skip to content

Beginners Course

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Summer Preparation: Portuguese

Language work

You are strongly advised to study as much basic Portuguese grammar as possible before you arrive in Cambridge. Details of the minimum preparatory work that should be undertaken are set out below. Attending language courses either in Great Britain or abroad is also encouraged.

You will be asked to do an online exercise prior to coming to Cambridge. (Information will be sent out in late August). Even though this is an ab initio Portuguese course, students arrive with different levels of basic Portuguese. The aim of this exercise is to assess how much grammar and vocab you know and, if needed, allocate you to the right group. The exercise will be based on the material covered in the first few lessons of the textbook (as outlined below).

In order to be ready for the rapid pace of the course, you should complete the following minimal preparatory work by the start of the Michaelmas term:

     - "Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar”, by John Whitlam, Routledge: Chapters 1 to 9 and 15 from the Practical Guide and the Workbook


     - “Portuguese, An Essential Grammar”, by Amélia Hutchinson and Janet Lloyd, Second Edition, Routledge: Chapters 1 to 4; 5.1, 5.2, 5.3; 6 and 7; as a complement, please complete the exercises on "Vamos lá começar" (pages 1-88), by Leonel Melo Rosa, Edições Técnicas Lidel.

Please use the key to correct your answers.

Additional resources

In addition to the minimal preparatory work, you may find it helpful to explore the aspects of the Portuguese language on some of the available websites:

Read newspapers, watch films and documentaries! The following websites offer good coverage of events in Portuguese speaking countries:


Youtube is an excellent source of authentic Portuguese language material. You can find Portuguese films and cartoons, Portuguese speaking countries television, music and many other entertaining Portuguese materials there with just a little creative searching. This Brazilian comedy group Youtube channel, for example, has videos with English or Portuguese subtitles:

Porta dos Fundos:

Literature and Culture: Preparatory Reading for Paper PGA3

Please read the following:

A. General introductory and background material

  • Coutinho, Afrânio. An Introduction to Literature in Brazil. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York & London: Columbia University Press, 1969.
  • Pazos Alonso, Cláudia, Parkinson, Stephen and Earle, T. F. (eds.), A Companion to Portuguese Literature, (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2009)
  • Hamilton, Russel, Voices from an Empire: A History of Afro-Portuguese Literature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1975)

B. Set texts/films/artists for the first-year course ‘Introduction to Lusophone Literature and Culture’ (PGA3)

These are the works that you will study during your first year. It will help you feel better prepared if you are able to read the texts available in English in advance of beginning the course.

  1. Changing Stories: Paula Rego, Paintings, pastels, prints and drawings (Portugal)
    Images viewable on Google images and on the following websites:
  3. A Different Land: Margarida Cardoso, A costa dos murmúrios
    (Film: Portugal/Mozambique)
    Film viewable on the following website:
  4. Outsiders: Miguel Torga, Selected short stories from Novos contos da montanha (Portugal)
  5. Are You Scared Yet? Lygia Fagundes Telles, Selected short stories from various anthologies (Brazil)
  6. Dogs, Children and Other Outcasts: Luís Bernardo Honwana, Nós matámos o cão tinhoso (Mozambique)
  7. Incest and the Motherland: Eça de Queirós, O Crime do padre Amaro (Portugal)
  8. Strange Resemblances: Machado de Assis, Selected  short stories (Brazil)
  9. Virgin or Otherwise: José Régio, Histórias de mulheres (Portugal)