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Portuguese language learning

Portuguese language learning

Old Jul 19th 2023, 10:28 am
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Default Portuguese language learning

How are people learning the language getting on? I'm acitively learning every day. At level 1, I can read Ok, I still can't 'hear' the language, the sentences I can read fairly easily are impossible for me to understand when I just listen. I have neighbours who come every few weeks for a few days to their holiday home.They are lovely and I try to speak to them and they try to speak to me - it's tricky. The more I learn, the less I know.

Last edited by bons; Jul 19th 2023 at 10:47 am.
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Old Jul 19th 2023, 12:55 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Originally Posted by bons
How are people learning the language getting on? I'm acitively learning every day. At level 1, I can read Ok, I still can't 'hear' the language, the sentences I can read fairly easily are impossible for me to understand when I just listen. I have neighbours who come every few weeks for a few days to their holiday home.They are lovely and I try to speak to them and they try to speak to me - it's tricky. The more I learn, the less I know.
I feel for you. Not the easiest language to learn but you will stand more of a chance if you are young and don't live in the Algarve where they always reply in English. The Algarvians also have the habit of swallowing the first syllable. I suggest, if you can afford it, go and have private lessons. Watch Portuguese TV starting off with the news. Don't bother with the duolingo app. as it is Brazilian Portuguese and the different pronunciation might confuse you. The best online course is practiceportuguese.com they have small video clips which are free. If you live in the Algarve visit charity shops where occasionally you can pick up language material for a few Euros. Start thinking in Portuguese and if you are at home speak to yourself.
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Old Jul 19th 2023, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Originally Posted by bons
How are people learning the language getting on? I'm acitively learning every day. At level 1, I can read Ok, I still can't 'hear' the language, the sentences I can read fairly easily are impossible for me to understand when I just listen. I have neighbours who come every few weeks for a few days to their holiday home.They are lovely and I try to speak to them and they try to speak to me - it's tricky. The more I learn, the less I know.
The "problem" with Portuguese is that is an stress-timed language and not every syllable is spoken, so it can appear to be spoken differently to the way it is written. The "swallowing" of syllables is not confined to the Algarve, it is a national characteristic.... see only the way in which "Estou" is normally pronounced "Schtoe", but "Toe" when used to answer the telephone..... Equally endings are regularly dropped in the same way as in English.

However, there are subtle differences in the way letter combinations and diphthongs are pronounced in Portuguese.... and the changes caused by their positioning...... puxe being poosh, xadrez being shadrezz, etc., let alone the "specials", such as the c with a cedilla, or the a with a tilde, etc.. all I can suggest is that however a word, phrase or sentence "sounds" in your head when you read it is actually incorrect.... as it is obviously not the way it is spoken in normal conversation, so you need practice in speaking (and hearing) the language... and all the grammar in the world won't help you there.

Whilst there are regional variations in Portuguese, these appear to be far less pronounced than those in English - often it is more the phrases used or slight inflections that change, rather than the gross differences between Geordie or Bristolian etc. After over 30 years contact with Portugal and the Portuguese, I still find it difficult to pinpoint where most people come from (the Alentejo is an exception!) - whereas SWMBO, a Lisboeta, can immediately identify someone as being from Porto, or the Algarve or "the north", etc. (I try, sometimes, but usually fail). At the same time, not every Portuguese speaks the language well (ditto for the English) - my neighbour, an almost toothless, 92 year-old Alentejano who has never moved out of the area, was a particular challenge and had me worried, until a friend from Lisbon said that he also found it hard to understand him!

Once your ear is attuned to the differences, you'll find it easier..... but there's no real "key". Try listening to the many youtube videos from Talk the Streets - YouTube or Portuguese With Leo - YouTube or sign up with https://www.practiceportuguese.com/ (although this no longer has a free trial or non-subscription access). All of them are for European Portuguese and avoid the "issue" of Brazilian, which not only has different vocab and some grammar, but is also spoken as a syllable-timed language, often with "odd" pronunciation (like "apacheech" for apetite, etc.) Best of all, hook up with someone who doesn't speak English and practice!

Good luck.
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Old Jul 20th 2023, 3:19 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

I was told many years ago that you should learn the alphabet first ... and how true that is.
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Old Jul 21st 2023, 7:05 am
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Originally Posted by bons
How are people learning the language getting on? I'm acitively learning every day. At level 1, I can read Ok, I still can't 'hear' the language, the sentences I can read fairly easily are impossible for me to understand when I just listen. I have neighbours who come every few weeks for a few days to their holiday home.They are lovely and I try to speak to them and they try to speak to me - it's tricky. The more I learn, the less I know.
Hi from the France forum!
When my daughter was working in Cabo Verde, I had the urge to be able to speak to the locals when visiting. I made the mistake of using Babbel, which teaches Brazilian Portuguese, useless when later visiting Lisbon and the Algarve, and, in any case, whenever I tried out short sentences, everyone replied in English!
With French and Latin behind me, the vocab was easy enough and the grammar manageable, but the pronunciation?..... Needless to say, I more or less gave up when trips to Portuguese-speaking countries became few and far between....
As suggested, watch Portuguese TV with sub-titles for the hard of hearing, to hear and read at the same time, and find some one who doesn't want to improve their English while you're trying to learn Portuguese!
Boa sorte!
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Old Jul 27th 2023, 10:17 am
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.

Keep going, its the only way.

I am fluent in terms of I think, talk and listen in PT, but I dont speak 'well' (mind you, neither do I in English, being from Essex), its taken 26 years of banging my head against a brick wall, and I'm still not able to understand everything (more and more I understand that that's also because there is more than just language differences, e.g the need to ask for confirmation 3 times after every statement from the other person, a propensity to talk and not listen, 'different' rules of logic, always including an equivalent but different word from the one used in the original question, etc etc)

My advice is to go and get a job so that you are working with the Portuguese all day

Then learning the language will be the least of your worries
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Old Jul 27th 2023, 2:21 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Originally Posted by Midgo
The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.

Keep going, its the only way.

I am fluent in terms of I think, talk and listen in PT, but I dont speak 'well' (mind you, neither do I in English, being from Essex), its taken 26 years of banging my head against a brick wall, and I'm still not able to understand everything (more and more I understand that that's also because there is more than just language differences, e.g the need to ask for confirmation 3 times after every statement from the other person, a propensity to talk and not listen, 'different' rules of logic, always including an equivalent but different word from the one used in the original question, etc etc)

My advice is to go and get a job so that you are working with the Portuguese all day

Then learning the language will be the least of your worries
You forgot about the 5-fold ending for any phonecall, terminating with an apology......

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Old Jul 28th 2023, 1:00 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

I too have struggled for years with spoken Portuguese.
The problem seems to be with recognising words that I already know.
Of the courses I tried, the method used by Pimsleur appears to be the best for
improving listening skills.
However, there is a limited number of lessons.
I tried listening to tv news over a long period, but any improvement was negligible
compared to the time and effort. The banner descriptions at the bottom of the screen
were useful for improving vocabulary though.
I've just started a new strategy based on the ideas of extensive listening, and using
appropriate level material.
I will look for simple dialogues a few minutes in length, and play each of these a
number of times over a couple of days.
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Old Jul 29th 2023, 12:08 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

I'm doing a course recommended by someone on here. It's a good course with a lot to learn. I'm srtuggling with verb conjugations now and I'm trying to build up my vocabulary. Oh, and I'm struggling with isso and esse etc. Basically, I'm struggling. Others have learned the language, so will I - I think!
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Old Aug 3rd 2023, 5:07 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Having had to learn a few languages, my take for what it's worth on what works....

1. Get in a class where the teacher doesn't speak English. If your teacher speaks English during class, forget learning portuguese. Every question you have, you'll ask in English, and they'll reply in English. You'll learn a lot *about* Portuguese, but you'll never speak Portuguese. You need to train your brain to listen to Portuguese, and to be able to put questions and sentences together. And if you're free to do this in English, you'll not be training your brain to do this in Portuguese. It's supposed to be a struggle, that's how you get better.

2. Don't make excuses not to speak in shops, restaurants, etc.. "They speak English better than my Portuguese", "I'll definitely speak Portuguese next time, I just need to get a bit better". If they speak English back at you, try to speak Portuguese back at them.

3. Watch TV and listen to the radio.

4. If your partner is Portuguese or a luso speaker, try to force them to speak Portuguese to you, and only speak Portuguese to them. That has been hardest thing for me, getting my mrs to stick to it, even when my Portuguese sucked very badly. But have to persevere.

People make excuses about being too old, or not being smart enough. But as a guy pointed out to me years ago when I first started learning Chinese, it can't be that hard a language if everyone in China can speak it. Even the stupid people, and kids. Even the stupidest kids. Age is no barrier either if you approach it right. Try to be like kids - don't be shy about making mistakes, don't be offended when people correct you or don't understand you, don't worry too much about grammar etc. just speak and over time try to speak more like the people you're talking to.

You see those people who get arrested in their 50s or 60s smuggling drugs in Thailand, go to jail, and they're fluent in Thai in six months. Because they have no choice, they cannot fall back on English, and they need to eat and get other things, so they need to find out how to ask.

So in short, my top tips - get a mistress who doesn't speak English or get yourself banged up in prison for a few months.

Last edited by captainflack; Aug 3rd 2023 at 5:09 pm.
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Old Aug 4th 2023, 8:27 am
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Yeh I might forget that last sentence, 1 I'm female 2. Weird I know, but I do not want to go to prison. Also my husband is English and I sat in a class for late beginners to see if I could cope with it, the tutor spoke mostly in Portuguese and I had no clue what he was saying.

I'm fine on the course I'm doing, my aim is to get to the end of A1 so I can start the intermediate course in October. I have a long way to go yet.
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Old Aug 4th 2023, 10:42 am
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Why don't you start with watching a tv series? I am currently learning Spanish and it is not that bad. Watch it with the subtitles. My niece told me to watch series actually. It's a long shot so
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Old Aug 4th 2023, 11:09 am
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Originally Posted by monilay01
Why don't you start with watching a tv series? I am currently learning Spanish and it is not that bad. Watch it with the subtitles. My niece told me to watch series actually. It's a long shot so
I do listen to radio a bit and try to watch tv. I'll try a series I don't know my way around Potuguese TV that well
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Old Aug 4th 2023, 11:12 am
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

Yes , I think we've all tried that .Been here on /off for 40 years and still can't understand a word they say!! Have had a go at Spanish too and do find that easier.(if they speak at my normal speed). Portuguese,however is another thing entirely. Cutting off end of words,nasal sounds ..it's all there. AND my OH is PT. He won't speak with me cos( HE SAYS) he's been away so long that he's forgotten it too and sometimes speaks in English without thinking when he's in conversation outside....... I also know French and with my bits of Spanish and German everything tends to be splattered with a bit of those as well. We don't live in a town so don't get to try speaking so often,but at least I'm in a place where English is very rarely spoken so I do have to have a go or I'd be in a pickle.
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Old Aug 4th 2023, 1:12 pm
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Default Re: Portuguese language learning

After I finished university I met a Brasileira, started a relationship, I never spoke Portuguese before. I wanted to learn so we always tried to practice, but it was only until I went to Brazil, spent 3 months living there, and ONLY hearing Portuguese, and ONLY talking it back, that it started to stick in my mind. I became pretty fluent in listening and speaking.

I tried the books etc for grammar but it was mainly in one ear out the other. So as others have said, best way is to surround yourself by people only talking Portuguese and only talk back to them in Portuguese, no English whatsoever!
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