Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fruit . . . and my problem with culturally irrelevant vocabulary lists

It occurs to me that I need to improve my vocabulary in Portuguese.  With the Pimsleur audio program, I am working on my listening comprehension, pronunciation, and grammar very well.  But in an audio program the vocabulary is necessarily limited.  So, a supplemental vocabulary list every week or two would be just the thing for me.  And, like any good person of my generation, I decided to go to Google to find it.

A number of websites came up and I found several potential resources for vocabulary lists - all of them thematic, but none of them had any cultural relevance whatsoever.  Very disappointing.

For those of you who are not language teachers, let me explain.  I found a vocabulary list at that listed some basic fruit and the translations from English to Portuguese.  So what is the problem?  Think for a moment about where Portuguese is spoken in the world (200 million speakers in Brazil) and what sorts of fruits you might find there.  If you ponder that for a few minutes you will probably start to get to root the problem.  When I go to Brazil, I don't need to talk about pears and cranberries so much.  The fruit down there is tropical and, at least to my experience, often exotic.

Now, contrast that first vocabulary list with this pictorial list of Brazilian fruits I found I found at the Programa de Promoção das Exportações das Frutas Brasileiras e Derivados website, and you will start to get an idea of what a culturally relevant vocabulary list should look like.  The people who write vocabulary lists should know to create lists that will accurately reflect cultural norms, but mostly I find boring little vanilla lists with no thought how or where the vocabulary will be used.  What a shame!

The good news for dieters like myself is that all these fruits (with the exception of the avocado) have zero Points Plus on the new Weight Watcher's system.  And I cannot wait to tuck into some of those nummy looking ones on the pictorial list.  Açaí, acerola, ameixa, castanha de cajú, cupuaçú, goiaba, graviola . . . bring them on!

Next time you will see less of me!


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  1. Now I want fresh fruit.

  2. Eat up, minha irmã, it's all tasty and good for you! <3