How to Become Fluent in Brazilian Portuguese
Panorama of Rio de Janeiro
The Octavio Frias de Oliveira bridge, São Paulo - Brazil
I have been learning Brazilian Portuguese for one and a half years now and I have to say it is a really fun language to learn. My fiancé is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I have had the chance to visit Rio de Janeiro quite often. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming and like all Latins, they greet each other with “beijos” and “abraços” and instantly become your friend. The variety of fruits and vegetables in Brazil are amazing and you will them in all shapes and sizes. The fruits have such an intense and fruity taste that you will be wanting to take a huge basket of fruits back home if the airport security would only let you.
Brazil is one of the most racially diverse countries on the planet and racial interbreeding has led to a population with a large spectrum of skin colors. No matter what your skin color might be, you won’t feel out of place in Brazil. The country has a lot of cultural diversity and is divided into the regions Norte, Nordeste, Centro-Oeste, Sudeste and Sul. Each region has different food to offer, listens to different music and speaks Brazilian Portuguese with a different accent. Brazil is home to the Amazon, the region with most plant and animal species on Earth, it is famous for its Samba and Carnival culture and it boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
No matter what your reason might be to travel to Brazil, you will only be able to enjoy your trip 100% if you can speak Brazil’s official language: Brazilian Portuguese. In this article you will find tips and tricks of how to become fluency in Brazilian Portuguese. With some efforts and consistency, you can do it and speak Brazilian just like the natives. Give it a try!
Caracol falls, near Canela, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Reasons for Learning Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil is one of the powerful BRIC countries, the four biggest emerging markets in the world. As the other emerging economies China, India and Russia, Brazil has been able to exhibit high growth rates in comparison to the developed countries and has steadily developed its agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services sector in the last 10 years. Brazil was one of the first to recover from the global financial crisis in 2008. Brazil is the 8th largest economy in the world and the most powerful one in Latin America. Its global standing has made the country an attractive location for investors. Currently, the Latin American country is heavily investing in infrastructure in view of the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Brazil’s increasing economic influence will establish long-lasting relationships with foreign companies which will generate new jobs and opportunities for anyone who can speak Brazilian Portuguese. Companies doing business with Brazil will be seeking employees who are fluent or possess advanced knowledge of the language. Fluency in Brazilian Portuguese will give you a competitive advantage and give you access to jobs which are restricted to those that don’t speak the language.
Portuguese is a Latin (or Romance) language just like Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian. If you have learnt another Romance language, you will have no difficulties learning Portuguese and you will find many language parallels. Additionally, Brazilian Portuguese skills and knowledge of the grammar will give you the opportunity to improve your native language and understand it better.
Portuguese is an important language worldwide and is spoken by 240 million people in seven countries: Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor.
Boa Viagem beach, in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil.
The best free websites for learning Brazilian Portuguese
Some people prefer learning a language in the self-study mode while others need the help of a teacher. Both learning modes will be illustrated in this text.
Learn Portuguese Now is a website with a collection of different types of learning resources. It is great for learning Portuguese or reviewing it when you are in a rush such as if you have to rush to a meeting in Brazil and need to be able to say hello to people, book a hotel or order something in the restaurant. The websites includes the most important Portuguese phrases, a collection of 15 lessons that can be worked through like a crash course, a guide to pronunciation, audiobooks in Portuguese, idioms and much more. Those looking for Brazilian recipes can even find some original ones on this website.
Sonia Portuguese is one of the best and most complete language learning websites and offers a wide range of resources for free. You can find a detailed guide to pronunciation, grammar from A-Z, proverbs, the comparison of Brazilian Portuguese and Portuguese from Portugual, Slang, Cartoons and much more. If you want to deepen your knowledge you can the books “Sonia’s Portuguese Course” and “Sonia’s Portuguese Grammar Book” in combination or separately.
One of the best websites to practice your listening skills is the blog BrazilianPodClass. It is packed with podcasts and videos in which native Brazilians from different regions of Brazil talk about numerous different topics. There are podcasts and videos for any level from absolute beginner to advanced and the topics range from internet dating, famous Brazilians and asking for the bill to Brazil and the Olympic Games and simulations of day-to-day dialogues and situations.
You will find one of the most complete beginner courses on Livemocha. The course is divided into different units and covers grammar as well as listening, speaking, writing and reading comprehension. You are given the opportunity to interact with native Brazilians who correct your exercises and can give you helpful tips.
Brazilian Congress being washed by rain. Architecture by Oscar Niemeyer.
Livemocha also has its own native Brazilian tutors who can teach you Brazilian Portuguese in live lessons via Skype. Learning with a real native tutor in live lessons is the most effective way available on the market to learn a foreign language. If you take lessons with natives on a regular basis you come closest to a situation you would be in if you were in the country itself. However, you have to make sure to speak as much Brazilian Portuguese as possible with the tutor. Some tutors who know English become lazy and explain too many things in English which will only slow down your progress. Kindly remind your tutor of the importance of speaking as much Brazilian Portuguese as possible.
Verbalplanet is another great service provider of language courses. The website is unique in many ways. You can choose the tutor based on the price, the origin, additional spoken languages as well as experience and qualifications. The websites also offers you to try before you buy. Before booking regular lessons with the tutor of your choice, you can book a free lesson. VerbalPlanet also considers that people live in different time zones, which is why tutors can be found in different countries of the world.
Foto interna da fortaleza dos Reis Magos - Natal
TV and Radio
Listening to Brazilian radio and watching Brazilian TV is a must when attempting to become fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. It is essential that you get used to the sound of Brazilian Portuguese spoken by native speakers. Obviously, native speakers speak faster and with a better intonation than you will at the beginning. The first couple of weeks, it might be frustrating but you will see that if you listen to Brazilian Portuguese regularly, you will find yourself understanding more and more words and even whole sentences. Persistence and regularity is the key to improving your comprehension skills, so make sure to listen to the radio and/or watch TV at least once per day. Surfmusic is a great website which features radios from every region of Brazil including Amazonas, Espirito Santo, Mato Grosso, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paolo. Wwitv provides the links of many Brazilian TV channels. You can choose the channel from your preferred region or practice listening to different Brazilian accents by watching more than one channel. Another TV channel ist called Cancaonova.
Brazil is famous for its Telenovelas. You can watch the episodes of one of the best Telenovela that is currently being broadcasted on TVG as well as a number of other telenovelas, soaps and reality shows.
Satellite image of mouths of Amazon River in Brazil, with Marajó Island in the center, and the cities (in red) of Macapá (left) and Belém (right).
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10 More Useful Tips on How to Become Fluent in Brazilian Portuguese
1. Practice all four primary language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
2. Study regularly and at least three times a week. The most efficient way to learn a language is if you study a little bit every day. This guarantees persistency and regularity which is the key to learning a language.
3. Look for high-quality resources that offer good material which focus on reading, writing, listening and speaking. I have the best online sources above.
4. Immerse yourself in the Brazilian culture. Listen to the radio, watch Brazilian TV and its famous telenovelas.
5. Repeat, repeat and repeat what you learned.
6. Listen to Brazilian native speakers as often as possible (watch Brazilian television and talk to your teacher).
7. Write Portuguese texts and correct them with your tutor.
8. Plan a trip to a Portuguese-speaking country and talk to the natives.
9. Make flash cards with useful phrases and vocabulary and take the flash cards to your office (you can spare 10 minutes of your working day to study vocabulary).
10. Talk to Brazilian Portuguese speakers on MyLanguageExchange: You can talk to people from all over the world and write emails with them or talk to them on Skype. They can teach you slang and colloquialism that you will not learn in a classical language course.