How to Improve Your Portuguese Speaking Skills in 8 Steps
Whatever is motivating you to improve your Portuguese speaking skills, there’s really only one way to do it: Just speak!
With a good strategy up your sleeve, you can make progress bit by bit and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Portuguese like a local.
All it takes is a few simple steps to get started.
- Key Things to Remember for Effectively Improving Portuguese Speaking Skills
- 8 Steps to Improve Your Portuguese Speaking Skills
- 1. Repeat the dialogues from your favorite native videos
- 2. Shadow your favorite podcasts
- 3. Play and repeat all new words several times
- 4. Prepare yourself in advance for a conversation
- 5. Sign up for an online language exchange
- 6. Get talking offline
- 7. Sing along to your favorite Portuguese tunes
- 8. Read out loud
Key Things to Remember for Effectively Improving Portuguese Speaking Skills
Before we offer some useful speaking practice tips, here are a few ground rules to follow:
- Know your goals. Think about the level you’re currently at, and identify the key things you’d like to improve on initially.
For example, if you’re a beginner, you could be working on pronunciation and the memorizing of key phrases. Intermediate-advanced Portuguese learners, on the other hand, might benefit from learning to create more complex sentences and improve conversation flow.
If it helps to keep you motivated, make a note of your goals and progress—you could use a notebook, a spreadsheet, a poster or whatever helps you visualize how far you’ve come.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Remember that errors are part of the learning process. The more you speak, the easier it’ll get to identify where you’re tripping up and correct errors on your own.
- Don’t be shy. It’s natural to feel a little timid—sometimes even embarrassed—to speak in a language that’s not yours. But don’t let that be a hindrance! If you need an initial confidence boost, practice by yourself at first before you put your speaking abilities to the test in front of real people.
- Ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask others to give you their opinion or advice. Whether you’re talking to a language tutor or a native speaking friend, knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you reflect on what you need to work on.
- Be consistent. You won’t improve unless you’re reviewing and repeating things to yourself on a regular basis.
- Every bit of practice counts. Aim to speak in Portuguese at least once a day. You can start with a few minutes of speaking to yourself first, then build up to longer periods of time talking both to yourself and others around you.
Now, on to the fun part: putting your spoken Portuguese to the test.
8 Steps to Improve Your Portuguese Speaking Skills
Here are some of the quickest and easiest ways to incorporate more speaking into your Portuguese study routine.
1. Repeat the dialogues from your favorite native videos
Authentic videos are some of the best ways to improve your Portuguese speaking skills. They allow you to hear Portuguese as it’s really used by native speakers and give you a better understanding of the cadence and sound of the spoken language.
Use content created by Portuguese speakers for Portuguese speakers to practice. Listen to and repeat each sentence, breaking it down word by word or aiming to imitate the overall sound and flow rather than individual words.
One way to find these kinds of videos is through YouTube, or you can find them through immersive language programs. For example, the FluentU program takes Brazilian Portuguese videos made for native speakers and adds interactive subtitles and transcripts that can give you more support while you repeat dialogues.
2. Shadow your favorite podcasts
Shadowing is the practice of repeating something at the same time as it’s spoken. Your goal is to be completely in sync with the audio you’re shadowing, matching pronunciation, speed, tone and pitch.
While you can certainly use the shadowing technique with videos on FluentU, YouTube or elsewhere, podcasts make ideal practice tools for this useful learning method. With a podcast, you’re able to focus completely on the sound of the words, without being distracted by visual cues.
Podcasts with transcripts make great shadowing tools, but you can also try transcribing a podcast (or part of one) for extra listening and writing practice.
Practice Portuguese and Really Learn Portuguese’s Brazilian Portuguese Podcast are two great options you can try. For even more options, check out a selection of Brazilian Portuguese podcasts.
Remember to play back and slow down passages in order to ensure you’re understanding and pronouncing things correctly.
3. Play and repeat all new words several times
Most Portuguese dictionary apps and translator apps these days have an audio playback function. So, any time you’re learning a new word and you look it up, make sure to also listen to its pronunciation and repeat it out loud a few times.
This will help you with memorization, language comprehension and pronunciation.
4. Prepare yourself in advance for a conversation
Nervous about speaking to someone? Identify some essential phrases and practice them ahead of time. This may include basic greetings, common sayings, slang words or anything else that can help you get the conversation flowing.
This technique will help you feel more at ease when you’re first starting out, will ensure that you focus your studies on information that’s actually useful and will help you learn how to use words in the right context.
5. Sign up for an online language exchange
The internet has made it so much easier for like-minded language lovers to connect with each other. Apps like italki and Tandem, for instance, offer their users the opportunity to chat with native speakers in any language you want to learn.
italki even allows you to get a Portuguese tutor if you have the budget and want to practice with someone who can help you pinpoint the specific aspects of your speech that you need to improve.
And you’re not just limited to these two resources: There’s a myriad of other language exchange options to check out!
6. Get talking offline
If you prefer some face-to-face interaction, look for language exchange meetups happening in your area. Meetup.com is a good source for this. You could also search local Facebook language exchange groups or scour any other language-learning social media channels to identify some helpful leads.
You could, for instance, post on local social media pages asking for language exchange recommendations, or even put out a call of interest so you can set up your own event.
7. Sing along to your favorite Portuguese tunes
Who doesn’t love a good singalong session? Whether you’re jamming to your favorite Portuguese language songs while driving to work, or you’re at home rocking out to some cool Brazilian samba tunes, this is a good way to add some oral practice to your daily routine.
Song lyrics can also be useful tools for learning and revising how colloquial terms are used in an everyday setting. Before you start trying to sing along, read the words to yourself a few times, look up any unfamiliar terms and try to pronounce each word individually.
Take it one step further: Once you’ve familiarized yourself with a few songs, try listening to Brazilian or Portuguese radio stations and see how well you can sing along without the lyrics.
8. Read out loud
Any written material works for this one: exercises, study questions and notes, bilingual books, magazines, news sites—whatever you have at your disposal. Your chosen sources will dictate how you approach your oral reading session:
- Books: Start with a few pages a day and then build up to reading a whole chapter at a time.
- News site or magazine: Try to read at least an article or feature a day.
- Study notes and exercises: Use your reading out loud as revision. Did you really understand those grammar rules? Do you get what’s being asked in the practice activities you’re about to do? Don’t forget to look up unfamiliar words, repeat them a few times and take note of how they’re used in context.
Each kind of reading material will expose you to a different style of Portuguese, from prim and proper newspaper articles to the slangy dialogue of a pop-fiction book and beyond.
The ball’s in your court now.
Play around with these study methods and try to come up with your own, using your strengths and weaknesses to guide your practice.
With a good routine and a variety of techniques and resources, you’ll improve your Portuguese speaking skills in no time!