Intuitive, interactive and innovative – this is how João Paulo Pereira, a professor from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) describes the new language-learning platform that Macau’s Catholic university will launch on Monday.
Christened Português à Vista (Portuguese in Sight), the platform is USJ’s latest venture in the education technology sector, and it focuses on the teaching of Portuguese as a second language. The new medium, Professor Pereira says, aims to answer one of the main challenges that Portuguese language learners face. “This platform was conceived and programmed from scratch, and it aims to help solve one of the greatest challenges that non-native learners face, the understanding of oral texts. It makes use of different kinds of audiovisual materials, organized by language proficiency level, designed with the aim of developing oral comprehension,” Professor Pereira, the mentor of the project, tells O Clarim.
He adds, “To my knowledge, there is no other [approach] of this kind in the context of Portuguese-language learning.”
The new platform also distinguishes itself from other existing solutions by its didactic approach. The Portuguese in Sight platform places students at the center of their own learning process and allows them to devise the exercises that best suit their needs. “The resources are not limited to the traditional true or false exercises or the fill-in-the-blanks sort of exercises. The activities were conceived so that the learners can reflect on the best strategies they can make use of so that they can understand what they are hearing,” Professor Pereira emphasizes, continuing, “I would also like to highlight the possibility for students to create their own exercises. They can insert the transcript of the text they want to work on – the lyrics of a song, for example – and the platform will automatically generate the exercise.”
Conceived in Macau with the aim to address the challenges and difficulties that local students face, Portuguese in Sight makes use of different kinds of audio-visual materials, from documentaries and video clips to short films and news videos. The new medium is mainly directed at the students and professors of the University of Saint Joseph, but it can also be used by anyone willing to improve their knowledge of the Portuguese language.
Professor Pereira stresses, “Portuguese in Sight was conceived, first and foremost, with the teachers and students of the University of Saint Joseph in mind. Some of the features of the platform can only be used within the scope of the University, such as the possibility for the teacher to create classes,” adding, “This is a project made in Macau and for Macau. There is a lot of content about Macau. There are event videos entirely subtitled in Chinese. However, the general public can also use it. It’s no coincidence that all Portuguese-speaking countries are represented in terms of content. If we really want Portuguese to be a pluricentric and global communication language, teaching materials must reflect this diversity and universality. That is the great wealth of this language.”