Wondering how to learn Portuguese?

Here you have some suggestions and techniques that work!

Learn how to learn first, and then learn how to speak Portuguese.

You may have come to this page because you want to know how to learn Portuguese.

You may also want to know how people that speak languages learn. What is their secret after all? How is it possible?

Well, I can assure you that learning a foreign language is not rocket science.

It's all based on how well you know yourself, and how well you can use all your capacities.

I dare to say that if you want to learn Portuguese you need strategies. Those strategies are here for you, so read them one by one carefully and think about how you can use each of them in your unique learning process.

So here you go!

    1. Open your mind and be sure of the goals you want to achieve by learning this language.

Write them down!

Do you want to learn Portuguese because you want to get a Portuguese speaking girlfriend or boyfriend? Or is it because some members of your family speak Portuguese and you want to understand them?
Are you aiming to get a promotion or a specific position in your company?
Is it because you like the sound of the language?
Is it because your need to fulfill you free time learning something?
Just write it down!
Every time you feel despair in your process of how to learn Portuguese and why, you will have that list of reasons that will help you ignore the difficulties. Set your goals and don't get distracted!

    2. Select a certain period of time for your learning.

In your daily routine, make 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour a day available for your learning. You must make sure that this is as important as eating, socializing, having a shower, having a coffee or a tea, etc.
I recommend you to to switch between mornings, afternoons and evenings during the different days because depending on your daily routine you feel differently, so your feelings and reception for input will be different.

    3. Choose one or two language items only at a time.

Don't be greedy. Remember that how to learn Portuguese is a process. Also don't think your memory is a computer hard disc. We are humans and our memory is limited.
When you learn a particular item, feel it (in other words, imagine situations where you can use the words or expressions you are learning.

    4. After learning the basics, select what you want to learn first.

When you are planning how to learn Portuguese you must prioritize.
Imagine: if you are going to a party where there will be many Portuguese speaking people, introductions and greetings will be your main priority. Or if you are going to travel around a Portuguese speaking country you may select learning how to buy a ticket or ask for information.
But remember: learn the basics first!

    5. Practice what you are learning with intervals of repetition.

When you are learning a new word, you must repeat it a few times first, and after a short interval, recall it again. Choose intervals between 5 seconds and a minute.

    6. Assess yourself all the time.

Have words or expressions in both languages (English and Portuguese) and recall the Portuguese word or expression from English to Portuguese and vice-versa.

    7. As soon as you start putting words together increase the speed when you say them.

Try to remember how fast you'd say the same in English or in your mother-tongue and say it at the same speed in Portuguese. Run the words together like a Portuguese native speaker.

    8. Balance your learning with reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
But every time you say, write, read or listen to something feeeeeel it!

    9. When speaking the language, guess!
Remember that guessing is about 25% of the secret of how to learn Portuguese, and how to speak it . Don't feel embarrassed because you understood or said something wrong. Say "desculpe" [sorry] and carry on.
Good learners of Portuguese are willing guessers.

    10. Make an effort to communicate and don't be shy.

Good students of Portuguese have a strong drive to communicate, or to learn from communication. They are serious about how to learn Portuguese, so they are willing to do many things to get their message across.

    11. Make mistakes!

Good learners of Portuguese are often not inhibited. They are willing to make mistakes in order to learn and to communicate. They are also willing to live with a certain amount of vagueness. They are often willing to appear foolish.

    12. Learn the language rules and patterns.

In addition to focusing on communication, good students of Portuguese are prepared and constantly looking for patterns in the language. For instance, in how many every-day's situations can you use the expression "queria..." [kay-ree-ah] (can I have...)?

    13. Good learners of Portuguese practise.

    14. Good of learners Portuguese control and assess their own speech and that of others.

That is, they are constantly attending to how well their speech is being received and whether their performance meets the standards they have set themselves.

    15. Good learners of Portuguese attend to meaning.

They know that in order to understand the message, it is not sufficient to pay attention to the grammar of the language or to the surface form of speech, but both, plus body language, and intonation.

    15. Good learners of Portuguese speak in Portuguese every time they have an opportunity to do so, even if some of their interlocutors speak good English.

Many times you'll have the choice of speaking in English or in Portuguese, because the people you are speaking to also speak both languages. Don't hesitate to speak Portuguese all the time! Think that every time you struggle you are learning and overcoming obstacles.

And that's it!

This is how you'll get to the proficiency level!

Rogers (1969) says:“The only man who is educated is the man who has learned how to learn; the man who has learned how to adapt and change; the man who has realized that no knowledge is secure, that only the process of seeking knowledge gives a basis for security”.

Please print out this list and keep it next to you. If you follow these steps in you learning process you will succeed!

Força! [fohr-sah!] (Go on!)

Rafael Tavares

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The Language Lover's Guide To Learning Portuguese is a study companion for you to understand the intricacies of the Portuguese Language. Check it out here!


Here are some pages you may find interesting:

  • The Portuguese alphabet.
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  • Free Portuguese Verb Table
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  • Software available to learn both, Brazilian and European Portuguese. Check it out!


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