Portuguese Comprehension

Have spent three days at a ViniPortugal conference, with many of the presentations in Portuguese.  This is actually the best thing for me – intensive listening for a fairly extended period of time, to real voices and real conversations.  Language lesson recordings are always a bit surreal and radio broadcasts these days are mostly about the economy, which I wouldn’t understand in any language, so presentations and discussion about wine, for which I do know a fair amount of vocabulary, are ideal for practice and learning.

The start of each day was really rocky for comprehension, it took about 45 minutes to get my ear tuned into the language again.  After that I was as OK as I was going to get, with only the occasional set-back, for instance the speaker who made his opening remarks in each Chinese, English and Portuguese in rapid succession!

During that start up period I had to keep mentally slapping myself down when I caught my mind translating into English instead of simply absorbing the Portuguese.  I also noticed my listening comprehension seems to be a process of first unravelling the sounds into discrete words, then recognising the words (or not) and then trying to assemble the results of all that into some kind of sense.  What I am left with is a rough idea of what has been said, with some patches of even more intense vagueness, particularly around construing unfamiliar verb endings, and of course those words I simply don’t know yet.  I also am generally left lagging a good 30 to 60 seconds in my comprehension, which can snowball a bit, so I end up mentally skipping a sentance or phrase occasionally in an effort to keep up.

Being a very visual person myself (which in great part explains my language learning difficulties – I am fundamentally visual, not aural) the best way I can explain my listening comprehension levels is like this:

This is what they are saying:

And this is what I am hearing:

Off topic note for the curious:  these are views of Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha, in the Pinhão valley – the first taken mid October when they were in their final week of harvest, and the second taken earlier this week in heavy rain and shifting cloud mass.  The second vineyard back on the left looks a bit like linguine, because it is in process of being re-planted – after harvest, the wires and posts were taken out, the vines ripped up, and new mini-patamares (sculpted earth terraces, each carrying one row of vines) within each socalco (walled terrace originally planted with 8 to 12 rows of vines on a level though slightly inclined surface) are being sculpted by the bulldozers.