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?
- How to Start Learning Portuguese
- 8 Top Tips for Learning to Speak Portuguese
- European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese: The Differences
- 5 Portuguese TV Recommendations on Lingopie
- FAQs: Learning Portuguese
- Summing Up: Top Tips for Learning Portuguese
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Related:Understanding the differences between Brazilian vs. European Portuguese
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. Brazilian Ladies
This series is an excellent find for beginner and intermediate Brazilian Portuguese learners. Each episode is just five minutes long and stand-alone, so you can dive in and out of the series as you wish.
You will hear from a range of Brazilian women who represent different aspects of Brazil's society as they face their own life challenges.
The episodes cover a wide range of situations and terminology, so they are excellent for learners who want to deepen their vocabulary and awareness of Brazilian culture.
2. Sea Brazil
In this docuseries, you will learn Brazilian Portuguese words and phrases related to marine life and the environment. Sea Brazil addresses the threats to Brazil's coastline and what Brazilians are doing to save its natural beauty and diversity.
Learn a little more about environmental issues in South America before you visit.
3. Holy Smoke
This is a silly but very entertaining animated short about two hitmen who speak Brazilian Portuguese. Listen to their conversation as they decide to get high before a job to pick up some Brazilian slang.
Holy Smoke is a good pick for people learning Brazilian Portuguese as it is short, entertaining, and memorable.
4. Bass Diary
European Portuguese man, Martim, takes the viewer on a musical journey to better understand the bass guitar. We hear cover songs, originals, and a lot of fun information about the bass in the 16 episodes that all last around 5 minutes.
If you want to learn Portuguese phrases related to music, let Martim teach you a thing or two in these bite-sized episodes.
5. Walking Tour - Porto
Finally, to get you in the mood for visiting Portugal, watch a walking tour of the beautiful city of Porto. Note the architecture, learn a bit about the history and compare this quaint Portuguese-speaking city to the likes of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Catch a glimpse of real-life Portuguese people going about their lives, listen to the accent, and get excited about traveling to Europe with this short watch!
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.