5 Signs Your Portuguese Is Improving

If you are learning Portuguese, it is very common for you to think: Is my Portuguese improving? This question may be even more important if you are learning on your own rather than with a teacher. A teacher can assess you and tell you if you are improving or not. But if you’re studying alone, that’s another story! So how can you know if your Portuguese is improving?

Learning a language is not like learning mathematics, or another more exact science, so it becomes more difficult to understand if what we are doing (or saying, or writing) makes sense and is “correct”.

In fact, it is even more difficult to define what is correct and what is not when it comes to learning a language. Okay, grammar has rules and can be more easily learned and tested. But knowing a language is not just knowing grammar.

There are many people who know grammar but then can’t have a conversation, while others don’t know grammar that well but can communicate easily when they speak, even if they make mistakes.

For me, and this is something I always say in my courses and also in other videos, making mistakes in a language when we are learning is good! This means that we are using the language and putting into practice what we have learned.

So, today’s first lesson is: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and use your Portuguese, however little it may be!

But, now back to that pertinent question: How can I know if I’m improving my Portuguese?

So, let’s see some things that may suggest you are improving, although sometimes you can’t feel it…

1. You know your Portuguese is getting better… when your Portuguese friends (and even strangers) tell you

One of the best ways to know that you are improving is if your friends and acquaintances tell you. And it will happen! If you start using your Portuguese more regularly, you will see that you will start to receive compliments.

And when that happens, most likely you will be very happy and even a little surprised.

I know this has happened to me a few times and I remember a few of those times to this day. For example, when I was participating in an exchange program in Denmark, a teacher said to me: “Wow, your English has improved a lot!”. She had been with me a few months or a year before, on another exchange, and that made me feel very happy.

So start listening to your friends, and believe them if they tell you they are getting better!

2. You know your Portuguese is improving… when you suddenly start to think in Portuguese more automatically

You know that feeling when you’re learning a language and you have to think about every word, every construction, every connection? That stutter and that hesitation when you want to say something?

Well, with practice, it all starts to fade away. In the beginning, there will be a struggle, and you will have to make a greater effort, I won’t lie, but gradually these difficulties will disappear. And without realizing it, you will start to have less difficulty in expressing yourself in Portuguese.

Suddenly, you won’t need to think twice before saying something, nor will you have to think about your language and translate it into Portuguese. When that happens, you know you are becoming fluent in Portuguese.

3. You know your Portuguese is advancing… when you’ll be able to understand when others speak to you in Portuguese, without great difficulty

I know that many of my students find it difficult to understand what is being said to them in Portuguese, even if they already have a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary. This is normal, especially if you have never tried to speak the language. It is therefore very important to start practicing the language from the very beginning – both speaking and listening – as this will go a long way toward helping you become fluent. However, I know that even speaking every day, or several times a week, understanding will be difficult at first.

There will be a moment in your journey through the Portuguese world, when you will start to understand what you are being told without too many problems. One day you will be able to have small conversations and not feel lost And after a while, even without realizing it, you will be able to talk about everything, without any difficulties.

By the way, be careful what courses or apps you use, because many of them just teach grammar or vocabulary, without demanding much more. This is a good start, but to really learn the language, you have to use it. To talk about the importance of using the language, and much more, I created a free one-hour class, where I will explain the 10 secrets to learning Portuguese effectively. Make sure to check it out after this blog post 🙂

4. You know your Portuguese is improving… when you are starting to understand some jokes in Portuguese

One of the hardest things to do when learning a language is to understand jokes. Yes, you may already know grammar, vocabulary, and more, but understanding jokes is another thing. So, if you’ve been learning Portuguese for a while, there will be a phase where it may seem like you’ve reached a platform from where it’s hard to move forward. However, pay close attention to the little everyday jokes. Can you already understand them? Or do your Portuguese friends laugh and you often don’t understand why?

If you are still at this stage of not understanding the reason for the laughter, don’t be discouraged, this is normal and with practice, it will improve! But if, suddenly, you start to see that you understand the jokes and that you are already laughing with your friends too, congratulations! Your Portuguese has just gone up to the next level.

5. You know your Portuguese is getting better… when you can now read more complex books

A good exercise to improve your language is to read books. I really have to do this to improve my German! But I know it can be difficult, especially when we’re just starting to learn a language. However, I can assure you that if you read, this will help you improve your Portuguese. My advice is to start with simple books, first for children, then for young adults, and then for adults, because this will help you with this process.

When you’ve been doing this exercise for a while, there will come a day when you can reflect on what you’ve read and what you’re reading now, and maybe you can see how far you’ve come. If you look at the books you started with and the ones you can read now, you will most likely see that you can now read much more complex books, with more difficult vocabulary and more advanced constructions. This means that your Portuguese is also more capable and you are more fluent. Congratulations!

If you still don’t see any of these signs that tell you that your Portuguese is improving, don’t despair!

First, there are several other signs that I could also have mentioned… sometimes it’s just little everyday things… a phrase we heard many times and suddenly made sense, a word we finally remembered… so much, so much to show you that your Portuguese is improving!

Another thing I wanted to tell you is that if one day you feel very good about your Portuguese, and the next day it seems like you forgot everything, that is also 100% normal when learning a language. That happened a lot to me with English and with German too, for example. And when I was taking my Master’s in Teaching Portuguese as a Second Language, I also realized that students went through these phases and that this is very normal!

So if today is not your day with Portuguese, try again tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day! Don’t get discouraged and keep going and don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you speak. This is normal and healthy and it is these mistakes that allow you to experiment with the language and, one day, probably master it and be fluent!

And if you need something to guide you and help you to reach a comfortable level of Portuguese, with the best methods and materials, check out my free one-hour class on the 10 secrets to learn Portuguese quickly and effectively and where I will also tell you about my most popular Portuguese online course, the All-In-One Portuguese Course. This course will help you a lot, so don’t hesitate and check the link.

If you need my help, I’m here to help you!

Beijinhos and see you in next article.

4 thoughts on “5 Signs Your Portuguese Is Improving

  1. That moment you realize that your Portuguese is getting better is for me when I realize that I don’t need to ask something twice or even three times to ask what someone said haha 🙂 Reading books is indeed a very nice way to learn a language, but how about listening to Portuguese music, would that help as well or look at Portuguese movies or series? thanks!

    1. Olá, Lizzy! 🙂

      Yes, that’s really true. It’s really nice when you realize you automatically understand something without even having to translate it first in your head. And yes 🙂 Listening to music can really help, especially if you follow along with the lyrics, and check the words you don’t know. This can build up your vocabulary, and it can also help you hearing the pronunciation of words. I hope this helps! 🙂



  2. Thank you for taking time to provide this information. It’s true that understanding when we are progressing in a language can be challenging. I do have a question though – how do you recommend balancing grammar study with practical conversation practice? Sometimes I feel like I focus too much on one and neglect the other. 

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks for the insightful article.

    1. Olá Ronald,

      You’re welcome 🙂 

      I think you should focus on speaking/ listening from the beginning of your language journey, so you should try to incorporate a little bit of both in your everyday life. Grammar should also be incorporated, but you shouldn’t solely focus your attention on it. However, if you are a more traditional learner, you might benefit a lot from explicit explanation of the grammar concepts – especially at first.

      So, it will really depend on which phase you are, and what kind of learner you are, but at the end, you should try to balance both, and spend a generous amount of time on both. After a while, when your Portuguese starts to be better, you will probably focus less and less on grammar and just use it without thinking, and then you should spend a big chunk of the time just perfecting your speech and listening skills 🙂

      I hope this helps!



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