Angolans who decided to study to become brothers and nuns.

There are currently around 100 Angolan students in various stages ranging from beginners to ordained brothers.
An exchange program was set up for Angolans to come to Brazil to finish their seminary education in Santa Catarina and Rio de Janeiro.

One of these is 28-year-old Ermelindo Francisco who has been in Brazil for eight years and was won over by the work of the Franciscans.

“The Angolan people identified with the Franciscans because they were made up of simple people. The Franciscan ethic was very important. There is no difference between being a Franciscan and an Angolan because they are both a simple, happy and humble people,” he said.

The Franciscans are currently building a new home for aspirant nuns in Luanda. The project is being funded by donations from individuals and parishes. If you would like to make a donation, contact pvf@franciscanos.org.br.

John Fitzpatrick 2015