Portuguese is a really cool language to learn but it’s not as popular as it’s sibling Spanish who seems to get most of the attention and more people wanting to learn it. And we think that is such a shame, because Portuguese is a beautiful language.
But for those who are considering learning Portuguese and want to learn a bit more about the language, then you can do so by reading our common questions about Portuguese.
What type of language is Portuguese?
Portuguese is a romantic language and it descends from Latin so it’s in the same language family as French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Catalan. (There are other romantic languages but these are the big ones).
How many people speak Portuguese?
Approximately 260 million people can speak Portuguese with around 220 million of these being native speakers.
Where is Portuguese an official language?
The following countries have Portuguese as an official language:
Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé e Príncipe
Macau also has Portuguese as an official language, but it’s not a country itself and rather a region of China.
Are Brazilian and European Portuguese different?
Yes Brazilian and European Portuguese are different but they’re still the same language. Meaning although the accents are different and some words are different, you should still be able to understand someone from Brazil if you speak Portuguese from Portugal.
Learn more about the different types of Portuguese here.
Can Spanish and Portuguese people understand each other?
In theory yes but not always.
If a Portuguese speaker talks slowly and clearly then a Spanish person might be able to understand them and vice versa, but this isn’t always the case.
The Portuguese accent seems to be harder to understand and Spanish speakers have a harder time understanding a Portuguese person. Where as Portuguese people can normally understand someone speaking Spanish.
Written down, Spanish and Portuguese speakers should be able to understand the majority of each other’s languages, with maybe a few words not being clear.
How long does it take to learn Portuguese?
This really depends on you and your commitment to learning Portuguese. Being a romantic language, Portuguese shouldn’t be too difficult for an English speaker to pick up, and if you already know a romantic language then it should be even easier.
If you study one hour a week then it’s going to take you years to learn Portuguese. But assuming you have the time to dedicate a few hours to it a day, or if you live in Portugal or immerse yourself in Portuguese movies and music then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be at a decent level of fluency within six months.
But please remember it really depends on the learner. If you’re not learning everyday and you can only dedicate an hour a day then it’s going to take you a lot longer than someone who is living in Portugal and speaking it all day everyday.
What is the official Portuguese language test?
CAPLE – Centre for Evaluation of Portuguese as a Foreign Language
It tests the four major skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing, and it is graded using the European framework system: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.
What free resources can I use to learn Portuguese?
Our favourite resource to get you started it Duolingo. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Duolingo, it’s a highly advanced interactive language learning app that takes you through modules in a fun way. Each module contains exercises to practise your reading, writing, listening and speaking.
As you work your way through the modules they get more and more difficult until you complete the Duolingo tree having covered material to make you comfortable with the Spanish you’ve learnt. Although it’s a great resource, alone it isn’t enough to learn Portuguese, you need to be speaking, reading and engaging with the language outside the app as well. But at the same time, it’s an amazing app.
Memrise is also a useful tool you can use. The thing that people sometimes prefer that Memrise has but Duolingo doesn’t is that you can pick modules that are useful specific to you, where as in Duolingo you have to follow the course as it’s laid out. However, anyone can contribute to memrise so you’re more likely to encounter a mistake.
Another great thing about Memrise is that you can choose which type of Portuguese you want to learn. So if you specifically want to learn European Portuguese you can choose this over Brazilian Portuguese.
What books can I use to learn Portuguese?
We would recommend either reading children’s books, a book that is really familiar to you like Harry Potter, or another thing to do would be to read graded readers.
Graded readers are books that have been written for a specific level. So if you’re a beginner you should be able to find books that have been written for beginner level. They’re useful because they use the vocabulary appropriate for your level but also having interesting stories at the same time.
Our favourite Portuguese graded reader would be:
First Portuguese Reader for Beginners which you can find on amazon.
What Textbooks Can I Use To Learn Portuguese?
There are lots of Portuguese textbooks available on the market and the one you choose will depend on your needs.
If you’re learning Portuguese generally you’ll need to pick a different textbook to if you’re thinking about taking a proficiency test in Portuguese so to check out what textbooks might suit your learning needs make sure you check out our recommendations of best Portuguese textbooks.
What films should I watch to learn Portuguese
We have an extensive list of the best films to watch to learn your Portuguese depending on which type of Portuguese you want to learn, you can check it out here.
Obviously if you’re deciding to learn Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese you might find that you will choose to watch different films to help you with that type of Portuguese.
But out top recommendation for Brazilian Portuguese would be City of God.
And our top recommendation for European Portuguese would be Capitães de Abril.
We hope you’ve found our common questions about Portuguese useful. If you have any other questions that we haven’t addressed here then please leave them in the comments below. We always want to help you as much as we can. Similarly if you have different answers to the ones we have given then let us know.
Hopefully some of these answers will have helped convince you that Portuguese might be the next language for you to learn but if you’re still undecided about Portuguese then check out our article here on why you should learn Portuguese.