Learning Portuguese on at least a basic level is something anyone relocating to the country should do. Ideally in advance, but certainly during those first few important weeks and months.
Living in Portugal is (understandably) so much easier and more enjoyable for those who take the time to learn the local lingo. Best of all, you don’t have to be completely fluent to get by, or to earn the respect of the community you are set to become a part of. Below are some helpful tips to help you with this process!
There’s no easy way to learning a new language. One way or the other, you are going to need to put in the necessary time and effort to make it happen.
On the plus side, there are a few tips and tricks from language professionals (and locals alike) that can help speed up the process. Specifically, each of the following will speed up and simplify your journey towards picking up the basics of the Portuguese language:
Mobile language apps are fantastic for two reasons. Firstly, they enable you to practice each time you get a spare minute in your schedule. Secondly, you can actually hear how the words and phrases on the screen sound, and have your own spoken Portuguese rated by the app’s AI. It’s the closest you will get to having your own private language teacher in your pocket, and is exponentially more effective than a more traditional phrasebook.
This is also one of the best ways of learning Portuguese in practice. You’ll pick up on the kinds of words and phrases used most commonly, and naturally begin building your Portuguese vocabulary along the way. An important note – don’t for one minute write off kids’ TV. In fact, if you are learning Portuguese from the ground level with no past experience whatsoever, children’s TV shows with subtitles could be ideal.
Learning how to read and speak Portuguese phonetically gives your language learning journey an important boost. There are some pronunciations that differ from those of English, and are worth familiarising yourself with in advance. For example, an ‘s’ at the end of the word is pronounced as ‘sh’, while the combination of ‘nh’ in a word actually results in a ‘ya’ so rainha is pronounced rain-ya.
You’ll find that due to their kind and accommodating nature, most Portuguese people will happily speak to you in your own language. As soon as they figure out Portuguese isn’t your native tongue, they’ll switch the conversation to English or Spanish. This especially in big cities like Lisbon or Porto. However, when possible, always make the effort to converse with the locals in their own language, and if necessary let them know that you would really like the opportunity to practice.
Last up, the only thing you need to do for now (and to get by indefinitely) in Portugal is pick up the basics. This means learning the most important verbs only – not all of them, and certainly not how to conjugate them correctly. If you book yourself down with all the ‘rules’ surrounding the use of Portuguese verbs, you’ll find your language journey incredibly daunting. You’ll gradually pick up the technicalities over time – now’s the time simply to focus on the basics.
Portuguese is neither a particularly easy or difficult language to learn. As with most foreign languages, it depends largely on whether you already have any experience with similar languages.
The Portuguese language doesn’t bear too many similarities with English, but they do exist. If you’re fluent in Spanish (or have a working knowledge of the basics of the Spanish language), you may find it much easier to pick up the basics of the Portuguese language.
Either way, it’s simply a case of persevering, and having the patience needed to negotiate the initial learning curve. Just as soon as you find yourself conversing on a remedial level with the locals, the rest will all come naturally.
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