History, Restoration of Independence Day, 1st December

Restoration of Independence Day, 1st December


The first of December is a public holiday in Portugal which celebrates the restoration of Portuguese independence after 60 years of Spanish rule from 1580-1640. It all began when Dom Sebastião, the boy-king (he became king at the age of three) made a very misguided attack on Morocco in 1578 resulting in the 24-year-old king’s death, along with 8000 of his troops, including most of the male line of the Portuguese royal family.

‘Portrait of King Dom Sebastião I of Portugal’ by Cristóvão de Morais c.1570-75, in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon

This reckless act ultimately resulted in Portugal losing its independence to Spain. After Sebastião’s death his great-uncle Cardinal Henrique became king, but as he was old and childless there was a succession crisis. There were several claimants to the throne, the three main ones being grandchildren of Dom Manuel I: Felipe II of Spain; Infanta Catarina, Duchess of Bragança; and Dom António, Prior do Crato (an illegitimate son of Dom João III’s brother). António was the popular choice and when Dom Henrique died in 1580 António became Dom António I. However, Felipe II invaded Portugal almost immediately and António fled to France allowing Felipe to take the throne and become Filipe I of Portugal.

The 60 years of Spanish rule were ultimately disastrous for Portugal. Relationships with Portugal’s two former allies, England and Holland, were broken as Portugal was seen to be associating with Spain, the enemy of both countries. The English were angry that the Spanish Armada was being equipped in Lisbon and Filipe I forbid Portugal to trade with the Dutch, resulting in the Dutch taking over the spice trade routes that Portugal had monopolized up to that point. During this time a myth developed around Sebastião based on an idea that he wasn’t really dead and would one day return to rule Portugal. Several men claiming to be Sebastião appeared during this time. After Filipe I’s death, the two subsequent kings, Filipe II and Filipe III, showed no interest in Portugal and spent very little time there.

The disenchanted Portuguese, led by João, the seventh Duke of Bragança (and the grandson of Infanta Catarina, Duchess of Bragança), planned a coup and on 1 December 1640 they stormed the royal palace in Lisbon and assassinated the secretary to the governor. This resulted in João taking the throne and being crowned Dom João IV.

DSCN8998 (2)
Portrait of Dom João IV, attributed to José de Avelar Rebelo, in the Museu Nacional dos Coches, Belém

However, the Spanish would not give up Portugal easily and a 28-year War of Independence was fought, which finally ended in 1668 with a Portuguese victory. The House of Bragança ruled Portugal until 1910, when the last king of Portugal was assassinated and the Republic was proclaimed.

The 1st December is celebrated in Lisbon with a parade down the Avenida da Liberdade, accompanied by military bands, and a ceremony in the Praça dos Restauradores attended by politicians and the armed forces, where wreaths are placed on the ornate monument to the men who fought in the War of Independence.

Praça dos Restauradores, Lisbon
Praça dos Restauradores, Lisbon
Praça dos Restauradores, Lisbon
Via Catarina Shopping, Porto

Via Catarina Shopping, Porto


The fast-food court of the Via Catarina Shopping Centre in Porto is possibly the prettiest place I have eaten fast-food. Each restaurant is designed to look like a townhouse from the old part of the city, with facades painted in pastel colours on some restaurants and with recreations of the patterned tiles found on many Porto houses on others. The detail on each facade, including balconies with wrought-iron railings and displays of flowers, is impressive. I found myself taking nearly as many photos of these mock houses as of the real houses in the city!

The Via Catarina Shopping Centre is on Rua de Santa Catarina, which is the main shopping street in Porto. The shopping centre has many of the high street shops, spread over three floors, such as H&M, The Body Shop, Intimissimi, Sunglass Hut, Springfield, Pandora, Levi’s and Claire’s. The fast-food court on the top floor has a good choice of restaurants, including Pizza Hut, Kebab & Co, McDonald’s, Vitaminas, Nicola, Pans & Company and Tomatíno Pasta House, and the prices are much cheaper than you would pay at an outdoor café just down the road.


Via Catarina Shopping, Rua de Santa Catarina, Porto (nearest Metro station: Bolhão)






Jardim da Cordoaria, Porto

Jardim da Cordoaria, Porto


These charming sculptures can be seen in one of Porto’s loveliest parks, the Jardim da Cordoaria (meaning Garden of the Ropery) on Campo dos Mártires da Pátria. There are four of these bronze and steel benches around the park, which were sculpted by the Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz in 2001. The work is called Thirteen Laughing at Each Other, as there are thirteen figures in total. On each bench are two or three almost life-size figures sitting on the top tiers laughing with or at a figure laying upside down on the bottom tier, who they may or may not have pushed over. The sculptures are utterly captivating and look totally at home in this park setting – in any Portuguese park you are likely to see a group of men sitting on a bench talking animatedly and laughing at each other.





São Bento Station, Porto

São Bento Station, Porto


porto-0144_editedThere can’t be many railway stations in the world which double up as an art gallery or museum, but São Bento station in the centre of Porto is one, due to the azulejos (decorative tiles) that cover the walls of the entrance hall. As a result there are as many tourists in the station looking at the tiles as there are people waiting to catch a train.

The station was designed by the architect José Marques da Silva and built on the site of the former São Bento de Avé Maria convent between 1900 and 1916. The beaux-arts-style exterior is impressive, with two clock towers and large arched windows, and looks particularly attractive after dark when it is floodlit.  However, the real attractions are the panels of azulejos inside the station which depict scenes of rural and urban social history and episodes from Portuguese history. They were painted around the time the station was built by Jorge Colaço, who was one of the main azulejos painters in the early-twentieth century. As you enter the station the panels directly in front of you depict images of rural life, including olive picking, an ox and cart crossing a stream, haymaking and a water mill. To the left is a religious procession and to the right a scene of merrymaking. Along the top of the walls are panels of coloured tiles showing the arrival of the railway in a rural idyll.

In the early-20th century large-scale depictions of historical scenes depicted in azulejos were very popular and São Bento station is one of the best examples of this. On the wall to the left are two large panels showing two important historical moments: Egas Moniz presenting himself to the King of León in c.1128 and the Battle of Arcos de Valdevez in c.1140/41. On the wall to the right are two more important scenes from Portuguese history: King João I and Philippa of Lancaster entering Porto to celebrate their marriage in 1387 and Infante Henrique at the conquest of Ceuta in 1415.

Egas Moniz presents himself with his wife and sons to the King of León

porto-0163At the beginning of the 12th century Portugal was under the rule of Alfonso VII of León and Castile. In 1127 he surrounded the castle in Guimarães where his cousin, Afonso Henrique, was making separatist attempts. Afonso Henrique refused to surrender and Egas Moniz negotiated with Alfonso VII on his behalf, acting as guarantor that Afonso Henrique would be obedient to his cousin. But Afonso Henrique didn’t keep his word and invaded Galicia in 1128, so Egas Moniz went to Toledo with his family and offered to die for Afonso Henrique breaking his promise. Alfonso VII was impressed by this honourable act and spared his life. In the azulejos we can see the rope tied in a noose that Moniz is offering to the king.

The Battle of Arcos de Valdevez

porto-0162This battle saw the armies of Afonso Henrique and Alfonso VII fighting on this strategic area between Portugal and Galicia. As depicted in the azulejos, the fighting was done by knights on horseback. Afonso Henrique was the victor and an armistice was signed which later became the Treaty of Zamore (1143), which recognized Portuguese independence and Afonso Henrique as King Afonso I of Portugal.

The entrance of King João I into Porto to celebrate his marriage to Phillipa of Lancaster

porto-0160Philippa of Lancaster was the daughter of John of Gaunt, cousin of King Richard II of England and sister of Henry IV of England and her marriage to João I was important in that it sealed the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance against the Franco-Castilian axis and prevented a potential challenge to João’s reign. The couple were blessed in Porto Cathedral before their wedding in 1387.

Infante Henrique at the conquest of Ceuta

porto-0159Ceuta was a strategic port located in North Africa and was the terminus of the trade routes from the Sahara. In 1415 João I and his sons, including Henrique (later known as Henry the Navigator), made a surprise attack on Ceuta against the ruling Marinid dynasty. The battle was very short-lived, as the town was captured within hours.


São Bento station, Praça Almeida Garrett, Porto (nearest metro station: São Bento)
Train lines: Minho, Douro, Braga, Guimarães, Caíde/Marco de Canaveses and Aveiro lines

Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (2009), Portuguese cinema

Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (2009)

Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura) (2009) is a curious film that breaks several rules of commercial filmmaking: at only an hour long, it is very short; the opening scene is a static shot down a train carriage following a ticket inspector inspecting tickets; while the story is based on a late-nineteenth century short story, it is set in the modern day, but retains a period feel. The lack of regard for the conventions of filmmaking is not totally surprising, bearing in mind the director is the grand seigneur of the Portuguese film industry, Manoel de Oliveira, who was 101 when he directed this film. It is carefully constructed and nothing is superfluous. The opening scene of the film moves from a shot of the train carriage to a close up of two strangers who strike up a conversation when the young man, Marcário (Ricardo Trêpa), feels compelled to tell his sad story to the woman sat next to him (Leonor Silveira). De Oliveira has Marcário narrating part of the story in a way which is not quite conversation and not quite voiceover. The woman responds with suitable interjections from time to time, but her eyes stare blindly past Marcário and she retains a benign smile on her face and the viewer feels slightly disconcerted.

The short story by the nineteenth-century realist writer Eça de Queiroz is a tragic one of Marcário, who falls in love with Luísa (Catarina Wallenstein) whom he sees gazing out of the window of an apartment opposite the office where he works as an accountant for his uncle (Diogo Dória). He is seduced by the fan she languorously waves in front of her face and his obsession with her leads to his downfall. He resigns from his job when his uncle, making reference to poor people (meaning Luísa and her mother (Júlia Buisel)) entering his shop and a large amount of his stock being stolen, refuses to let him marry Luísa. Marcário is nearly penniless when he is offered a job in Cape Verde, where he makes a lot of money doing a job it is implied may not be totally legitimate. He then loses the money to an unscrupulous business man (Rogério Samora), but finally his uncle agrees to give him his job back and he is able to marry Luísa, but  then discovers his uncle was right about her being a thief.

Marcário and Luísa are nineteenth-century characters living lives that aren’t touched by the twenty-first century: Luísa has nothing to do all day except look out of the window waving a fan; Marcário has to ask his uncle for permission to get married; they go a salon to listen to a musician playing a harp (Ana Paula Miranda) and an actor (Luís Miguel Cintra) reciting poetry. Even the interiors of the buildings are from another century, untouched by modern decor and furnishings. De Oliveira skilfully conveys the depressing, claustrophobic life Marcário lives through sets that appear as if they are from a painting. The tiny room that Marcário is forced to move into when he is reduced to penury is reminiscent of a van Gogh room in Rembrandt browns.

Catarina Wallenstein won the Best Actress award at the Portuguese Golden Globe awards for the role of Luísa and the final scene of Luísa sat with her legs apart and her head hanging down is an image that captures all the shame and despair that she is feeling and expresses it far more succinctly than any words could do.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Porto

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto


The Livraria Lello & Irmão (Lello & Brother Bookshop) is now one of the ‘must-see’ places on a trip to Porto and has become more famous for its interior design than for its books. As a result, the bookshop has started charging visitors an entrance fee. Paying to get into a bookshop was a first for me, but as the entrance fee was refundable against any purchases, I was able to buy two of the books on my shopping list at one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and not just be one of the many tourists who come in to take photos and leave without even looking at the books. Of course, I blame J. K. Rowling for the surge in popularity. Rowling was living in Porto when she conceived the idea of the Harry Potter stories and a myth has developed that the staircase in Lello & Irmão was the inspiration for the Grand Staircase in Hogwarts.

Brothers José and António Lello opened the bookshop in 1906, at a time when booksellers were part of the cultural, intellectual and artistic circles and were even involved with public affairs. It was designed by Francisco Xavier Esteves in a delicious mixture of art nouveau and neo-gothic styles. The exterior of the shop is an extravagant design in white, reminiscent of an over-decorated wedding cake. Sadly it was covered with scaffolding when we visited in June 2016, so I was only able to catch a tantalizing glimpse of this through the tarpaulin. Inside, the shop is surprisingly very small and cramped and it is like stepping back in time. The ground floor is decorated with dark wood panels and columns and in some places, such as the ceiling and the decorative features under the staircase, plaster painted to look like wood. Above the bookshelves are glass cases which contain rare books and first editions and along the floor are tracks where a wooden cart used to run to transport books from the back of the shop to the front. The Lello Brothers are depicted in bas-relief on the walls of the ground floor, along with some major Portuguese writers, such as Camilo Castelo Branco, Guerra Junqueiro, Antero de Quental, Tomás Ribeiro and Teófilo Braga. At the back of the ground floor is a bust of another great Portuguese author Eça de Queiroz and another of the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes,  both sculpted by Abel Salazar.

The shop is dominated by the staircase, with its carved wooden handrail and red painted stairs, that leads to the first floor, dividing voluptuously into two staircases and giving views over the ground floor. The highlight of the first floor is a large art nouveau stained-glass skylight with the Latin phrase ‘Decus in labore’ (‘Dignity in work’) in the centre. This allows light to flood into what otherwise would be a dark and gloomy shop.

The majority of the books are in Portuguese, but there is a section of books in English, Spanish and French on the ground floor. The ground floor also has a large selection of children’s books and souvenirs. On the first floor there are travel, cookery and design sections. There is also a section of language learning books and dictionaries.


Livraria Lello & Irmão, Rua das Carmelitas, Porto (nearest metro stations: São Bento and Aliados)

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-7.30pm; Sat 10am-7pm; Sun 11am-7pm

Entrance fee:  €3 (as of June 2016) purchased from the booth on the opposite side of the road. The entrance fee is refundable against any  purchase in the bookshop.

Porto, Porto's narrowest house

Porto’s narrowest house

Igreja do Carmo (right) and Igreja das Carmelitas (left)

On Rua do Carmo in the centre of Porto is what appears to be a very large church with a split personality: the wild Rococco style on the right and the Classical style on the left. Look very carefully and you will see a section between the two halves, no more than a metre wide, with a doorway and windows, and it starts to become clear that these are in fact two separate churches separated by a third building, known as the hidden house. The Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo) on the right was designed by the architect José Figueiredo Seixas in the 18th century (it was completed in 1768) for an order of Carmelite monks.

DSC00445_DxO Igreja do Carmo
Igreja do Carmo

On the side of the building is an impressive azulejo (tile panel), designed by Silvestro Silvestri, depicting the creation of the Carmelite community on Mount Carmel in Israel in the 13th century.

The Carmelite Church (Igreja das Carmelitas) on the left was  completed in 1628 for an order of Carmelite nuns. The former convent is now used as the headquarters of the Porto branch of the National Republican Guard.

DSC00570_DxO Igreja das Carmelitas
Igreja das Carmelitas

It is very unusual to see two churches next to each other in Portugal, despite the high number of churches in every town and city. The reason is that a law existed decreeing that churches could not share the same wall, so when these two churches were built a house, which must be one of the narrowest houses in the world, was built between them.

The narrow house

What was the reason for this law? The most likely answer is that it was to prevent fraternization of the nuns and the monks. Despite the obvious limitations of the house, it remained lived in until the 1980s. Nowadays it is open to the public and you can see for yourself what it must have been like to live in such a narrow house. Surprisingly the rooms aren’t very small, but there is only one room on each floor and none of them have windows, so there is no natural light.

As an interesting aside, J. K. Rowling was living in Porto when she conceived the idea of the Harry Potter stories and this narrow house may have been the inspiration for the invisible house that is used as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix in the books.


Igrega das Carmelitas and Igreja do Carmo, Rua do Carmo, Porto (nearest metro stations: São Bento and Aliados)

Tickets for the house and the Igreja do Carmo (including the catacombs, the great hall and the sacristy) can be bought from the entrance to the house and cost €3.50. Open:  Mondays 12pm-6pm; Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm

The Igreja das Carmelitas is free to enter

Palácio da Bolsa, Porto, Porto

Palácio da Bolsa, Porto

Arabian Room

I was labouring under a misapprehension. The name Palácio da Bolsa conjured up an image of a large regal residence set in suitably landscaped gardens; a Portuguese-style Versailles in the heart of Porto. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Palácio da Bolsa translates to mean Stock Exchange Palace and it was built in the mid-nineteenth century by the Porto Commercial Association, which comprised of the city’s merchants. Despite it’s functional nature the building has an impressive Neoclassical exterior and a confusing range of styles in the interior. It is clear to see that several architects were involved with the building at various times. Joaquim da Costa Lima Júnior designed the exterior of the building which was built on a site that was given to the Commercial Association by Queen Maria II.
The ground floor is dominated by the Nations Courtyard, a huge area in the centre of the building, which is now used as a restaurant. It is best seen from the first floor where you can see the coats of arms on the wall just below the glass-panelled dome. The coats of arms represent all the countries with whom Portugal had a commercial relationship. From the Nations Courtyard we were led by our guide up the Nobel Staircase, designed by Gustavo Gonçalves de Sousa, which brought us to the hallway of the first floor with its ornately decorated walls and ceiling. The lights hanging from the ceiling above the staircase are the original lights from when the building was first electrified. I have to confess that I wasn’t very impressed with the next few rooms we were led into. The Tribunal Room, a room used for upholding mercantile law, has panels on the walls and ceiling relating to the function of the room and which also make reference to the activities of the city, including the port wine trade. The General Assembly Room is an architectural joke, based on the illusion that the walls are made of wood, whereas they are actually made of a very realistic plaster imitation. The Gustave Eiffel Room is a room of no interest at all. It has two desks and chairs, a rug and a very old typewriter. Apparently Gustave Eiffel was at the Palácio da Bolsa at some point during his time in Porto, when he was designing the Dona Maria Bridge, built in 1877. We moved on swiftly from this room. The Portraits Room only holds interest if you are interested in looking at portraits of the kings and queens of Portugal, including the palace’s benefactor, Maria II. The room is decorated in the style of Louis XVI, giving the room a slightly regal appearance.
However, the disappointments of the previous rooms were forgotten once I walked through the door that led from the Portraits Room into the adjoining Arabian Room. It was by far the highlight of the tour and wisely the guide saved the best until last. The room is decorated in a neo-Moorish style. It was designed by Gonçalves de Sousa, inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada. On the walls are intricate patterns in gold and silver. There are pillars and arches with detailed designs in red, blue, green and gold; stained glass in the windows and doors; and Moorish lamps hanging from the ceiling. The floor is made of various types of exotic wood. The room is opulent and sensual and slightly out of keeping with the rest of the building. It is used as a reception room for important dignitaries who are visiting Porto.
I began my visit to the Palácio da Bolsa mistakenly expecting an impressive regal palace. The palace is definitely not that and it will teach me to do proper research before visiting a place. However, the Arabian Room made up for any disappointment I had with the rest of the palace and will stay in my mind for a long time after.

Palácio da Bolsa, Rua Ferreira Borges, Porto (nearest metro station: São Bento)
Open: April to October 9am-6.30pm daily; November to March 9.30am-12.30pm, 2pm-5pm daily
You have to have a guided tour, which must be booked in advance. I booked my tour half an hour before it was due to start, but during busy times it is wise to book it well in advance. Tours which last 45 minutes are available in English, Portuguese, Spanish or French and cost €8 per person (€4.50 for students and senior citizens) (as of 2016).

Complete Portuguese, Learning Portuguese

Complete Portuguese

Author: Manuela Cook
Publisher: Hodder Education
Publication date: 2008
Price: £45
CEFR levels: A1-B1 (Beginner to Intermediate) (please note the publisher has listed it as A1-B2)
Components: Textbook (476 pages), 2 audio CDs
Number of hours: 40-50
⦁ Nouns
⦁ Articles
⦁ Preposition + article
⦁ Plurals
⦁ Object pronoun
⦁ Plurals
⦁ Present tense – regular and irregular verbs
⦁ Infinitives
⦁ Word order
⦁ Agreement of noun and adjective
⦁ Negatives
 ser, ficar and estar
⦁ Contracted words
⦁ Subject pronouns
⦁ Reflexive verbs
⦁ Colloquial future
⦁ Question words
⦁ Preterite
⦁ Imperative
⦁ Future indicative
⦁ Emphatic future
⦁ Comparatives
⦁ Imperfect
⦁ Continuous present and past
⦁ Passive voice
⦁ Present subjunctive
⦁ Future subjunctive
⦁ Perfect
⦁ Pluperfect
⦁ Superlatives
⦁ Conditional
⦁ gostaria, queria (would like), poderia (could)
⦁ Imperfect subjunctive
⦁ Auxiliary verbs
⦁ Possessives
⦁ Object pronouns
⦁ Personal infinitive
⦁ a, de, em, para and por
⦁ Intensifiers
⦁ Verbs without a subject

⦁ Greetings
⦁ Directions
⦁ Buying tickets
⦁ Signs in public places
⦁ Booking in at a hotel or campsite
⦁ Places in a town
⦁ Shops
⦁ Shopping
⦁ Transport
⦁ Introducing people
⦁ Talking about yourself
⦁ Telling the time
⦁ Days of the week
⦁ Clothes
⦁ Daily routines
⦁ Months
⦁ Seasons
⦁ Weather
⦁ Weights, measures and quantities
⦁ Material, design  and pattern
⦁ Illness and injury
⦁ Lost property
⦁ Accidents and breakdowns
⦁ Sports and hobbies
⦁ Food and drink
⦁ Describing a place
⦁ Banking
⦁ Invitations
⦁ Using services
⦁ Sightseeing
⦁ Apply for a job
⦁ Looking for property
⦁ Celebrations and parties

 Publisher claims

The book teaches both European and Brazilian Portuguese through real-life situations. The units are thematic with an emphasis on communication through useful vocabulary and everyday dialogues.
The first six units are aimed at learners who need enough Portuguese for a trip to a Portuguese-speaking country. The subsequent units consolidate and expand what has been learnt.
By the end of the they claim that you will be at B2 level of the CEFR.
There are tips and help for common problems.
There are grammar tips, pronunciation, tests and innovative exercises.


There are 25 units in the book, three of these are revision units. There is a through grammar and vocabulary syllabus, which gets more challenging as you progress through the book.
The themes are relevant for people learning Portuguese for a visit and in the later units for anyone planning to live in Portuguese-speaking country.
The book is a reasonable price.
The author is very knowledgeable and gives good explanations of the language with useful examples.
The themes of the units focus on functional language and there is a good progress in the level of the vocabulary.
Each unit follows a similar structure: new language is presented in one or two dialogues,  followed by a pronunciation activity, then there are sections focusing on expressions and cultural information, and finally a grammar section. The unit ends with a series of activities.
The exercises are very functional and include speaking activities.
The methodology is very clear.
There is a large section of useful endmatter, including an answer key, a pronunciation section, a section covering regular and irregular verbs and both Portuguese-English and English-Portuguese wordlists.
There is good coverage of pronunciation skills.
The book contains lots of interesting cultural information and includes vocabulary for technology. The section on writing letters in Unit 22 is very good and I often refer to it when writing business letters in Portuguese.
It gives a good grounding in the language necessary for the GCSE, CIPLE or DEPLE exams and makes a good revision course.


There is very limited listening. There are only 2 CDs and even in the latter units the listening texts are spoken very slowly and don’t offer any challenge. It does not prepare you for the speed that real people speak!
In some units a lot of new grammar is taught in the same unit, eg in Unit 17 both the present subjunctive and the future subjunctive are taught.
The design of the units is a bit confusing. The headings of the different sections aren’t clear and it isn’t always easy to know which section of the unit you are in. Also, the numbering of the activities is a bit unnecessarily complicated, eg 17.7.1.
The course aims to teach both European and Brazilian Portuguese simultaneously and the result is a confusing mix of the two. Both are taught from Unit 1 and as a beginner I found this very confusing. I ended up fast-forwarding the CD past the Brazilian pronunciation sections so that I could focus on the  European Portuguese speakers. It would have been better if it had focussed on European Portuguese, but introduced Brazilian Portuguese in a receptive way in the later units.
The book claims to take you to B2 level (which is A level standard). The grammar does go up to A level standard, but the level of the activities, including the reading and listening texts don’t go that far.
Despite the publisher claims, there are not any tests. They are review units.
It is a cheap-quality book comprising black and white text on rough paper, with very few pieces of artwork or photos. The pages are poorly stuck in and after I had finished working through the book the spine broke in several sections and pages started falling out.
Curso de Português, Learning Portuguese

Curso de Português

Author: Antonio Fornazaro
Publisher: Linguaphone
Publication date: 1987
Price: £179
CEFR levels: A1-B1 (Beginner to Intermediate)
Components: Textbook (344 pages), Handbook (382 pages), 8 audio CDs
Number of hours: 85-100
⦁ Present tense – regular and irregular verbs
⦁ Articles
⦁ Subject pronouns
⦁ Possessive adjectives
⦁ Preposition + article
⦁ queria (would), podia (could)
⦁ Adjective with noun and pronoun
⦁ Direct object pronouns
⦁ Imperatives
⦁ Comparatives
⦁ Demonstratives
⦁ Preterite
⦁ Indirect object pronouns
⦁ Imperfect
⦁ Plurals of nouns and adjectives
⦁ Past participles
⦁ Indefinite and negative pronouns
⦁ Reflexives
⦁ Present subjunctive
⦁ Pronouns
⦁ Future subjunctive
⦁ Agreement of noun, adjective and verb
⦁ Future
⦁ Superlative
⦁ Imperfect subjunctive
⦁ Conditional
⦁ cujo (whose)
⦁ Passive voice
⦁ acabar de, já, nunca, desde, há/faz, ter + past participle (have/has + past participle)
⦁ Object pronouns
⦁ Pluperfect
⦁ Inflected/personal infinitive
⦁ Object pronouns with the future and the conditional

⦁ Meeting people
⦁ Professions
⦁ Numbers
⦁ Nationalities
⦁ Greetings
⦁ Time expressions
⦁ Expressing likes and dislikes
⦁ Telephone language
⦁ Telling the time
⦁ Days of the week
⦁ Buying tickets
⦁ Making appointments
⦁ Months of the year
⦁ Directions
⦁ Introducing people
⦁ Everyday activities
⦁ Food and drink
⦁ Shops
⦁ Colours
⦁ Clothes
⦁ Media and current affairs
⦁ Motoring
⦁ Weather
⦁ Staying in a hotel or on a campsite
⦁ Holiday activities
⦁ Banks
⦁ Eating out
⦁ Parts of the body
⦁ Ailments
⦁ Entertainment
⦁ Shopping for food
⦁ Applying for a job
⦁ Renting or buying a house or flat
⦁ Engaging tradespeople
⦁ Emergency services
⦁ Business language
⦁ Sports
⦁ Christmas
⦁ Travelling by plane

Publisher claims

The course teaches how the language works and how to use it through practical topics and everyday situations, using the Linguaphone method of listen, understand, speak. It teaches over 2000 words. They claim it covers Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels (but don’t refer to the CEFR in this claim). The Textbook is written in Portuguese and contains the audio text, pronunciation sections and written and spoken exercises. The Handbook is written in English and contains bilingual wordlists, grammar and vocabulary explanations and instructions for the activities. Rather than learning vocabulary and phrases, you learn to express thoughts and feelings, understand native Portuguese speakers and be able to speak Portuguese.


The course focuses on European Portuguese. There are recurring characters (Portuguese Manuel and his Brazilian friends Ricardo and Maria Luísa) who appear in many of the units. The Brazilian characters are used for receptive language, not productive.
The course is structured and there is clear progression. By the end of the course the dialogues and reading passages are longer and the speed of the recordings is faster.
There is a variety of activities, which develop the four skills and grammar.
The book comprises 40 units and 8 CDs, which gives through coverage of vocabulary, grammar and listening.
There are regular reviews every five units and a test every 10 units. The test is timed and gives a score at the end.
The themes of the units focus on functional language and there is a good progress in the level of the vocabulary.
The units are structured: new vocabulary is presented through dialogues, there is  a pronunciation activity, and the grammar is taught towards the end of the unit.
The methodology is very clear and the instructions in the Handbook are useful.
The Handbook also contains an index of the grammar and a Portuguese wordlist indicating where the word appears in the Textbook, which makes it easy to locate where the word appears.
There is good coverage of pronunciation skills.
There are useful language and culture notes.
It gives a good grounding in the language necessary for the GCSE, CIPLE or DEPLE exams and makes a good revision course.


The course is very dated. It was published in 1987 and the only change that has been made to it is to convert the original cassettes to CDs. The artwork is old-fashioned and there is no reference to technology.
The design of the book is uninspiring. It is text heavy with black and white artwork.
The course is very expensive considering that nothing has been changed since 1987. It is disappointing that Linguaphone haven’t invested money into updating the course.