How to learn Portuguese? Our Guide for the Best Way

So, you want to learn Portuguese. Well, you've come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain the best ways to learn Portuguese for all learners.

First, we'll address how easy learning Portuguese can be and how to start learning. Then, we will provide 8 top tips for all Portuguese language learners to get the ball rolling on their language learning journeys.

It's recommended to use several methods and resources to learn Portuguese as this will ensure you cover all language skills.

We will then look at the differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese. Finally, we'll leave you with some great Portuguese TV show recommendations to kick-start your learning!


Table of Contents:

Learning The Portuguese Language: Is It Hard?

Babbel notes that Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, making it a very popular and practical choice for language learners. If you can speak Portuguese, you can communicate with a large percentage of the world's population.

Portuguese is generally thought of as an easy language to learn. However, this will depend on your mother tongue and any other languages you speak.

If you already understand the Latin alphabet you are at a big advantage. Moreover, if you have knowledge of another Romance language, such as Italian, Spanish, French, or Romanian, you will find it much easier to pick up Portuguese vocabulary and grammar.

Romance languages share a lot of similarities, so speakers of another Romance language will be able to get their tongues around Portuguese pronunciation, grammar, and new vocabulary faster than someone whose native tongue has no shared roots with Portuguese.

How to Start Learning Portuguese

The first thing to think about is whether you want to learn Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese. This will provide you with some direction when it comes to choosing learning resources.

The next key tip is to start today. It is too easy to say that you will start to learn Portuguese at some unclear time in the future. Commit now and set yourself attainable goals to stay motivated.

Try to be consistent with your learning. This means turning up every day to learn, even just for thirty minutes.

Do not over-stretch yourself. Start with the present tense and the most useful everyday vocabulary and build from there, once you have a good basis. Even with one tense and limited verbs, you can begin to make yourself understood.

You can also join online communities to keep motivated or use online resources, such as social media, to learn Portuguese in a fun way. There are a lot of great Instagram and TikTok accounts that create content for Portuguese learners.

Moreover, you can visit Lingopie's site to stream Portuguese movies and TV shows for natural and quality exposure to the language. Lingopie's interactive features optimize your learning potential.

Having fun while you learn is important and leads to the best results. You are much more likely to retain new information if you learned it while enjoying yourself. So, avoid textbook rote learning, and try out our 8 top tips for learning Portuguese instead!

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8 Top Tips for Learning to Speak Portuguese

1. Watch Portuguese TV Shows and Movies

One of the most fun and effective ways to learn a new language is to watch TV shows and movies in that language.

This allows you to immerse yourself in the vernacular and pick up useful Portuguese phrases, colloquialisms, and even little bits of culture.

You can also watch with Portuguese subtitles so that you can read along with the dialogue. This will help you with spelling and making sense of the context.

Listening to natives speaking Portuguese is excellent for listening comprehension and learning correct pronunciation.

Remember that people from Portugal and Brazil speak differently, so you might want to choose your content based on which version of Portuguese you are learning.


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2. Listen to Portuguese Music

On top of engaging with TV and movies, you can also incorporate Portuguese music into your daily life. If you listen to Portuguese singers as you walk, do chores, and drive, you will start to absorb the language without even trying.

You can practice listening out for new language and singing along once you know the words. This is great Portuguese speaking practice, as it helps with fluency and pronunciation.

It is common in classrooms to teach Portuguese with music, as your brain retains information better when it is accompanied by a melody.

Some great European Portuguese songs include Baile de Verão by José Malhoa, Andorinhas by Ana Moura, and Eu Levo No Pacote by Rosinha.

As for Brazilian Portuguese music, check out Balada by Gusttavo Lima, Você Partiu Meu Coração by Nego do Borel, and Ai Se Eu Te Pego by Sharon Acioly and Antônio Dyggs.

3. Read Portuguese Books

You will also want to get quality reading practice, and that is where books and magazines come into the picture.

Reading in another language is easier than listening, generally, as you can take your time to process the sentences, re-read and look up words.

It is a good idea to note down new Portuguese words and phrases that you come across and find useful.

Have a Portuguese dictionary handy if you need it, but try not to stop and translate every single unknown word, as this will get tedious and you'll lose the flow of the narrative.

Remember that you don't need to start with heavy works of literature. Even reading one news article a day is a great start. Absolute beginners can just try reading a couple of paragraphs and identifying the gist of the text.

4. Listen to Podcasts and Audiobooks

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks is a great way to get familiar with spoken language, especially if you do not live in a place with native Portuguese speakers.

Podcasts that feature native speakers will expose you to colloquialisms, slang, and even funny Portuguese phrases and idioms that you can learn to use.

You can learn a lot about Portuguese history, culture, and customs while also getting quality listening practice from podcasts. And the best part is they're fun and engaging!

Write down common colloquial Portuguese phrases that come up in podcasts and try to use them in real-life situations. This will solidify your learning.

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5. Get a Language Exchange Partner

Next, find a language exchange partner to practice speaking with, either online or in-person.

Language exchange partners are not usually professional teachers, but rather native speakers of your target language who will talk with you online or in person for informal practice.

Sometimes, a language exchange partner will want to learn your native language, so you will speak for an hour in your language, then an hour in theirs. This is a mutually-beneficial arrangement that doesn't involve payment.

Alternatively, you can pay a Portuguese native to practice Portuguese online with you, without also helping them learn your language.

It is recommended to seek a language exchange partner that speaks the same kind of Portuguese that you are learning, especially if you're a beginner.

Having a partner who speaks European Portuguese when you are learning Brazilian Portuguese can be confusing, as some of the vocabulary and grammar are different.

Is a language exchange partner the same as a tutor?

A language exchange partner can be a qualified and experienced online tutor, or else a friendly native speaker without teaching experience who is happy to chat with you.

You might find that a qualified tutor will cost more per hour than someone who is not an official language teacher.

You can find native Portuguese tutors or language exchange partners online on sites such as iTalki or Meetup.

6. Sign Up For Language Classes

If you like more formal learning with structure and someone qualified to tell you why the grammar rules are the way they are, consider signing up for Portuguese lessons.

Many Portuguese teachers run Portuguese lessons via Zoom or similar video chat sites, so you can study from the comfort of your own home.

Alternatively, you can find local in-person classes. If you find studying Portuguese hard on your own, you will benefit from being in a proper classroom environment.

There are different methods for teaching Portuguese, so find classes that suit your learning style. For instance, some teachers might only speak Portuguese, while others will explain concepts and ideas in English.

Your Portuguese teacher should be a native speaker, or at the very least an incredibly proficient second-language speaker.

You will be able to practice pronunciation with a teacher and get instant feedback on your accent, which will prevent you from picking up bad habits in your speaking.

7. Use Language-Learning Apps

Supplement your learning with language apps in your downtime. A language-learning app will teach you vocabulary and introduce you to grammar points, such as conjugations, tenses, and gender agreement.

These are great resources for learning Portuguese online either for free or at a small cost. Apps are often designed like games so you can learn while having fun.

Learn phrases, verb tenses, basic greetings, and how to conjugate verbs with Lingopie, Duolingo, Rocket Languages, or any other well-reputed language app and give yourself a head-start in your learning journey.

Committing to even five or ten minutes a day of practice with a language app will keep you motivated and help you to solidify your learning.

8. Visit Portugal or Brazil

Finally, if you have the time and resources, it is always recommended to visit one of the Portuguese-speaking countries to use the language in a natural setting and surround yourself with native speakers.

Remember that it is very common for people in Portugal and Brazil to speak some English, so if you are a native English speaker, try not to resort to using English words, unless you really need to.

The same warning goes for Spanish speakers, as Spanish and Portuguese have many similarities! Try to stick to the language you are learning, as this is the best practice you could get.

Order food and drinks in Portuguese, ask for directions, greet people and make friends. Be brave and don't be afraid to make mistakes - that's how you learn.

Depending on whether you are learning European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese, and what your budget is, you can decide if you would like to visit Brazil or Portugal.

If you cannot visit either country in person, don't be put off! You can learn Portuguese online, with a tutor, language exchange partner, apps, music, movies, and more online resources.


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European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese: The Differences

While Brazilian and European Portuguese are technically the same language, there are some key differences that you should note.

When you visit a Portuguese-speaking country, one of the biggest differences you will notice between South American and European speakers is pronunciation. In Europe, some sounds are less pronounced than in Brazil.

Brazilian Portuguese speakers tend to elongate vowel sounds and speak with a more open mouth than their European counterparts.

European and Brazilian Portuguese also use different second-person pronouns. The difference between tu/teu and você/seu in Portugal is formality. However, in Brazil, the latter pronouns are used in informal settings too.

You might also notice when learning Brazilian Portuguese that the gerund is used much more often than in Portugal, where the a + infinitive is more common. Ele está a dançar (Portugal) vs ele está dançando (Brazil), for example.

If you decide to learn to speak Brazilian Portuguese, do not worry about being misunderstood in Portugal. The differences are not so great that this is an issue. However, you can make the effort to use the language as the locals do when you visit.


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5 Portuguese TV Recommendations on Lingopie

Remember that you can watch Portuguese movies and TV shows to immerse yourself in the language and learn a bit about Portuguese or Brazilian culture, as well as the language differences. We will leave you with some recommendations to get started.

1. 3%

3% is a Brazilian dystopian thriller by Netflix, depicting a future where people compete to join the elite "3%" in a utopian "Offshore." The series, acclaimed for its original plot and dynamic characters, follows candidates navigating a morally complex selection process.

This series is an excellent find for beginner and intermediate Brazilian Portuguese learners. Beginners can enhance their Portuguese by watching with subtitles, linking speech with text for better understanding.

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2. Turn of the Tide

"Turn of the Tide" (Rabo de Peixe) is not just a series; it's a cultural voyage to the heart of the Azores Islands of Portugal. As viewers traverse through local life, they encounter the area's cultural depth, traditions, and the vibrant community that defines it. The series does more than entertain; it educates, offering a window into the Azorean way of life, their communal ties, and their rich heritage set against the stunning backdrop of the islands.

On the linguistic front, the series is a treasure trove for learners of Portuguese, presenting the language in its most natural form. Audiences are treated to a rich tapestry of authentic dialogues, colloquial expressions, and the distinctive Azorean accent. This immersive experience sharpens listening abilities, broadens vocabulary, and deepens understanding of Portuguese nuances. Beyond language learning, "Turn of the Tide" bridges cultures, revealing the universal themes of human experience in the unique context of Azorean life, thereby enhancing viewers' global perspective and fostering a deeper sense of empathy.

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3. Invisible City

This Brazilian fantasy series is perfect for those who want to learn Portuguese. "Invisible City" follows a detective who discovers a hidden world inhabited by mythical creatures. As he uncovers the secrets of this invisible city, you'll be picking up Portuguese language skills along the way.

4. Nobody's Looking

Nobody's Looking follows Uli, a rebellious angel who breaks the rules of heaven and ends up on Earth. The show offers a vibrant plunge into Brazilian culture and the nuances of Brazilian Portuguese. It serves as more than just entertainment; it's a resourceful platform for language acquisition, featuring a cast of native speakers and a compelling narrative. As you follow the adventures of Uli, the series becomes a gateway to learning, blending humor with cultural insights.

For learners at any level, "Nobody's Looking" is a practical tool for honing language skills, from grammar to slang. It exposes viewers to everyday expressions and cultural idiosyncrasies, helping to build vocabulary and improve listening and speaking proficiency. Moreover, it illuminates the distinct facets of European Portuguese, providing a comprehensive understanding of the language's diversity.


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5. Until Life do Us Apart

The Paixão family drama unfolds on a struggling wedding party farm, offering a rich tapestry of European Portuguese in a real-life context. As the story reveals the faded romance between Vanessa and Daniel, the unwavering bond of the grandparents Luisa and Joaquim, and the contrasting views on love held by their children Rita and Marco, viewers have a chance to learn Portuguese through the lens of complex family dynamics. This setting provides learners with a spectrum of emotional dialogues, from heated debates to tender exchanges, enhancing understanding of the language's expressive range and deepening cultural insights.

FAQs: Learning Portuguese

How long does it take to Learn Portuguese?

How fast you learn Portuguese will depend on several factors, such as which languages you already speak, whether you learn independently or with a Portuguese teacher, how many hours a day you commit to learning, and how many different resources you use.

That being said, you can expect to learn basic Portuguese to a conversational level in a matter of months.

Can I learn Portuguese in 3 months?

Yes, if you put in the time, you can learn to speak Portuguese at a conversational level in three months. During this time, you will not become fluent in Portuguese, but you can learn to hold a basic conversation, read and write simple text and make yourself understood in day-to-day situations.

Learn the language faster with language apps, lessons, and other online resources.

Is Portuguese one of the easiest languages to learn?

If you already know the Latin alphabet, and especially if you speak a Romance language, then yes, Portuguese is an easy language to learn. Portuguese pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary are all logical for speakers of other Latin languages.

Even if you only speak English, Portuguese is an accessible language to start learning, and you will be able to make fast progress with the best resources.

What are the best Portuguese resources for learners?

There are a lot of excellent resources for Portuguese language learners online, including social media accounts, streaming platforms, language apps, video tutorials, language exchange sites, and more.

As well as paid subscription sites, there are free resources and online communities for language learners that offer tips and guidance for listening, reading, writing, and speaking Portuguese

Summing Up: Top Tips for Learning Portuguese

So, there you have it! This has been a comprehensive guide for all Portuguese language learners, from absolute beginners to intermediate and advanced learners. Now you know the best way(s) to learn to speak Portuguese.

We recommend that you follow our 8 top tips for language acquisition so that you cover all four crucial language skills: writing, reading comprehension, listening, and speaking practice.

Whether you are learning Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese, there are a lot of resources out there to help you along.

Remember to check out Lingopie's Portuguese-language TV shows and movies if you want to immerse yourself in the language and be thoroughly entertained.

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