Learn How to Learn Portuguese Effectively

Have you been trying to learn European Portuguese using verb drills, exercises and online apps, yet you still can’t string a phrase together? Maybe nobody told you how to learn how to learn Portuguese effectively.

Is there a right way?

The truth is that there is no right way or wrong way. However, spending an hour reading a text in Portuguese and looking up the words as you go can be counterproductive, not to mention boring. This leads to slow progress making you want to give up before you even start. Sound familiar?

Should I watch the TV?

Quiz shows are great! When watching a TV show, you have context and a visual setting, even if you don’t totally understand you can get the gist through, body language, images and expression. Contestants introduce themselves and answer questions about themselves which is a great way of learning all those introductory phrases. O Preço Certo (The Price is Right) is highly recommended. You can learn numbers (prices) and all about modern appliances. What more could you ask for?

5 Effective Learning modes

The focus mode – is where we spend all of our attention trying to remember something. Like when you are speaking to a friend and trying to remember the name of an actor, and you just can’t remember, no matter how hard you try. When learning the same thing can happen! That is because for some people the more they focus, the less they take in.
How often do you go through your verb drills and still can’t remember them!
Do toddlers learn verbs? No. Try just listening to the TV or radio, without putting too much pressure on yourself. Radio Comercial is great – they even have podcasts

The Diffuse mode – is when we are relaxed lying in bed then suddenly the name comes to us! So we have to text our friend at 2 am and tell them. This would also happen after watching TV. You might find yourself asking what the hell does, ‘estás a ver mean?’ at 4 am in the morning. But please don’t call me!

Media content and the people around you are all great to work with. If you watch TV everyday for even just half an hour, you will be amazed how much you are taking in passively. 

Casual Mode – Writing is so underrated these days, yet one of the best methods for Casual Acquisition. Copy stories, worksheets and assignments into a notebook. Learning through reading books, can also trigger acquisition, even though you don’t get the pronunciation, you will learn about word order, placement of verbs, adjectives etc. Imagine if you then copy some of those phrases into a notebook.

Shadowing – or imitation through repetition, is a method of learning portuguese that seems to have been left on a long dusty road long ago. It is, in fact, an extremely efficient one.  Mimicking the sounds you hear; this is how toddlers learn. They know that if they say:

‘Awannachocolate’ – they will get a chocolate

They have no notion at all that the personal pronoun ‘I’ is followed by the verb in the first person and the article has to agree with the noun.

Shadowing is more effective if phrase based.
Learning more than one word at a time, a mix of verbs, adjectives and nouns, that bear a good relationship to one another. A sentence.

O homem alto de chapéu – the tall man in a hat.

O John Travolta não volta – John Travolta is not coming back

However some Portuguese sounds may be completely foreign to you, and like a muscle, you have to exercise.

This can be done using various techniques, placement of tongue and the shape of your mouth when saying words is more important than you might think. Finding sounds in your own native language that sound similar to Portuguese sounds you are learning are of great benefit. It is said that if your face hurts when you are learning a foreign  language then you are doing it right.

Association – We can also use another method where we associate the word with a word or phrase that is already familiar to us. For example:

The word for scarf in Portuguese is: Cachecol. 

When I first learned that word I immediately thought of ‘catch cold’ – is sounds very similar. (Cashcol)

The verb ‘Beber’ means to drink. Most people think it is pronounced Beiber ( like the name) but is it more like saying the word, ‘bear’ with a stutter – you get scared when you see a bear;


O urso quer beber água!  – the bear wants to drink water.

Learning take a lot of patience and time. Choosing a method that is right for you is the key. If you feel that you are not making any progress it is not surprising you want to give up – but don’t.

Through my Portuguese in Six Week courses you will be learning lots of ‘tricks’ to help you with the pronunciation and more importantly, you will progress – quickly. Take a look at the website today: Portuguese in Six Weeks

Looking for one to one lessons, via skype or in person? Contact me directly: portugueseinsixweeks@gmail.com.

Até a próxima!

2 responses to “Learn How to Learn Portuguese Effectively”

  1. Hello
    My 5 yr residency expires this September 2024. I am 73 years young and am looking for a class environment or online experience to accomplish learning Portuguese in order to successfully pass my CIPLE exam. I would like to talk with someone regarding signing up for your courses. Please contact me ASAP. Thank you.

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