Some of the amazing Portuguese Unschoolers

When you learn European Portuguese Outside The Box, you are bound to have

#iupiii moments every week!

Lots of them!
"Iupiii" ("yipee" in English) is just a silly word.
But it means a lot to a Portuguese unschooler:

a new word learnt in context

a stress-free phone call

hearing words, instead of "noise"

feeling like you belong because you understood a joke

#iupiiis from the Portuguese Unschoolers:

Unschooler: A. from Romania

Background: 7 years trying to learn Portuguese on and off

Just after...

2,5 months with us
"Today we invited our Portuguese neighbours for coffee, since we're going to Sweden and spend the whole Summer there. We managed to speak in Portuguese [about architecture] for about half an hour before we had to switch to English."
4 months with us
"I watched the movie "Air" dubbed to European Portuguese, albeit with Portuguese subtitles, but I think I got most of it!"

Unschooler: E. from USA

Background: a handful of 1on1 lessons

Just after...

1 week with us
"I have seen a noticeable improvement! Someone commented my I had better pronunciation.

At the café I overheard a woman correct her order (I didn't actually understand all the words, but I felt like I understood all the words), so I laughed along with the barista. I felt part of the group, if that makes sense.

The Live Chats are fabulous!!! You have created an amazing school. I'm in awe of your dedication and depth of knowledge!!"
9 months with us
"My iupiii has been travelling around to small towns with my sister and it's amazing how much Portuguese I understood and was able to respond to. My sister is vegetarian and I couldn't let her eat French fries and salad for 2 weeks. I would explain she didn't eat meat or fish and the cook would make her a special vegetarian dish.

I was also amazed at how clearly enunciated the language is outside of the Lisbon area and how much people want to chat. I even had a 10 minute conversation with a baker in Marvão

Catarina's method definitely works.

Oh, I never used a translator app even once (quite frankly, I forgot I had one!)."

Unschooler: M. from The Netherlands

Background: complete beginner

Just after...

3 months with us
Exchanged these messages with her Portuguese lawyer on WhatsApp:

"Esqueci-me de fazer a transferência xxx€.
Vou fazer hoje.


Eu já fiz a transferência."
1 year with us
"While talking to the neighbour about the weather, a lovely sunny day, I had the opportunity to reply with "pois, está dsol, mas está um frio de rachar lá fora."

It was received with a roaring laughter and clapping that I am becoming a true portuguesa and many repeats of my sentence."

Unschooler: M. from USA

Background: 2 years of lessons

Just after...

1 month with us
"The change in my attitude to learning Portuguese since joining TLU is huge. For 2 years I have been stumbling around in the dark, learning sooo slowly. I am glad I have a foundation of basic grammar and vocabulary, and I now can see a small light in the distance. I am no longer in complete darkness and I see a way forward. Learning is still challenging, but it is more fun. I feel I am reading, writing, listening, speaking a bit every day." 
1 year with us
"Catarina gave me a great tip for having a conversation with a local friend.
When we met this week, I brought a photo album I made after a trip to Canada and that gave our conversation a focus.
Normally, she wants to tell me something complicated and speaks English.
So we chatted about the photos for over an hour, and only used English when I didn't know the PT word, or when she corrected me with a better phrase: example I said "o próximo dia..." and she said "no dia seguinte" is better when telling a story."

Unschooler: W. from Poland

Background: 7 months of lessons

Just after...

1 month with us
"The introduction to how the language works is really helpful. 
The first videos in the "600 words" series were quite difficult for me. I couldn't understand individual words, but with each subsequent video my understanding got better and better

For the last few I was able to write almost 100% of the text after the second hearing

The stories are presented in an interesting way in everyday language

Portuguese Start has given me a lot of confidence
3 months with us
"1. Yesterday have spend 1hr in bank in Lisbon dealing with company account - everthing in Português. There were some funny situations but mission accomplished.
2/ Almost one hour in restaurant with two unknown retired Portuguese couple during a lunch - managed to carry conversation. There were funny moments that we have laughed over my Português. 
3/ I was asked yesterday 3x how do I know and how long I am learning Português...
4/ Amazingly, in simple conversations, I'm understanding what people say (at least seems like)
5/ For the first time being in Portugal everthing is talking to me - adds, street signs, stores, some phrases in the metro 🙂
Catarina, connected speech really works!
Thank you for your guidance!" 

Unschooler: A. from USA

Background: 2 months of lessons

Just after...

1 month with us
"After doing the TedTalk exercise, I decided to listen to a few more talks in Portuguese. I didn't use subtitles, just closed my eyes and listened. I am thrilled to report I recognized many swallowed words and phrases and I understood maybe 1/3 of what was said."
3 months with us
"Christmas week we were at the praça and stopped into a quaint cerâmica loja. The onwer was a very elegant woman and she greeted us in Portuguese. I replied in Portuguese and immediately told her we just arrived a few weeks earlier and that I am practicing speaking in Portuguese. the conversation remained completely in Portuguese. The woman asked me if I understood what she was telling me and I replied "yes, and if you speak a bit slower I can understand everything, but I told her to please not use "Cinderella Portuguese" like they do on the news. She laughed, and knew exactly what I meant. We spoke for over 15 minutes. She told me about the 2 artists that create all the pottery for the shop. Before we left, I asked what her favorite restaurant was in town. She gave me the name and directions on how to get there from her shop. I felt victorious!!"

Unschooler: U. from Nigeria

Background: 9 months of lessons

Just after...

3 weeks with us
"I’ve been doing an internship at the health center. I basically sit with the doctor in his office and listen to patients talk in Portuguese all day. After each consultation I have to explain to him mostly in English about what I understood from the consultation. In the beginning, I never understood anything but now I have a lot to say about each consultation that the doctor doesn’t have to explain the consultation to me."
3 months with us
"I passed the exam [oral medical exam!!]! I’m not sure the grade but they said I passed. I’m so happy! Thank you so much. ☺"

Unschooler: P. from USA

Background: 9 months of lessons

Just after...

2 months with us
"My iupii is enjoying that, with repeated exposure to listening to small chunks, my brain is finally beginning to take over comprehension of small segments. The brain begins to just recognize some sound combinations to make meaning without super conscious effort. Maybe similar to when we recognize a familiar song when we hear only the first few notes."
4 months with us
"When my neighbours had dinner with us, I understood much better than last time [6 weeks earlier]."

She just before that we had a 45-minute conversation 99% in Portuguese!!

Unschooler: C. from Japan

Background: 6 months of lessons

Just after...

2 weeks with us
"My apartment has many problems, and the repair workers often come in for the tasks. This has been going on for many months. The leader of the workers doesn’t speak English at all, not even “yes” or “no”. In the past, I had to use a translation app on the phone all the times just for the bare minimum talk. 
Lately, I started to speak in Portuguese, although not 100% of times, and he is clearly becoming comfortable to talk with me. That’s my iupiii."
4 months with us
"Earlier this week I had an occasion to be in a share-ride for about 20 mins. A Portuguese driver, of course, spoke slowly for me, but we were able to carry simple conversations, sometimes fragmented and other times picking up the words easily, for the 20 mins ride. He told me about his upcoming vacation to Brazil with his wife. It was an environment that required my spontaneity, and I felt very good afterwards."

Unschooler: F. from The Netherlands

Background: learnt to speak Portuguese in 3 months while living in Moçambique 30 years ago

Just after...

1 month with us
After doing the course from the start, while reading (audio)books and writing beautifully in Portuguese already:

"Last night we had dinner with my Portuguese friend with whom I usually talk in Dutch, but on my request we're talking Portuguese nowadays (when we're alone). On the same occasion I met an old colleague, a cook, and he's from Portugal as well, and of course we talked Portuguese together (this happened all in the centre of Amsterdam!)."
3,5 months with us
"After we had landed in Portugal, my Mozambican friend phoned me out of the blue, and we had a long conversation in Portuguese (I hinted: ‘Aren’t you delighted that we no longer speak English to each other?’, to which she responded: ‘I am, and I knew you weren’t going to forsake your Mozambican base!’ 😊).
This morning, I had a long exchange with the wonderful owner of a tiny eco shop. We talked about many other things too, and I just felt so grateful for being able to converse so effortlessly.
Last September, it was still before enrolling in the course, I made a resolve, i.e. to just follow my heart and go for the language I love.I already shared this with Catarina, but will share it here again: 'Passei a manhã a falar português. Ultrapassei a 100% a minha crítica interior. A mulher perguntou-me se eu era tradutora!'"

If you tend to do things differently...
are tired of not understanding the Portuguese...
want to feel at home in Portuguese and in Portugal... AND ARE READY TO START?

What does it feel like to learn Portuguese à la Unschooling?

"I found Catarina quite by chance, on YouTube. She was very funny and it was immediately apparent she loved language learning.I became a student last October [2023]. I haven’t looked back since.
Besides talking about how much fun it is at her school, I wanted to share a bit about how I feel about my learning journey.
I am never alone. Catarina took the time to get to know me, really know what motivates me, what my interests were, what my learning style was. I feel I am always supported. I can reach out day or night and ask a question, get clarification, or simply say hi. I always get my questions answered. And in those moments when I am frustrated Catarina gets me out of my funk and points me in the right direction. 
I’ve never experienced a teacher like Catarina, nor a learning environment like she has created here at The Language Unschool
I am now conversational and am headed to fluency
Thank you Catarina!"
Amy, USA
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"The little Portuguese I had picked up thirty years ago had been getting more and more rusty, but — time-pressured and habitually stressed —I felt reluctant to enrol in a formal course
However, Catarina’s unique approach to (un)learning convinced me. To me, one of The Language Unschool’s characteristics that stand out is its tailor-made support. Catarina seems to be aware of everyone’s challenges and pitfalls, and she’s truly one of the loveliest and most supportive teachers I know. 
Flor, The Netherlands
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"I started the The Language Unschool program with Catarina a few months ago.  
I had tried other courses, but wasn’t progressing in understanding the spoken language and speaking. 
Catarina’s Unschool program focuses on how the language is really spoken in a fun way
What really makes the program different is the personal attention students receive.
The course not only includes multiple live sessions during the week but also detailed feedback on writing and audio samples that you are encouraged to submit. (I always receive a response either the same day or the next day.)    
For the live sessions, Catarina prepares material specifically for what you want to focus on. There is so much personal attention.  
In a few months [3 months] I really noticed a difference in my listening comprehension and pronunciation.  
I highly recommend Catarina’s The Language Unschool program." 

Deborah, USA
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"I grew up in the UK in the 1980's when languages were not taught in school beyond the basic level.
By the time we were of an age to select options for G.C.S.E., I , like most people had already given up on my rudimentary Spanish. Worse, the education system of the time did not teach basic rules of grammar, as, we were told, you should be able to read, write, speak etc without it! Typical British.... ;-)
 Consequently, I had no basic understanding of the rules of language by the time I came to start learning another language, Arabic, at college. The grammar was simple and the tutor was patient, but again I didn't pursue it beyond the OCN Level II, because I wasn't using it. 
By the time I met my now Portuguese wife at University in London, I was grateful she was fluent in English, and as we were living in England, there was no urgent need to learn Portuguese. 
We decided to relocate permanently to Portugal in 2020 and it became apparent I better become at least semi-fluent and fast. 
I had tried various evening classes whilst living in the UK, but found my lack of grammar structure (which is why I mention previous academic history above) and the tutors' (plural) rigid rules of teaching wasn't working for me, even when I tried one to one on-line tuition.
Using the app Drops helped to a certain extent with vocabulary, but still left me frustrated in my own lack of ability to communicate
My wife found Catarina's Unschool for me, and after an initial 45 minute free consultation, I realised this was my best hope of larning Portuguese at my own pace, in my own quirky way, and without pressure of a 40 hour intensive course I know other expats have tried through classes provided by local councils to get the certificate level required for permanent residency (again I count myself fortunate both in being married to a Portuguese spouse, which somewhat negates that requirement), but I am also grateful that Catarina's Unschool approach allows me to work through the on-line tutorials at my own pace.
I am also discovering along the way she has provided masses of material available for her Unschoolers, that for the first time I feel like I am making real progress without feeling pressured. 
Catarina's approach provides plenty of support when needed.
I should also say I have Dyspraxia, a neuro-developmental organisational learning difference. This makes me the worst student to try and teach, because I work in a holistic way and do not stick to organised programmes or rules, grammatical or otherwise.
With the Speakfool and individual zoom calls with Catarina, I feel I can see real progress in my Portuguese, even starting to write a few sentences, which I had not previously been able to construct alone. 
The continuous access without a time constraint of other organised courses has worked best for me, and will work for others, even if by just taking off that pressure of a 40 hour commitment of other courses, I am now confidently reading the books in Portuguese I need to write my own (English language) museum guide for Portugal. I am certainly grateful that Catarina has the skills and resources to support me in the way I work best.
Trust me, if she can teach me, she can teach anybody! 
Thank you Catarina. 😊

Keith, UK

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Do you want to have the FREEDOM to converse with anyone about the weather or philosophy?

Will you be my next Portuguese Unschooler?