September 10, 2013 | Review Period

A Portuguese Grammar Book with Many Exercises

I am enjoying a practice book from Adams Media in Massachusetts.

While redoing nearly all my Pimsleur Portuguese audio lessons, I have also been working away at an Adams Media book called The Everything Brazilian Portuguese Practice Book by Fernanda Ferreira, a professor at Bridgewater State University. For sure this is an odd name for a book, but the choice has to do with its being part of a larger series that has the word “everything” in every volume title.

Portuguese Grammar, with Pencil and Espresso

Portuguese Grammar, with Pencil and Espresso

The Everything Brazilian Portuguese Practice Book is probably one of the more exercise-laden grammars I have come across, and in that way reminds me a bit of the Practice Makes Perfect series from McGraw-Hill. I have already put many hours into Professor Ferreira’s book, but there are so many exercises that I am still only on page 84 of its more than 300 pages.

This is in spite of the fact that I am skipping nearly all of the exercises that require me to listen to an accompanying CD. As I have explained on numerous occasions, I find coordinating between book and audio files to be too annoying to bother with, but maybe other, more flexible types would appreciate that option.

I had never heard of Adams Media before obtaining this book. Part of F+W Media, the company is located in Avon, Massachusetts, and one of their book categories is this Everything series. These are how-to books, sort of in the vein of the Dummies and Idiot’s books, I suppose, but without the namecalling. In this book line you can learn about pregnancy, pets, veganism, juicing, foraging (seriously!), and so on.

I went to their Everything shop and promptly got excited to see a title starting out The Everything German…but then I realized the full title was The Everything German Shepherd Book, billed as “the authoritative guide to your favorite breed.” Bummer. The language books are actually here.

Besides Portuguese, I see Latin, Russian, Spanish, American Sign Language, French, and German. In the past they had Italian, too, according to a web search, but I guess that one is out of print.

Having tried only one Everything book so far, I’m not in a position to recommend this entire Adams Media product line, but if you are learning Portuguese and love exercises, you might appreciate the Everything Brazilian Portuguese Practice Book for starters.

The book does have its flaws. I am noticing a number of editing mistakes (not unusual for foreign-language learning materials), and exercises are sometimes too easy relative to others or too short. Often I finish an exercise almost as soon as I start it, which makes for a lot of flipping back and forth between exercises and answer key. But I am still finding the book pretty enjoyable, and it is fast reviving my Portuguese memories from last year. 

Two cautionary notes: even though it looks like a very basic book, this one requires you to know some Portuguese before you start or you will almost certainly be confused. Also, if you like your books intellectual in appearance, this ain’t that. It looks childish, inside and out.

I don’t mind. If you do, there is always brown paper wrapping.

I will write up a complete review of this book once I have finished it!

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