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To maximize your learning, try to get as much exposure as possible to different sources of language and cultural information. Try out these sites: ( started out as a blog about the restaurants and recipes of Rio de Janeiro, but has evolved into a collection of well-written articles about the culture, habits, language, and idiosyncracies of “cariocas” (residents of “A Cidade Maravilhosa”–The Marvellous City), with forays into other parts of Brazil, such as Bahia. The blogster is a Brit married to a carioca, living and working in Rio. His photos and descriptions are very well done and should be required reading for anyone who wants to get beyond the standard tourist aspects of Rio. Sample posts include: “Bolinhos de Bacalhau“, about fish poppers and other delicious boteco food, with mouth-watering photos; “Video Post: How to Samba“, which could help even a Gringo learn to dance samba; and “A Rio Caipirinha“, about the popular (and powerful) drink made with cachaça. Check out this blog before you leave for Brazil–and after you’ve arrived!


Semántica Portuguese ( This is an excellent language learning site. They charge for their lessons, but the price is reasonable. I found out about it when I saw them filming an episode in Rio–a young man and woman (actors) talking on a sidewalk in a residential area of Copacabana. Here’s their own description: “Everything is clear, crisp, understandable. Our videos are designed to train your ear. You will find yourself literally absorbing new phrases and vocabulary as you get into the story. If you’re learning a language to communicate in real life, expose yourself to real language and real situations. Your brain figures out a new language in two parts: rules analysis, and training (practice). We’re the training part.”


Inglês no Supermercado (“English in the Supermarket”, Although the name seems to imply that it’s for people who work in a market, this site can teach you tons of interesting Portuguese words and phrases. For example, a recent post says “Como se diz ‘rabo de cavalo’ em inglês?”, which gives you the translation of “ponytail” and other hair styles. A related article entitled “14 nomes engraçados de roupas femininas em inglês” (14 humorous names for feminine clothes in English), includes “biquini fio dental” (dental floss bikini), meaning “thong bikini”. I love the name “vestido tomara que caia” (the “I-hope-it-falls-down” dress) for a strapless gown.

If you’re hungry for learning, you’ll also take more lessons from this last entry: “tomara” means “I wish” or “let’s hope”, as in “tomara que ganhe o nosso time” (Let’s hope our team wins). Intermediate students of Portuguese will also notice that the verbs “caia” and “ganhe” are the subjunctive forms of the verbs “cair” and “ganhar“, and that “tomara” at the start of the phrase requires the other verb to be subjunctive, as in “Tomara que cheguem os seus amigos” (I hope your friends arrive). Subscribe for free to this site, and you’ll receive short useful lessons several times a week.


Brazilmax ( “The Hip Guide to Brazil” provides information and resources on everything from the Amazon Rainforest to the nightclubs of Rio. A very extensive website with lists, links, articles. It covers almost any Brazil-related topic you can imagine. Subscribe for free.


  • The list goes on! If you find any other good sites related to language learning (especially Portuguese), please let me know. Subscribe to and you’ll be the first to know when new information is available. Obrigado!

NOEL ROSA, Poet of the Vila

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NOEL ROSA, Poet of the Vila

Noel Rosa, (1910-1937), born in Vila Isabel, a bairro (section of town) of Rio de Janeiro, was one of the most influential musicians in the history of Brazil. Noel was one of the first white musicians to incorporate black Brazilian music into his compositions, bringing samba, the music of the morro (the favela, the poorer, mostly hilly, areas), down to the asfalto (the non-slum part of town), and into the mainstream culture. Even today you will hear his songs played and sung at any gathering of samba musicians (sambistas), such as at the tiny Bip-Bip bar in Copacabana.

Roda de Samba at the Bip-Bip bar
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

In his humorous “Conversa de Botequim” (“Bar Talk”), Noel satirizes a colorful and irresponsible carioca (resident of Rio) who he considered typical of many of his friends—and himself! This caricature is still popular today, feeding off the myth of the shiftless carioca.

“Conversa de Botequim”
Por Noel Rosa

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