Frequently I come across the following questions:
– Is it difficult to learn Portuguese?
– Should I learn Portuguese from Portugal or Portuguese from Brazil?
For me to answer these questions, it is necessary to distance myself from my own mother tongue (Portuguese) and analyze it from an overseas’ point of view.
Remembering about grammatical cases, spelling exercises and syntax, I come to the conclusion that, indeed, it is not simple or easy to learn Portuguese. It is certainly easier to speak it instead of writing it – it is when we start to write in Portuguese that doubts arise and the grammar is tried. However, these peculiarities are pitched to the native speakers. The question “whether it is easy or not to learn Portuguese” is geared to beginners or those who are still considering whether to jump or not into Portuguese lessons!
So for beginners: What is your mother tongue? If you speak one of the Latin languages (Spanish, Italian or French) the chances of easily learning Portuguese are higher, after all these languages are similar. To those who descend from Germanic or Nordic languages, I must say that learning Portuguese will require a little bit more effort. You will have to understand the different “logic of the language” and when I mention that, I mean to understand what comes first: position of subjects, verbs, adjectives, prepositions (this is what I find difficult when learning German, for example). I believe that those whose mother tongue is a tonal language will face the same difficulties they face in learning any other language.
Regarding pronunciation, the particle “-ão” seems to be a challenge to everyone! In fact the nasal sound is not easy to learn and, to the misfortune of students, is very present in the Portuguese vocabulary. I recommend calm and practice! We also have the character “ç” that might confuse many people since its sound is similar to the sound of the letter “s” and the digraph “ss” in many words. Even native speakers face spelling difficulties and all we can do is to memorize the spelling, or its rules.
About the eternal fight between “Portuguese from Portugal or Portuguese from Brazil”, no answer at all. They are the same language with some variations in pronunciation and spelling, such as American and British English. Moreover, with respect to writing, the last Portuguese spelling reform worked to soften the differences and it is already enforced. Therefore, I recommend you to learn the Portuguese that is closer to you.
Despite the difficulties, it is a beautiful and rhythmic language that served as a great tool for writers, both Brazilians and Portuguese! One last important note: in Brazil we speak Portuguese and not “Brazilian” after all “Brazilian” is the one who was born in Brazil.