Portuguese (português or, in full, língua Portuguesa) is a Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Brazil, while having co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, and Macau. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as “Lusophone” (lusófono). As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found around the world. Portuguese is part of the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia and the County of Portugal and has kept some Celtic phonology and its lexicon.
With approximately 215 to 220 million native speakers and 50 million L2 speakers, Portuguese has approximately 270 million total speakers. It is usually listed as the sixth-most spoken language and the third-most spoken European language in the world in terms of native speakers. Being the most widely spoken language in South America and all of the Southern Hemisphere, it is also the second-most spoken language, after Spanish, in Latin America, one of the 10 most spoken languages in Africa, and is an official language of the European Union, Mercosur, the Organization of American States, the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, an international organization made up of all of the world’s officially Lusophone nations.
What will help you learning Portuguese
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.
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. I 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 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 studies. 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 Portuguese-speaking countries. Through the language, you’ll expose yourself to 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.
So, what would be your steps as a beginner? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Find interesting podcasts. iTunes has a great collection of podcasts for the Brazilian region. Just browse and find topics that resonate with your interests. Podcasts are comfortable because you can listen to them during your daily commute, coffee break, or even at the gym.
- Learn with the help of a dictionary. It’s essential to consult with a dictionary whenever you come across unknown Portuguese phrases or words. Try an online one if you find carrying a hard copy inconvenient.
- Watch videos in Portuguese. Netflix has Brazilian and Portuguese movies you can watch with English or Portuguese subtitles. Alternatively, Youtube provides numerous channels for beginners and intermediate learners. Watching videos will help you pick up conversational cues really fast.
- Read online magazines and books in Portuguese. Reading will help you boost your vocabulary with real-life language and even learn a couple of romantic Portuguese phrases.
Focus on speaking
Unlike reading and listening, speaking is an active part of language learning. You might ask yourself how you can engage in this essential activity when there is nobody in your vicinity who speaks Portuguese? There are a few ways to approach it like learning Portuguese online.
- Try MeetUp to see if you can find native speakers or groups of aspiring students like you who are available to practice the language in your area.
- To make a good start in Portuguese, you can try language apps like Multibhashi or Duolingo that let you train your pronunciation.
Learning a second language is essential for everyone in the 21st century, and Portuguese is such a tongue. So don’t worry, choose wisely and start Learning!!