Image (diary writing) by Fredrik Rubensson (CC BY 2.0)
In this article I want to suggest some writing activities. And maybe you can say: "Li! I'm focusing in conversation! Why should I waste my time on writing?". Well, let me show you that you never lose your time when use this method...
Writing helps to maximize your learning and it's an important skill in any language. As a consequence, you end up improving your speaking skills. for example, you... yes you that have not so many opportunities to join conversation with native speakers in your city, can you remember a situation when you finally found an opportunity but didn't know what to say? Well... if you are used to write in Portuguese, when this day comes, you'll be prepared.
Writing allows you to practice everything that you are learning. But, how can you really practice? You do this when you write abour things you do, things you read, things you watch or things that you like. In other words, when you have the opportunity to creat a connection between your exercise and the real life. This makes it much easier to retain what you learn.
Oh! Another benefit: it is much easier to make a native speaker correct a text than a conversation :-)
So, did I manage to convince you? Huh? If so, I want to suggest a way to do all this in this article. You can use 3 very useful tools that are offered for free at Italki: "Notebook", "Answers" e "Discussions". Here is a short activity plan:
STEP 1: COMBINE WRITING WITH ANOTHER PRACTICE
The first thing to think about is that you should not just write 'lost' sentences. You should write about things you can interact with: describe your activities, talk about movies that you have watched, give your opinion about an article that you could read, talk about your plans, etc.
This way it is much easier to keep fixed in your mind the words and expressions you have learned. Also, it is much easier to understand how to integrate these words into phrases for real-life situations.
If you do not know where to start, follow some examples of articles in Portuguese that can use as a basis for your texts:
- As Dez Comidas Mais comidas do Mundo (BR)
- As origens reais de 8 superstições populares (BR)
- É possível ir de carro do Brasil até os EUA? (BR)
- 12 coisas que os casais felizes fazem todos os dias (PT)
Tip: The idea is that you choose something that you like. If you prefer videos, movies, songs or just tell something that happened to you, Choose these things as the basis for your texts. OK?
STEP 2: WRITE THE TEXT AND GET THE CORRECTIONS
Hora de pôr a mão na massa (the English expression for 'pôr a mão na massa" can be 'hands on')! In this step, you cna use the tool "Notebook" ("Caderno de Notas" in Portuguese). With this tool you can write a text so that the native speakers of the community can correct it. After, you can compare the corrections and 'meditate' on them.
You should choose a basis for your text. With this basis you should write one text a day (or each two days). You will be amazed at the number of texts you can write using just one article. For example, you can write...
1) A summary of article.
2) Your opinion about something that you agree.
3) Your opinion about something that you disagree.
4) About something you did not know before reading the article that surprised you.
5) Things of the article that are similar in your culture.
6) Your own text about something that has a connection with the subject of the article, but which was not addressed by it.
Tip: You should write a large enough text so that it may require an effort according to your level. But be careful, because a very large text can discourage people who will correct it.
STEP 3: MAKE QUESTIONS
Well done! You wrote beautiful and wonderful texts huh?! And the native speakers corrected them and also gave you some suggestions. Now it's time to meditate on what you can improve. There was something you did not understand or did not agree? Or, did you receive different corrections for the same point?
You can use the tool "Answers" ("Respostas" in Portuguese). With this tool, you can send questions so the native speakers in the community can answer them.
During the days you are practicing, do not forget to send questions. You can ask about...
1) What is the meaning of a word or expression that you read or heard.
2) Doubts that arose at the time you were writing your text.
3) Cultural tips about the theme.
4) Some previous corrections that made you confused.
Dica: No matter what is your level, Try to write the questions in Portuguese. You can use a dictionary or even a translator to help you express yourself better.
STEP 4: INTERACT EVEN MORE
Cool! When you reach this step, it means that you already could practice reading (or listening) and writing. Also you already could have the opportunity to get the answers for many questions.
Why not take advantage of the tool "Discussions" ("Discussões" in Portuguese)? With it you have the opportunity to get more involved with the community.
What you can do?
1) Create a topic asking help.
2) Create a topic offering help.
3) Create a topic to introduce yourself.
4) Create a topic to start a conversation about things you like.
With the above suggestions, you will have small activities to attend for a week or two. You can vary these activities using Brazilian or Portuguese movies. Also, you can write a diary with your day-to-day activities or travel plans. The options are many!
But, one important thing is that you should analyze whether this time has helped to improve your skils. You can even write about your activities in the comments of this article.