Learn Brazilian Portuguese Fast with these Hands-on Tips
If you’re in a hurry and need to learn Brazilian Portuguese fast, you’ll probably learn a thing or two in this article.
But I cannot guarantee you’ll have the best methods to learn it so quickly — learning a language fast depends on a series of factors, and we’ll discuss them here and how you can overcome some of the obstacles.
First, why learning Brazilian Portuguese fast is important
If you learn fast, it means you can gain the momentum necessary to overcome the obstacles that will surely come your way.
It’s so easy to give up when you don’t have a clear motivation to do it, though.
I can see four main reasons my students usually learn Portuguese fast. If your reason features among them, you probably have the right motivation.
- Travel: Brazil is a popular travel destination with lots to see and do. And most of the time, knowing Portuguese makes navigating and communicating with locals easier while making it possible to avoid common pitfalls.
- Work: Some of my students come to Brazil for work, and if that’s your case, you’ll probably want to communicate in the local language. Don’t believe people when they say they can speak English (or even Spanish): most of the time they can’t!).
- Personal relationships: If someone has friends or family members who speak Portuguese (especially if they’re from Brazil), learning the language could help strengthen those relationships. Also, if the other person is your husband or wife, then you’ll really want to use Portuguese. Not knowing Portuguese would leave you in a dire situation when you come to Brazil to meet your in-laws.
- Academic pursuits: Some people may be studying linguistics or other related fields where knowledge of Portuguese can be helpful.
These are just a few examples – there are likely many other reasons why someone might want to learn Brazilian Portuguese quickly. But I’ve found again and again that people with one of those motivations can sustain the effort long enough to say:
“I’ve learned it fast”.
The Challenges of Learning Brazilian Portuguese Quickly
Mastering a new language isn’t a walk in the park, and Brazilian Portuguese stands firmly in this league.
Its sounds, grammar, and words present a tricky puzzle.
Here are some possible obstacles you’ll encounter. In the whole article, we’ll discuss how to overcome them.
Brazilian Portuguese is a language of rhythm.
The nasal vowels, for instance, may seem like a dance you can’t quite catch onto at first. Words like “pão” (bread) and “mão” (hand) carry these unique sounds that need practice.
Then comes the grammar.
Take the subjunctive mood, often used to talk about doubts or hypothetical situations.
The problem with the subjunctive, though, is that sometimes you think you need it when you don’t. And the opposite is true.
Add to this the accents and regional variations.
Brazilian Portuguese is packed with local flavors.
You’ll notice the spoken words might sound different from one city to another.
What’s more, you might even run into folks who talk at a fast pace (they’re the majority, it seems). But remember, not all are speed-talkers.
Yet, when you do encounter a quick speaker, it could take your comprehension skills for a ride.
Sounds tough? Don’t worry. Here are a few strategies that could be handy.
Try practicing those nasal vowels or tricky grammar bits with someone who speaks the language.
How about watching a Brazilian movie or a TV show? You could even explore the wealth of online resources to help you understand the language better.
Setting realistic goals for fast language learning… but focus on the process.
You may have heard this ballyhoo about setting smart goals.
I call it B.S.
Setting goals is important. But you should be realistic about it.
If you’ve never learned a foreign language before and want to speak Portuguese like a native in two weeks, forget about it.
Your brain won’t simply have the time to get used to the language in such a short period of time. Some people have gimmicks to learn a language fast, but when it comes to the showdown, they mostly choose native speakers who are lenient with their newly acquired speaking skills.
But even though I am against this kind of goal, I think you should set some kind of goal.
For example, you might want to be somewhat conversational in two months to come to Brazil and enjoy your next trip.
Now that you have your goal, focus on the process.
By that, I mean you should reverse engineer the behavior a person who achieved your goal would have.
Think about someone who is somewhat conversational.
It means this person makes mistakes, but they don’t let that stand in the way of them getting what they need.
It also means that person tries to speak as much as possible in all situations.
And it also probably includes the fact that this person is in touch with the language so that they are somewhat familiar with how Brazilians sound in their natural habitat.
Now that we know the kind of behavior, it dictates your actions.
If you have the chance to talk with someone who speaks Portuguese, you don’t shy away from it. You try.
And if you say, “I don’t feel like studying now”, you’ll probably pop your laptop open, tune to Netflix, and watch a Brazilian Portuguese show so that you keep in touch with the language.
See how it is different from “setting goals”?
Most people set a goal and forget about it — myself included.
But if you have an ideal of behavior you can keep coming back to — like a little puppy we keep training until it understands the kind of behavior we want it to have — you will eventually reach your ideal.
Effective Strategies for Rapid Brazilian Portuguese Learning
To learn Brazilian Portuguese quickly, you need to employ effective learning strategies.
You’ll want to use everything you can in your favor.
Dive Into the Language, or “Language Immersion“
This doesn’t mean moving to Brazil and sipping caipirinhas on the beach all day — although that sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?
What it means is making Portuguese a part of your daily life.
Listen to Brazilian tunes while driving, watch their movies, and chat with Brazilian folks online.
You’re not just memorizing words and grammar rules — you’re giving your brain the time it needs to get used to the sounds and rhythm of the language. Think of a kid who learned to play soccer not by studying a book but by kicking the ball around with friends.
Ramp Up Your Portuguese Vocabulary
What about learning new words? Sure, that’s vital. But you don’t need to learn every word in the Portuguese dictionary to get by.
After you have achieved your goal, you can keep picking up lots of recondite expressions.
But for now, learn the words and phrases you’ll use the most.
Cut through Portuguese grammar
Learning grammar can be a pain in the neck, right?
As much as it pains me to say it (after all, I love grammar), you don’t need to become a grammar professor to speak Portuguese.
Focus on the essential grammar rules, the ones you’ll need to string sentences together.
Get your hands on a good textbook (our starter kit is a good start) and put in the work. Yes, it’s a bit of a grind, but it’s also the backbone of the language.
Hone your listening and speaking skills
If you want to improve your Portuguese, you gotta use it.
Find language partners, use language exchange apps like Tandem, or attend a language class.
Speaking and listening in Portuguese is a game changer.
Remember, it’s okay to stumble and fumble. The point is to practice and get better.
Use every technological resource you find good
And lastly, use technology in your favor.
There are tons of language learning apps and resources out there, like Babbel and Memrise, that can give you a leg up.
And one app most of my beginner students seem comfortable with is Mango Languages. Although I haven’t personally used it, I have seen it in action. It’s a kind of better Rosetta Stone in that it also includes explanations and actual lessons instead of the endless point-and-click drill you’ll find with RS.
Creating a Personalized Learning Plan
To learn Brazilian Portuguese quickly, you must create a personalized learning plan that works for you.
Figure Out Your Learning Style
First things first, you’ve got to figure out your own learning style.
We’re not all cut from the same cloth.
Some of us soak up knowledge like a sponge when we hear things, others need to see it in writing, and some need to be knee-deep in it, learning as they go along.
Find out what floats your boat and stick to it, at least during this phase.
Set Your Own Goals
Next, you’ve got to set some sensible goals. I don’t mean setting out to be the next Shakespeare of Portuguese literature within a fortnight. Be practical. Want to order a meal in Portuguese by next month? That’s more like it.
Tailor Your Learning Strategies
Now, when it comes to learning strategies, you’ve got to make them your own.
There’s no one-size-fits-all here.
Pick the techniques that suit your style and fit your schedule.
Remember, it’s your journey, so you’ve got to do it your way.
Keep It Interesting
This part is key: make sure it’s interesting.
If you’re a soccer fan, read about Brazilian soccer in Portuguese.
By merging your interests with your learning, you’re more likely to stick with it for as long as you need to learn it fast.
Even as a beginner, monitor your progress and adjust it as necessary
Learning any new skill takes time and dedication; learning Brazilian Portuguese is no exception.
Remember that I talked about goals and having an ideal behavior to model?
You monitor it in real-time. It’s not by the end of the day, and it’s not by the end of the week — as soon as you notice that you are not behaving like the person you want to become (at least when it comes to speaking Portuguese), get back on track.
And if you can get feedback from other speakers, do that as well. Feedback has been proven to help people learn languages faster, and Portuguese is no exception.
You can learn Brazilian Portuguese fast, but you should also know how to learn it slowly
Learning Brazilian Portuguese quickly is a challenging but rewarding experience.
By setting achievable goals, employing effective learning strategies, and immersing yourself in the language and culture of Brazil through Brazilian music and using the best ways to acquire the language, you can accelerate your learning and achieve your language goals faster than you ever thought possible.
And if you have had experience learning Portuguese really fast, share it with us in the comments below.