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Language Learning Tips for Portuguese Beginners

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Portuguese > Tips to Start Learning Portuguese

The Portuguese and Brazilian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people around the world, making them the 7th most spoken language in the world in terms of its native speakers. It is behind Mandarin, Hindi, English, Spanish, Arabic, and Malay. French is 8th.

Like other languages ​​such as Italian, French, or Spanish, Portuguese is a Latin language. Therefore it has the same alphabet.

Whether you are learning Spanish, Italian, or French, the most effective processes are often the same.

Nevertheless, there is not one perfect teaching method for everyone. Some will prefer strong discipline while others will be keen to have more relaxed methods teach them.

The price also comes into play when choosing private lessons, and this is something we will consider very carefully in the following article.

Why You Should Take Portuguese

citizen Could it be to be a citizen of the world?

Why take Portuguese lessons? If you are in need of some great reasons to learn Portuguese, here they are:

  • To become a citizen of the world! Portuguese is spoken all over the globe, from Guinea Bissau to East Timor via Sao Paulo.
  • Because it is an undeniable asset to have on your CV (few English speakers speak Portuguese)
  • To put a little sun into your life. Most Portuguese-speaking countries are very sunny!
  • To go on a language study trip. It would be a pity to live in Brazil without any knowledge of the language: the transition is likely to be tough.

Because it’s not as difficult as you think.  Portuguese is more accessible than Russian or Chinese. As we have seen, it has a common alphabet and some similar words. You won’t get discouraged so quickly!

How Can One Choose the Right Portuguese Class?

of-course Find the teacher who will take you from “I can not” to “Of course I can!”

First of all, it is going to be extremely important to choose the right Portuguese teacher to match your needs and expectations.

For example, if a student is wishing to improve his or her Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese, his or her learning needs will be different than a traveler wishing to spend at most a few weeks in a Portuguese-speaking country:

  • In the first case, linguistic mastery is necessary,
  • In the second case, a few standard phrases for oral conversations with a native will probably suffice.

For thorough mastery of the Portuguese language, a serious tutor witha serious methodology is recommended. For a beginner learner who can cope with some Portuguese spelling and vocabulary, conjugation, or grammar, a native student as tutor will do just fine.

The most important thing when choosing a Portuguese course and its tutor is the method and personality of the tutor. Most private tutors offer their first lesson for free. This is the perfect time to see if this tutor is right for you and if his or her personality sticks with yours, because it will be difficult to improve, study, and progress effectively if you do not feel comfortable and trust the tutor and his methodology.

Where Should You Look for Your Private Portuguese Tutor?

One important question you’re probably asking yourself is where to find Portuguese lessons. Although Portuguese is usually overlooked in favour of French, Spanish, and German, it is often possible to access classes very easily, whatever your age and requirements (evening classes for adults for example).

In educational institutions, a student can take Portuguese courses sometimes as early as middle school, with the possibility of taking this language as his or her foreign language.

Nevertheless, for those who would like to learn Portuguese as soon as possible, high school will have many more options and many more schools offer an introduction in the Portuguese language there.

We invite you to learn about what is available within the boundaries of National Education. Often, online, you will see a list of high schools offering Portuguese across the nation. Be aware, however, that the choice will be more or less depending on the geographical area. Sometimes there is only one institution available.

Learning can be continued at university, especially with a Bachelor’s Degree in Portuguese Language and Literature, which aims to train bilingual students in four years.

It is also possible to focus on the language by taking Portuguese online courses, via sites like Portuguese Online, which offers an immersion in Brazilian Portuguese through various methods (conversation teaching or video podcasts, for example).

The learner will also be able to train thanks to the language application named Babbel, which offers more playful and visual content at rather advantageous rates.

Finally, you can find a Portuguese teacher online via platforms like Superprof, which offers various learning methods and a wide array of classes (group, individual, via webcam, at home, or at the teacher’s home) and many tutors with different methods.


class-tutors Our platform is full of excellent Portuguese teachers who are waiting for you!

The Price of a Portuguese Class

The price of a Portuguese class varies enormously according to many criteria. For those who want to learn Portuguese on their own, without outside help, there may be zero fee. But you can bet on slow progression and acquiring the language in a less safe way.

We believe that this method of learning can be a complement to enriching one’s linguistic skills but that on its own, it will not make you bilingual, if that is your goal.

On Superprof, the price of a Portuguese course is 20 USD, while it is slightly higher for Brazilian Portuguese (22 USD). There are around 200 Portuguese tutors waiting for you on our platform.

There are several tips to note when it comes to the cost of a Portuguese class:

  • Web-based courses tend to be cheaper, as do group classes (pooling costs),
  • Courses provided by natives are on average more expensive. It is sometimes by paying the price of a native that we can learn more about Brazilian culture or the history of Portuguese civilization,
  • Great differences in price exist depending on the geographical zone: New York City remains more expensive than all other big cities (Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Philly),
  • In the outskirts of big cities, tutors give classes at a lower price. Thus, for the Van Nuys student, a teacher from the Valley will charge less than one from the heart of LA!

How to Study in Between Lessons

Don’t forget that you need to study between Portuguese lessons in order to give yourself the best chance of being successful. There are very effective methods when it comes the memorization process. From your first lessons in Portuguese, you will have to become familiar with your learning method of choice if you want to speak the language like a pro.

Here are some tips from TED Translators when it comes to learning a new foreign language:

  1. Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. German translator Judith Matz suggests: “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.”
  2. Make language-learning a lifestyle change. Elisabeth Buffard, who in her 27 years of teaching English has always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love.
  3. Play house with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. “Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,” says Russian translator Olga Dmitrochenkova. Label every object in your house in this language, read kids’ books written in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, or live-narrate parts of your day to an imaginary foreign friend.
  4. Let technology help you out. Dmitrochenkova has a great idea: “A funny thing like resetting the language on your phone can help you learn new words right away,” she says. Ditto for changing the language on your browser. Or you can seek out more structured learning opportunities online. Dutch translator Els De Keyser recommends Duolinguo for its gamified approach to grammar, and Anki for memorizing vocabulary with its “intelligent” flashcards.
  5. Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. To Spanish translator Sebastián Betti, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, he thinks of fun things that he wanted to do anyway, and makes them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of our translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. So the next time you need a vegan carrot cake recipe, find one in the language you’re trying to learn.
  6. Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign penpals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.

Many learning options exist, like systematically making notes so that you don’t get lost in the process of learning the language. To do this, the learner might want to build a color code (ex: a certain color for a new word of the Portuguese vocabulary, a different color for an adjective or a pronoun etc…). The only rule will be to remain clear while noting the most useful information.

Many applications also act as virtual teachers. These include Duolingo, which sets learning goals, and Mosalingua, which introduces an innovative memory-based approach that will revive knowledge when it is being forgotten by our brains. This methodology is based on scientific studies regarding the forgetting curve. According to this approach, a notion, a word, or an idea must be reactivated intermittently in order to be memorized for good.

stress-student This student is despairing–but little does he know there are apps to help with that!

Online solutions do not stop there and there are many websites that will make it possible to study Portuguese basics for the beginner or more complex concepts for the more advanced student. Some sites even offer effective pronunciation modules.

Immerse yourself in the language and learn to speak Portuguese through Youtube tutorials, which are sometimes very detailed and helpful.

Yes, in addition to more traditional studying methods such as textbooks, there are many solutions available to us. Choice is a luxury here!

In short:

  • We insist on your having learning objectives that will make it easier for your tutors to know what learning methods to use. For someone who just wants to learn and assimilate some Portuguese, the self-learning method can be a useful and effective first learning endeavor. It will be more difficult for a learner who wants to learn Portuguese like a mother tongue.
  • The important thing is to choose a tutor with whom you feel confident and whom you can trust. The form of the learning is sometimes as important as the language itself (what you are learning.)
  • There are many ways to learn the language and they can be used in conjunction with each other (private tutor, group classes, applications to test your level or revise certain concepts, websites, forums to help to solve certain linguistic problems, etc.).
  • In short, it’s very easy to take Portuguese classes and easy for everyone to find his or her preferred learning method.

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