Oxford is one of only two Universities where Portuguese can be studied as an independent language, both in Modern Languages degrees, where it can be combined with any of the other languages offered, and in the Joint Schools with English, History, Philosophy or Classics. Portuguese can be studied ab initio or post A-level. Portuguese at Oxford is expanding; the first King John II Professor of Portuguese Studies was appointed in 1996, and there are in addition three lecturers in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, and a Portuguese-speaking leitor appointed by the Instituto Camões in Lisbon, to provide expert language teaching at all levels.
Why study Portuguese?
Portuguese is one of the six most widely spoken world languages, with over 180 million native speakers worldwide, in Portugal, Brazil, Africa and beyond, and is becoming ever more important as a language of commerce. Portugal is an established member of the EC, and Brazil is the largest and fastest developing nation in South America.
Portugal is England’s oldest ally (by a treaty signed in 1386, when the King of Portugal took an English wife) and the two countries have been closely linked ever since. The Portuguese discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries opened up Africa, Asia, and South America to the European nations (the Portuguese reached Australia, but were unable to exploit their discovery). Portuguese and Brazilian Literature is a treasure house awaiting discovery!
Why study Portuguese at Oxford?
Oxford is one of only two Universities where Portuguese can be studied as an independent language, both in Modern Languages degrees, where it can be combined with any of the other languages offered, and in the Joint Schools with English, History, Philosophy or Classics. Portuguese can be studied ab initio or post A-level. Portuguese at Oxford is expanding; the first King John II Professor of Portuguese Studies was appointed in 1996, and there are in addition two lecturers in Portuguese and a Portuguese-speaking leitor appointed by the Instituto Camões in Lisbon, to provide expert language teaching at all levels.
Portuguese from scratch
Many students of Portuguese come up without any formal training in the language. This note gives some suggestions for how you can introduce yourself to the Portuguese language.
There are a number of simple books for self study, like Colloquial Portuguese (RKP), Hugo’s Portuguese in Three Months, and Teach Yourself Portuguese, all of which come with cassettes to introduce you to Portuguese pronunciation.
There are various ways of getting some experience of speaking Portuguese. The best is to visit Portugal or Brazil, either simply travelling in the country for as long as you can afford, or, if your resources permit, attending one of the many courses for foreigners in Portugal held in the summer months, in private language schools or in universities including Lisbon, Coimbra and Oporto. Do not feel you have to attend a course before you come up: students are expected to spend part of the vacation after their first year in Portugal or Brazil, and there are a number of scholarships fom the University and the Portuguese Government to assist with fees and travel costs.
In addition to individual study and travel you may be able to take private classes in Portuguese, which can be particularly useful after you have broken the ice with self-instructional materials. If you live near a University where Spanish is taught it is likely that Portuguese is taught there too - you should write to the secretary of the appropriate department (usually of Spanish or Hispanic Studies) and ask if they oganise any evening classes in Portuguese, or if there is anyone willing to give private classes. (If you are not sure which institution to approach, we can advise you.) Classes can also be available at Colleges of Further Education, or as part of local evening classes, though these often cater for the more limited demands of tourists.
There is as yet no comprehensive grammar of Portuguese written in English; you would do well to purchase a copy of R.C. Willis, An Essential Course in Modern Portuguese (Nelson), the book normally used here as a reference book, though it is organised as a course book. More easy to handle but less thorough is Amélia Hutchinson and Janet Lloyd, Portuguese: An Essential Grammar (RKP). The standard reference grammar for Portuguese speakers is Celso Cunha and Luis Filipe Lindley Cintra, Nova Gramática do Português Contemporâneo (published in a Portuguese edition by João Sá da Costa, Lisbon, and in a Brazilian one by Nova Fronteira, Rio de Janeiro) which is also available in a student edition, Breve Gramática do Português Contemporâneo. There are various comprehensive guides to verb forms, such as 201 Portuguese Verbs, or SueTyson-Ward, Portuguese verbs and essentials of grammar : a practical guide to the mastery of Portuguese (Passport Books,1997).
For starting up, inexpensive dictionaries like the Oxford Pocket Dictionary, the Collins Pocket Dictionary, or the Langenscheidt Pocket Dictionary are perfectly serviceable (beware, though, of cheap reprints of very old dictionaries). For serious translation work you will need access to all-Portuguese (“monolingual”) defining dictionaries: an excellent and inexpensive defining dictionary is the Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa published by Porto Editora, who also issue a less substantial Dicionário Escolar for school and student use. Various Portuguese dictionaries (including the Porto Editora dictionary) are available in CD-ROM form.
For further information
Professor Phillip Rothwell
King John II Professor of Portuguese
47 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JF
Tel 01865 270474
Professor Claudia Pazos Alonso
Lecturer in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
Wadham College, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PN
Tel 01865 277547
Professor Claire Williams
Lecturer in Brazilian Literature and Culture
St. Peter’s College, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, OX1 2DL
Tel 01865 278932
Portuguese sites and resources from the Taylor Institution Language/Country Resources page
Portuguese weblinks from the Language Centre web site
Ciberportuguês Dr. Stephen Parkinson’s guide to Portuguese web resources
Cantigas de Santa Maria
Instituto Camões Portuguese Centre website (http://www.clpic.ox.ac.uk/)
Instituto Camões (http://www.instituto-camoes.pt)