By talking to people, you’ll not only be drilling (I mean, practising) your sentence or question, but you will also be getting used to different accents and words, and ways people react to a certain situation.
Ok, time to learn the Portuguese alphabet.
The Portuguese alphabet has 23 letters. My advice to learn it better and quicker is:
1. Try to memorize the letters in groups of 4 or 5. Have you realised that you cannot memorize more than 5 numbers in a row? Memorizing letters is like memorizing numbers. If you have a big number to memorize, your brain will divide the big number in 2, 3 or 4 smaller groups of no more than 5 numbers each. Our brain works like that, so try to memorize no more than 5 sounds (and I mean, letters) at a time. The Portuguese alphabet will become easier.
2. Start with vowels first.
3. Then, without the help of the sounds.
4. Then, go backwards.
Note that, in the Portuguese alphabet, the sound for "A" is very similar to the way you pronounce "R" in English.
5. Now start with vowels and consonants all-together. See below.
6. Try to spell your name(s) in Portuguese up to a point that you can do it quickly without thinking.
7. Get a good magazine, newspaper or, even better, a Portuguese dictionary and open it anywhere and try to spell the words as quickly as possible. Good dictionaries have often the phonetic sound associated with it's meaning.
8. Then record your voice while you are saying the words and try to spell the words back in writing as you are listening to your own voice. You should understand yourself listening to your own voice. If you don’t, something is wrong! Check it out!
9. Have a small break and repeat it again. The Portuguese alphabet takes a while to memorize.
10. Repeat this process for about 5 times spending about 15 minutes in each round.
11. When you come to a point that you can spell words, find a native speaker and give them a list of words. Ask them to spell them for you. If you don’t have Portuguese friends find them on the internet.
The letters K [cahpah], W [dublioo] and Y [ipsilon] are normally not used in Portuguese native speaking words, except for chemical references and abbreviations for distances (Km) or weights (kg).
There are no other doubles in Portuguese (or Portuguese alphabet) apart from RR, SS, and CÇ in which the second C is always with a cedilla - Ç – the little comma under the C.
There are, however, combinations of 2 letters forming a new sound:
CH has the sound [shh] and not [tch].
Try to say these words: chave / chamo / chato / chávena / chouriço / chantili.
NH has the sound similar to [ny].
Read these words: ninho [nee-nyo], tamanho [ta-mah-nyo], castanho [cas-tah-nyo].
Now try to say these ones: fanhoso / cantinho / gatinha / canhoto / junho / ranhura.
LH has a sound very similar to [lyi]. I know, it sounds weird, but you’ll get it!
Read these words: coelho [coo-eh-lyio] / filho [fee-lyio] / filha [fee-lyia] / talho [tah-lyio] / falho [fah-lyio] / ralho [rah-lyio].
RR – you’ll find it only in the middle of words. Ok! The English language doesn’t have this sound apart from very specific places in the English-speaking world like Scotland, for instance. Rolling the R requires practice. It’s one of those sounds that obliges you to “learn how to speak again”…
Imagine a car engine starting. You turn the key and the sound is RRRRRRR...
You can reproduce this sound in 2 different ways:
1. with your tongue – vibrating it and touching very quickly and repetitively the top of your mouth with the tip of your tongue, or
2. with your throat – imagine when your throat is itchy inside and you have to expel some air to “scratch” it inside. Well, ok, it’s like when you are going to...vomit...
SS has the sound [sss] and it’s used only in the middle of words. Some words have a double S because there are 3 sounds for the letter S. But let’s talk about it later.
CÇ – this is not very common but it’s used specially in European Portuguese where sometimes the first C is pronounced (I mean, has the sound [kk]), other times is mute.
Note: Letters in Portuguese are always masculine. If you don’t know what I mean by this, don’t worry for the time being! Just try to remember this, because it’s an important rule.
The following video is a lesson I've created to show you what the Portuguese alphabet sounds like and how you can learn it easily! For a better learning, try to get a piece of paper and write down the sounds for each letter as you hear them. Then, watch the video as many times as you need until you are able to produce the sounds before the teacher does. Check this out:
So, now, please go back to your alphabet and do the exercises I recommended you. Please make sure you get the sounds right.
You may want to set yourself a deadline - like by the end of the day to be able to spell words quickly, properly and accurately...
I'm sorry if I sometimes push you to the limit but this is just one of my professional hazards for being a teacher... I like seeing results fast, so I know you'll understand...
Once you've achieved your goal, don’t try to learn anything else today!
Don’t be greedy, ok?
Be proud of yourself instead and
Have a break and reward yourself!
You deserve a cup of coffee,
a cup of tea, or perhaps something else that pleases you the most...
Até amanhã! [ah-tee ah-ma-nya] - See you tomorrow!