How To Learn Portuguese

When I started learning Portuguese, I didn’t even know how to say “Good morning” (“Bom dia” in case you are wondering). After a year, I spoke fluently. My method for how to learn Portuguese and other languages came about after reading an article on the web about Stuart Raj Jay, a polyglot who speaks 15 languages and served as a language interpreter for the Miss Universe Pageant. Inspired by Stuart, I set out to create a plan to learn Portuguese fast, in time to be ready for my next trip to Brazil.

Stuart learns languages very quickly. He initially forgets the grammar and focuses on building up a HUGE vocabulary by memorizing A LOT of words and phrases. Only after mastering a good amount of vocabulary does he begin to work on the grammar. It makes sense because in most languages 5000 words make up 95% of daily speechI learned French, Spanish, and Portuguese at a pretty high level and always learn languages by starting out memorizing tons of words and phrases in the target language (something that Livemocha and conventional courses like Rosetta Stone don’t do). So, I’m telling you to forget the grammar initially and focus on memorizing a lot of words.

Inspired by Stuart’s work, I developed my own self-study program for learning Portuguese, tailored to my needs and also my busy work schedule (I don’t have all day to spend memorizing words, lol). Let me tell you my step-by-step program below.

Me in the Sambadrome in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Me in the Sambadrome in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

1. Months 1-3: Pimsleur (all levels)

  • Doing Pimsleur lessons is the way I start off on all the languages that I learn.
  • You need to get used to how the language sounds and also get the basic words an expressions under your belt.
  • Spend a few months doing Levels I, II, and III of Pimsleur. Once you are done with this, go to number 2 below.

2. Months 3-9: Byki and Anki

  • Byki (Before you know it) is my favorite flashcard program and an excellent tool to get a lot of vocabulary under your belt in as short a time period as possible.
  • When you finish Byki, use the free tool Anki to make your own flashcards. I made flashcards of 5480 of the most frequent words and phrases, which account for 95% of day-to-day spoken language. Drill these flashcards everyday using the Anki spaced repetition software program. Don’t skip a day!

3. Months 3-6: Foreign Service Institute Language Courses (Free!)

  • This is the course used by the American diplomats and foreign service workers before they were deployed overseas. It can be mindnumbingly boring at times, but it is highly effective to get the language to stick in your brain. They have a nice particular focus on pronunciation which I like.
  • Spend a few months going through the FSI Portuguese course at the same time that you are drilling the vocabulary from part 2 above.

4. Months 9-12: Brazilian Portuguese Podclass 

  • This is an excellent course…I mean excellent. You will find neatly organized mini courses of 10-15 minutes each grouped by topic and Portuguese level.
  • This podclass is a great way to practice speaking to build the muscles that you will need in order to speak the different sounds of Portuguese.
  • The course is free for a certain number of lessons then you can pay for more lessons.

That’s it! In as little as 12 months and after putting in hours of work, you will be really proficient and ready for a life in Brazil should you choose!

About Addison Sears-Collins

Hey! I'm Addison Sears-Collins, the founder of Visa Hunter. You can learn more about me here. Connect with me by liking my fan page on Facebook, connecting with me on Twitter, or check out my website Automatic Addison where I build robots and embedded systems. accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the accuracy of the information contained on this site. Please read the Visitor Agreement and Disclaimer. If you think there is an error in the information, please bring it to our attention so that we can correct it. Also, some of the links above could be affiliate links, which means that I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) should you decide to click on the links and make a purchase. I recommend sites from time to time, not because I get a tiny commission if you click on the links and make a purchase, but because, I want you to focus on the places that will deliver you the most value and the best results. Good luck!