Review: “The Journey” from Portuguese With Carla

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You may have come across Portuguese With Carla before. Carla runs a popular podcast, YouTube channel, and website where she teaches European Portuguese alongside her husband Marlon. Their latest innovation, The Journey, is an incredibly creative way of teaching European Portuguese – from beginner to advanced. 

The Journey follows a story, which the trailer below gives a preview of. In it, the main character, Carla, receives a letter informing her of an inheritance left behind by her estranged father. What starts off as a simple letter ends up taking them on an adventure through Portugal. 

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The story itself is engaging and the cinematography is fantastic, especially for a language learning course. Each scene is followed by a lesson, which breaks down the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation used in that section of the story.

What’s a typical lesson like? 

As mentioned, in each lesson you view a new scene from the story as you follow Carla’s adventure. The video is then followed by a lesson, which breaks down different aspects of grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary used in the scene. After that there are quizzes, where you test yourself on what you’ve learned. Each lesson also has an “exposure” section, with further lessons, usually following a video, explanation, and quizzes. You’ll need to pass each lesson in order to move onto the next one. 

The lessons are all incredibly in-depth, although the creative use of story and fun scenes really helps to keep challenging subjects engaging. Both Carla and Marlon speak very clearly and are very capable of breaking down grammar and pronunciation concepts in an easy to understand way. 

Other Features

The main section is the story and the lessons that follow, but the course includes a number of other features such as:

  • Cultura Tuga – Cultural lessons which give insights into life in Portugal and an opportunity to sample different accents from around the country 
  • Conversational Builders – Fill-in-the-blanks sample conversations that help you to simulate a real Portuguese conversation. You can even request for your answers to be corrected
  • Vocab Sets – Language learning flashcards on Memrise, complete with accompanying audio
  • Live Practice – Small group Zoom classes with 3-5 other members and one native Portuguese speaker who moderates and corrects as needed (additional cost applies)
  • Exams – Graded exams, such as the B2, which follow the official grading guidelines and even include an oral section. There’s even a certificate if you pass
  • Toolbox – A short collection of language learning tips and techniques
  • Forum – An area to hangout with other language learners, get tips for your upcoming trip to Portugal, and answers to cultural questions
  • Note-taking – Take notes as you watch the lessons, which are all stored in a central notebook that you can refer to later

What level does it cover?

The Journey isn’t aimed at one specific level (for example A1 or B1) but aims to take you on a journey from beginner to upper intermediate and some of the material goes right up to C1-level. In this sense, it’s very good value for money: many language learning courses require you to purchase a separate course for each level. 

Even though it’s aimed at everyone, from beginner to lower advanced, beginners will probably feel like they’re jumping in at the deep end when starting the course. The course does cover everything you’ll find on a beginner’s course – for example pronunciation or the differences between ser and estar – but the audio is initially more complex than what you’ll find on other beginner’s courses. However, it’s more realistic than other courses and you can always switch on the subtitles whenever you need them or refer to the accompanying transcript.  

Overall, although most language learners will get a lot from this, it’s probably best suited to those at the upper-beginner (A2) or intermediate (B1 and B2) level – those with some familiarity with listening to Portuguese but who need to tidy up their grammar, pronunciation, and listening comprehension. 

Access

While you can access the website for the browser on your phone, The Journey requires your full attention and is probably best viewed on a computer. It’s not like Pimsleur, for example, which you can easily listen to while driving or in the gym. Then again, this is because this course goes into much more detail than any audio-based course. 

You will need an internet connection to access the course and do the quizzes. 

Pricing

The Journey costs €25 per month or €250 if paid annually, with a three-month 25% discount with this link. There’s also an option to take a one-week free trial to see if the course is right for you. 

Find out more at PortugueseWithCarla.com

Written by

Hi, I'm James. I'm the main writer at Portugalist and the author of the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple. I started Portugalist because I felt there was a real lack of good quality information about Portugal and I wanted to change that.

This article was originally published in August 2021.

2 thoughts on “Review: “The Journey” from Portuguese With Carla”

  1. Partly guided by Portugalist, I have been learning European Portuguese (EP) online through Pimsleur, Drops, Memrise, and the ubiquitous Duolingo.
    Most had some shortcomings; Pimsleur has only the first course in EP, Drops is full of mistakes and inconsistencies, Duolingo is geared towards Brazilian Portuguese, and Memrise - which I like very much - has only courseware worth for about one year of 10-15 minutes of daily studies.

    Having an entertaining, in-depth (C1 and C2 level) new course in conjunction with Memrise available could just be the tool for me to break out of the A2 level mould.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Kurt!

      This course covers some C1 material towards the end so should be perfect for taking you through the B1 and B2 levels. Once you get to C1, it can be difficult to find materials for that level, but that's a bridge you can cross once you get there!

      Reply

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