Língua Viva: Utilizing real-life content for Portuguese instruction

Thursday, May 6, 2021

In the ever-changing world of popular culture, current events, and rapidly evolving socio-political issues, it is imperative that the materials used to teach language and culture reflect these shifting dynamics.

In answer to this challenge, the department’s Portuguese faculty have created Língua Viva, an engaging online platform custom made for Princeton students studying Portuguese and features real-life content generated by native Portuguese speakers.

This exciting new platform features videos, music, news, literary works and more to maximize effective language acquisition, promote the diverse cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world and provide students with the valuable opportunity to view and work with content they will find beyond the classroom.

Homepage of Lingua Viva- Portuguese learning platform

The department’s Portuguese faculty have created Língua Viva, an engaging online platform custom made for Princeton students studying Portuguese and features real-life content generated by native Portuguese speakers.

“We wanted to make an online platform that represents all our students and addresses topics that are not commonly found in traditional textbooks, for example giving voice to the stories of underrepresented social groups and exploring the persisting legacies of colonialism and dictatorship,” lecturer Daiane Tamanaha said.

The Língua Viva Project was made possible by a grant from the 250th anniversary fund for innovation in undergraduate education, and was enabled by collaboration across the department. “We were grateful for the guidance of our colleagues in the Spanish program,” said lecturer Luis Gonçalves. “It allowed us to quickly move past logistical hurdles and focus on creating innovative, engaging content.”

“The structure of the platform permits us to take full advantage of the diversity of the Portuguese-speaking world, allowing us to introduce significant cultural content very early on, and conceive preparatory activities that draw on textual realia and a variety of cultural productions,” said Nicola Cooney, director of the Portuguese Language Program. “It also allows us to assign different activities to different students, based on texts from different Portuguese-speaking countries, so as to best meet their individual needs and goals.”

Língua Viva also enables instructors to continuously update materials as needed, based on current events and trending topics.

“As the content of the platform is not fixed, we can add new things or replace subjects that are no longer as relevant,” said lecturer Andréa de Castro Melloni, “It allows Lingua Viva to always be in dialogue with what we believe is important to be taught in the classroom.”

For example, users of Língua Viva learn how to fill out a course application from the University of Porto and develop presentations that highlight tourist attractions in Brazil. As they gain linguistic competence, students go on to analyze literary and cinematographic texts as well as participate in engaging discussions about politics in Brazil, Portugal and the broader Lusophone world.

As noted by Professor Cooney, “All activities take into consideration that Portuguese is a pluricentric language and that the Princeton students who seek to learn the language come to us with the most diverse interests and motivations. Our program needs to be able to respond quickly to their needs and interests, enabling them to conduct research and/or work in a range of Portuguese-speaking countries and spaces, including the diasporas and local Portuguese communities in the United States.”

The development of Língua Viva has not only provided students with a variety of engaging digital materials to help them build on their Portuguese language skills; it also has harnessed technology to open up new ways for language and culture instruction to adapt to and reflect current events and everyday life outside of the classroom.

Learn more about Língua Viva on the Language Learning webpage.