So, I had been on a slightly extensive hunt for a decent "PSL" (Portuguese as a Second Language) teacher.
A student told me about a Portuguese teacher for native Portuguese speakers, but I already tried that, and it didn't go over very well.
To put it in perspective, imagine your high school English teacher teaching English to immigrants, and telling them things like, "don't end your sentence with a preposition!" (but teacher... then why do we ask 'Where are you from?') and "the only correct plural of 'you' is 'you!" (but teacher... then what does 'you guys' mean?).
In short, I needed a teacher who was smart enough to distinguish between things that are technically, socially incorrect, but very common (like "me ajude"), and actually grammatically incorrect constructions that I have invented (like "momentinho" and "leja esse livro"). For the linguists reading this, I needed a descriptive language teacher, not a prescriptive one!
I also needed a teacher who wasn't going to charge me an outrageous price. (This search has revealed that I am charging my students far too little for classes, a realization that was both frustrating and good to know.)
I finally got hooked up with a girl a few years older than I am. She studied translation and worked in the US as an au pair, and now she teaches English (biggest Brazilian English teacher stereotype ever). She has never taught Portuguese before, but was willing to give me a fair price (after some negotiation, still not a talent I possess) and was also willing to create activities.
I've only had 2 classes, and it's been fun so far. She's not quite as on the ball about the rules of her native language as some people are (coughI'maSnobcough) but she's not afraid to say she doesn't know and will get back to me (important... you'd be surprised how many teachers here lie, at least when they're teaching English). She also gives me good activities and explains the things she does know very well.
My grandparents also bought and sent me a textbook that I really recommend for any intermediate Portuguese learners reading this (wonderful grandparents!). It's called "Crônicas Brasileiras." It's here. It's a collection of short stories that not only teaches new words and helpful slang but also gives insight into different cultural issues. Each page has footnotes with a few translations of difficult words, and after each story, there are comprehension questions and grammar activities. I've started working on it on my own so that my teacher can check my answers.
Half of having a language teacher is purely psychological. All the money you're shelling out for classes seems to motivate you to study more, even though you could've done most of that studying on your own. I guess I feel better knowing someone's going to check my work. I wish it worked on all of my students...
I think a true sign of my improvement in Portuguese is that I realized that Brazilian singer Vanessa da Mata is from Rio de Janeiro because she rhymes "demais" with "paz" in her song with Ben Harper. Not sure if it was as big in the US as it was here, but either way, you can check it out. They're saying exactly the same things in English and Portuguese:
Not much else to report. Pretty busy with work. Hope you all are doing well!