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How I learn Portuguese: Advice for those who want to start learning the language



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 21/06/2024, 16:15

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Portuguese language is used by many countries. It is one of the reasons why it’s worth learning it. If you like how it sounds, or you want to move to Portugal and need it in order to live here, you will find this post helpful. I included a lot of advice on how to start learning Portuguese.

I started learning it at the end of 2020, after almost 4 years of living in Portugal. Only until very recently I decided to stay here permanently. Because of always thinking I’d move and because of laziness, and simply because I just didn’t like the language that much, I was putting learning Portuguese off. Once I decided to buy a property here, I started thinking that it might be worth buying lessons and studying the local language.
I’m a beginner and I’ve been learning it from level 0. I don’t know much about the language itself. I only now get to know the secrets of Portuguese. However, I’m a teacher and I’ve been learning Thai as well. I came up with the below advice because of my experience of learning and teaching others.

I think this post is not something completely new. I won’t tell you how to learn the language in a month, but maybe because of it you’ll get motivated and inspired to learn.

(In this post I’m talking about the continental version of Portuguese, not the Brazilian.)

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Is learning Portuguese hard?

Portuguese language has its own rules and laws. The verbs change depending on the tense, the person you’re talking about. Understanding others is quite hard, too. But, learning Portuguese is not different from learning any other language. It always takes a bit of time before we get used to new structures, new ways of thinking and grammar rules.

After a few years of learning Thai, I think Portuguese is not that hard. It’s just a lanugage like any other. For me, a big plus is that the alphabet is the same as our European one, which makes it possible to learn from books and make notes, which in Thai is impoossible.

Another easy thing about it is that many words in Portuguse are similar to English or Polish words.
And, as a Pole, I also think that pronunciation is not that hard.

How do I learn Portuguese?

I am learning two langauges – Portuguese and Thai – so, I don’t really have that much time to focus on one language. I think that if I could spend more time on learning Portuguese, I could master it to a communicative level in a very short time. However, I don’t really want to quite my beloved Thai.

At the moment, I’m trying to spend 3-4 days learning Portuguese. Here is how it looks like:

  1. I have one lesson per week for 45 minutes. I found my teacher through my sister, who had found her on Italki.
  2. I use Portuguse Lab Academy – a website with podcasts and exercises.
  3. I review vocabulary every day. It takes me 5-10 minutes.
  4. I listen to short podcasts.
  5. I also try to use Portuguese every day in shops and other situations.

It is not intensive learning. I don’t feel so much joy when I learn Portuguese as if I learn Thai. After a few months of learning I know basic verbs, 2 present tenses and one past tense. I know how to ask for directions, how to talk about routines. I noticed that I can speak more and more though, which is really exciting.

Tools and ways of learning Portuguese

If you would like to learn Portuguese and spend more time than I do on it, you will achieve more. I’m sure of it. Here are things that you might find helpful.


Tools that I use:

  1. Italki – This application is amazing for finding teachers.
  2. Portuguese Lab Academy – Subscription costs 35 Euros per month.
  3. Tv and radio – I use this site z tej strony, which is available if you like in Portugal. I’m not sure if it works outside of the country.
  4. Podcasts – Portuguese Lab Academy, Short Stories Portuguese.

At the moment I don’t have any books. All the materials I get from my teacher.

My way of learning Portuguese

  1. Once a week I have a lesson with a teacher. After the lesson I make notes and review them.
  2. 5-10 minutes of reviewing vocabulary, even if it’s a day that I spend on learning Thai.
  3. Doing my homework. My teacher gives me a lot to do at home. That’s why I try to start doing it as early as possible and finish 2 days before the lesson.
  4. Listening in Portuguese. I watch the news once-twice a week.
  5. Speaking – as much as possible. Even if I don’t know how to say things, I still try. I go to the shops, order in Portuguese and make phone calls. Using the langugage as much as possible allows me to remember things and learn something new.