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Learn Portuguese Online With Lingq

Updated on June 29, 2011


I have been learning European Portuguese since 2005 and after trying several different methods of learning alone including Linkword, teach yourself, the FSI Portuguese Program and others, I finally stumbled upon

The History of Lingq

Lingq and the Lingq method were devised by Steve Kaufmann. Until the age of 10, Steve only spoke English, even though he lived in Canada, was learning French at school and was born in Sweden.

Steve discovered that the traditional methods of language learning such as those taught in schools didn't work for him so he set out to discover a method that would suit him. Fast forward many years later and Steve now speaks 9 languages fluently (including Chinese and Korean!) and is currently working on his 10th - Russian. Even more inspiring is that aside from French, Steve learned all of his languages after the age of 25 on his own, without having to live in the target language country. I found this hugely motivating as so often people say you can't learn a language when you are older or without moving abroad.

Of course I would love to live in Portugal and use the beautiful language every day but this is not possible at this point in time. It is my goal for the future. But it is entirely possible for me to learn to speak the language even though I currently live in the UK.

The Lingq Method

The Lingq method is really not that complicated and is based on how we learn language as a child.  Firstly we hear the language spoken, a lot! We then start to mimic the adults around us. We start  to connect words with actions, meanings and concepts. Our caregiver's read to us and we start to  see the structure of the language. We try out these structures and sometimes get them wrong

"Mummy I didded it" is a classic child's mistake.

Somehow we know that adding 'ed' to a verb often makes  it a past tense but what we haven't learned yet is the odd exception to the rule. But we don't  really sit with our noses in a grammar book learning our verbs like language lessons at school.  We learn by listening and absorbing.

The more we are exposed to the language, the more we read, the more we listen, the more we try;  eventually the language makes sense. We discover that even when we don't know all the words, we can pick up the general meaning. Eventually we become fluent in our language.

Joining Lingq

Lingq offers a platform to immerse yourself in Portuguese. I should also mention here that Lingq covers other languages - English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Swedish.

Lingq offer various levels of membership from Free to $79 a month. I initially worked with the free option and then upgraded to the $10 a month option. This covers all my needs adequately and is a small price to pay for the excellent resources. You can upgrade, downgrade or cancel your membership at any time.

When you first sign up, you are asked which language you want to learn. Once you have chosen your language and current level (there is an option to start right from a beginner with no knowledge), you are then taken to your profile where you can see you initial goals.

Setting Targets

One of the great things about Lingq is that you are given targets to work towards. Nothing will happen if you don't meet your target, the world will not fall apart, you won't be publicly humiliated. It's just a way of seeing how well you are doing and to motivate you to work harder.

Once you know your goals you can then set about achieving them.

The following are the targets for the beginner level:-

Known words 10000
Lingqs created (these are the words you add to your flashcards) 2200
Linqs learned 1200
Hours of listening 126
Words of reading 50000
Words of writing 2700
Hours of Speaking 12

The Lingq Library

Lingq holds a large library of Portuguese material. The first step is to choose a lesson to work with. Note that you can search by accent. This is important because Lingq contains material in both European and Brazilian accents. Make sure you choose the accent you wish to learn.

Each lesson in the library is marked with a level so that you can pick something suitable for you and will show you how many new words are present. There is a huge variety of material at all different levels from user added content to lectures, podcasts, recordings from Portuguese Radio and so far 18 Chapters of Steve's own book which charts his journey through language learning. This is a gold mine in itself. Hopefully the rest of the book in Portuguese will follow soon.

Normally you will be given the text and a mp3 of a native speaker reading the text. Note that the speakers speak at their normal speed! It WILL probably all sound like a jumble at the beginning. Relax.You will understand in time!

Once you click to open the text the lesson is added to your library.

You learn by listening repeatedly to the lessons and by reading the accompanying transcript. In the transcript you can highlight words you don't understand and these will be added to your flashcard library.


Flashcards are a well known method of language learning. Lingq uses them to great effect. They work with the Leitner system of spaced repetition. What this means in practice is that Lingq will email you whenever you have created a new list of words. A few days later it will email you again so you can test yourself. Then they email you again but this time they leave it a little longer to give the memorised words time to go into your long term memory.

Over time as you gradually remember the words in your vocabulary, Lingq will mark them as learned and your 'words I know' score will go up. You can by the way, place this score card on your website or on Facebook to show off your growing language ability :-)

If at a later date you forget a word that you previously knew by coming across it in a lesson, the Lingq system will add it back into the words you are learning on your flashcard list.

Speaking and Writing Portuguese

Speaking is of course important but not emphasized in the Lingq system initially. This is so that you can really absorb and understand the language before you start to speak. This helps to stop you making simple mistakes repeatedly.

Tutors are available on Lingq that you can speak to via Skype. These sessions are paid for separately in a points system. $10 buys you 1000 points and can be used to speak one to one with a tutor (500 points for 15 minutes), A Group discussion with 3 other people and the tutor (500 points) or for writing correction (333 points for 100 words).

You can test your written comprehension by writing about anything you wish in Portuguese and sending it to a tutor for marking.

The Best Way to Use Lingq

I have spent a great deal of time reading Portuguese and building up my vocabulary but last year I realised that I wasn't listening enough. When you listen everyday, your ears stay tuned to the language and you will really be surprised by how much you start to understand. There is nothing like the feeling I had the other day when I was listening to a Madredeus song I've had for ages and realising I understood a whole verse without any translating going on in my head! These are the moments you strive for in language learning.

So listen, listen, listen. Download the Lingq library MP3's to your ipod and listen on the way to work, listen while you wash up, listen at any and every opportunity. Steve Kaufmann is setting a target this year to listen to 1000 hours of Russian and set up a challenge for those who want to join him in the 1000 hour challenge! This averages around 2.5 hours a day.

Daily use is definately advised. Even if you can only manage a few flashcards or a quick read through of a lesson in your library, this will keep your interest and motivation high and your mind atuned to the process.

Making New Friends

Lingq has a popular forum for asking question about language learning and also for if you have any problems at all with the site or your account. In my experience, problems have always been  swiftly sorted.

You can also add friends to your profile and connect with people who are learning Portuguese. I regularly receive friend requests from Portuguese speakers who are wanting to learn English. By connecting this way you can test your own skills and help someone else at the same time. If you both have Skype you can attempt a conversation with each other.


Having spent time with Portuguese friends recently, I know how far I have come by how much I can understand. I still fumble for words sometimes but my accent is good and my comprehension better. I understand written Portuguese quite well, even having the confidence to read a novel. Occasionally when Portuguese customers call my place of work or email in, I can speak to them or write to them without fear of making really bad mistakes. Of course occasionally I still make a mistake or get a little tongue tied but I can clearly see how I can improve.

And that's the wonder of Lingq. You can learn Portuguese and Lingq will help you get there. I started Lingq just as I started a year long GCSE course in England and I am proud to say I got a grade A in my course. I firmly believe that Lingq helped me to reach my top grade and it continues to help me learn every day. I know without doubt that as long as I continue to listen, read and speak that fluency will come.


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    Post Comment
    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 

      7 years ago from United States

      I plan to go to Brazil to train and compete in the future, so this was definitely interesting. It gave me another possibility in my pursuit of fluency.

    • Leah Whitehorse profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Whitehorse 

      8 years ago

      Hi Rob

      Thanks. It really is a fantastic way to learn. It's never too late :-)

    • Rob Hanlon profile image

      Rob Hanlon 

      8 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

      Very useful Hub indeed. Learning another language isn't easy at School, let alone when one has been out of education for some time, this look's an ideal way to learn.


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