It took me 12 years to learn the word ‘torneira’ in English. I actually had to miss a connection flight in Germany, arrive late for dinner in New Orleans, face the dilemma of taking a hot shower, or no shower because the ‘torneira de água fria’ wouldn’t open, to learn it.

I still remember the feeling of flicking through my pocket dictionary, looking up the word ‘torneira’ in English, picking up the phone, gathering all my courage and ask for help because ‘não consigo abrir a torneira de água fria!’ (note we pronounce [dAHgua])

I may have blamed all my English teachers for not teaching me such a basic word, or myself for not registering it in my long-term memory, but I’m not sure. Either way, these feelings added a lot to the experience. Now ‘tap’, has a meaning to me no dictionary can tell.

I often say Portuguese is public domain; you need to make it yours. What I mean is, make it personal, find and create connections.

When an unschooler of mine once expressed anger because I had not included two confusing verbs in my program, I simply smiled. She’d looked them up herself and she explained to me the difference. No teachers; no students. We’re all unschoolers.

If you have enjoyed this quick lesson and would like to learn more Portuguese outside of the box, then please contact Catarina from The Language Unschool -