An Old Classic of Portuguese Learning Gets a Welcome Makeover

    DePaula's book

    DePaula's book As a retired instructor of Brazilian Portuguese, I was pleased to receive last week a complimentary copy of Professor Paulo Spurgeon DePaula’s recently published Learning Portuguese: Conversation and Grammar

    Despite the new title, this textbook is actually a revision of Português, Conversação e Gramática, written by Prof. DePaula and the late Prof. Haydée Simões Magro and published for over three decades by the Brazilian American Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Livraria Editora Pioneira in São Paulo. 

    It is with very fond memories that I recall my initial lessons in Brazilian Portuguese under the tutelage of Profs. DePaula and Magro over forty years ago at the now unfortunately defunct Brazilian-American Cultural Institute in Washington, D. C.

    In those days the paltry materials available for the teaching of Portuguese in the U. S. were generally inadequate and often hard to come by. Those who wished to learn the language of Brazil were limited primarily to outdated books published at the end of World War II or books rendered inadequate by errors in vocabulary and grammar.

    Realizing the deficiencies of materials available in those days, Profs. DePaula and Magro eschewed them and endeavored to present their language dynamically in an effective and appealing format. By employing current methods of language teaching pedagogy, they developed original lessons that became the basis of their first textbook, which was subsequently adopted for the teaching of Portuguese in numerous colleges and universities in the United States as well as in such countries as England, Suriname, Finland, Kenya, Japan, Guyana, Libya, Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

    In fact, during many years of my teaching career I enjoyed using Português, Conversação e Gramática as the main textbook in my own Portuguese classes in the Washington, DC area. 

    Though in many aspects similar to its predecessor, Learning Portuguese: Conversation and Grammar is certainly a better product, offering a range of improvements in an attractive format.  The stimulating dialogues and cultural reading selections have been revised and updated. 

    Presentation of grammar is structured, logical, and concise. The accompanying skill building exercises are well designed and offer the student a firm basis in the essentials. Lyrics to traditional Brazilian folk songs, an innovative aspect of the original edition, are now introduced by informative background information that serves to increase the student’s knowledge of and interest in Brazilian culture. 

    The addition of an appendix containing answer keys to all of the practice exercises greatly facilitates self-study.  The book’s accompanying audio CD of the dialogues and key phrases enables students to practice individually and on their own at their convenience. 

    Prof. Paulo DePaula’s new Learning Portuguese: Conversation and Grammar was written with the assistance of his granddaughters Carmen and Joanna Filgueiras, and is published by São Paulo-based Disal Editora.

    I am certain that Learning Portuguese: Conversation and Grammar will soon be recognized as a well-needed asset to the teaching of the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture.

    James H. Kennedy, a former student of Prof. DePaula, is a retired language instructor. He can be reached at


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