How to Speak Portuguese

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We don’t really know how to speak Portuguese properly yet, even though we have been here over two years. Sure, we cope day-to-day and have even managed to read some novels in Portuguese, but our ability to speak and comprehend plateaued after the first year and our progress stalled.

Many people say that you can never properly understand a country and its culture until you can speak the language, so we decided a couple of weeks ago that it was time to arrange proper lessons and finally learn (properly) how to speak Portuguese.

Today we had our first lesson. Our tutor, Andrew, is a local expat who has spent several years intensively learning the language. The fact he is English means he understands the key differences in the two languages, and this gives him the ability to identify the key areas we will find difficult.

I only wish we had started to do this sooner. Within ten minutes of the lesson beginning, I realised that I have been violating the correct pronunciation of words that I have been using confidently for the past two years!

We are taking lessons along with three members of our extended family who live locally. We are all at different levels of existing knowledge, but we quickly decided to all start from the beginning together, when it became clear that even the more confident amongst us had been getting some of the basics wrong.

How to Speak Portuguese
How to Speak Portuguese

Two of our party have already been having classroom based lessons at a local school, but the kind of teaching Andrew delivers already seems to be a better way to learn how to speak Portuguese. Large classes containing mixed nationalities and abilities tend to move at the pace of the slowest learners, and one of our party commented that the ability to ask questions of someone who shares our native language is invaluable in the context of making everything make sense.

Within the first lesson we have all already began to learn how to conjugate verbs, which I think is key to learning any language – indeed, it is the way I learned French at school. Once verb conjugation is mastered, you have the ability to look anything up in a dictionary and get your point across – from there, your pace of learning is only held back by how quickly you can increase your vocabulary.

I am very excited to finally be learning how to speak Portuguese properly. I am also excited that I can order my coffee and cake tomorrow with the correct pronunciation – and I have high hopes for a positive reaction from the lady in the local cafe!

Just one lesson in, I can sincerely give a high recommendation for Andrew’s inexpensive and well-structured private lessons. He is based in the East Algarve and travels to us to teach us in the comfort of our own home. If you are in the Algarve and want to learn how to speak Portuguese properly, I would be delighted to provide his contact details.

Here are a couple of learning aids for those keen to pick up the language:

501 Portuguese Verbs (Barron’s 501 Portuguese Verbs)

Rosetta Stone Version 4 TOTALe: Portuguese (Brazil) Level 1, 2 & 3 (Mac/PC)

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9 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Hi Ben, glad you are knuckling down to it again ๐Ÿ™‚ We have been learning now for about six years. My husband is currently doing a degree course (!) and I have regressed back to level 1!

    I have always thought it would be best to wait until we move over to Tavira on a more permanent basis to learn. Also, it probably doesnt help that my current teacher (although marvellous) is Brazilian. BUT what definitely doesnt help is that in a class of 11 ‘beginners’ there are 9 fluent spanish speakers! What is the point – is what I say (in pigeon portuguese)

    Anyway, glad you are enjoying it and also glad to see that it has eventually started to rain(according to the Isla Tavira CCTV), it must be quite welcome to all the farmers.


  2. Hi Ben

    We’re pledged to learn properly when we finally make the move and will keep this guy in mind. Useful post, thanks.
    Mick is putting more effort in than me currently, but I’m also struggling with Polish(and he doesn’t blog)

  3. Well done you!

    Jake has been having lessons like this, on a one-to-one basis with a private tutor at home, for about 9 months now and it has helped him hugely.

    I’d love to have been able to join him from the start but, unfortunately can’t afford it. Luckily for me though, I have one verbally fluent 8yo and one technically competent 12yo to correct my pronunciation and grammar (and my 8yo takes much joy in correcting (aka laughing at!) my pronunciations!)

    I think they keep me on my toes fairly well alongside self-teaching (which has brought along my verbs and tenses etc)

    The 501 Portuguese Verbs book is a good recommend. We (12yo and I) use it a LOT!

    Good luck!!

  4. Keep posted on : we are launching a PL2 course focused on speaking for B1 students. The course is a result of a partnership between Ciberduvidas and Spoken Language Systems Laboratory of INESC-ID, Lisbon. What’s more, it’s free.

  5. Hi Saz – is your husband pretty fluent now then, what with doing a degree in it?

    Best wishes,


  6. Hi Johanna,

    Get in touch as and when, I would really recommend it – we only wish we had started sooner!

    Best wishes,


  7. Hi Tracey,

    How nice it must be to have your kids able to translate – I bet it makes you envious of their easy ability to absorbe these things though!

    Best wishes,


  8. Not fluent no – I dont think he ever will be, he says um far too much and i dont think he will ever be able to stop doing that as he does it in english too !


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