Starting with a podcast
Joel Rendall is one of the founders of the Practice Portuguese platform, alongside his husband Rui Coimbra. Before arriving in Portugal, Joel “spent about six months learning Portuguese” by himself, as he told The Portugal News. During the learning process, Joel realised that Brazilian Portuguese is different from European Portuguese when it comes to grammar, pronunciation and even vocabulary. Given this scenario, Joel needed to find European Portuguese materials to help him to learn.
After searching, Joel noticed that there was not as much work material in European Portuguese as in Brazilian Portuguese, even in big language teaching platforms. After arriving in Lisbon, Joel kept on learning by himself to enter a B1 course at Faculdade de Letras in Lisbon, consequently, Joel and his husband started noticing some changes and around 2012 “stumbled on the idea of trying to make a European Portuguese podcast”. The couple “did not put a lot of pressure” on themselves, regarding the podcast, they knew “it would probably take some time to get any traction”.
From a podcast to a teaching course
Listening to the podcast was free, but “listeners could pay a small monthly rate to access” the podcast transcripts, and even though the podcast was just a “side project” the monthly subscribers “were growing constantly”. The listeners would also share their opinion, mentioning that “they were having some trouble learning some of the basics, and were looking for a platform or app” to learn European Portuguese.
In 2016, the platform started being extended and interactive lessons were included, called “Learning Studio”. It took two years to develop the platform, with the help of teachers and an illustrator. Joel admitted that at the beginning the website did not look as good as he wanted, so both Joel and Rui felt “nervous to launch” the new platform for teaching Portuguese.
In the beginning, the pack of the “Learning Studio” was not included in the transcripts pack, as the market should be studied first, in order to understand people’s interests. Right after the launch of the platform, the couple noticed “a massive spike in users”. Thus, the doors were open to continuously grow the team and the platform. A programmer solved any remaining technical issues and added new features, so the content could be expanded.
An app on your smartphone
Joel told The Portugal News that an app would be an important feature of the platform, as it is “more convenient than having to do everything through the browser”. The app was launched this year, and the feeling of launching it could be compared to the stress of launching the website.
The app was submitted to the App Store and Google Play Store and the app was available to the public after a week of the initial submission. Currently, the app has an average of 4.8 stars, out of five, on every platform it is available on. Until now, Joel mentioned that the platform had been having good feedback.
According to Joel, due to the platform's success, they could leave their previous occupations and focus only on the Practice Portuguese app. With the platform, they can enjoy every challenge when they feel they should face it. Rui Coimbra, the Portuguese native founder of the platform, “still records most of the audio clips” that are heard in the lesson.
Joel Rendall told The Portugal News that Practice Portuguese has been “so much more rewarding to be able to build something” at the same time the couple can see the impact the platform has on people.