Learning Portuguese Online

Traveling to Brazil soon? Don't know a word of Portuguese?

Don't panic!

Although English is not particularly widely spoken in Brazil, especially outside of tourist areas and major cities, Brazilians are known for being very helpful and welcoming to outsiders and doing their best to overcome language barriers. Nevertheless, as with any international travel, your experience will be enhanced by taking the effort to learn some of the local language.

A great way to start is with videos to learn some basic vocabulary and phrases that will come in handy.

Let's begin with greetings.

Don't forget that greetings involve more than words - yes, there could be air-kisses involved!

President Obama and Brazil's President Rousseff

Greeting customs will vary based on gender, region, social situation, and the personal preferences of who you meet, but here's a nice general guide. Remember to go left first!

So now, you've already made a positive first impression by greeting others Brazilian-style. Let's continue with the good manners! You're bound to want to thank the person who brings you a cold beer or apologize when you inevitably step on someone's foot in a crowded bus.

Using the phrases in the video above will open the door to further communication with Brazilians, which in turn will mean learning more Portuguese! Have an open mind and don't be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help.

While in Brazil, it is likely that you will need to say the names of different places, like restaurants, streets, neighborhoods and cities or order from menus. Learning a bit about the sounds of Portuguese can make reading these words less of a guessing-game and you will be more easily understood. Pronunciation varies greatly within Brazil, but the dialect taught in this video is widely understood.

You may have been thrown for a loop by another unfamiliar characteristic of Portuguese writing - that wavy line above some vowels. This nasalizes the vowel. What exactly is a nasalized vowel? Plug your nose and practice making these sounds!

Like others before you, you may fall in love with Portuguese and want to continue your language-learning journey. Here are some online resources which can help.

More videos with useful phrases:

Other language learning sites - try exploring each one to see which best fits your learning style:

And remember, learning languages is FUN - so learn some slang before your trip! If you are open to communicating in Portuguese, you'll be sure to pick up more in Brazil - for better or for worse (I say, for better!)

Learning Portuguese won't just enable you to communicate with Brazilians - you can speak the language with over 246,000,000 people in the world! Check out the numbers in the map below. The countries in red have Portuguese as an official language, while those in yellow have  substantial numbers of speakers.

Boa sorte!

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