Best Way to Learn Portuguese
You have probably heard it time and time again — immersion is the key. At risk of sounding cliché, that’s completely true. But what is immersion? What do you need to fully immerse yourself in a language? What is the best way to learn Portuguese? And why is immersion important again?
Picture this: a French professor in the 1880s, François Gouin, decides to learn German. For that, Gouin moves to Hamburg. The first thing he does is shut himself in his bedroom and study. And after ten days, he goes to attend a university class. Do you think he could understand the lesson? Not at all!
Yet Gouin tried doing that again and again — shutting himself in his study and then going out —for a whole year. And he returned to France still unable to speak German. What happened? What’s wrong with poor Gouin?
Gouin made a rookie mistake — he didn’t take risks, he didn’t practice in real time, with real people in real life. No textbook on Earth will explain to you all the intricacies of speaking a language. No amount of memorizing, reading, and writing will make you fluent. It is not enough to sit down and study!
The best way to learn Portuguese is to give into the urge to be a part of the culture and talk to the people. It’s to watch what they watch; listen to what they listen to, and learn to talk like they talk. And this gets us to our second question: how?
What do you need to achieve immersion?
Undoubtedly, the best way to learn Portuguese is with help — ideally the support of a specialized Portuguese language school. It’s also crucial to experience the culture and country. Sure, you can study Portuguese everywhere, but isn’t it better to do it in Brazil? By living in Brazil and befriending Brazilians, you’ll be living completely immersed in Portuguese.
And, yes, I know! Moving to a foreign country where you know virtually no one can be quite hard. That’s why finding a Portuguese language school that helps build that bridge between you and the Brazilian culture and people is so important!
So here’s the best way to learn Portuguese:
- learn in a Portuguese speaking country!
- focus on Portuguese (not on translating to English, Spanish, German, etc.)
- talk to native speakers – they’re the best teachers!
- experience the culture (and don’t shy away from trying new things)
- ask for help from a Portuguese language school
- have fun while learning Portuguese!
The Best Way of Learning Portuguese is Living in Brazil
If you’re not scared of a change in routine and location, why not give learning in Brazil a thought? After all, it is the biggest Portuguese speaking country in the world — with over 200 million inhabitants. It’s also often considered the international standard, and native Portuguese speakers from all parts of the globe looooove hearing the carioca accent.
Brazil is also a very open country. Everybody is friendly and willing to talk to foreigners, even if they have to use a lot of hand gestures! Brazilians love sharing their culture, and will love you if you’re interested in learning more about their country. Saying “tudo bem?” is already reason enough for a Brazilian to help you get used to living here. And we’re always eager to try to make Brazil feel like your home!
Never Fear Speaking Portuguese
Now, again, a crucial part of immersion is connecting and communicating with people — especially, natives. So you cannot let shyness get in your way! The best way to learn Portuguese, then, should be one that still makes you feel comfortable. With their welcoming smiles and hospitality, Brazilians can help you feel more at ease instantaneously. And there’s another add-on: most Brazilians don’t speak very good English, much less other languages. Portuguese is your only option! You cannot run away from it!
At the same time, it can be difficult to understand native speaker. Still it’s important to practice everyday with friends and teachers at a specialized school — that’s a crucial part of immersion! So choose a place where everybody speaks Portuguese and just Portuguese.
And remember, you don’t have to do it all on your own! Join a group class! There you can meet people from all over the world. And since you’ll be attending Portuguese classes together, you’ll grow used to only speaking Portuguese with each other. This is a great way to practice inside and outside of the classroom.
In events such as RioLIVE! you can even take the chance to meet other students while exploring Rio de Janeiro and discovering Brazilian culture. All of that while speaking Portuguese, always in the company of a native teacher. It’s a great way to keep you immersed so you don’t commit the same mistake as our friend François Gouin!
Not to mention that a methodology that focuses on conversation and making you feel at ease is ideal! If you feel more comfortable with your surroundings, you’ll likely feel more confident speaking Portuguese. And a great way to let loose is to let yourself have fun while learning!
How to Achieve a Longer Immersion
Surprisingly enough, it’s not that difficult to study in Brazil! If you plan on staying for only a couple of months, you can easily study Portuguese here with a regular tourist visa. However, if you’d like to stay longer, you can apply for a student visa. For that, you’ll need to have proof of enrollment in a school here — and it can even be a language school. There’s even a possibility for you to get a 6-months or 1-year student visa and that’s certainly enough time to learn Portuguese and explore the best parts of Rio and Brazil.
Have fun while you're learning Portuguese!
Talk to Natives
They're the best teachers!
Experience the culture
Don't shy away from trying new things!
Portuguese Language School
Learn with professional teachers
Learn in Brazil
Learn in a Portuguese speaking country
Focus on Portuguese
In order to learn Portuguese, talk in Portuguese!
If coming to Brazil and trying out live immersion is not a possibility for you, don’t worry! You can still find other ways to simulate immersion! For once, online classes are a good option — whether those are group lessons or even private tutoring. You can even combine the two of them so you get the chance to meet others and still focus on your own personal goals. The most important part, however, is to make sure that you’re having classes with natives! Remember: they’re the best teachers!
That’s not all, of course! You also need to find a way to get in touch with the culture. Movies, series and books are great for that. And there are a lot of options — something for everyone, really: Dois Coelhos for the action movie lovers, 3% for those that prefer dystopian narratives, and even The Circle Brasil if you just want to relax with some chill reality TV. That’s not mentioning some of the great Brazilian writers: Paulo Coelho, Jorge Amado, Veríssimo, Thalita Rebouças, Raphael Draccon, and many many more.
It’s also ideal to try to get in touch with Brazilian communities near where you live. They can be huge in big cities all over the world from Chicago to Amsterdam. And even if you don’t particularly know anyone from Brazil, you can always check for meetings organized on websites such as MeetUp and Facebook. Those should at least help you find people to practice Portuguese with! Not including the countless apps you can download to meet Brazilians all over the world looking for language exchange.
Speaking of apps, those are important, too! You should look into the best apps to learn Portuguese so you can practice it during your downtime between work and classes.
To sum up, by doing these things, you’d be able to simulate immersion:
- find a native Portuguese teacher and start private lessons or group classes
- talk to native speakers!
- read all you can, whenever you can: books, articles, news, short stories, everything
- consume Portuguese-speaking media: series, movies, novelas, music, YouTube videos
- get an app to learn Portuguese in your downtime from class
- make use of all the free resources you can get — like A Dica do Dia!
- connect with nearby Brazilian communities in your country
- get involved with Brazilians on social media and maybe find a language exchange partner!