Frequently asked questions
Portuguese is spoken by over 230 million people (180 million people in Brazil alone) and it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
Brazil is a huge country and Portuguese is the national language. Although English is taught in secondary and in high schools, only a few people (former exchange students, foreign language students, people who have lived or worked abroad) can speak English well, but you will probably find them only in the big cities, hotels, multinational companies, airports, etc. and you will most probably not stay in these places during the whole of your visit to Brazil.
If you intend to live or work in Brazil for a while, you must learn Portuguese to communicate with the local people.
Even if you just go for a short holiday, you should pick up some Portuguese before you leave. Foreigners are welcome in Brazil and the Brazilian people like to talk to foreigners. Your holiday will be much more fun if you can communicate with the people.
Brazilian Portuguese is Portuguese as spoken in Brazil and European Portuguese, also called Continental Portuguese, is Portuguese as spoken in Portugal and also in Macau, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé & Príncipe, Cape Verde and East Timor.
Brazil is far away from Portugal and the Portuguese spoken in Brazil developed differently due to influence from indigenous and African languages.
Both languages are Portuguese, but they differ a bit in pronunciation, intonation, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, etc... In spite of the differences, you should have no big problems communicating with Brazilian or Portuguese people no matter whether you speak Brazilian or European Portuguese.
To understand better, just compare British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealander English with American English; French spoken in France and Canadian French; German spoken in Germany and German spoken in Austria or in Switzerland; Spanish spoken in Latin America and Spanish spoken in Spain. In spite of the differences, they are the same languages.
If you are more exposed to American English, you tend to like it
more than British English because you are more used to it. To like or
or the other better is more a matter of taste and habit.
It depends on you. Some people pick up the language very quickly, others need more time to learn the same stuff. People are different and have different needs.
You have to ask yourself why you want to learn Portuguese. How important is it for you? Do you have a deadline?
Do you need it for business? Do you deal with Brazilian companies? Will your company send you to Brazil?
Do you just want to learn it for fun? Do you like to learn foreign languages? Do you have a Brazilian boy or girl friend? Are you going to Brazil on a short holiday? Do you like Brazilian music?
If it is just for fun, having a class once a week will be fine, but if you are going to live and work in Brazil, it would be better to take classes more regularly or even an intensive course.
I had students who took the complete course (beginner/intermediate/advanced) in only 3 months, but they invested a lot of time in it and took classes every day.
If you want to say a few words to get by during a short holiday in Brazil, you do not need to invest much time. If you want to speak Portuguese correctly and you need it for your job, then you have to invest time and money to learn it properly.
The more time you spend, the sooner you will be speaking the language. It really depends on you and on your needs.
Anyone can learn it, provided the interest is there. Most of the Spanish, French and Italian speaking people pick it up very quickly because of the similarities between Portuguese and their own languages. However, some English speaking people who can not speak any of these Latin languages, can pick up Portuguese relatively quickly.
Portuguese and Spanish are so similar that the Spanish speaking people have to be very careful to avoid using Spanish when speaking Portuguese and vice-versa.
Of course it would be better if you had the chance. In Brazil you would be practicing all the time by talking to the people, reading, watching TV, etc. Everything you learn you can immediately be put into practice.
The big mistake is that some people think that once they are in Brazil, they can learn Portuguese just by listening. Some people also think they will have more time, it will be easier, etc. But when they get there, they do not have as much time as they thought. They are so busy and there are so many new things to learn in their new job, that the language becomes a handicap, but not a priority.
For this reason, it would be better to learn as much Portuguese as possible before you go to Brazil. Once you are there, you will have no problem understanding, reading and speaking. You just have to put into practice what you have learned and improve your Portuguese. You do not have to learn it from scratch.
People are different and what works for you does not necessarily work for others. Some people like to write down the same word several times, make their own sentences, use flash cards, listen to tapes, use a picture dictionary, etc.
Try to find out the best method for you. Avoid becoming bored or fed up when learning Portuguese. Learning Portuguese, or anything you do should be a pleasure. Only this way you can progress.
It depends on you. Some people prefer to have individual and some group lessons.
It is only good to have group lessons if the students have the same level, otherwise you will get bored.
In a group you can measure yourself with the other students, but you have to share the time with the other students, you have to respect the other students' pace, etc.
If you take individual lessons, you do all the exercises alone, you are forced to speak more, you can choose the material or the topics to be discussed in class, you can determine the pace, etc.
My experience is that individual lessons are more common because Portuguese is not as popular as English or Spanish. Only those people, who really want or need, learn Portuguese.
Group lessons are not available, except perhaps in a big city. It is also difficult to fix the time with enough people to make up a class.
Because I would like to reach the people from all over the world who are learning Portuguese as a second language and this is only possible through the Internet. Besides, I would like to make my own Portuguese materials available for everyone who is learning Portuguese.
Yes, but keep in mind that these materials are original and copyrighted work and this copyright applies to all texts, images and audio files found on my website. You are allowed to make copies only for your personal, non-commercial, private use and for use in classrooms (if you are a teacher), provided that that the contents and pages are not modified in any form and proper author credit is given, including the URL http://www.sonia-portuguese.com. For more information on copyright, please click on copyright.
Copyright © 2001-2013 by Sonia Celegatti Althoff - All rights reserved (www.sonia-portuguese.com)