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Basic Language Program in Portuguese

Curriculum Methodology & Pedagogy Language Placement

Welcome to the Basic Language Program in Portuguese!

The Basic Language Program in Portuguese at Tulane University seeks to develop students’ communicative and intercultural competency and proficiency so that they can interact, engage, and compete in the global community. For Portuguese conversation practice, visit our News & Events page to see upcoming Bate papo events.

Program Overview

The Basic Language Program in Portuguese includes PORT 1120 and 2030.

The objective of the Basic Language Program in Portuguese is to develop students’ communicative and intercultural competency and proficiency so that they can interact, engage, and compete in the global community.

The main goals of the program are to:

  • introduce students to the language and culture of the Portuguese-speaking world
  • promote the development of students' communicative competence in the target language
  • develop students’ intercultural understanding and social consciousness about problems that affect this cultural complex.


The program is framed around modes of communication, as outlined by ACTFL:

  • The Interpretive Mode focuses on reading and listening comprehension.
  • The Interpersonal Mode focuses on exchange between individuals, primarily in terms of Speaking in a conversational framework but also in terms of informal written exchanges (i.e. Facebook and text messages)
  • The Presentational Mode focuses on formal oral and written presentational skills, including articulation of cultural information in these frameworks.

The curriculum is based upon the five identified goal areas of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL): Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.

To this end, the program seeks to develop students' abilities to:

  • communicate in the target language
  • understand the cultures of the Lusophone world
  • connect the study of the target language with their other university studies
  • make informed comparisons about language and culture as a whole
  • participate in a community of Portuguese speakers

The program is also proficiency-based, with the expectation that students will move through ACTFL’s proficiency scale progressively over the course of their studies.

The interpersonal proficiency goals for the courses are as follows, based upon the ACTFL Proficiency Scale:

PORT 1120 Novice High-Intermediate Low

Upon successful completion of PORT 1120, students can:

  • relate basic personal information covering self and family, daily activities and personal preferences;
  • satisfy immediate needs, such as ordering food and making simple purchases;
  • create with the language in straightforward social situations;
  • ask and respond to simple questions on the most common features of daily life;
  • recombine learned vocabulary and structures into short and simple conversational-style sentences.

At this level:

  • Conversation and writing focuses on concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival in the target language culture.
  • Students can CREATE with the language, although in an understandably limited way.
  • Students can be understood by native speakers used to the production of non-native speakers.
  • Students write and speak effectively in present time with some use of past and future time.
PORT 2030 Intermediate Low-Intermediate Mid

Upon successful completion of PORT 2030, students can:

  • satisfy simple personal needs and social demands in order to survive in a Portuguese-speaking culture;
  • obtain and give information by asking and answering questions;
  • express personal meaning by creating with the language;
  • initiate, sustain, and conclude a variety of uncomplicated conversations in straightforward social situations on generally predictable topics such as personal information covering self, family, home, daily activities, interests and personal preferences
  • satisfy physical and social needs, such as giving and getting directions, finding out prices and obtaining goods and services;
  • complete short, simple, practical communications, compositions, descriptions, and requests for information in loosely connected texts based on personal preferences, daily routines, common events, and topics related to personal experiences and immediate surroundings.

At this level:

  • Writers show evidence of moderate linguistic control and begin to show evidence of deliberate organization in longer written work.
  • Speakers are generally understood by sympathetic interlocutors accustomed to dealing with non-natives.

Interpretive and Presentational Mode goals are on the higher end of the above scales.

Methodology and Pedagogy

The classroom serves as a space for task-based and experiential learning in which students practice and apply the skills they are studying by speaking, listening, reading and writing in the target language. Interpretive, Interpersonal and Presentational Modes of communication are all actively engaged and practiced in the classroom.

Students utilize their newly acquired vocabulary and structures in a collaborative manner, working in small groups on role plays, scenarios, discussions, cultural presentations, interviews and research in the local community, or other activities at the instructors' discretion. These activities emphasize meaning while students practice formal aspects of the language such as verb tense and aspect. Through authentic speech and text samples, students receive and interpret models of language use in context.

Guided by a proficiency-based curriculum, instructors evaluate students based upon their ability to use the language. Graded assignments include listening and reading comprehension assessments; oral exams, skits and presentations; out-of-class and in-class writing assignments; and open-ended, content-based written exams which require students to synthesize their linguistic knowledge.

The Language Learning Center, located in 408 Newcomb Hall, has a wide variety of resources and technology to assist language students with their language-learning endeavors.

Simultaneous study of Spanish and Portuguese:

Spanish and Portuguese can be studied simultaneously; it is a fallacy that learning one of these languages will interfere with the process of learning the other.

Portuguese Language Program Director: Megwen Loveless

Language Placement

Please see the Language Learning Center website for information about placement and registration.

If you do not find what you are looking for or if you have any questions, please contact Basic Language Program Director Dr. Megwen Loveless at