So you’ve decided that this is the year you’re going to learn Portuguese. Congratulations on that decision. Portuguese is a great language to learn and you’re going to have a lot of fun in the process.
Over the years since I started this website I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to a lot of people about their Portuguese plans. Talking to people at the beginning of their journey is a lot of fun because they’re excited about the possibilities that come with learning a new language. It’s even more rewarding when they come back a few months later and we have a conversation entirely in Portuguese.
I’d love nothing more than to be able to have a conversation with you one day in Portuguese. It’s my hope that you’ll stick with your commitment and put in the necessary time to be successful with Portuguese.
In order to help you be more successful with your Portuguese learning I’d like to give you a few pieces of advice. There are a few things that successful Portuguese learners have in common and by following in their footsteps you can ensure that you’re successful in your studies.
1. Subscribe to Semantica-Portuguese
Hands down the best course out there for learning Brazilian Portuguese is Semantica-Portuguese. There’s no other course that comes close to Semantica in terms of quality of instruction, cultural relevancy and value for money.
What makes Semantica unique is that it teaches Portuguese through a series of videos all filmed with Brazilian actors in Rio de Janeiro. The entertaining and engaging stories give you insights into Brazilian culture and life in Rio that you won’t get from any other course. You’ll want to keep studying because the stories are so engaging and fun to watch.
Every story comes with a pronunciation guide and cultural breakdown, so you won’t miss a single detail of what happens. You’ll learn things about Brazilian culture in this course that even Brazilians don’t know about their country. Don’t be surprised if people joke that you’re more Brazilian than them.
There are 3 different levels to Semantica, so you can use it over the coming months as you leave the beginner stage and enter into higher levels of fluency.
2. Take classes with a teacher on iTalki
If you want to see accelerated progress with your Portuguese it’s recommended that you take classes with a teacher. There are a number of places you can seek out an online Portuguese teacher, but for most people iTalki is the preferred place.
On iTalki you’ll find a number of different teachers from all over Brazil who are ready to jump on Skype at your convenience to help you out. If you’re going to a specific place in Brazil you’ll be able to take classes with a teacher from there who can help you to understand the local culture of that place.
Prices vary quite a bit on iTalki and are not always representative of the quality of instruction. Sometimes you’ll find really good teachers for $10 an hour because the exchange rate in 2016 is so low. I suggest you try out a few to see if you have good chemistry with one.
I’ve written a guide to finding a good teacher on Italki, which you can read here as well.
3. Make friends on HelloTalk
Now that you’re learning with Semantica and taking classes with a teacher on iTalki you’ve got a lot of structure to your learning. This is going to push you along in your learning and leave you with plenty to say to Brazilians. Now you just need some friends to talk to.
HelloTalk is a free app that you can download which helps you find Brazilians to do language exchanges with. A lot of Brazilians use the app to improve their English, so there are plenty of people to talk to.
What’s great about the app is that you can use it even before you speak much Portuguese. There is a built in translator in the app, so if you don’t know how to say something you can quickly look it up. This means that you can start talking to Brazilians today.
The great thing about this app is that you can use it to gain fluency in a specific sentence or phrase. You can study something that you want to learn how to say, practice it a few times out loud, then when you’re ready you can say it into the app to your new friend. They’ll be excited to hear you speak in Portuguese and will respond back with something new for you to learn.
The single best way to improve your Portuguese is to leave your comfort zone and speak before you’re ready. Download this app today and take the challenge to say, “Olá” to a Brazilian.
4. Start a blog
The best way to learn something is to teach it to others. As you are learning Portuguese you should be documenting your journey in a public place. This will be the ultimate test of whether you’ve really learned or if you’re just deluding yourself.
Some of the most successful language learners started blogs and saw rapid progress as a result. Blogging forces you to go deeper into your studies and encourages you to be more thoughtful about what you’re learning. You’ll start to see hidden connections that you didn’t see otherwise.
It’s also a lot of fun to start a blog and keep people in the loop about what’s going on in your life. People who are on a similar journey will see what you’re doing and reach out to you. Often times learning along can be lonely business, but with a blog you’ll build your own little support community. Highly recommended.
5. Book your flight to Brazil
The last and most obvious piece of advice is that you should just come to Brazil. Though many people have been successful in learning Portuguese without ever coming to Brazil, the best way to learn is to just surround yourself with the language.
There are many sites that often post cheap flight deals and you’ll be able to make it to Brazil on any budget. Or save up your airline miles and book an awards flight. In 2016 there is so much knowledge out there about travel hacking that not being able to afford a ticket isn’t a good excuse anymore.
Just come to Brazil now. There is no right or wrong time. You won’t regret having made the decision to come to Brazil. Quite the contrary, you’ll find that it’s the best decision you ever made.
So what are you waiting for? Make the commitment to your dreams and book that flight today.
Just be warned that you may not want to leave. It’s a story that I’ve heard thousands of times by now. For good reason too, Brazil is an endlessly fascinating and intoxicating place.
Part of the reason I started this website was to help people like you on your journey to Brazil. Brazil is filled with many challenges and it’s not always easy being a gringo here.
If this is your first time here, I encourage you to take a look around on the site and visit the archives to see what kind of resources we have here to help you with. You should also sign up to the mailing list using the link below to get free tips and updates about things that are of interest to foreigners in Brazil.
If you have any questions or comments, do feel free to leave a comment below. This helpful community is here to help you on your journey to Brazil.
Boa sorte aí!