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.

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#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.

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#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? Language courses are too expensive and you are looking for small, but compact lectures? I offer you 1h online lectures for as little as $7!


Study at your own pace, pause, rewind and watch it again as many times as you want. If you still are not happy with the course you have a 30-day-return-policy.

16 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!

  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!

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