Why should you learn Portuguese?
Let's start with the obvious: Some of the most sought-after travel destinations are in Portuguese-speaking countries. Whether you want to experience carnival in Rio de Janeiro, climb the seven hills in Lisbon or walk along the beautiful white sand beaches of Cape Verde, speaking even a little Portuguese will make your experience all the more enjoyable. With 250 million speakers across four continents, Portuguese opens doors to a rich variety of cultures and people. And if you're looking for a leg up professionally, Brazil in particular has massive untapped potential, just right for that extra boost in your career.
Learn European or Brazilian Portuguese?
When you're looking to learn Portuguese, you'll generally find two options: European or Brazilian Portuguese. Although they're mutually intelligible, the vocabulary and pronunciation can be quite different, which is why it's worth choosing just one to focus on when you get started.
No matter which variety you choose, there are a few aspects of Portuguese that can take some getting used to. Portuguese has nasal vowels, which are marked by a ~ or followed by the letters "m" or "n", and some letters are pronounced in ways and English speaker wouldn't expect (like "r" which sounds like an "h" at the beginning of a word). In terms of grammar, all Portuguese nouns have a gender, either feminine or masculine, which affects how you use adjectives and articles (o, a) as well. And verb forms change endings depending on the subject of the sentence. Don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds, and you'll quickly get the hang of it.
Finding the Portuguese course for you
Portuguese is a relatively popular language to learn, and as such it's usually easy to find Portuguese courses or lessons, especially for Brazilian Portuguese. Traditional in-person courses can be a great way to learn Portuguese if the schedule and location work for you. Make sure to do your research beforehand as the quality of the courses can vary greatly.
If you're more of a self-starter, you'll find plenty of self-learning books and courses. Most people need a bit more support, and online courses are often a good fit. You can complete the lessons when it works for you, and platforms like Babbel provide useful features, like speech recognition to give feedback on your pronunciation (crucial for Portuguese!).
5 best tips to learn Portuguese quickly
One of the keys to learning a new language is incorporating it into your daily routine, instead of marathon study sessions.
Spend a little bit of time every day practising Portuguese. Just 15 minutes a day goes a long way to making progress quickly.
Add a Portuguese podcast to your routine. Find a podcast especially for learning Portuguese, or a podcast on a topic you're interested in. Even if you don't understand much to start with, you'll be training your ear to deciphering spoken Portuguese.
Watch films or TV series in Portuguese with Portuguese subtitles. You can of course also use English subtitles, but with Portuguese subtitles you'll really challenge yourself to understand the language. And if you rewatch one of your favourites, you won't have to worry about missing some of the plot!
Listen to Portuguese or Brazilian music. Look up Portuguese or Brazilian artists in a genre you enjoy, and read the lyrics while you're listening to their music. Before you know it, you'll be singing along in Portuguese!
Speak Portuguese with a language partner. There's nothing quite like speaking to someone else to put your language skills to the test. Find a Portuguese speaker who's learning your language so that you both can learn something new.