8 Top Tips

for learning Portuguese as an expat

If you are planning on relocating to Portugal, then learning Portuguese is crucial, unless you want to live in an "expat bubble" and not integrate, or have no wish to understand anything about the society in which you are living.

Whilst tourist areas and more cosmopolitan towns and cities may have many English speakers to hand, small towns and villages will not.

Government offices and authorities will rarely deal with you in English, and if you attempt to write communications in English you may well get a terse reply telling you that the working language of Portugal is Portuguese!

It is no good waiting until you are living in Portugal to learn and hoping you will just pick it up. You won't! You should start learning many months before your permanent arrival and keep doing it after your relocation.

Here are 8 tips for making it easier to learn Portuguese?

1. There are many language books, tapes, CDs and courses out there. Some are better than others and some may suit some people better than others. Buying a few different courses and alternating them, whilst expensive, may help to keep things fresh and widen your vocabulary and grammar.

2. The key is little and often. 15 to 20 minutes a day is far better than an hour or two once or twice a week. You will retain a lot more and not find yourself getting bogged down. You are also more likely to make that amount of time available each day and not find excuses for doing something else.

3. If possible, try to find a private, native speaking teacher and either attend a class, or preferably one-to-one lessons, so that you can study at your own rate.

4. Study with a spouse, partner or friend for motivational purposes. If you both know there is a time set and that someone else is relying on you, you will be less likely to skip it and do something else.

5. Watch Portuguese TV and listen to Portuguese radio.
However awful some of the programmes might be, you will be amazed at how much sinks in after a while. Portuguese telenovelas (soap operas) are excellent for this. The language used is generally of the everyday type and you can usually easily follow the very simple plots and story lines.

6. Don't worry about making mistakes and being perfect. Just DO IT! You won't learn if you don't make mistakes. Think of how many mistakes you hear when foreigners are trying to learn to speak English. Do you make fun of them? No. In general most people are appreciative of others making the effort to learn their language. Plus, it can be real fun.

7. If someone replies to you in English, just keep speaking Portuguese, or if need be, ask them politely if they would mind not speaking to you in English.

8. If you have certain jobs or shopping to do the next day, or later the same day, do a bit of homework before you go out. Make a list of the verbs and vocabulary you might need and learn them and take the list with you for support. Many situations are quite similar, so once you've learnt a few stock phrases you can use them again and again.

By Gabriell Collison
The author of "NativePortugal: Buying Property in Portugal"

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