How to Learn to Speak Portuguese

Cristo Redentor
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Learn Portuguese quickly and easily with activities that are focused on vocabulary expansion, simple conjugations and pronunciation. Once you feel confident practicing the basics, these activities can be expanded and adapted to increase your fluency.

Things You'll Need

  • Flash cards
  • Verb conjugation flip chart
  • Markers

Many Portuguese words do not look or sound very different from English words because they both have Latin roots. Expand Portuguese vocabulary using flash-card memorization, worksheets with simple sentences and pictures substituted for some words, and repetition. For example, the teacher may say a sentence in English and then repeat it in Portuguese, with emphasis on the vocabulary words. Students should then repeat the sentence and be able to identify the vocabulary words. When using flash cards, beginning learners often benefit from words that can be classified together in groups, such as foods, activities, locations and days of the week. If the words have a common use, it's easier to categorize and learn them. Emphasis should be placed on the masculine and feminine words and learning how to differentiate by word endings.

Repeat several regular verbs in the "eu" (I), "tu" (you--singular), "elle" (he)/"ella" (she), "nois" (we) and "vois" (you--plural) forms. Practice using each personal pronoun and conjugate the verb five times.

It can be very fast and effective to have students create flip charts with the verb on one side and its conjugated forms on the other. This makes it easier to switch back and forth between the verb and its conjugations.

Pronunciation exercises work best when there is an audio recording of a native speaker, or if a native speaker is present. This person models (and if possible listens for) the correct pronunciation. Pronounce verb sounds as well as sounds that occur only in Portuguese (such as the "ao" in Sao Paulo). Have a native speaker model the correct sound and then listen to the students practicing. Many people record themselves and listen to their speech after listening to a native speaker, then compare the two.

Spend time with native speakers. This is the easiest way to learn any language. Portuguese speakers (whether from Brazil or Portugal) are usually enthusiastic when someone wants to practice the language because it's not as widely spoken as Spanish or English. Practice listening and speaking Portuguese with native speakers and don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Keep a journal in Portuguese. When you begin, the journal may have a few expressions and words among mostly English thoughts and ideas. However, in a short period of time you will begin to see the Portuguese take over. When you begin writing in complete Portuguese sentences, you will have started to think in Portuguese. That is one of the biggest steps toward fluency.

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