Last month I announced my intention to reduce my accent when speaking Portuguese and sound more like a Brazilian.
I made a video both in English and Portuguese talking about what I’ve learned this last month, how I’ve improved and whats going to happen going forward.
Progress Since the Last Update
When I first started this challenge I had the vague intention of getting a Brazilian accent. I wanted to improve my pronunciation to the point where people think I’m Brazilian. They wouldn’t know where in Brazil I’m from, but they’d think I’m Brazilian.
I’ve been pretty successful so far in this regard. Normally when I talk to people, when people ask me where I’m from they’re surprised to hear that I’m American. My accent has gotten good enough to where many times people will think that I’m Brazilian, maybe not from Brazil but from somewhere in Brazil.
What I’ve decided to do is to focus on improving my accent to make it sound like I’m from Belo Horizonte so that people will stop asking where I’m from.
How I’ve Been Studying to Reducing My Accent
The resource I’ve been using to reduce my accent is the Mimic Method. With this program I’ve been training the individual sounds that make up the Brazilian language. I’ve been training my mouth to be able to authentically reproduce those individual sounds, that way when I go to speak a word I’m constructing them in a way thats more like how a Brazilian would.
This process is kind of slow, but its effective. The words we speak are just compilations of sounds. In order to properly pronounce a word we have to be able to produce the individual sounds that make up that word.
Another benefit I’ve gotten from working with this program is that its given me greater awareness of what I’m saying. When I speak I am thinking a lot more about the sounds that are coming out of my mouth. When something comes out of my mouth I have a greater ability to measure that against what it should sound like.
Having this awareness of sounds is also helping me when I hear other Brazilians talk. When they speak I can pick out the nuances of what they say and have greater awareness of all of the little things that make up their accent. This has been useful when trying to speak more like someone from BH as I’m able to pick out the things that make Mineiro Portuguese different from Paulistano or Carioca Portuguese.
For the past month this has been a focus of mine to improve my pronunciation and my Portuguese, but it hasn’t been an obsession. I’ve been spending maybe a half hour to an hour every day, sometimes not even that.
How A Public Mission Accelerates Growth
Another thing that’s useful about this mission is that my friends who have seen my videos and follow my blog are keeping me honest. They haven’t been letting me get away with making errors as much and are offering me constructive feedback. Thank you for everyone who is doing this.
If you’re trying to improve your Portuguese, going public with your intention and doing a mission like this can help speed up your progress. If you get your friends involved and enlist their support you will find it much easier to progress.
How Fluency Varies Throughout the Day
One thing that’s interesting to note is how my performance fluctuates throughout the day. When I speak Portuguese with Brazilians its not a constant performance. I can’t always speak my best Portuguese.
In order for me to speak well I have to be in a good state of mind. Ideally I’ve already practiced Portuguese that day, or I’ve done something that day that makes me feel accomplished and feeling good about myself. My ability to speak Portuguese well really depends on my mood. If I’m having a good day I’ll speak good Portuguese, but if I’m going through a tough moment then my performance will decline and people will realize I’m not a Brazilian.
My performance also varies depending on the person that I’m talking to. With some people I feel more at ease talking to them and my best Portuguese just comes out naturally. With other people I feel less comfortable around them, or I feel like they’re judging me, then its more difficult to speak well.
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but if it has I’d like to hear about it in the comments down below.
Gradual Progress is the Goal
Lastly I’d like to say that, although I’m trying to improve my Portuguese to a high level, I’m not trying to be perfect. Perfection is never going to happen. I’m also going to make some kind of mistake. It takes a lot of energy to speak perfectly always.
This is more of a journey rather than a destination. I don’t think I’ll ever arrive at the destination of being able to speak perfectly fluent, unaccented, grammatically correct Portuguese with an impressive vocabulary every time that I speak. I don’t think that this type of perfection is attainable. Moving in that direction is a good goal to have and as long as I’m continually improving then I am happy.
I don’t beat myself up if I make mistakes. I value my mistakes as they show me how I can improve. I take my mistakes as guidance for how I can improve and make my time better spent.
If you’re trying to learn a language I think this is a healthy approach to take. Don’t try to be perfect. Just do the best you can and always be moving in the direction of improvement, but don’t get too obsessed about the final goal.
Take the 30 Day Portuguese Challenge
If you’re a beginner and you want to improve your Portuguese, sign up using the link down below to get 30 days of Portuguese tips. Every day I’ll send you an email that contains a word of the day, a song of the day, a resource of the day and a guide to using the Semantica video series.
These emails will help you not only learn Portuguese but are also designed to make your transition to Brazil a lot smoother. If you’re serious about learning Portuguese and want to get started today, then sign up to start receiving these emails.
Other than that, I’ll check back in here in a month to update my progress on this mission and to share any cool things I’ve learned.