One of my dreams was to get paid to learn a language. I feel so blessed because my dream became a reality.
Last summer (2019), I received my first assignment: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After Flag Day (Flag day is when Foreign Service Officers find out where their first post will be), I went through a gamut of training ranging from regional studies to consular tradecraft.
Since October, I’ve been in intensive Portuguese language training.
When you’re in language training, it’s a full-time job. From Monday to Friday, with an exception of two days a week, I had five hours of classroom time, with a two-hour break for lunch and self-study.
During class, my teachers prepared me to speak on a variety of topics including the environment, politics, societal issues, and culture. I also gained skills in giving presentations, interviewing, and telling stories in Portuguese. In class, we also learned how to read books and opinion pieces also in Portuguese.
Each night, I would usually have homework.
Language classes at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), at least in the Portuguese department, are very small. When I began classes last October, there were five other students. After a month, there were only three of us.
No. But, we have benchmarks and a final test. When I took my final test, I had to speak and read Portuguese at a 3/3 level on the IRL scale.
No. I just learned Brazilian Portuguese. But, I can understand Continental Portuguese.
My teachers were from all over Brazil. I had a new teacher every 4-6 weeks.
No, however, I had a foundation of Spanish which helped me.
My teachers did a really good job. I went from not knowing much about Portuguese to being able to talk at length in the language. I absolutely adore the Portuguese language!