Best Way to Learn Portuguese – 10 Expert Tips

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Have you just started to learn Portuguese and you’re wondering what is the best way to learn Portuguese?

The answer isn’t so simple, so you’ve come to the right place!

In today’s article, we’re bringing you tips and tricks that will make your learning journey a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

Portuguese is a beautiful language, and it deserves to be approached in a proper way.

10 Best Ways to Learn Portuguese

Of course, which is the easiest way to learn Portuguese depends on your learning style, goals, and previous experience with learning languages.

Some methods that work for you might not work for someone else.

If you prefer a traditional way of learning, you can take Portuguese classes in a language school.

But if there are no options for learning Portuguese in your area or you simply want to learn Portuguese by yourself, you can find online resources.

Best way to learn Portuguese

However, there are some guidelines that can be useful regardless of what type of learner you are.

If you want to achieve proficiency in Portuguese, these guidelines can help you understand what really matters.

And they will undoubtedly enrich your learning process.

1. Set goals

Before you start with your lessons, you need to set realistic goals. They should be realistic in the sense that they are achievable in a reasonable period of time.

It’s OK to say you want to become fluent in Portuguese. But you should also break down your goals into smaller pieces.

Clear, short-term goals will help you feel more accomplished and confident.

You can even set daily goals. Some language-learning apps will help you with that.

And to set realistic, achievable goals, you need to know what you really want.

For example, you need to determine whether you want to learn Brazilian or European Portuguese.

Learning Portuguese

Although Brazilian and Portuguese people can understand each other, there are some notable differences. And if you’re a beginner, it matters which course you opt for.

Pronunciation is one of the main differences. Brazilians speak vowels wider and longer, and many people agree that their dialect sound nicer. Well, it might be more phonetically pleasing, but European Portuguese is no less charming.

There are also differences in grammar and spelling.

One of the most noticeable differences is the lack of mute consonants (like M and P) in European Portuguese. So, reception in Brazilian Portuguese is recepção, and in European Portuguese is receção.

The formal and informal speech also differs. European Portuguese is considered the more formal of the two versions.

Generally, Brazilian is considered a slightly simpler version of the language.

Brazilian Portuguese lessons

But it all ultimately comes down to your reasons for wanting to learn Portuguese.

Considering the size and population of Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese is the most common dialect. That said, you will find more Brazilian learning resources.

But if you’re planning to spend some time in Portugal, then you will obviously choose European Portuguese classes.

And if you don’t have any specific plans and you simply want to learn the language, you can make a decision based on your interests. Do you like samba or do you like to listen to fado? Is Rio de Janeiro on your travel wishlist, or do you dream about learning how to surf in Algarve?

While native speakers find European And Brazilian Portuguese mutually intelligible, beginners might feel a bit confused when they hear another dialect. Therefore, you need to make sure you choose the right dialect for you.

2. Partake in an immersion language program

A language immersion program is by far the fastest way to learn Portuguese.

There are many great Portuguese programs both in Portugal in Brazil.

Most of them last a few weeks, and they combine language lessons with trips, cultural activities, and so on.

But more importantly, immersion programs use the target language for instruction and as a means of communication. This will force you to speak the language right away.

You can also stay with locals and learn a lot about their culture and way of life.

And you’ll master the basics of the Portuguese language in no time.

If you think that this kind of language program is only for kids or students, you’re wrong. There are many Portuguese immersion programs for adults.

So, why not take two weeks off and go on a useful and unforgettable adventure?

If you’re wondering how to learn Portuguese fast, this might be your perfect solution.

3. Download a Portuguese Learning App

And if you’re currently not able to travel to Portugal or Brazil or take a 2-weeks language course, there are some other ways to immerse yourself in the language.

Also, maybe you don’t feel comfortable in a group of people.

And maybe there aren’t any good Portuguese learning options in your area.

Either way, it’s absolutely possible to learn Portuguese at home. You just need to find a reliable learning source.

Learning Portuguese online

You also need to develop learning habits and stay consistent. When it comes to learning a language by yourself, self-discipline is essential.

Luckily, many language-learning apps and online courses are designed to make your learning process smooth and easy.

For example, some apps for learning Portuguese will remind you when you need to study and motivate you to keep going. And others will provide you with well-structured, linear lessons.

If you want to take your language skills to the next level, Rocket Portuguese from Rocket Languages is a great option.

This popular language-learning platform offers thorough Portuguese lessons for beginners. They are focused on the development of all main language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Rocket Portuguese

Apps such as Rocket Portuguese usually combine audio tracks, interactive exercises, a speech recognition engine, and effective study tools.

They will keep track of your progress, adjust to your needs, and provide you with structure as well as flexibility.

With a Portuguese learning app, you can learn on the go. And being able to fit language learning into your daily routine is a prerequisite for achieving proficiency in Portuguese.

Moreover, using an app to learn Portuguese is a budget-friendly option. Some apps have affordable subscription plans, and others are completely free.

4. Choose wisely

With a self-study Portuguese course, you’ll have the freedom to choose your material and focus on what’s important to you.

And that’s amazing.

Some apps will provide you with a curriculum, but most of them will allow you to jump back and forth or focus on a specific skill or topic.

But with freedom comes responsibility, right?

All right, Eleanor Roosevelt probably didn’t think about Portuguese learning apps when she said that.

Nonetheless, you need to think about your goals while you’re studying. If you want to become fluent in Portuguese, you can’t skip certain grammar lessons just because you can and just because they might seem a bit boring.

By the way, Portuguese grammar isn’t boring. Well, if you think about it that way, then it probably will be. But if you see it as a faster way to fluency because you’ll be able to structure sentences and understand how the language works…

On the other hand, if you’re planning to visit a Portuguese-speaking country and you just want to learn some practical vocabulary, there’s no need for delving deeper into grammar.

You can focus on commonly used words and popular expressions.

All things considered, it’s important to find a balance between what’s necessary to learn in general and what’s important for you as an individual learner.

5. Talk to native speakers

No matter what your reasons for wanting to learn Portuguese are, there is one thing you can do to speed up the process.

You should find the confidence to talk to native speakers.

Easiest way to learn Portuguese

It’s normal to feel insecure next to someone who knows the language perfectly. But it’s their mother tongue – you also speak your native language quite well.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to make a mistake.

Talking to native speakers will give you a chance to learn the slang.

You will actively work on your speaking and listening skills.

And you’ll unconsciously (or intentionally) notice their intonation, accent, mannerisms…

So, if you’re planning to visit Portugal or Brazil, use the opportunity to improve your communication skills.

After all, you never know who you’re going to meet.

Plus, you’ll learn a lot about local culture, everyday life, and customs. And getting to know another culture is an important part of learning a foreign language.

If you can’t plan a trip at the moment, you can also find native speakers online.

Language exchange websites are a cool way to practice Portuguese and teach someone else your native language or English.

Some platforms will allow you to find a language partner.

And some Portuguese apps and courses have active online communities, forums, etc.

Besides improving your speaking skills, you’ll increase your comprehension and boost your confidence.

6. Read (children’s) books in Portuguese

We’ve already mentioned immersion. Well, immersive learning is hands down the best way to learn Portuguese.

Your learning source is essential, but everything you’ve learned will make much more sense if you see it and hear it in action.

And you don’t have to book a flight in order to do that.

You can surround yourself with Portuguese in your own home.

Why not find an online Portuguese magazine and find an interesting article?

Why not check if there’s a Portuguese translation of your favorite book?

How to learn Portuguese by yourself

And if you’re just starting out, you can read children’s books. You will be surprised how fun and useful that could be.

You can find Portuguese tales and stories to make the experience more authentic.

Or, find a story from your childhood you’re familiar with.

Reading books in Portuguese will introduce you to different forms of language. It will also expand your vocabulary and introduce you to different topics.

And if you have Kindle, you can find the meaning of every new word in a quick and easy way.

7. Listen to Portuguese podcasts and music

Listening to Portuguese audio tracks is just as important.

You can listen to Portuguese podcasts focused on the topic you’re interested in. In the beginning, listen to simple, easy-going podcasts.

It’s important to learn the language used in real life. That’s why podcasts and radio programs can be a good way to improve your listening skills.

That way, you can also hear the difference between Brazilian and European dialects.

Even if you don’t understand every word, you’ll get used to the natural flow of the language, commonly used phrases, and intonation.

You can also listen to Portuguese music.

Perhaps fado is the reason you fell in love with the Portuguese language in the first place.

And if that’s not the case, you should give it a listen. It will become clear to you why Portuguese is considered one of the most romantic languages in the world.

And if you’re learning Brazilian Portuguese, you can explore Brazilian music. Bossa nova will instantly transport you to a sandy beach in Brazil, and samba will make you complete that writing lesson a little faster.

Nevertheless, it’s important to surround yourself with the sound of Portuguese. And that’s very simple to do – you can listen to music and podcasts while you’re driving, jogging, or making pão de queijo.

8. Watch Portuguese movies and TV shows

Another simple and fun activity that will increase your comprehension is watching movies and TV shows.

Find a classic Portuguese movie or a Brazilian TV show. Watch it with English subtitles first.

As you progress, you should watch it without subtitles. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you’re able to understand.

If you keep learning Portuguese from context, you’ll learn how to guess words from context. And that’s really important in mastering any foreign language.

The thing is, you’ll never be able to learn every Portuguese word. Even native speakers don’t know every word in the Portuguese dictionary.

And Portuguese films will allow you to hear the language used in the real world. Well, fictional real world.

Nonetheless, you’ll listen to different types of dialogues and pick up new words in a rather natural way.

9.  Use language hacks

If you want to learn Portuguese fast, there are several things you should implement in your study routine.

Flashcards are a popular study tool – many language-learning apps use digital flashcards to teach vocabulary. They are used for testing and improving memory, to be more precise.

Spaced repetition technique is also popular among Portuguese learning apps.

This memory technique is centered around repeating new material at specific time intervals. That’s how you’ll store words in your long-term memory.

So, repetition is very important in language learning.

Learning Portuguese

But context can be even more important.

As we’ve already mentioned earlier, if you learn vocabulary from context, you’ll also learn how to guess words from context.

But it’s not only about guessing, of course. Contextual learning will help you understand the language on another level, and it’s a more natural way of learning a new language.

Also, some apps and online courses are based on intuitive learning. With these kinds of programs, you won’t get translations and explanations right away.

Although some learners don’t think that intuitive learning is the fastest way to learn Portuguese, it’s actually quite effective.

Nevertheless, the way you take language lessons is also important.

For example, it’s always better to take short, bite-sized lessons. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed, and you’ll have enough time to internalize everything you’ve learned.

Learning Portuguese shouldn’t be rushed. Of course, you want to be able to speak Portuguese right away (and you should) but you have to be patient. And you shouldn’t skip important lessons – building a solid foundation is essential, especially if you want to reach fluency.

10. Be consistent

Apart from being patient, in order to make significant progress, you need to be consistent.

Bite-sized lessons will bring you the results you want only if you take them regularly (preferably every day.)

And don’t worry – you can build consistency. Just as you can improve your organizational skills.

In fact, learning Portuguese can help you with that.

If you develop learning habits, you will feel more accomplished and organized. And if you feel that way, your motivation will keep flying high.

Best way to learn Portuguese at home

So, yes – consistency is the key to success. That’s not just an overused quote.  

On the other hand, it’s normal to feel discouraged from time to time. Therefore, you should keep reminding yourself of the reason you started learning Portuguese.

Do you want to travel to Brazil with confidence?

Do you want to study abroad?

Are you mesmerized by Portuguese culture?

Either way, learning Portuguese can only bring you benefits.

Portuguese is spoken across the world; not only in Portugal and Brazil. It’s also the official language in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde…

Speaking Portuguese can open up job opportunities and help you stand out from other candidates.

It can connect you to a different culture and people.

After all, you never know who you’re going to meet while you’re traveling. Meeting local people is (or should be) the most important part of visiting a foreign country, and speaking the language will bring everything to another level.

Learning Portuguese might be challenging at times, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

Final Thoughts

One thing is for sure: learning Portuguese is very rewarding.

And with the right learning source, it can be fun and interesting as well.

Although it’s essential to find a reliable learning source that fits your style, goals, and needs, the real results depend on your effort.

But there are some things that will make your learning process much easier. Flashcards, spaced repetition system, and interactive exercises, just to name a few.

Immersion also plays a vital role. If you can’t travel to a Portuguese-speaking country, try to surround yourself with Portuguese as much as you can. Listen to Portuguese podcasts and music, watch Portuguese movies…

And talk to native speakers!

Once you master the basics, you need to practice and actually use the language. And the easiest (and most fun) way to do that is by getting in touch with native speakers.

We hope this article provided you with some useful suggestions as well as encouraged you to start your Portuguese learning journey!