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The Art of Learning European Portuguese: Techniques and Strategies

Would you like to become fluent in Portuguese but don’t know where to start? Are you facing challenges or feeling demotivated in your journey? 

Language learning is an art anyone can master. Yet, it takes determination and the right tools and methods. In this post, explore four fundamental strategies to learn European Portuguese. 

You will discover how goal setting allows you to define a clear plan and maintain focus. Then, learn about the importance of immersion and practice and see ideas for including them in your path to fluency. 

Finally, explore how you can have a growth mindset to become a more productive student. Bellow, see how learning Portuguese from Portugal can impact your personal and professional life.

European Portuguese – A Language Worth Knowing

Portuguese is a beautiful language that opens many doors to its learners. Its two main variants, European and Brazilian Portuguese, amount to millions of speakers worldwide. Still, it has some challenging aspects. The pronunciation of nasal sounds, varied vocabulary, and complex verb tenses are part of these difficulties.

For example, most foreigners struggle to say words such as “não” (no), “cabeleireiro” (hairdresser), and “amanhã” (tomorrow). Others get confused by false cognates like “constipação” (having a cold), “lanche” (a snack), and “puxe” (pull). 

Still, these aspects make it a unique tongue that carries the weight of Portuguese history. They might seem like unsurpassable obstacles when you first encounter them. But with time and patience, you will see how they help you make the best of the opportunities brought by language learning. 

Look at them with a curious mindset and a proactive attitude, and you will soon master these peculiarities. Then, as you learn the European Portuguese language, they will become part of you and come naturally. Check out a few tips and strategies you can apply. 

4 Strategies to Learn European Portuguese

Learning a new language can be the most rewarding of challenges. But it requires organization and method. Portuguese With Carla developed a unique course to help you learn European Portuguese as a native English speaker. The Journey is available for a yearly or monthly subscription. Through it, you can learn Portuguese online and have fun while becoming fluent.

Here are other strategies that will help you: 

4 Strategies to Learn European Portuguese

Set Specific Goals

Whenever you take on a sizeable project, the first thing you should do is establish clear goals. These will be your targets. They will help you structure your tasks and provide you with a focus throughout their development. 

Another aspect to consider is whether you want to learn Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese. Despite being similar, each of these is a native language to a distinct people, country, and culture. Their speakers pronounce words in different ways and even have a diverse vocabulary.

Finding a Driving Force

You might already know other Romance languages. Still, after deciding to learn a new one, you must understand your motivations first. Do you want to learn Portuguese to visit Portugal? Or are you doing it to get better job prospects? 

Your learning approach will vary according to what’s motivating you. Also, the type of content you focus on and how you practice speaking will depend on your drive to learn Portuguese. 

Building a Plan For Learning European Portuguese 

Define one main goal. It could be having a 15-minute conversation with a native within three months. Or you could set your mind on reaching a specific level on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) within a year. 

Use the SMART technique to establish objectives that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound 
How to Set a Learning Plan
Building a Plan For Learning European Portuguese

Afterward, you must only build your path. Imagine you reached your final goal. Then, think of the steps you took immediately before and write them down. Repeat this exercise to know what you had to do when you were just two steps away from it. 

Follow this line of thought until you get to where you are now. This way, you can easily map your route to European Portuguese fluency. Based on this plan, create smaller objectives toward your goal. 

Then, check your plan regularly to see how you are doing and if you need to make any adjustments. As you develop a learning style and study at your own pace, you will feel motivated to keep going.

Emphasize Immersion

Immersion is the best approach for effective language acquisition, even in adults. We know how encouraging a good pastel de nata can be. But there is no need to visit Portugal to enjoy the benefits of immersing yourself in the Portuguese language.

Listening to Portuguese people and interacting with Portuguese speakers helps in listening comprehension. It also has lasting effects throughout your learning path, allowing you to think in this new language. Here are a few ideas that can help even absolute beginners access the right resources for learning.

Immersing Techniques 

Find funny Portuguese TV shows with subtitles or listen to a podcast for language learners. While you’re at it, give our European Portuguese podcast a go, and let us know your thoughts!

Explore European Portuguese music and try to sing along. If you are an advanced learner, read your favorite book in Portuguese or discover a new one you might like. 

If you live in an urban area, you likely have native speakers nearby (Yes! We really are everywhere). Take on the opportunity to talk to them. Portuguese people are welcoming. They will be thrilled to know about you learning their language and might even offer to help you practice. This way, you can leave visiting Portugal for a time when you can effectively communicate with the natives. 

Practice Portuguese

Most people get nervous when they first start speaking a foreign language. Yet, this attitude generates negative feelings about practicing the spoken language. Thus, it keeps them stagnant and hinders their progress. 

Contrarily, consistent speaking practice is vital for you to learn Portuguese and reach your goals (remember step 1?). So our advice is that you start speaking from day 1. 

How to Speak Portuguese From Day 1

Did you learn 20 new Portuguese words on your favorite app? Awesome! Play them on Google Translate and practice pronunciation. Found a new Portuguese tune you love? Beautiful! Try memorizing the lyrics and follow the singer. 

practice European Portuguese - speak from day 1

Of course, you will make mistakes. But so will everybody else, including Portuguese native speakers. So don’t let fear of failure or embarrassment stop your gains. 

So, speak Portuguese, use gestures, and make yourself understood, even if barely. You can have a Portuguese dictionary with you in the beginning. With time, you will get better and remember common words. The more you practice, the less you feel bad about it, and the better you can become. 

You can find a friend who already speaks European Portuguese or a language exchange partner. Check out local language schools if you prefer presential or group classes. Many people are teaching Portuguese online based on other languages.

Even if you only speak English, you can hire a Portuguese person to tutor you or arrange other practice sessions. Regardless of your method, constantly practicing will make you more confident and help you grow faster

Be Aware of Your Mindset

How you look at all things dictates your approach to them. So it is also with language learning. A negative perspective of European Portuguese and its intricacies block your progress. 

On the contrary, a growth mentality is optimistic and realistic, fostering sustainable progress. It allows you to see challenges as learning opportunities in the language and at a personal level. Here are some of the strategies you can apply to stay motivated and maintain a growth mindset.

5 Ways to Maintain a Growth Mindset

learn European Portuguese techniques
Vary Your Study Methods

Find various paid and free resources for learning, such as apps and popular courses. Find a Portuguese teacher or ask a native speaker to practice with you. 

Be Organized and Disciplined

Decide when and how to learn, and don’t create excuses. Dedicate yourself to learning Portuguese. You can study for as little as 15 minutes to over an hour. Maintaining a consistent routine clears your brain for processing and retaining information.

Schedule Short Sessions

Short sessions keep you focused. They help you achieve minor goals that quickly make up a significant amount of knowledge. Besides, it is mentally exhausting to invest long periods in language acquisition. Memorizing new vocabulary and engaging in listening comprehension are challenging for beginners.

Find The Things You Like

Research music, books, shows, videos, quotes, poetry, and podcasts in your target language. Watch Portuguese movies or add Portuguese subtitles to your regular shows. The happier you are when studying, the more you want to practice Portuguese, and the faster and better you learn. 

Choose Beautiful Over Basic

Basic sentences allow you to establish a conversation and encourage you to move on to the next stage. But there is no feeling like finding a beautiful word or phrase in your target language. For example, the famous term: “Saudade” is the longing, love, and nostalgia associated with missing someone or something. 

Takeaway on Techniques to Learn European Portuguese

Learning Portuguese is an experience that can become as rewarding as it is valuable. Through it, you can open the doors to the extraordinary Portuguese culture with an impressive history and an exciting future. 

Of course, you will face challenges along the way. Portuguese grammar and its correct pronunciation are common difficulties. Even intermediate and advanced learners often face these issues.

But whether or not you’ve already started studying, take time to establish clear and measurable goals. Define each step and envision the difficulties that might come up and the techniques you can use to conquer them. 

Then, find ways to immerse yourself and have fun while learning Portuguese. Practice every day to overcome the fear of failure and boost your progress. Finally, strive to maintain a positive mindset and be resilient. By applying these simple processes, you can master Portuguese from Portugal. 

Do you have other strategies you find valuable? Which would you like us to explore next? Tell us all about your favorite methods to learn Portuguese in the comments!

Portuguese With Carla has many great resources to help you learn European Portuguese online. You can find podcasts, YouTube videos with helpful lessons, and insightful blog articles. Check out our social media channels for extra content!

Learn European Portuguese the Instinctive Way!

For the last decade, we’ve been working on putting together the best possible European Portuguese course. After much research, feedback from our students, and a number of iterations, we think we’ve got it! 😉

At the base of it all is a sound conviction that languages are better learnt instinctively, so the process needs to engaging, varied, and enjoyable. Throughout, we used scientifically proven techniques to help with master pronunciation, phrase construction, oral understanding, grammar, and all the necessary bits to get you to fluency. And still, the whole thing is presented as an adventure. It’s a course like no other, trust us!

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