Best Way to Learn European Portuguese

Best way to learn European Portuguese

What’s the best way to learn European Portuguese?

The best way to learn european portuguese is by listening to yourself. I know, it sounds really “cheesy” and a little transcendent to say this, but this is really the way to go not only with European Portuguese, but also with any other language.

Let me try to explain myself better. Every person is different, right? Some people like sugar in their coffee, some people don’t. Some people even don’t like coffee at all. Some people like to sleep on their side, some people prefer being on their back and that will be the best way they will sleep. Sure, they can “train” themselves to sleep in another way, but there is always one way that will make them sleep better.

Well, but you might be now thinking “What does coffee or sleeping have to do with the best way to learn European Portuguese??”. Well, I just mean that people are different, so I always tell my students that they have to listen to themselves and to what their preferences are. If it worked for them while learning other languages, it will probably work for them with European Portuguese too.

Let me give you some examples of the kind of students that I have come across with (and I do not prefer one kind or the other, I really think any of the ways you pursue to learn a language is good if it serves the purpose you want):

The Best Way to Learn European Portuguese


#The traditional learners – These are the people that will have to sit down and get heads on on grammar and vocabulary and everything else that comes on a language book before they can start speaking the language.

It will take them generally more time to start speaking, but they will already understand you after a while, if you write them a note and they will be able to read European Portuguese in no time.

I like to call these people the “shy, perfectionist type”. I, myself have a bit of this in me, so this is in no way a criticism. It is just the way it is. We are all different.

Interested in European Portuguese books for studying? Check out my favorites here.

#The “backwards” learners – These students are normally more extrovert than the ones above, and they will like to learn the language “backwards” (therefore the name). What I mean by this is that they normally really prefer to learn as they go, not worrying much about learning the grammar and vocabulary before they start practising their speech.

They will make some mistakes, some will make a lot of mistakes, but they will still learn the language at their own pace and they will never stop speaking it when they need to. No mistake will make them stop.

It is kind of like when we are learning our first language, and it is actually getting pretty trendy to learn languages in this “less traditional” way. This kind of learning is especially good if you are living in Portugal or if you have a community in the area where you live of European Portuguese speakers.

Check out the Mimic Method – a new learning approach to master any language

#The mixed type learners – These learners will tend to have a little bit of the two type of learners above. Sure, they like to have some ground rules about grammar fixed in their heads, but they will also try and go out and speak the language, anyway they can.

I normally recommend this type of learning to students who live in a non-European Portuguese country, as they won’t have probably so much time and opportunity to practice only the speech part. On the other hand, I recommend that they have some grammar, vocabulary, listening and practicing speech classes, so that they can really apply it later when they have more opportunities to speak in a “real life” context.

Practice your Portuguese online on iTalki

So, as I said, these are, in my opinion, the three types of characters we can find in people who are trying to learn a language. As I previously said, there is no right or wrong kind of learner, you just have to do what you think suits you best.

However, I do have some tips I would like to give you if you are trying to learn this intriguing and fascinating language.

The Best Way to learn European Portuguese



Ok, what do I mean by this? I just want to tell you that even if you are Learner type #1, you should make a little bit of an effort to start getting in contact with the language and to start practicing a little bit. I have many students that tell me that after following a grammar course online (which is normally Brazilian making it even worse since Brazilian Portuguese has a complete different accent) and they paid a visit to Portugal, they felt really frustrated because they couldn’t understand a word the people were saying.

We, the Portuguese, have a tendency to “eat” words, so the sooner you get in contact with the language by listening and speaking it, the better. Remember, even if you aren’t perfect, Portuguese people will appreciate that you are making the effort to speak the language. We are a small country, we feel really glad to see people appreciate our culture.

Get a glimpse of European Portuguese Words Pronunciation


Many studies (Genesee, 1987; Johnson & Swain, 1997; Swain & Lapkin, 1982, amongst others) have found throughout the years that if people are immersed in the language and the culture attached to it, they will learn it faster in general. Many of these studies are  concentrated in immersion of learners of an L2 (the second language you are learning) in a classroom ( students only heard and spoke in the target language in the classroom, i.e., if they were learning French they only were allowed to speak and listen French while in the classroom).

This has been proven very successful in many cases and me and many other teachers I know, are mostly using this technique, so when we are giving language classes we try to speak in the target language as much as we can.

Then, if in the classroom (which is NOT a real-life context situation) this has been proven successful, imagine what it is like if you are really “obliged” to use the language in your everyday life. That’s what happens if you live in the foreign country of the language you want to learn for a while, or if you join communities that use your target language, in this case European Portuguese, as their main way of communicating.

This is ALWAYS the best option.

Of course, if you are the shy type, it might be that you won’t speak for the first times…but don’t demotivate yourself. Know that your brain is learning no matter what you might think. Besides it is a great way to improve its plasticity, so it will always be a win-win situation.

So “real-life” situations are the best, but if you can’t afford this because you have no European Portuguese community near you or because you can’t come to Portugal, just try to have conversations with people (maybe a teacher or someone you know that might know the language) and try to immerse yourself as much as you can in the language.


Practice gratitude. Meditate. Eat healthy. Sleep plenty. This will already boost your motivation. But if you want to motivate yourself concerning the language learning do exactly that and write a diary on your progress.

Write post-its and stick them on your walls with new vocabulary you have learnt the day before and only take it down when you already know what it means (more about this and other techniques in a future post).

And remember… ALWAYS. BE. GRATEFUL.. because when we learn a language, we are opening our horizons, we are getting closer as human beings and there is nothing better than this.

Hope this helps you in your journey. No matter what, the journey is what is important 😉

If you have any questions, thoughts or you just want to say “hi” (in European Portuguese), just leave a comment below.

Thank you and see you soon!




Do you want to learn more about the basics of European Portuguese? Common language courses are too expensive and you are looking for structured and high-quality lectures? I offer you 8,5h of online lectures in my European Portuguese Language Course.

European Portuguese Language Course

Study at your own pace, pause, rewind and watch it again as many times as you want. No risk – try it out for 30 days and if you are not happy with the course you will get your money back, no questions asked.

28 Comments to “Best way to learn European Portuguese”

  1. Hi Mia,
    great work with your website. I think a lot of people trying to learn European Portuguese, but there is just not a lot of good material out there (most is Brazilian Portuguese). I am curious about your work and would be happy if you keep me updated about new material and courses.
    Best regards,

    1. Hi Dominik! Thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate it that you took time to come and visit my webpage. I am really excited about letting people know all the beautiful things my language has to offer.

      Thank you again!

      1. Olá! Estou pronta para começar as aulas online. Vamos começar…

        1. Olá!
          Então, podes ver o meu curso online aqui:

          I now have A1, A2 and a bundle of A1+ A2 with 15% off 😀

          I hope you enjoy it!

  2. I’m your typical backwards learner when it comes to languages. Learn best speaking with others. The grammar I work on later, and as I’m a stickler for grammar, If I don’t get it learning the traditional way, I abandon that for other media, such as watching television with subtitles, and listening to audio books while reading.

    Thanks for sharing, very fascinating!

    1. Hi Jacquie! Thank you so much for your comment. Being a “backwards learning” is actually a very common trait in people. Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common for people to approach learning in this kind of way. I find it quite interesting, to be hones,t since it resembles the way we learn our first language much more (as we learn by listening and imitating sounds that others make until we eventually speak ourselves)!

      Once again, thank you for your comment and I hope you will come back to my webpage now and then! Lots of success and beijinhos,


      1. Hi Mia,
        I am just wondering why there are two similar words for kisses:

        beijinhos and beijos

        Dee (from Australia)

        1. Hey Dee!
          Thank you for your question.
          Beijos is the actual word, which means “kisses”. “Beijinhos” is the diminutive of “Beijos”. We use diminutives adding a “inho/inha” to the end of words. We do this to give it a cuter or sweeter connotation, in the case of “beijinhos”. Sometimes it can also give other types of connotations. Just to give you an example, if you add a “inho” to the word “homem”, you will end up with “homenzinho” (in this case you also add the letter “z” before, due to pronunciation issues), and you will be imprinting a bit of a negative connotation to the word.
          To sum up, normally these diminutive particles are used to make words sound cuter or nicer, like in the case of “beijinhos”. However, sometimes they can have other functions.
          I hope this helps!


  3. I’m your typical backwards learner when it comes to languages. Learn best speaking with others. The grammar I work on later, and as I’m a stickler for grammar, If I don’t get it learning the traditional way, I abandon that for other media, such as watching television with subtitles, and listening to audio books while reading.

    Thanks for sharing, very fascinating!

  4. Hi, Mia!

    I’m enjoying your website and learning about Portuguese. My former in-laws lived on the coast of Massachusetts near a Portuguese community. To hear the women there speak sounded like music to me. I’m amazed at your brilliance for languages. I don’t have that gift and I’m actually very self-conscious and reserved when it comes to speaking.


    1. Hi Gary!
      Thank you for your nice comment. I am glad you are enjoying my website and learning about Portuguese. I try my best to keep people interested in this beautiful language and I appreciate it that you enjoy my writing. Some people do say that Portuguese sounds like music, so I can imagine you have felt this way (although some other people have also told me it sounds really rough aha). About you being self-conscious, don’t worry. You are not alone. Just think that it doesn’t matter if you are perfect at a language. What matters is that you are able to communicate your message and people will be glad if they see you are making an effort to speak their native language. At least that´s my experience.
      Please do keep coming back to see my updates. Who knows? Maybe you will be interested in learning after a while. I will be sure to try and help you achieve that =)
      Thank you again so much and lots of success to you,

  5. Hi Mia, thank you again for this website.

    It has me excited to think, that with your help, I might, after four-and -a -half years, breakdown the barriers that I have set up for myself.

    I shall keep you appraised of my progress.

    Thanks again,


    1. Hey Tom!
      Thank you so much for your comment! I hope that you do find my blog posts/ pages and materials useful to you! I will also give a review soon with some pages I believe might help you learning the language faster, besides my own, of course! Just keep in touch ::D
      Lots of success!

  6. Ola Mia

    I just came across your website and i’m finding it really interesting!!
    Your blog is really good to clarify and summarise important things like pronunciation and useful sentences. I also enjoyed both this section – ‘best way to learn Portuguese’ – and the section on European vs. Brazilian Portuguese.
    Thank you for your very clear and succinct website. It’s making learning E. Portuguese much easier!

    Saudinha 🙂


  7. Hello Mia
    Wonderful website. I have always been interested in learning different languages but time did not allow me or may be I was afraid of failing. I know 4 languages and may be someday I will add a fifth one too as your website draws me to learn this language. When I read about the types of learners, I think I fall into the traditional learner lol though I don’t like calling myself one. I am shy to speak in a language before I know the grammar and the pronunciation well. Thank you for sharing.


    1. There is nothing to be ashamed of for being a “traditional” kind of learner. I consider myself as being one too…at least in certain things! As long as it works for you, that is what matters!
      Please come back more often so that you can check the new posts and material I will be adding.
      Thank you so much for your kind comment.

  8. Hello Mia,
    really pleased that someone Portuguese has decided to help us. Been living in Olhão for many years and happily converse with the locals in my basic Portuguese, but as a child of Porto I expect you to smile at my predicament ! Algarvian Portuguese, espesially the Olhanense version, is a little different and for business purposes I want to become slightly more polite so looking forward to exploring you work.

    Abracos; Rory.

    1. Ahah! Hey Rory, nice to hear from you. I am glad you are enjoying my website and that I might be able to help you out. I know Algarvian Portuguese is not exactly usual, but I really enjoy all and every accent there is in Portugal. It just makes the country and language richer. But true, sometimes for work you might want to know a bit more “careful” Portuguese (we say Português cuidado – therefore “careful” Portuguese). I am looking forward to seeing you around more often. I will be adding more materials and blog posts quite often, so please do come and visit.
      Thank you very much for your nice comment and see you around!

  9. Hi Mia! I am married to a man of Portuguese origin and we are planning our first trip to his native country soon. I am thinking of buying your A1 and A2 courses online. Will it give me a chance to have access to “all” your other materials here, including the section on culture? And how often do you update that information?
    P.S. I find your website fascinating, and I especially love your information on culture!

    1. Hi Irina!
      Welcome to my page and thank you for your questions and contact!
      I am glad you are thinking of buying my courses. I have been having good feedback so I guess you will enjoy it.
      The other materials I have online are totally free and you can check them and download them whenever and wherever you want and need. So whether you buy the courses or not, these materials are always fully available. I am also constantly updating the materials, more a less every week I add something new. In the culture part I should be adding something too soon, but some of my blog posts are also about culture, so make sure to check them out.
      That being said, in my course I do cover many of the materials that I have for free in my website, only with more detail and explanations. The course consists of videos where I explain many different things about the language – pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary. I have a lot of listening and reading comprehension, lots of exercises and also quizzes to test your knowledge. This course also allows you to download it and watch it however you want and as many times as you wish. You can go back to listen to it again, to consolidate concepts and make sure you understand the topics given. Besides, I am also available to answer any questions you might have! At the end of the courses you should have a basic level of Portuguese that will allow you to understand basic concepts and conversations (level A1 and A2).
      I hope that this answers your questions and I hope that if you decide to purchase the courses, that you enjoy your journey 😀
      Most of all, do not forget to have fun while learning!
      Thank you very much!

  10. Hi Mia! I’m a big fan of your work, your video about funny word puns really made me laugh a lot!
    No cagaste tudo! haha

    I would really like to ask you about the “EUROPEAN PORTUGUESE PEOPLE SPEAK WITH THEIR MOUTHS PRETTY CLOSED” part…

    I’m Irish and I live in Povoa de Varzim, and although I have a really high level in Portugese from Brazil, I find it very hard to have a fluid communication with locals here, I have no problem doing 99% of things, but I’m going to make Portugal my home and I have a burning desire to integrate and make more friends with locals but I feel a bit frustrated when chatting to someone in a bar and I’m kinda struggling to really understand.

    I was wondering would you ever consider making a speaking course based on these “reductions” in spoken speech?

    I am an online English teacher myself with online courses, one of my most successful courses teaches these reductions.
    I mean when English natives speak quickly a simple phrase like ‘ what do you mean?” can sound like “whadyamean?”
    or more complex structures like ” I would have done it ” can become ” I would’a done it ”

    Do you think there is anyway to map out these spoken reductions for continental Portuguese?


    1. Olá Terry!
      Muito obrigada pelo teu comentário e pelo teu feedback.
      Yes, I do understand your frustration about the European Portuguese pronunciation..believe me! We “eat” the vowels a lot…it is really frustrating for Portuguese learners.
      About the course..that is a really good idea and I am thinking of doing something like that! I just have to make a good compilation of all the most used reductions in Portuguese.
      Here in Porto, especially, we tend to have lots of them. For example, something like “Viva o Porto” becomes “Bibó Porto” (that means something like “long live Porto” or “hooray Porto” ah ah…). Also, we switch the “v’s” for the “b’s”…so it makes everything more complicated.
      But don’t worry, these things are not only happening to you. Many of my students go through the same. I hope I can help you get to the other side =)
      Stay tuned for new courses and keep in touch!

  11. Ola Mia!
    Eu Sou a Faysal I am from Pakistan soon I’ll be traveling to Portugal and wanted to learn the language but can not find any particular teachers with good and easy methods. After researching your website and youtube video I found you a great teacher who can let me learn a great deal so I am thinking of buying your A1 & A2 level online course.
    Muito Obrigado for being out there for us with your great teaching experience.
    I have never spoken of Portuguese before in my life but I learned these Portuguese words just watching your videos and website.

    1. Olá Faysal!
      I am so glad you like my website. Thank you so much for your feedback.
      I try my best to bring the best content and to make it in a way that is nice for everybody.
      If you have any questions about my course, feel free to ask. I have been getting a lot of positive feedback, so I guess you might enjoy it too. I hope so =)
      You are welcome, no need to thank me. De nada 😉 I am glad I can help you!
      Do not forget to have fun while learning Portuguese and to enjoy the journey.
      Keep in touch!

  12. I really appreciated your comment on Brazilian Portuguese. I use Duolingo because it’s free. I assumed that there were minor differences in pronunciation but I could learn the words and grammar first, and then learn the correct pronunciation later. It turns out that pronunciation is quite a bit different for many words and Brazilians don’t always use the same words.

    My wife was born in the Azores, met her sister for the first time last September—they didn’t know about each other until last June. Fortunately, her sister is fluent in English so they were able to communicate but we both want to learn to speak her native language. It’s tough; I’m 63, she is 60 and neither of us ever learned a second language (all USA citizens should be taught other languages at an early age so we can be bilingual). Your site is a great resource, thank you.

    1. Olá!
      Thank you very much for your comment and interest in my website. I am glad you are enjoying the journey through Portuguese =)
      I think it is better to learn the European Portuguese variant right from the beginning because then it might be very difficult to shift..
      Feel free to explore my free resources, as well as my 100% online course, which may be something for you and your wife.
      By the way, the Azores are amazing! But they do have one of the hardest accents to understand (even for me, from continental Portugal..but it depends where from the Azores she is)!
      That being said..I really think that if you put work in, you will be able to learn Portuguese, do not give up, even if it is hard =)
      I am leaving here the link to my course, take a look if you are interested:
      Have fun learning Portuguese!

  13. Hi Mia,

    How is your course structured to allow the student to listen and speak? It’s difficult to tell from the promo video how much speaking the student will be able to do during the course.



    1. Hey Thomas!
      I apologize for taking a bit long to answer, but I was on holidays and not always connected =)
      My course is structured into different lectures, all of which explore all of the competences that students need to develop when learning a language – speaking, listening, comprehension, etc.
      Since my course is 100% online, the way I explore speaking and listening is by repetition and with some specific exercises. For example, I read texts, ask students to try and answer them without reading the texts themselves and then they have to compare their answers with the answers I give. I also ask the students to try and make half conversations with me, after hearing me saying and repeating certain expressions, dialogs, etc. I have several different ways of exercising these competences, and at the end of each lecture I focus a lot on the pronunciation, because it is one of the most difficult things in Portuguese, according to my experience with my students.
      I hope this answers your question!
      Kind regards,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *