Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Portuguese language’


Firstly, oops! It wasn’t my intention to completely ignore the blog. It’s not that I had anything specifically better to do (just the usual routine of work and family life), I just… well, didn’t get around to updating.

The last time I posted (apart from our Italy posts), the kids had been off school for a few weeks and were (probably) already driving us bonkers. That pretty much sums up the remainder of the summer holiday up until the point where the boys went back to school on 17th September.

back_to_school

The return to school itself was a mixture of blessed relief and stress.

Eliot was fine. He was, I think, quite happy to be getting back to his friends, and there’s no denying that we were relieved to be getting back to some sort of routine and normality. Once we’d got used to the early mornings, that is!

Jake was less pleased. He’d been moved out of his class group AGAIN due to scheduling issues with his “Portuguese as a Foreign Language” that he does in place of mainstream Portuguese lessons. We understood completely why they’d had to do it, but Jake wasn’t happy about it at all.

That said, now that we are 7 weeks or so in, he’s settled in OK.

He does need a fair amount of blackmail and bribary this year though. This school year is a big exam year for both boys, and they need to pass this year in order to move onto their next stage of education.

If Jake passes, which we hope he will but it really is anybody’s guess, he will move into year 10 which is a change of school. I think in years 10,11 and 12, they choose specifically subjects or subject areas to study, rather than the obligatory set curriculum that they do up to the end of year 9. I have to confess that I don’t know nearly enough about Ensino Secundário (years 10-12 – secondary education) here in Portugal. If anybody wants to educate ME in that area, please do!

If Eliot passes his year (and, it is an “if”), he will move into year 5 and up to the school the Jake is currently in. This is a huge bonus for us because it is just around the corner and it means he will be able to walk or cycle to school rather than us having to drive him there.
There’s a very real fear that he will not pass this year though, specifically because it IS a big exam year. His Portuguese language skills are (apart from his speaking/understanding) just not good enough and he is reluctant to accept additional help. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. Maybe failing this year is what he needs to accept that he does need some extra help.

Having said all that, I don’t want it to seem like we are expecting him to fail. I think, if he put his mind to it, he could do a lot well, but from a long-term “bigger picture” point of view, we are far less worried about him than Jake actually. Eliot is a strong, independent boy and will succeed in life, I think, whatever he chooses to do, and I don’t believe that his ultimate success will be governed by his academic abilities.

For example, he is outgoing and adventurous. He thinks nothing of chatting to people and being a general sociable soul. He has a particular love of dressing up and going out into town (on his own, I should add) just generally entertaining folk.

How many ten-year-olds do you know that would/could do that?

Eliot in his Morphsuit tn_IMG_1912 tn_IMG_1917

Eliot kinda freaks out some more unknowing lady!

As well as his green Morphsuit, he also has an Assassin’s Creed costume which he sometimes goes into town wearing. He does so love to entertain his audience!

Eliot’s Assassin’s Creed costume

This thing was (and is) truly a battle of wills. It was his birthday present and had to be ordered from overseas. Needless to say, Portuguese customs held on to it for 3 weeks before they delivered it (and they didn’t even charge duty or anything for it, so goodness knows why they held it!).

It’s made up of about 15-20 individual pieces and takes about 10 minutes to even put on! I actually don’t think it is correctly worn in the above photo but it’s the only picture I have of Eliot wearing it. Ask a few tourists from Lagos this summer. They probably have more photos of him than we do! In fact, when he wore his Morphsuit one time, we had got as far as the Marina bridge and it was up for a boat to go through. As we waited, several tourists had photo ops with Eliot!

He definitely has a calling… and i’m fairly certain it has nothing to do with his academic abilities!

So, what else have we done? Not a great deal really.

Back to school, work, general stuff. I visited Wendy for her birthday in early October. We’ve done a few trips out locally but mostly just been getting on with real life.

There have been a few beach visit.

Eliot body boarding

Eliot body boarding on Meia Praia beach.

And a few trips along to Praia de Rocha (the chippie here used to call to us occasionally – it has closed for good now so we probably won’t venture that way often any more)

Sunset across Praia de Rocha

Obligatory sunset “wonky tree” shot

Nik is off to the final round of the MotoGP in Valencia this weekend – lucky him! I’ll just stay home with the kids and watch it on TV. I’m not bitter about it. It promises to be a good end-of-season race. It’s down to two riders for the championship title. Defending champion Jorge Lorenzo or newbie Marc Marquez. We’re all rooting for Marquez here (even though Nik is a die hard Rossi fan!)

The resident Rossi fan (and yes, he’ll be wearing that at the MotoGP this weekend)

I say “Team Marquez!!”

Anyway, it’ll be a big race and I can’t wait to see it (on the telly!)

In other news, we are all going to England for Christmas this year. It was decided that we would do it as a treat for the boys, who are missing their English friends quite a lot. They’re both very excited about it, as are our families. Nik and I are kinda sorta excited mixed with a feeling of “what are we thinking? It’ll be freezing!”

I’m sure it’ll be fun though, and it comes with the bonus of not having to bother putting up Christmas decorations and suchlike and not having to worry about how we are sorting out everybody’s gifts this year. We’re just getting them all shipped to the UK and can do them all face-to-face, which will be nice.

Then, next year, we can get back to having our Christmas in more favourable weather! We shall miss our traditional Boxing Day walk in Alvor! I can’t see us finding a Lincolnshire location that would rival it!

We’re still having some wonderful weather here, with days still reaching high 20s in the sun. We’ve had a few spells of iffy weather, overcast and a few showers, but on the whole, it still feels like summer if you get out there in the sun. Obviously, we don’t do that as often as we’d like really, but we do try to make a point of visiting our local bar, The Lighthouse,  and sitting outside in the sun once in a while.

It doesn’t hurt that it means I can sup a pint or two at the same time, of course.

Quick pint at our local “The Lighthouse” in Lagos Marina

So, I think that’s all our news for now anyway.

I have my next “A to Z of Portugal” post topic sorted and will try to post that soon.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Yep yep. It’s that time of year already.

The boys have been off school for nearly 4 weeks already and, boy, don’t I know it?!

We made the decision not to send Eliot to the Kids Club which he has been going to in the summer for the past two years, mostly because we just can’t afford it. It’s lovely that the kids get to do so many great things there, but it’s a trek across to Luz twice a day and it’s money we don’t have.

So, both boys are home for the 3 months of summer. Yikes!

tearing-hair-out

Fortunately, the Hand family (well, the males!) have a new hobby: Archery!

Jake with his compound bow

Since the last update, after Eliot and Nik had a taster session, they have found themselves a more local archery club and our home is now full of equipment. The club itself, Archery Fun, also has guest bows so our visitors have been enjoying a bit of archery too!

Wendy and Rod on their recent visit

Which reminds me, I recently celebrated a… let’s say “significant” birthday and my family flew over to surprise me! I had no idea that this had been planned for months and months. Wendy just turned up at the door on the Friday and Mum and Rod appeared on the Saturday morning!! (They had all flown over together but Wendy was staying with us – cue me running around making the bed and tidying up – and Mum and Rod were staying nearby)

I was in shock for at least 48 hours and then I got old. Such is life!

It was a wonderful surprise though.

Anyway, back to the archery.
Both boys – actually all THREE boys – are loving their new hobby. The club is open 3 evenings during the week and both Saturday and Sunday mornings, and usually, they go to each session. The kids don’t go to every session but Nik usually does (with one or both kids, depending on who wants to go)

They are all doing really well at it. And anything that gets Jake out of the house cannot be a bad thing, can it?

passfail

And so to the school updates.

This year was a tricky one. I think I mentioned earlier in the year that Jake was not doing well at the end of his first term in year 8. He failed a lot of subjects, and it was a huge reality check for us all. We had no idea he was slipping so badly, and I think he had just presumed he could coast by on the level of work he had always done.

Not so, buddy!

One thing we did discover, and this could have a lot to do with his shocking result, is that he had been moved into a more ‘mainstream’ class.
Since he started school here 3 years ago, he has been in very mixed classes with a wide range of ages (he’s usually been the youngest) and with the more ‘challenging’ children (something his head-of-year let slip last year). There may have been allowances made, in his grades, for this.

Now, I can understand why they did this when he first started but clearly, at the end of year 7, they decided that his ability was such that he could join the ‘normal’ ranks and his class this year was made up of his own age group and clearly more able students.

This turned out to be a bit of a disadvantage for my ‘coaster’, until he was rudely awakened by failing 6 subjects by the end of term 1!

So, we introduced blackmail and bribery (as every good parent should, right?) and he had picked up 3 of those grades by the end of term 2. Kudos to Jake! Study paid off!

He is still below par in those same 3 (History, Geography and Science) at the end of term 3 but, because both his Maths and Portuguese (which he still studies as a foreigner rather than alongside the ‘natives’) were good enough, it was still enough to pass year 8.

Well done, Jake. It was definitely hit and miss for a while but he did it.

Congratulations

Congratulations to both of our boys

Eliot, who was held back in year 3 last year, also passed this year and so he moves into year 4. It will be an incredibly difficult year for him and I think we shall have to come up with some blackmail and bribery techniques for him also. Year 4 is a big exam year (they have to pass exams to move into year 5 which is a change of school) and Eliot’s reading in Portuguese is still very below par. Speaking – he can do until the cows come home (and the cows would probably stay away just for the peace and quiet!) but his reading and spelling is poor. We may have to consider a tutor for him, now he’s a little bit older.

Year 9 is also a big exam year for Jake. It’s the final year of their stage of schooling, after which they move to Portuguese secondary (years 10, 11 and 12) which is the equivalent of A-levels. He seems WAYYYY too young for this stage of life!

So both boys will have to work hard in the coming school year. I foresee many tears and tantrums and not enough study.

Still, at least we have summer to enjoy first.

View from The Lighthouse bar at the Marina

And speaking of summer and holidays, Nik and I have a trip to Florence at the end of this month. Yes, just US!
We are visiting, well, I am visiting for a Buffy and Angel convention – Slayer ItaCon – and so we took the excuse to go as a couple and Pat (Nik’s mum) is coming to babysit the boys for a week.

I’m super-excited to be meeting James Marsters and  Nicholas Brendon and hearing James and his son, Sullivan, two-fifths of Ghost of the Robot, play live – I’m a big GOTR and James Marsters fan – and we are both giddy about the prospect of an entire week in Florence on our own!

It’s going to be an amazing summer!

Hopefully, we won’t all fry to a crisp beforehand. The temperature during the day is well up in the high 30s, early 40s and even overnight is nudging 30. It’s seriously brain-frying.

I did have a week off from it when I visited Wendy in her new (yes, again!) home in Sleaford a couple of weeks ago though. It was pleasant there, warm and mostly sunny, and we did a few outdoorsy things on the days Wendy had off work – visited Belton House and did some gardening.

Belton House Orangery and Church – The sun is even shining in the UK right now!

The Lake House at Belton House

And perhaps we stopped from cream tea!

Cream Tea at Belton House

Of course, we also had a BBQ and a few… well, OK, lots of homemade Mojitos!

Homemade Mojitos

It was a good week actually. I enjoyed it.

The boys didn’t suffer too much without me. Nik’s sister was in Portugal for the week so they spent several days around the pool and being sociable with the in-laws here in the sun.

It was nice to get back to a bit of normality though. Until the next trip…

Read Full Post »


Goodness knows, I’ve asked myself that a lot since we moved here in July 2010.

There’s no denying that moving to a different country with children is a very difficult thing to do. However much you tell yourself you’re doing it for “the greater good”, there are worries and doubts at every step of the way.

Obviously, these doubts and worries are not helped by plunging those children into a foreign language school environment. In fact, I think that language is, and probably always will be, our number one hurdle.

confused

There is only so much preparation you can do before moving to a foreign country. You can visit and research local areas, amenities, schools etc. What you can’t do, unless you happen to be fluent in a second language already (that’s you AND your family, of course) is remove the language barrier completely. Some basic language skills in advance are a good thing, of course, but they really won’t prepare you for what it’s like to be surrounded by it 24/7!

I’d be lying if I said that our boys’ education hasn’t suffered in some way. Jake used to be a Maths whizz in his UK school. Now he struggles, even in this subject. His first 2 years here, he actually did really well. He passed both years and seemed to be doing ok. He’s been having one-on-one Portuguese lessons at home, for an hour a week, for around 18 months now and these have definitely helped. Jake has gone from “I am NEVER speaking Portuguese” to being (or claiming to be) fairly confident. He says he doesn’t feel that way any more. That’s definitely a step in the right direction.

In his first term of year 8, however, it seemed like we’d taken huge steps backwards. He went from only failing the “least likely to scrape through” subjects, to failing, well, nearly all of them! 6 negatives on his end of term report were a real shock. They’ve prompted change though and I’m hopeful that the changes we’ve made will help. His end of second term report will tell us, I suppose.

Eliot is also struggling. He was held back last year and remains in year 3. This was a good thing really because he needs the extra time in the lower classes and his teacher tells us he has improved a fair bit. There’s no denying his verbal Portuguese skills are confident but reading and writing lags behind. His reading in English, however, is very good (something which bemuses us because nobody has actually taught him this!) and that’s reassuring. His Portuguese reading will catch up. Now he just needs to learn to spell. Either language would be good!

Jake’s last report plunged me into doubt and regret, of course, and renewed all the “are we doing the right thing?” feelings. I actually ran through my mind how returning to the UK could be better. For Jake, perhaps the move back wouldn’t be a problem in his education (in fact, the stuff he’s learning/studying here is far beyond the UK equivalent school curriculum) but it would be a huge problem for Eliot. When we moved here, Eliot was held back a year. He was also held back again last year. This means he is currently in year 3 (which, in Portugal, isn’t a problem as there are many 9 year olds in year 3) but his UK “peers” and old school friends are in year 5. Even if we returned to the UK next school year, he’d be at least 2 years behind everyone he knew and that can’t be a good thing.

Does that make me feel any better? Does it hell?!

It’s not just the kids that throw up doubts and worries, of course. Work is a constant fear. Running our own business remotely puts a lot of pressure on. There’s no steady income. If we don’t get sales, we don’t make money and, if we don’t make money, we can’t transfer it here to live on! We don’t make a huge amount of money (we pretty much live off our 2 minimum director’s salaries here) but  we still have to cover that transfer each month. Most months, it’s OK. Some months, the quiet ones (and don’t all businesses have those?!) are quite unnerving. As anybody who relies on this sort of self-employed income will know, it’s hard and a constant worry.

Oh hell, that really sounds like it’s all doom and gloom! It’s not of course. Aside from money worries and kids, everything is fine!

*insert maniacal panicked laughter here*

There’s a fine line between worrying unnecessarily and sticking your head in the sand.

Here, have a sunny photo to brighten things up!

My beautiful boy. January 2013

Read Full Post »


It seems like ages since I posted a school update although, I suppose, it probably is!

Well, the school year is over and we’re 2 weeks in to the long, long, long summer holidays*

I have to admit, the holidays are easier for us this year, now that I’m not working for anyone except us any more. While this does mean we have a sizeable drop in income, it also means I have more time (well, more flexible time) to spend with my boys and, as long as we are still managing financially**, that’s worth more to us. I still do design work, if a client requests it though. That extra money is definitely always welcome!

So, end of another school year and definitely a different vibe to last year.

Last year, it was all something of an unknown. We hadn’t realised that Jake, being in year 6, would have big end-of-year exams in Maths and Portuguese in order to move from 2nd cycle to 3rd. Quite how he managed to pass those I have no idea. I guess we’re fortunate that he is intelligent enough in Maths to get a good grade and lift him out of the “automatic fail” group (which a failure in both Maths and Portuguese could be)

Year 7 has been a challenge for him though. Academically, it has been far more intense than Year 6 as there have been more subjects (Year 6 General science became 2 Science subjects in year 7. History and Geography split from one subject into 2)

There was a complete change of teachers, in all subjects, and an almost complete change of classmates as the classes are “scrambled” between each year and only a handful of his year 6 classmates were in the same year 7 class as Jake.

That said, Jake has coped admirably. Apart from some early wobbles with his Maths teacher (what is it about Maths teachers?!), he’s had a good year.

Results came out last Saturday and Jake, much to his relief, passed year 7 with flying colours! (in fact, coming 5th in his class of 21, with 4 students not passing at all!)

Well done, Jake!

So we’re all looking forwards to year 8, when they eventually go back in September.

Yesterday, we had Eliot’s school teacher meeting although we’d already been told his result. Actually, should I say, Eliot was told first, he told us and I had to confirm with his teacher at the end-of-term party.

Escola EB1 Meia Praia End of term mini show and party

Eliot hasn’t done so well this year. In fact, despite having a support teacher for 3 sessions a week this year, he seems to have progressed less this year than he did last year (come back, Professora Ana, all is forgiven!)

He’s had little or no homework and, apart from a huge improvement in both his oral and aural Portuguese, has gained little. He still struggles to comprehend written Portuguese and write Portuguese. All perfectly normal, under the circumstances, of course (Jake has had private lessons all year to help his. Eliot hasn’t) but it has meant that, unfortunately, Eliot didn’t pass year 3 this year.

In fact, this is actually a good thing. He has so much more to learn before he can enter year 4. Year 4 heralds the end of 1st cycle school and comes with big exams at the end of it. He’s a long way off getting there. Repeating year 3 will be a huge benefit to him. He probably should have repeated year 2 but hey, that’s in the past.

Obviously, he was pretty upset about “failing”. We’ve tried to explain to him that it’ll help him a lot to repeat year 3 and he’s starting to understand that. His classmates from year 3 will still be in his “class”, because they are a mixed year 3 and 4 class anyway, so that definitely softens the effect slightly.

In fact, yesterday, at the parents’ meeting, we also learned that, next year, due to class numbers, his class will consist of years 1, 3 and 4! (I can only assume that year 2 is a large group!)

That class mix might sound slightly strange (although remember that last year his class was years 1, 2, 3 and 4!) it will actually work to Eliot’s advantage. His teacher (whoever that might be. It may not be Professor Nuno again) will be able to involve Eliot in some of the year 1 work which could benefit him greatly and enable him to pick up some of those missing “basics” alongside his modified year 3 work.

I’m sure it must be difficult for a teacher to manage but, hopefully, it will be helpful for Eliot. Even if his homework is year 1 and his school work his adapted year 3 (they do adapt his standard curriculum work, to a certain degree, also), it should be much better for his progress. Meantime, he’s been sent home with four Year 2 books to do “holiday homework” from. Lucky boy!

So, as we head into the 3 month summer holidays, there are mixed emotions Chez Hand. Fortunately, we have lots to look forwards to. Visitors and visiting, days out and, no doubt, the occasional day when we batten down the hatches and hide from the sun!

Eliot and I are heading to London for a few days next week as a birthday treat for him. It’s something I did with Jake a couple of times, while we were in England and he was littler, but I’ve never done with Eliot. Needless to say, he’s very excited about playing tourist and staying with Aunty Wendy.

Nik and Jake will be left home. This doesn’t bode well for getting anything done. Xbox 24/7 is likely to be order of the day(s)! I won’t bother with a “while I’m gone” chores list.

Eliot will be starting at Click Kids Club in mid July. He’s looking forwards to that too. The interaction (in Portuguese as well as English) will do him good and, hopefully, Sofia, being the magical magician that she is, will be able to coerce Eliot into working through his homework (they have allocated study time, twice a week, which is BRILLIANT!)

Of course, a summer post wouldn’t be complete without a weather report, would it?

Weather has been warming up gradually over the past month or so. We’ve had some days in the high 30s and the past couple have been hazy but hot! I don’t suppose we’ll see much, if any, rain before about September/October now. It’s a tough life, eh?

I never get bored with our balcony view (apologies if you do!)

Click for our current 5 day forecast (you know you want to!)

*Did I mention how long the summer holidays were?

**Jury is still out on that one but so far, so good!

Read Full Post »


N has proved tricky. As you can probably tell by the length of time it has taken me to actually do my “N is for..” post, a suitable topic has eluded me. So, I’ve kinda cheated a bit.

N is for New Experiences

Since we moved to Portugal, nearly 2 years ago, life does feel like it’s been one long road of “firsts” for us. So much new “stuff” has happened.

New country

New town and new home

New ways of working

New schools (ha! brain thought “schools”, fingers started to write “escolas”!)

Escola EB1 Meia Praia (Eliot’s little school)

New friends

Self-taken photo at school, by Eliot!

Image courtesy of Click! Luz

New places to visit

Fontes de Estombar

Portimão Marina

National Forest of Barão de São João

Loulé Carnival

View from Silves Castle

Ponta de Piedade

New beaches to explore

Looking for fish at Praia de Castelejo

Ball games on Meia Praia in February

Christmas Eve on Praia de Batata, Lagos

New things to do

Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos

Dolphins at Zoomarine

Slide and Splash, Lagoa

Eliot scuba diving in the pool at Click! Luz kids club

Surf Lessons at Praia de Odeceixe

New language

There’s a lot to learn!

Jake doing his Portuguese homework

Eliot’s Portuguese work books

New hobbies

Baking – everything from brownies…

..to bread

New foods

Seafood platter to die for!

Meal at The Waterfront Cafe, Portimão

I guess I should stop now really, I think you get the picture?

There’s one thing for certain, life certainly hasn’t been dull since we moved to Portugal!

Long may that continue 🙂

Read Full Post »


I’m not sure if it’s an obvious one or not but I did struggle to come up with anything more important to us, here in Portugal, than the whole language element, whether that be Portuguese (português) or English (inglês)

So, here it is

I is for Inglês

Language is, of course, one of the biggest hurdles when you move to a non-native-English-speaking country. It’s the one thing you can’t really get away from, not entirely. Sure, if you live somewhere touristy or expat-filled enough, you might get away with just a few pleasantries during day-to-day life but, one day, time will come when you need a doctor, a policeman or a pharmacist and you encounter a language barrier. If you’re child-free, you could probably get away with it up to this point. If you have children in the Portuguese school system, however, you need to be prepared to make some effort to learn the language. Once you get into school “red tape” territory, you will encounter plenty of people who don’t (or won’t) speak English and you have to learn at least to keep pace with your children’s pace of learning. Trust me, you do!

How useful are you going to be with homework if you have no understanding of the language? And who wants their children to be able to talk fluently in a language they know nothing about?

If your children are being educated in Portuguese, you’ll need to learn too, regardless of whether you need it at other times or not.

Just a selection of our Portuguese learning books

But this post is about Inglês right? That’s English, not Portuguese!

This is where the Algarve is very different from probably most of the rest of Portugal (and definitely different from rural Portugal!)

In the Algarve, particularly its coastline towns and areas, even if you attempt to ask for something in your best, most practised Portuguese, there will be times (many, many times) when you find that you are responded to in English.

It’s pretty obvious to state that a large percentage of Portuguese speak almost-perfect English. After all, tourism is the mainstay of the Algarve’s income and most of the population here work in the tourist industry to some degree. English is a pretty universal language and you can sometimes hear it spoken more, when out and about, than you hear Portuguese. In tourist season, you’ll wonder if you even live in Portugal at all sometimes! It’s a shame but it’s a fact of life of the Algarve. You can rehearse your restaurant order in Portuguese but don’t be surprised if your waiter answers you in English. Chances are, the German couple next to you will order and be responded to in English too. It’s everywhere!

At first, it feels disheartening when your best efforts are, seemingly, wasted but look at it this way. These people are in a service industry (whether restaurant, supermarket or post office) and, when it’s busy, they need to keep things moving. If their English is better than your Portuguese, just go with it. It’s quicker and more efficient all round. Why spend 15 minutes battling in pidgin Portuguese when you could transact in 5 minutes in English, right?

Some of our portuguese phrase books.

The “BBC” Portuguese Phrase Book and Dictionary is excellent and I highly recommend it!

If you live here, people will get to know you and respect your efforts. The butcher doesn’t reply to me in English any more, our entire conversation is now portuguese. Likewise in the Post Office (depending on how busy they are) I can often get a Portuguese response to my efforts. It’s encouraging.

There are times where it has been a downside that so much English is spoken here, of course. In Jake’s school, when he started, in year 6, many of his new classmates spoke very good English. This means that English has become their primary language of communication which has definitely been a drawback. He is getting there though, with the help of a very good Portuguese language teacher  who comes to teach him, on a one-to-one basis, once a week.

Eliot didn’t have such problems. No one spoke English in his little primary school (well, one TA did if required but his teacher didn’t, or wouldn’t!) so he was thrown in at the deep end. To hear him in the playground now, however, you can see how much that benefited him!

There are many people who have lived here for many, many years and still don’t speak a word of portuguese. I guess living somewhere like this, it’s too easy to get by. It riles me a lot! I have no intention to be so “ignorant” of where we’ve chosen to live. I’m working very hard to learn and I’d love to be at least competent, if not fluent (I think this dog’s maybe too old to get fluent!) by the time the boys are. I have numerous books that I regularly refer to.

501 Portuguese Verbs (Barron’s 501 Portuguese Verbs) is another that is regularly thumbed through by both Jake and me.

Portuguese Verbs Explained: An Essential Guide is a great book you can work through to teach yourself. It’s simple, with quick exercises at the end of each chapter. I used to use this book to teach myself while I waited outside school, in the car, before we left the UK!

Collins Portuguese Dictionary is our main “household” dictionary. Another well-used book!

Collins Gem – Portuguese Dictionary is the smaller version that Jake uses at school. We’re actually on our second one of these. They don’t “wear” too well, kicked about in a school bag every day!

Not forgetting, of course, a few fun vocabulary books, for the boys! First Thousand Words in Portuguese is a fun book with colourful pictures and useful vocab and Eliot has loved learning from his Everyday Words Flashcards: Portuguese which are very well-used now!

As you can see from my first bookshelf photo, there are numerous other books that we use. I have a couple of “Portuguese as a second language”  books which I’ve used from time to time (not often enough, if I’m honest!) and Jake has some that he uses for his lessons.

There’s no substitute for getting out there and using your newly learned language skills though, despite the English you may get back! Be persistent and reply to their English in Portuguese, they’ll soon get the message 🙂

Note: All book links are Amazon affiliate links. I’ve only posted the ones we have used a lot and found hugely beneficial to have around (goodness knows we actually own many, many more!) so please do consider repaying the recommendation by using our links. Thanks!

Read Full Post »


The boys have been back to school for about 5 weeks now, I think. They eventually returned on 17th September after a long, long, long summer break of 3 whole months! (Did I mention how long it was?)

Anyway, Jake has settled quite well into his new class and adapted well to his new erratic timetable! He has 2 days where he does 10.15am to 6.30pm, a day where he only does 1.30pm to 6.30pm and 2 days of 8.30am to 1.30pm! It’s not so bad because we only live close to school (5 mins walk) and there’s always someone home anyway but I can imagine that sort of schedule plays havoc with a “normal” working home!

Eliot’s school timetable is much more normal. 9am til 3.30pm is the usual with extra-curricular subjects (2 per day) until 5.30 each day. He does English on a Tuesday, so finishes at 4.30 and Apoio Estudo (study support) and English on a Thursday, finishing at 5.30. He’s tolerating it (although he really isn’t best pleased about it!) for now.

He seems to be getting on ok with his new class format and teacher. The school is now split into 2 classes. Years 1 and 2 in one class and years 3 and 4 in another. This could have been disastrous for Eliot because last year, Eliot’s teacher had been letting him work, in Portuguese language lessons, with the lower class and now he can’t do that (because he’s in year 3 and year 2 are in a different room)

On the plus side though, he does seem to like his new teacher. Eliot says that he (the new teacher is male) is much calmer and quieter than Ana used to be (she was a formidable woman haha) but I’m sure that having a 2-year class of 15 rather than a 4-year-span class of 22 makes a difference too!

We’ve also been told that Eliot now has support in class 3 times a week with someone coming in to help him with his Portuguese. This is fantastic news (for us anyway, probably not for Eliot!) because Ana tried all year to get support last school year! It can only be a good thing, especially as he’s now having to “keep up” with the year 3 kids. Of course, he’s not appreciating this as it comes with extra homework. Oops!

Jake is finding his school Portuguese lessons much easier now that they have changed his schedule to only doing “Portuguese as a foreign language” rather than the standard Portuguese language lessons. He’s doing well because it’s all stuff he’s already covered in his private lesson so this should be confidence-boosting too. He’s also thriving in his French class as he’s had a bit of a head start from the little he learnt in England. We’re doing ok so far…

In other news, we finally got registered at the health centre! There was still some debate about social security numbers because neither Nik or the boys have them (I had no idea the kids even needed them!) so we’re sorting the boys’ numbers out and hoping Nik will still get treated anyway (I’m sure he will, just with no financial subsidies but we wouldn’t have been entitled to those anyway!)

The boys have also been getting the vaccinations done. There were a load than needed doing that are different to the UK. BCG, 3 x Hep B and tetanus for Jake and just BCG and 3 x Hep B for Eliot. Sorry boys! They are being fairly good about it although it is costing me in “bribe” money!

That’s probably about it for “news” really. It’s all rather dull and photo-free. Let me see if I can dig out a pretty sunshine photo for you.

It is still sunny and warm here at the minute. Still not had any rain for what feels like months and months and months (etc) although the temp has dropped a little, especially noticable in the mornings, and rain is forecast for the weekend.

Well, it would be, wouldn’t it? It’s half term in the UK!!

Across Praia de Batata and Meia Praia

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: