How to learn Portuguese: essential tips for absolute beginners

What language does Brazil speak? While Spanish is the predominant language of Latin America, Brazil’s official language is Portuguese. In fact, it’s one of the top ten widely spoken languages on the planet. It has 200 million speakers across Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia, and South America. Therefore, learning Portuguese is the pathway to a more rewarding and convenient traveling experience in at least 10 countries.

To help you achieve your language goals, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide with some effective tips and tricks. Preply is here not only to give you advice, but also to provide you with qualified tutoring assistance. We offer 1-on-1 lessons with native Portuguese tutors worldwide via the user-friendly video chat.

Choose a preferred tutor on our website, schedule your first online lesson, and start learning right from your device.

Before we get to our guide, let’s answer one of the most popular questions learners usually ask.

Is Portuguese hard to learn?

Portuguese is considered to be a simple language to learn for an English speaker.

Together with French, English, and Spanish, it belongs to the Romance family of languages, so if you already speak one of these languages, you’ll be able to pick up its patterns in no time due to a great number of similarities.

However, for every language learner, achieving fluency depends on their motivation, persistence, and time invested in the effort.

Learn Brazilian Portuguese vs. European Portuguese

Are you wondering how to speak Portuguese in different regions? Brazil and Portugal are the two most influential countries because it’s where the Portuguese language is spoken the most. Portugal is the homeland of the language, whereas Brazil has the biggest number of native speakers.

Though these two countries speak the same language, there are many regional variations in both spoken and written forms. Considering that the regional differences in Portuguese are stronger than in many other languages, it’s a good thing to learn more about each of the dialects before you go ahead.

The good news is that people from opposite sides of the Atlantic can understand each other well. To give you an idea on how to speak Brazilian Portuguese vs. European, consider the word “português”— in Portugal, you will hear the “sh” ending, while in Brazil, it will be an “s”.

Overall, Portuguese people tend to speak with their mouths more closed, whereas Brazilians tend to speak with their mouths more open. Thus, we can say that the Brazilian accent is more articulate and can be easier to understand for a Portuguese beginner.

Which variation should you go for? It’s simple — just ask yourself, “Which culture is more appealing to me?”. Your decision can also depend on whether you plan to travel to either of these countries.

How to learn Portuguese fast: a helpful guide for beginners
So, you’ve decided to take steps to learn the Portuguese language. Great! The best way to learn Portuguese is to commit to your goal. We have gathered some tips that will surely come in handy and help you on your way to fluency.

Get specific with your goals

Planning is an essential part of studying. Seeing the bigger picture like “learning to speak Portuguese” cannot be as effective as having clearly structured goals with proper time distribution. As a matter of fact, your goals should be driven by the reasons as to why you chose to study the language.

If you want to travel to Brazil, you’ll definitely need some Portuguese phrases for travelers. They will come in handy with hotel check-ins/outs, ordering food, getting around the city, and even asking for help. Thus, you can break down the situations and vocabulary pertaining to each of them. The same can be applied if you need Portuguese for work or for moving to a Portuguese-speaking country.

Put in a few hours a day to learn

Your success in learning a language depends on how much time you can allocate to it. While the basic conversational fluency (like learning funny Portuguese phrases) can be achieved relatively fast, gaining more in-depth proficiency might take a long time.

If you want to master Portuguese fast, you should remain consistent in your studying. Find the time in your day to go through the essentials like vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. Keep in mind that 30 minutes of Portuguese lessons every day is much better than 1-2 hour study sessions once a week. So, stay focused on the language and don’t forget to repeat what you already know. By doing so, you won’t let the already learned material slip away from you.

Cover the basics

For an absolute Portuguese beginner, it’s essential to cover basic Portuguese words and phrases such as greetings, days of the week, months, numbers and question words. To memorize useful Portuguese phrases, label objects around you or use flashcards whereby you write a Portuguese phrase on one side and its English translation on the other.

After you have at least 1,000 words under your belt, including the most common adjectives and nouns, plus you know how to conjugate several verbs, you will instantly have a variety of sentences at your disposal. Additionally, keep a vocabulary of popular Portuguese phrases divided by topics like weather, time, greetings, and so on.

Immerse yourself in the culture
Language and culture go hand in hand. Learning the language is a way to embrace the rich culture of the Portuguese-speaking countries. Through the language, you’ll expose yourself to the art, cinema, literature, music, cuisine and can even get familiar with concepts you can’t find in English. Thus, you can say that learning the language contributes to your cross-culture knowledge, as well as presents numerous opportunities for finding common ground with native speakers.

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