If you want to learn Portuguese with Rafa click here to see what I mean.

We are already in December, which means that the Christmas period is approaching. This is a time when many of us decide to spend some quality time with our family and friends. That's lovely!

I particularly love this time of the year because it allows me to do things I don't normally do during the year. This is a time when we conscientiously get fully prepared for the upcoming new year, and when we decide to take action and do something different.

However, this is also a time to look back and see what we have done this year. What goals we have achieved. What goals we have almost achieved, and which ones we have neglected or abandoned.

Regarding these latter ones we need to look down deep inside of ourselves and ask why we didn't achieve them.

Was it because we lost interest?

Was it because we gave priority to other things?

Were those things really important?

Why did it happen?

I'm sure that Portuguese is in one of those two first categories - achieved or almost achieved.

If Portuguese has not been achieved yet, it's about time to take some action and do something about that. Yes, right now!

From my part, I must say that this year has been very productive.

I moved to a better house, I continued with my voluntary work, I have helped some of you become more confident with your Portuguese (based on some correspondence I've been receiving), I started to develop a way for you to learn Portuguese more easily (which is not ready yet but soon will be available to you), I made loads of new friends, I feel much better than last year.


But, what about you?

What have you done this year that have made you feel better about yourself?

Write it down, stick it on the wall of your bedroom and feel proud of yourself!

And how is your Portuguese going by the way?

If you find that you haven't got there yet, this is the time to cross the T's and dot the I's... :-)

Today I have something very powerful to share with you.

Today we'll talk about how to become fluent in a few months, and how to enjoy learning verbs.

Iºm going to share with you an email I got from someone who learnt how to speak, read and write fluent Portuguese in SIX months, without knowing any other language but English.

Oh yeah, baby! Six months!

I couldn't resist to ask Stephanie to share her story with all of us, just for the fact that she's been doing everything I've been preaching about.

But, before sharing Stephanie's story, I have a question for you.

Have you ever thought of walking from one end to the other of a very busy street in a straight line, no matter who or what came your way?

Walking and focussing on your goal - focussing on a straight line?

This is what you have to do with your learning.

The problem that everybody faces nowadays is that there are so many distractions that keep us away from our straight line in our busy street.

When it comes to learning Portuguese, There's no difference.

So, please, don't let it happen! Focus, focus and focus towards your achievements, and don't get distracted with anything.

If you focus on your straight line there will be no margin for failure, my friend. and you know that!

OK. Are you ready to read the most incredible story of learning a foreign language?

Check this out!


Oi Rafa,

Eu sou de Oregon...a cidade de Portland... você conheçe?
I'm from Oregon... Portland City... Do you know it?

Vou escrever em inglês agora, um depoimento da minha história se você quiser partilhar no seu site:
I'm going to write in English now, a testimony of my story, in case you want to share it in your site:

I started learning Portuguese before a trip I had planned to Rio de Janeiro.

I planned to stay in Rio for at least six months, and knew that I would find it as a home for myself to eventually stay permanently, so I was very motivated to learn Portuguese.

I rented some cassettes of Brazilian Portuguese from my local library, and studied every day for three hours.

When I got to Rio, this didn't seem to have helped much, but in retrospect, I know it did.

During my time in Rio, I lived in four different apartments/houses, with groups of Brazilians my age, or with families.

It was by living with a family that I was able to make the greatest leap in my learning.

I made a concerted effort to avoid anyone who spoke English.

I got myself a good grammar book, and in my down time I would study the annoying parts of any language - mainly the verb structures, which are very complicated in Portuguese.

While this is normally an annoying process, it was exciting because it almost always happened that after a study session with my book, I would encounter the words or grammar structure I had just learned in conversations or on TV. This was extremely satisfying.

When I found out I could understand television, I became fascinated and watched at least 3 hours of TV a day.

I would write down words and phrases I understood or liked while I was watching. I also did this in conversation.

I also made a dictionary of slang. As Rio has awesome slang, every bit of slang I learned I wrote down.

Normally I am a person who spends much time alone, but I never spent any time alone in Rio. I wanted to utilize every chance I could to practice the new skill I was learning, and every bit of progress I made felt incredible.

I went out to bars and dancing, and gave the time of day to anyone who wanted to talk to me.

I even dated boys I didn't like for a while, because I found that when they were interested, they were the most patient teachers.

I went to this park, Parque do Flamengo, where every weekend local groups get together and play soccer/football.

I befriended the guys selling beer and would sit and talk to them for hours.

Eventually I started teaching English, which really helped my self-esteem as a Portuguese speaker, and my students also became my teachers.

Later I also fell in love and got engaged to a Brazilian, who ended up being my best teacher and really completing my knowledge of Portuguese.

After six months spent in Rio, I consider myself to be fluent.

Now that I am passing some months in US waiting to move back to Rio permanently, I keep up with my Portuguese mainly by watching videos on youtube, memorizing rap songs to impress my boyfriend when I go back, and reading the news.

I like to read the comments on videos on youtube, because they're written in a very casual language, true to how people actually speak.


When you're bored studying lists of vocab, try reading a book in Portuguese.

When you're bored with reading, try watching music videos.

When you're bored with that, try finding something funny to watch on youtube.

When you're bored with that, try singing your favorite song in Portuguese.

There are so many different avenues of learning today, especially with the internet, and I think the best way to learn a language is to utilize all of them.

Wow that was long ! But that's really the shortest version I could come up with of my story....

Continuamos em contato! Um beijo!



Do YOU get me now? This is what I'm talking about!

No fear. No distraction. No procrastination. No nothing!

Just focus!!!

Thank you Stephanie for sharing your so inspiring story with all of us. I thank you on behalf of all the lucky ones who have the opportunity to read this. xx

We all know that motivation and discipline are the main reasons why we take longer to achieve our goals, but after this story, all our motives for not to focus on achieving proficiency fall apart.

I have nothing else to add up here really...

Right! After this amazing story... Guess what? I have some more good news for you in this email.

In order for me to help you achieve fluency in Portuguese, I'm going to give you here a strategy on how to have fun while learning Portuguese verbs.

How does this sound to you?

What??? Having fun while learning boring verbs???

Yes, my friend. Having fun while you are learning your verbs!

By the way, a VERB is a "doing word" like "to read" - Ler, "to work" - Trabalhar, "to rest" - descansar, etc., and they are the core of the Portuguese language.

As we know, there are three main aspects we need to take into account when we learn Portuguese verbs:

1. If a verb is regular or irregular.

2. The verbal person (eu, ele, nós, etc.).

3. The different tenses.

You can learn more about the first two aspects by clicking the links above, but what I would like to focus on today was the third point - the tenses.

There are about fifteen tenses that you may want to learn in order for you to become a complete fluent Portuguese speaker.

Although my aim here is not making you learn the grammatical terms for all the tenses, it might be good getting to know some of them, because these terms might give you a good reference.

So I'll present the grammatical term first.

Then I shall show you the equivalence between Portuguese and English,

and finally I'll give one expression that might trigger your brain to use them correctly when you are expressing yourself in Portuguese.


So, imagine a regular verb like FALAR (to speak).

Then imagine that today you want to polish up the person "EU" in all tenses.

All you have to do is follow this sequence:

Present - Eu falo - I speak
Normalmente eu falo com os meus amigos em Português.
Normally I speak with my friends in Portuguese.

Simple Preterite Past (PPS) - Eu falei - I spoke / I have spoken
Ontem eu falei com a minha família.
Yesterday I spoke with my family. or
Hoje de manhã falei com o meu colega.
This morning I have spoken to my colleague.

Imperfect Past (PI) - Eu falava - I used to speak / I was speaking
Antigamente eu falava com a minha vizinha todos os dias.
Formerly I used to speak to my neighbour every day.
Enquanto eu falava com a minha vizinha, o telefone tocou.
Whilst I was speaking with my neighbour, the telephone rang.

Present Continuous (European version) - Eu estou a falar - I am speaking
Neste momento eu estou a falar ao telefone com o Pedro.
At this moment I am speaking on the phone with Pedro.
Present continuous (Brazilian version) - Eu estou falando - I am speaking
Neste momento eu estou falando no telefone com o Pedro.
At (this) moment I am speaking on the phone with Pedro.

Future 1 (colloquial and close future) - Eu vou falar - I'm going to speak
Hoje à tarde eu vou falar com o meu irmão.
This afternoon I am going to speak with my brother.

Future 2 (formal and distant future) - Eu falarei - I will speak
No ano que vem eu falarei com a minha irmã.
Next year I will speak with my sister.

Future 3 (dream future) - Eu hei-de falar - I will speak
Um dia eu hei-de falar muitas línguas com fluência.
One day I will speak many languages fluently.

Conditional - Eu falaria - I would speak
Se fosse possível eu falaria com ela esta tarde.
If it was possible I would speak with her this afternoon.

Compound Preterite Past (PPC) - Eu tenho falado - I have been speaking
Ultimamente eu tenho falado muito ao telefone.
Lately I have been speaking too much on the telephone.

Plus Perfect Compound Preterite - Eu (já) tinha falado - I had (already) spoken
Quando ele chegou eu (já) tinha falado com os clientes.
When he arrived I had (already) spoken to the clients.

Personal Infinitive - eu Falar - Speaking/Speak
Antes de eu falar eu penso.
Before speaking I think / Before I speak I think

Present Subjunctive - Eu fale - I speak
Embora eu fale alto eles não me ouvem.
Although I speak loudly they don't hear me.

Imperfect Subjunctive - Eu falasse - I spoke / I have spoken
Na semana passada, se eu falasse do custo, ninguem compraria.
Last week if I spoke about the cost, no body would buy it.
Na semana passada, se eu falasse do custo, ninguem compraria.
Last week if I had spoken about the cost, no body would have bought it.

Futute Subjunctive - Eu falar - I speak
Amanhã, se eu falar com a Maria, vou pedir para ela trazer um bolo.
Tomorrow if I speak with Maria I will ask her to bring a cake.

Yep! That's it for the person EU.

If you want to practice the other persons (tu, você, a gente, nós, eles, etc) in another day you need to do both:

First checking the right conjugation from a book with Portuguese verbs, and

Then follow this sequence with the expression I give you here in bolt before each sentence for each tense.

If you do this with a friend it's very entertaining and challenging.

You could even bet chocolates, coins, bank notes, as a reward and a motivation to get the verbs right faster and more accurately.

It's great fun indeed! And soooo effective!

I have tried this myself and the result is just amazing.

I have also tried this with hundreds of students I've been teaching throughout the years and they found this technique magical.

Now, my friend, I'll leave the magic in your hands, for you to use in the most useful way you may find.

Well, and that's all for today. I'm going to call it a day now.

Think about this email whilst you enjoy your learning, and think about how you can best focus to achieve your goals.

I hope you have enjoyed this message and I'll be back with more news soon.

Till then, Bom Natal e Feliz Ano Novo!
(Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!)

Your friend,

Rafa x

PS 1: Questions about any topic? Success stories? Please let me know.

PS 2: Also, if you were going to tell your friends ONE PIECE OF ADVICE you learned from me which has helped you to speak Portuguese... What would that be? Let me know in your email!

I look forward to receiving your email :-)


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Thank You For Your Comments On This Site And The Lessons We Have Together:

"Having found Rafa's website by accident I can honestly say it was the best thing to happen to me on my journey to learn Portuguese.

I started learning on January 2012 (using a language programme) but wanted to take some classes to aid my learning. When I looked on the internet there were so many options and I felt overwhelmed but one day whilst randomly looking on different websites I found Rafa's site and thought it was the best site I had come across but when I found out he did lessons in London I was thrilled - I emailed him and he promptly responded and we arranged to meet for a coffee the next day. Rafa was so confident that I would find his lessons successful that he offered me the first lesson for free and he was right!

What makes Rafa such a fantastic teacher is that not only does he explain the concepts and structure of the language in a clear, concise manner, he inspires his students with the confidence to speak and the motivation to want to learn more - I now take lessons twice a week (2 hours each time) and I always look forward to every lesson.

Learning Portuguese can be extremely frustrating at times but Rafa gives you the belief that with his help and hard work you can achieve your goal.

I have been really impressed with my progress since January and to put it into context - on my first lesson my only contact with Portuguese was 8 lessons on a language programme. With Rafa, we started going through the alphabet and pronunciation rules and now, three months later we are talking in Portuguese about holidays, life in London and even the socio-economic fortunes of young people in Brazil!

Rafa has not only been an inspiring teacher but has become a good friend - he's always happy to answer my emails if I have questions and we often go for a coffee or beer after lessons to discuss my progress and other things of interest.

If you are serious about learning Portuguese I could not recommend Rafa highly enough - he will be the difference between you giving up when the success you want is just around the corner.

Jamie." - London . U.K.


"Hi Rafa

This site is just amazing - I really enjoy having the resource available to learn Portuguese - and have learnt so much from it already.Please keep adding more!

Nina." - South Africa


"A great Portuguese teacher!

Rafa speaks excellent English, and as a result is able to explain subtleties that other teachers can't.

He can speak Portuguese clearly for the beginner or with the slang and difficult pronunciation that everyday Portuguese so often use. This is a great help.

The use of Skype to conduct a lesson at a distance is great. It works absolutely fine.

His site has lots of goodies and is very useful. That, combined with Rafa himself as a teacher over Skype is an excellent way to learn the language."

Dale - Netherlands.


"Dear Rafa,

Just wanted to thank you that you took your time and build this page. In my opinion is the best page for learning Portuguese, I just love your way of teaching! I've already taken lessons in my country but now everything seems much, much easier!

Muito obrigada :)

Ana." - Slovenia


"I contracted the services of Mr Rafael Tavares this summer to help me in the preparation of a series of lectures I will be giving in Mozambique. Mr Tavares managed to impart to me an incredibly clear insight to the fundamentals of Portuguese grammar and construction, which has boosted my ability and confidence enormously."

Dr. Boomer - London, England

"Ola Rafa!

Just want to say that I have found your site on learning Portuguese absolutely great! I am planning to come over to Portugal early next year to live and try to find work. Like you say it takes time to learn a language and that is true, but I do feel much more confident learning Portuguese from your site than any book, class or tapes etc... Thanks for the great site!

Cheers from Melbourne Australia.

Richard" - Australia


"It's just great to learn with Rafa. His enthusiasm, dedication and humour are really inspiring and encouraging. A student could not ask for a better Portuguese teacher."

Jessica - Canada


"Hi Rafa

Congratulations on your site, which I have just found. I began Portuguese just a few weeks ago at weekly evening class and, despite being a pretty good Spanish speaker, am finding Portuguese pronunciation hard going. Your section on this topic, plus the free lesson at front of site, are a definite help to learn Portuguese.Muito obrigado!"

Harry" - UK


"I would have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in recommending in the highest possible terms Mr Tavares to anyone wishing to learn or improve their Portuguese."

John - L.A., USA


"Olá! Eu queria escrever só porque gosto muito do seu site! Eu amo o português!! Eu gosto do que você escreve sobre o medo e a mente quando aprendemos línguas.

Eu gosto de ler coisas sobre como aprender Português na internet. Eu aprendi Português enquanto morei no Rio de Janeiro por 6 meses e falando só com os Brasileiros. Ajudou também ter um namorado brasileiro. Estou aprendendo ainda, todo dia, mas tenho confiança em enfrentar qualquer Brasileiro para dar uma idéa! Hoje em dia tem tantos métodos de estudar. Eu vejo vídeos no youtube - entrevistas, programas de televisão, músicas - e ler os commentarios - isso é muito bom para aprender as gírias! É bom também memorizar as letras das musicas....

Boa sorte! Gostei do seu site!

Stephanie" - USA


"I have been deeply impressed by Rafa's structured way of teaching and his ability to identify the really key aspects for his students, thus enabling me to advance very rapidly without spending time on less important or extraneous topics."

Diane - NY, USA


"Bom dia, Rafa :)

I like your page and it is very useful for me when I learn Portuguese since I get a lot of information which is easy to understand. Thank you so much for your effort.

Donata" - Lithuania


"Olá Rafa!

O meu nome é Jakub. Eu só queria dizer que eu estou feliz de encontrar o seu site. Acho que ele é muito bom e útil! Eu tento aprender a língua Portuguesa porque tenho muitos amigos Angolanos na minha cidade - Cracovia.
And something I'm not yet able to express in Portuguese... I very much like your way of sharing knowledge and your sense of humour. Muito obrigado!

Jakub" - Poland


"Hi Rafa,

Your site is a really useful resource, and I found your comparison of the personal infinitive/future subjunctive very interesting – I happened upon it precisely when I was struggling to grasp the concept, thinking I may be the only one with this problem!

Alex" - UK


"Hi Rafa

This is a great site! I'm a British ex-pat and I have been living in Portugal for 15 months now, but I am still struggling with the language. I've spent a lot of money on books, CDs and language lessons.
I like the idea of practising my pronunciation by reading out the text but I think the text you have chosen is far too difficult. In my opinion, an easier text with more commonly used words would be more useful and make beginners feel less overwhelmed!
Many thanks again, it's a great site!

Jennifer" - Portugal


"Olá Rafa

I love the website!!! I can see that a lot of long nights and a lot of thinking went into this site.

Cenk." - England

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