Continuing Education

Making Connections with Brazilian Portuguese – Level 1

Dora Oliveira is a multi-talented instructor who has devoted her life to building communities. From her nursing work to teaching subjects ranging from Brazilian Dance to her new course, Brazilian Portuguese – Level 1, she has sought to use her skills and life experience to draw Imagepeople together at every turn.  “I enjoy making connections between art and other disciplines and have always been involved in helping to empower and build strong communities through art,” she says. “I've worked in community centers teaching free dance classes for those who can't afford it, and I've promoted flea markets and events to help community members and neighbors get to know each other.”

Having earned her BA in dance from the Federal University of Bahia Brazil in 1991, Oliveira went on to gain a technical nursing degree. Ultimately, Oliveira would complete her BA in Childhood Education at North Seattle College in 2017 and earn a Nurse Assistant Certification from South Seattle College. “My work as a nurse in hospital and private clinics and as a preschool teacher also provides me with experiences that enrich my approach to teaching,” she says.

What better way to build connections between classrooms and communities than by learning a new language? Spanish and Portuguese are two of the world’s most common languages, and though they seem very similar at first glance, they spring from two very distinct cultures. ImageBoth languages fall under the umbrella of Romance languages known as West Iberian or Hispano-Iberian.  “Some Portuguese words will sound familiar to speakers of Spanish,” says Oliveira. “Portuguese verbs are simpler than Spanish verbs. So for speakers of English these verb patterns are easier to understand.”

As with any language, Portuguese is a living, evolving thing with dialects that vary depending on the region. “There are many things in Brazilian Portuguese that are different from European Portuguese,” says Oliveira. “Some words are used less often in Brazilian Portuguese. In addition, some Brazilian words are different than those used Portugal. In Brazil, we don’t use the pronoun tu, we use Voce as second person singular. Some words are spelled differently, for example: trem (train) in Brazilian Portuguese, in Portugal it is called comboio. Brazilian Portuguese for ice cream is sorvete but in Portugal it is gelado.”

Oliveira assures students joining Brazilian Portuguese that class time will not be spent daily parsing out the differences in languages, but in celebrating that which makes Brazilian culture unique. “In my class we will explore Brazilian culture through music, dance, and food. Along with practicing Brazilian Portuguese we will dive deeply into cuisine and the arts.” Image

Taking a language course is so much more than familiarizing oneself with verbs, terminology and syntax; it is about garnering an appreciation of a people a world away. “I look forward to the students learning some survival Portuguese language skills,” says Oliveira.  “I am excited about helping the students understand the history of Brazil and assisting them on their journey to learn more about this culture.”

Learn more about Brazilian Portuguese – Level 1.