It was recently brought to my attention the existence of an EP language learning website sponsored by the Portuguese High Commission for Migration (a government agency in charge of migration-related issues). It’s called Plataforma de Português Online (or, in English, Portuguese Online Platform), and I’ve since added it to the EP Learning Materials page.
While at first I found the website to be engaging, I quickly ran into a few problems with it; all of that led me to write a longer review/assessment of the website just to make sure you use it safely (i.e. without feeling stressed out or feeling compelling to give up) and try to maximize the good and minimize the bad to your learning advantage.
This assessment will be divided into sections – Registration and Software, Layout, Course Progression, Distinguishing Features: Tutor, Content: Vocabulary, Grammar, Use of Portuguese– with each having a selection of the platforms strong suits and worst problems.
First Impressions Matter: Registration and Software
- It’s completely free
- The website runs relatively fast (I have good wifi, and it ran the pages at about the same speed as I’m used to for pages elsewhere on the Internet)
- The registration process is riddled with faux-pas; you’re asked to provide more information that you’re probably comfortable with (the most troublesome items would be your phone number, work status, and profession), some options aren’t inclusive enough (under “Gender”, non-binary expressions of gender identity are not considered and there’s not a write-in option), and all queries are mandatory.
- You can tell there hasn’t been much thought put into turning this first contact with the website into a pleasant, customer-oriented experience: besides “Gender” following a too-restrictive binary template, “Education” provides options that only make sense if you’re familiar with the Portuguese education system (where “primary education” and so on would be more inclusive) and “Native Language” and “Country” have several languages/countries alphabetically misplaced; a shrewder eye will notice the reason why: they simply translated the options into Portuguese, but forgot to rearrange those who change initials in translation – that means you have to look for German/Germany in A (for Alemão/Alemanha), Korean/South Korea/North Korea in C (for Coreano/Coreia do Sul/Coreia do Norte), English in I (for Inglês), and the Phillipines in F (for [As] Filipinas), just to name a few.
- There’s no security system to ensure your data will be handled properly; there’s no ReCaptcha or an email-provided link to confirm your registration (you do receive an email to your inbox letting you know you’ve registered successfully, but that’s irrelevant safety-wise), and all passwords are accepted regardless of strength (the only criterion is that they have to be 6 or more characters long).
Sadly, this lack of attention to detail seems to be a problem with the website as a whole, which is most grievous when you start catching the amount of translation and English language mistakes; for example, the email you receive to let you know you’ve successfully registered the account (i.e. without any confirmation that I’ve input the right email earlier, mind you), forgets the first rule of the English perfect tenses:
I’m not 100% sure these are machine-translated (considering I lied earlier, since Coreia do Sul is actually translated in the registration as Korea South, I’d say that’s a strong possibility), but I do know no one with a basic knowledge of English + regular common sense bothered to check if the grammar or the translations made sense from the point of view of an English speaker. That tells me the website wasn’t made with this international component in mind (which is plain stupid, because who could profit more from a Portuguese learning platform than people who can’t yet speak the language), and that the people in charge obviously don’t care enough about making this a thoroughly pleasant experience for their students.
It’s really disrespectful, and I’d like to apologize for it on behalf of the country; I’m quite used to shoddy English translations of Portuguese websites by now, but no one should have to go through this. But don’t worry, there’s a lot of good stuff inside if you just tune out these bad omens! They may follow you around, but don’t let them spook you into giving up! (:
- it’s ok, could be better/more engaging
- Portuguese language in headers/exercise texts
- website promises assessment/diagnostic test in the presentation (https://pptonline.acm.gov.pt/pagina/introducao), gives nothing of the sort in the actual website post-registration
- Website states the existence of two different courses/stages (aligned with the CEFR), but forces you to start at the very first module of the Elementary course regardless of your actual level – actually, there are two different courses, each aligned with the CEFR [first six lessons A1-A2, next B1-B2]