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
Syllabus:
Grammar
⦁ 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

 

Vocabulary
⦁ 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.

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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 no 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.