Can you get a perfect Portuguese accent?

Is it important?

Olá. Como está?

Let's talk about the myth of getting a Portuguese accent.

Many of my adult students often come to me to ask me what is the best way to get a European or Brazilian Portuguese accent.

My answer is often: "it's really hard to get it!" – but I’m not sorry for them!!!

OK! Now you might be thinking... OK, so, why not? What’s the point? Why can't I get a perfect accent?

There are many reasons why you can hardly get rid of your native accent, and certainly, many other reasons why you should be happy about having a foreign accent, when you speak a second language.

If you are learning a second language, in this case Portuguese, it's quite unlikely that you’ll ever get the natural Portuguese accent of a native speaker.

This is because you grew up using certain sounds that are different from the sounds you need to speak a different language.

When you were growing up, your vocal cords, your tongue and mouth muscles didn’t ever get familiar with certain sounds that you need to speak Portuguese.

So, when you – an adult - are learning a foreign language, you have to learn how to speak again to reproduce certain sounds.

This happens because, your vocal cords are already formed and they won’t change any more as an adult. Well, there are exceptions, of course, and you may be one of them! If this is the case, good for you!

Your vocal cords – the membranes you have in your throat responsible for producing the different “noises” when you speak – won’t change in their form.

So all you need to do is do your best to reproduce the sounds you find more difficult.

Another reason why we foreigners, will always have an accent is because each of us have our own way of speaking.

The way everybody speaks is different. It’s like a fingerprint. This is called our idiolect or our own dialect.

We all use the same words, we all use the same language rules, the same expressions, but we differ in regional accents. We also differ in the way we put our thoughts and words together, in the way we construct our sentences and in the way we choose words to say what we want to say.

But, isn’t that great?

I think it’s fantastic!

Put it this way:

The fact that I have an accent means that I’m unique and different from anybody else! So what I have to do is to use it to my own benefit!

That’s why having an accent is great! It shows that although I didn’t grow up with English or Portuguese as a mother tongue, I was brave enough to learn it.

And now I can speak it fluently!

It shows that my knowledge is broader because it’s impossible to learn a language without learning the culture – so I’m more knowledgeable.

It also shows that I know things that many people don’t!

It shows that I can talk to people where others can’t.

I’m more confident with my own self, and I feel good!

Besides, not having a perfect Portuguese accent is also good because you show differentiation. People will remember you, if for nothing else, for your accent.

I don't have an English accent myself, but I'm very happy about that because it gives me benefits.

Even if I’m travelling on my own, I’ll always have people around who want to chat to me, who want to be my friends, who want to exchange experiences with me, sometimes in part, because I’m a foreigner and have an accent. Well everybody can spot a foreign accent straight away, can’t they?

But, once again...Isn’t that great???

Therefore, don’t be unhappy because I or you have an accent!

It’s actually a fantastic thing! Thank God!

So, if you can't get a perfect Portuguese accent, don't worry, because it will work to your benefit.

What is important is to pronounce the words correctly and clearly to make yourself understood - to have good Portuguese pronunciation.

If you want to learn how to get good Portuguese pronunciation,

click here to get good European Portuguese pronunciation, or

click here to get good Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation.

Vamos lá! [vah-moo lah]!
Let's go!

Rafael Tavares

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Here are some pages you may find interesting:

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  • Free Portuguese Verb Table
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