Learn Portuguese with Celisa Canto

About Celisa Canto celisa canto portuguese teacher and translator

I have been told it is time to write something about myself.

When people ask me how and when I started teaching Portuguese, I have to go back to my Conservatory time.

It all started as a hobby when I was just a 15-year-old piano and percussion student. In 1970, I had two foreign teachers, Peterson (percussionist) from the USA and Astor (timpanist) from Argentina. Both were having difficulties communicating with their students. Fortunately, I could already speak some English at that time, so they started to “use” me as their mediator, and I loved it, because the more I managed to interpret for them, the more I gained in self-confidence.

The conductor of the orchestra paid Peterson for a Portuguese Course in the most famous language school in São Paulo. After 3 months, he concluded he had learned much more during our percussion classes at the Conservatory than in his formal course. So, he came to me with a very interesting and challenging business proposition: “Celisa, what about if you teach me Portuguese, and I give you extra drum classes?”

Together with him, I started our unconventional Portuguese course. Since then, I have never stopped studying languages, and this gave me the opportunity to continue teaching my beloved language to many wonderful people from all around the world. Some of my students did not speak any of the languages I can speak. This was my motivation to successfully develop my own teaching method, which allows me to teach Portuguese even when there is no common language between my student and myself.

In 1995, I travelled to Denmark where I lived for 5 years. There, I had the opportunity to teach not only Danes, but also other nationalities (Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Rumanian, Ukrainian, Chinese, African, Greek, and so on). It was when my method was put to test. Our Portuguese course was in modules of 3 months each, and the school was deeply surprised with the results – they were unbelievably exceptional. I must admit that all the academic studies I had gave me neither the knowledge I needed nor the inspiration to teach my students. For this reason, I voluntarily confined myself to a language lab at Copenhagen University for two years conducting some research in the cross-linguistic field of articulatory phonetics.

Besides Portuguese, I speak English, Español, Dansk, and capisco un poco di Italiano et Français, which helps me immensely with my students.

In 2000, I came to Brazil to visit my family, and when I was visiting my dear son – Ícaro, in Florianópois, he convinced me that I should not travel back to Denmark and that I should stay here. I got a bit scared because I had a very good job in DK and I really loved it. On top of it, there were very few foreigners down here. People would get surprised by my “teaching Portuguese as a foreign language” because they did not know the meaning of it, and in Lagoa da Conceição there was no one teaching the subject at the time.

Little by little, Florianopolis started to be on the media and some of my former students from the 70’s to the 90’s discovered Florianopolis and came back to me. It has been 22 years since then and I have taught more than 700 students here from all corners of the world. At the end of each course, most of my lovely students tell me that they didn´t get only a mere Portuguese course, but they became part of my society.

As time goes by, I can see that actually, my life is my students’ lives, and through them, I manage to travel around the world, I learn a lot about their cultures, people’s differences and, above all, I understand them. I love my teaching passionately and feel most fortunate for this. I´m extremely grateful to my music teachers.