How to understand Portuguese better

Are you at the point where you can read a newspaper and understand almost everything? Yet you can’t understand somebody when they speak to you in Portuguese?

Frustrating isn’t it?

Many people come to me and tell me that after years of private lessons, study groups or even Duolingo, they still can’t understand the spoken word. This is the part that many students find most frustrating.

Further into this article we are going to put your listening skills to the test.

Understanding is Magic!

All those hours of study and feeling like you still can’t break through that barrier, might make you want to give up. But don’t!

I remember the first time I understood somebody perfectly. Although it was only small talk, it felt huge to me, like entering into a secret garden. One, that until that moment, I hadn’t been able to enter.

It was like magic!

Hearing the Portuguese language being spoken regularly, is essential. I cannot stress this enough.

For that reason, in my online Portuguese Courses, I have placed audio throughout. After all, you want to learn how to speak and understand don’t you? Not how to write.

There are so many ways you can learn to understand Portuguese better.

Here are just a few.


There is plenty of it out there. Portuguese or Brazilian depending on which you want to learn. Once you find a song you like, look for the ‘letra’ (lyrics) and listen as you learn.

TV & Radio

There are plenty of things on TV to watch. Quiz shows are great. You can learn numbers, the names of places and things and, you might even learn a bit of culture too. Radio is also great. Those annoying ads that keep coming on, those jingles – they are designed to get your attention and are great for getting stuck in your head and making you learn.


There are hundreds of podcasts out there. Look for a subject you are interested in and try from there.


The Portuguese film industry is pretty good and they are always producing new films that you can see online or at the cinema. Another bonus with films is that on the TV English and other foreign films have subtitles – so you can also see how the phrase are constructed in Portuguese and compare them to your language.

Even if you don’t understand too much to begin with, you can start by just listening passively. This will help your ear to adjust to the sounds you will hear in the Portuguese language.

Finally it is the time to test your listening skills. Listen carefully to each audio and choose the correct answer.

We are sitting on the platform at the train station.

Audio A

The train…
a. Has been cancelled.

b. Is running late.

c. Has broken down.

Audio B

You are asked to be careful because…

a. There is a fast train passing by.

b. The doors close quickly so the passengers must be quick.

c. There is a large space between the door and the platform.

Let us know your answer in the comments below. If you would like the transcript send an email to:


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