If you are planning on staying in Brazil, then learning Portuguese is crucial, unless you want to live in a “gringo bubble” and not integrate, or have no wish to understand anything about the society in which you are living.
Learning the language can also help prevent you from being taken advantage of. You should not only consider the benefits to you, but the fact that many native Brazilians will find it extremely impolite and somewhat arrogant, if you are making no effort to speak to them in their language.
Whilst tourist areas and more cosmopolitan towns and cities may have many English speakers to hand, small towns and villages will not.
Government offices and authorities will rarely deal with you in English, and if you attempt to write communications in English you may well get a terse reply telling you that the working language of Brazil is Portuguese!
It is no good waiting until you are living in Brazil to learn and hoping you will just pick it up. You won’t! You should start learning many months before your permanent arrival and keep doing it while you are in the country.
Here are 10 tips for making it easier to learn Portuguese:
1. There are many language books, tapes, CDs and courses out there. Some are better than others and some may suit some people better than others. Buying a few different courses and alternating them, whilst expensive, may help to keep things fresh and widen your vocabulary and grammar.
2. The key is little and often. 15 to 20 minutes a day is far better than an hour or two once or twice a week. You will retain a lot more and not find yourself getting bogged down. You are also more likely to make that amount of time available each day and not find excuses for doing something else.
3. If possible, try to find a private, native speaking teacher and either attend a class, or preferably one-to-one lessons, so that you can study at your own rate.
4. Study with a spouse, partner or friend for motivational purposes. If you both know there is a time set and that someone else is relying on you, you will be less likely to skip it and do something else.
5. Watch Portuguese TV and listen to Portuguese radio. However awful some of the programmes might be, you will be amazed at how much sinks in after a while. Brazilian novelas (soap operas) are excellent for this. The language used is generally of the everyday type and you can usually easily follow the very simple plots and story lines.
6. Don’t worry about making mistakes and being perfect. Just DO IT! You won’t learn if you don’t make mistakes. Think of how many mistakes you hear when foreigners are trying to learn to speak English. Do you make fun of them? No. In general most people are appreciative of others making the effort to learn their language. Plus, it can be real fun.
7. If someone replies to you in English, just keep speaking Portuguese, or if need be, ask them politely if they would mind not speaking to you in English.
8. If you are already in Brazil, try and engage a lot in social activities and practice your Portuguese with native speakers. Also, Participating in church activities or other similar activities and doing some volunteer work in some organisations like Casa Do Caminho Orphanage in Xerem can help improve your Portuguese speaking and understanding level to high level and they let you live with them (native speakers) in exchange of your services to them.
9. If you have certain jobs or shopping to do the next day, or later the same day, do a bit of homework before you go out. Make a list of the verbs and vocabulary you might need and learn them and take the list with you for support. Many situations are quite similar, so once you’ve learnt a few stock phrases you can use them again and again.
10. Don’t get lazy… try to know every word that you don’t understand, memorise a lot of Portuguese verbs and their conjugations and try to use them often.
This post was made by:
Casa do Caminho Language Center – Learn Portuguese in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Support the Brazilian children and teenagers of the organization Casa do Caminho!