Top 10 Portuguese hacks
Well, it takes time, effort and motivation to master a language; more importantly, it's down to how you study and a positive mindset! Here, we have 10 tailored tricks for people who are learning Portuguese or are thinking about starting their Portuguese lessons.
Remember, there's no shortcut to mastering any language. So in addition to these 10 hacks, practice, practice, and practice. The more you practice, the more confident you'll feel about your progress; and the more confident you are, the more invested--and therefore, better--you will be!
Hack #1: Start with Sounds
The answer is simple: sounds. Learning how to hear, pronounce and recognize written Portuguese sounds is a great place to get started even before you begin memorizing words and their meanings.
Unlike English, most Portuguese words are pronounced just like they're written. So, it's always a good idea to learn how to pronounce Portuguese sounds before memorizing vocabulary and studying grammar. In order to do that, you're going to need to learn the Portuguese alphabet.
The Portuguese alphabet is not as impossible to learn as you might think. It has many letters that you already know! And in fact, some words you will be able to read and understand without using Google translation!
Have a look at some letters here:
Portuguese letters Pronounced as in English
Can you recognize these words?
Hack #2: Learn on the Go
A great way to do this is by taking advantage of American academic and polyglot Alexander Arguelles' Shadowing Technique.
Check out this video for a sample of how this shadowing technique is done with a foreign language (in this case, it's Chinese) :
If you feel shy or embarrassed to do this in public, find a road or path where you can speak Portuguese loudly and proudly without many other people around you.
2. Maintain a perfectly upright posture.
According to Arguelles, maintaining a good posture contributes to this method's efficacy.
3. Articulate well and in a loud, clear voice.
This is very important in order to effectively learn the rhythm, structure and sound of the language.
This may feel silly at first, but the results will amaze you. By speaking out loud as soon as you hear Portuguese sounds, you're developing a sense of how the language is structured and sounds, even if you don't understand everything that's being said.
Don't worry if you can't catch and repeat everything. As you improve, you'll gradually begin developing the accent and rhythm of Portuguese. You'll also understand more and more words as your studies progress.
Some other great tricks for learning Portuguese on the go include taking advantage of your morning subway or bus commute by studying flashcards or listening to Portuguese audio in the car.
Make learning Portuguese a part of your life, and you'll be amazed how much time you have to study when you learn on the go.
Hack #3: Learn the Practical Words First
The minimum number of words for a Portuguese beginner is 780. In order to achieve Level 1, which is equivalent to the Key English Test, you need to learn about 1 300 words.
So what does that mean for you as a Portuguese learner?
By learning the practical words first, you can cut your work load by a half. You'll be able to communicate faster and with significantly less effort.
Here are some of the most common Portuguese words to get you started... (Note that we recommend the Chrome browser for full voice recognition functionality).
Hack #4: Take advantage of what you already know
The words "Emotion" and "Restaurant", for example, have the exact same meaning in Portuguese as their English equivalents. They're just pronounced a little differently and are spelled with the Portuguese alphabet, of course. These cognates can make your language learning much easier and faster. Take advantage of them!
Here's a handy list of Portuguese words that you already know:
Hack #5: Hooked on Mnemonics
That's where mnemonics come in. Basically, mnemonics involves telling yourself a fun, goofy or memorable story, song or rhyme that you associate with a particular word.
For example, let's say you want to memorise the colour word rosa (hosa) which means "pink". You can imagine a rose flower.
And remember, if you have trouble memorising a word, phrase, or grammatical rule, you can always invent your own mnemonic device.
Hack#6: Keep a Portuguese Vocabulary Notebook and Flashcards
Not only does keeping a vocabulary journal help you to organize all of your new words and phrases, but the very process of writing down a word and its translation, notes, image or mnemonic device helps you to memorize it.
Learners who keep vocabulary notebooks tend to recall vocabulary much faster and progress more quickly in their learning.
This notebook can also be transformed into study-friendly flashcards by using flashcard generating programs like Anki for your phone or computer. You can use your Anki flashcards on your phone to learn on the go when you're on the bus, walking to work or simply waiting in line at the grocery store.
Your Portuguese notebook and flashcards are a fantastic future reference for studying. They can be used anywhere and anytime you have a few free minutes.
Hack #7: Find the patterns
These high number of inflections can be used to your advantage!
Initially, when you start learning a Portuguese word you might not realise that it could have lots of "relatives", i.e. related words which all have the same root. And, different inflections will create different meanings. By recognising these inflections you'll be able to understand new Portuguese words, even those you haven't seen before. This quickly boosts your vocabulary.
Let's have a look at some families of words:
o frio (noun - the cold)
frio (adjective - cold )
refrigerador (noun - fridge - "device that makes cold")
esfriar (verb - to grow cold)
esfriando ( It's got colder.)
vocábulo (noun - a word)
vocabulário (noun- a dictionary)
dor (noun - pain)
doente (adj. - sick)
hospital (noun - a hospital)
hospitalizado (verb - to be ill)
escrito (noun - a letter)
escrevendo (adj. - writing/ written)
escrita (noun - written language)
escrever (verb - to write)
escritor (noun - a writer)
Hack #8: The Scriptorium Technique
- Read a sentence out loud.
- Say each word aloud again as you write it.
- Read the sentence aloud as you have written it.
Hack #9: Read, Watch, Listen
Hack #10: Interact...Without Needing to Travel
- Speak with a friend, family member or neighbor in person
- Write a letter or email to a friend, family member, co-worker, or yourself
- Visit a local store or neighborhood where Portuguese is spoken and interact with the locals
- Join a weekly or monthly Portuguese conversation group...or start your own group!
- Speak online with a friend, family member, co-worker, or fellow language learner (Skype is great for this)
- Contribute to a blog or forum in your target language
- Sing along with music in your target language
- Watch a movie, series, documentary or video and repeat the character's lines
- Read a passage from a book, newspaper, or magazine out loud
- Talk to yourself in your target language (this really works!)