We all know the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic.
There are two things we know about these Rs: spelling is clearly not on the list for a reason and it’s incredibly important to know the three skills in order to succeed basically anywhere.
Luckily, math is the same in every language, so you don’t need to relearn that topic in Portuguese—although learning the numbers in Portuguese will definitely be helpful.
Writing goes hand-in-hand with reading. After all, you often need to read a word in order to know how it’s spelled.
That brings us to the first, and arguably most important R (also, the only one that actually starts with an R): Reading.
Reading is one of the first skills you’ll pick up when learning Portuguese because it contributes to the rest of your learning process.
Reading in Portuguese will help you remember words better because it’ll put them in context and help you visualize how they’re spelled.
But where do you find Portuguese reading material to hone your reading techniques? Online, of course!
Why Should I Learn Portuguese Reading Techniques?
Reading helps you on your travels.
If you’re learning Portuguese in order to travel abroad, you’ll need to get around somehow—and that means reading signs. You’ll want to understand what you’re looking at in museums, so you’ll have to read the little plaques next to the paintings.
You might not think you’re going to have to read a lot on your trip, but the little things add up. You’d be surprised at how often you find yourself reading when you’re immersed in a language!
It increases your vocabulary naturally.
Even if you don’t plan to travel, knowing how to read Portuguese will help you improve your language skills.
One benefit you’ll notice is that your vocabulary will increase through reading. If you’ve never heard or seen a word before, how are you supposed to know it exists? By exposing yourself to reading materials, you’ll also be naturally growing your database of known words.
For instance, do you know what “dactylion” means? It sounds like a mix between a pterodactyl and a lion but it’s actually the tip of the middle finger. It’s not a word you’re likely to hear in conversation, but if you come across it in your reading and look it up, you’ll be one word richer!
You get the point: When you start reading more Portuguese materials and learning Portuguese reading techniques (such as how to turn those unknown words into known words), then you also start to build your vocabulary.
It introduces you to authentic (not textbook) Portuguese.
As you know, the formal written language that you learn in a textbook doesn’t exactly reflect how people speak. A textbook can teach you the very basics of sentence structure but when you start speaking with people, you’ll notice that they don’t always follow the structures you learned.
That’s why reading can be beneficial. Online articles usually use formal sentence structures, but they’ll also include quotes from real people speaking casually.
Reading authentic Portuguese resources will expose you to the real way people speak the language.
You’ll learn phrases that people use on a regular basis.
And you might even be able to catch slang better than you would if you just hear it.
For example, a textbook might teach you that the English word “face” can be either rosto or cara in Portuguese. But then you might read something in Portuguese that says, “Aquele cara me roubou,“ and it might seem weird to you to say “that face robbed me”—and that’s how you learn that cara can also be used as a slang term to mean “guy” or “dude.”
You might not catch that if it were spoken out loud (since you’d get the gist of it, the individual words may not stand out to you), but it’s obvious when you’re reading.
By looking up vocabulary that sounds strange in a sentence, you’ll be able to not only understand what people are trying to communicate, but you’ll also get a glimpse into the culture of the language.
The 5-step Technique for Learning to Read Portuguese
If you only know 100 words, it’s probably going to seem daunting to start reading material in Portuguese. But actually, that’s a great time to start reading because you can use your reading to build your vocabulary.
But how can you make the most of your reading? By following these five steps to better Portuguese reading!
1. Just read.
The first Portuguese reading technique you need to learn is… well, to actually read.
It seems simple, but when you first start to read in Portuguese you might get frustrated and stop.
Even if you only understand a couple words in the sentence, keep reading. The exposure alone will help you become more familiar with the language.
And the more you read, the more you’ll get used to the letter combinations and words.
When you read, it helps to paint a picture in your mind, giving you context for the words you don’t know and helping you to remember them better. For instance, by associating the word “cara” with “guy” and imagining a guy robbing you, you make sure you’ll never forget what “cara” means.
2. Look up words you don’t know.
When you first start reading, you’ll probably find a lot of words you don’t know. That’s okay—that’s how you learn new words!
But you’re going to have to look up the words you don’t know to actually start learning them. Online Portuguese dictionaries can be great for this because they offer the translation, part of speech and example sentences, and some will even tell you the slang meaning of a word.
Better yet, check out the newly learned words in context with FluentU to get a better picture of native speakers really use them in conversation.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Use it to reinforce your reading.
A Portuguese FluentU program is currently in development. Check back soon for authentic, immersive learning!
3. Write down words in context.
Once you’ve looked up the words you don’t know, write them down along with their definition and the sentence you found them in. This will help you remember the word better, but also help get a feel for sentence structure and spelling.
Save this for later review.
4. Review your learning.
When you’ve finally made it to the end of your very first article, your brain’s bound to be exhausted. You’ll probably be sick of Portuguese and wonder why you just spent 20 minutes reading a three-minute article.
But when you’re ready to start learning again, review your newly compiled list of words. When you keep these words written down somewhere, you can remember to remember them.
Just seeing a new word once won’t usually stick it in your brain, so make sure to come back to new words again and again until you’ve filed them away in your long-term memory.
And once you’re ready for round two, read the article again. How much did you understand this time? If you’re still not understanding everything, repeat steps one through four. Then read the article again. And again! Until you’ve memorized every word it uses, untangled every sentence structure or are just sick of the article.
Then move on to the next!
5. Practice new words.
After you’ve reviewed your new words, practice using them. You can do this by saying them out loud and incorporating them into sentences, like “Cara, vem aqui” (Dude, come here).
You can also write down sentences using the words you learned.
Over time, the words you learned from reading articles online will help you grow your vocabulary and your understanding of language structure.
Learn Portuguese Reading Techniques with 10 Online Resources
Now that you have your reading technique in your belt, it’s time to apply it. Where do you start?
Portuguese news websites are the perfect places to find outline articles to practice your reading.
Since news is supposed to be accessible to the public, it’s written to be understood by people—so it’s a great place to start reading for clear sentence structure.
If you want to discuss politics or current events in Portuguese, the news has plenty of articles for learning the common words you’ll need to know.
News articles are also often accompanied by photos and videos that’ll help you associate the words with something memorable—perfect if you’re a visual learner.
Here are some news sites that have great articles you can use to learn Portuguese reading:
The topics covered here include cars, economy, sports, education, nature, music, politics and more—plenty of variety to start building your vocabulary list.
Articles are written at about an 8th-grade reading level, but some topics use even simpler language. For instance, articles about politics might trip you up with their jargon, but entertainment articles are more accessible since they use simpler and more common words.
This is a news site from Portugal that includes articles about the local cities, government, world events, culture and sports.
The downside for beginning readers is that these articles tend to have longer sentences and a more complicated sentence structure. But if you’re up for the challenge, or are a more seasoned reader, this online newspaper might be right for you.
This resource is a great one for seeing grammar in context. To practice understanding more complicated past tense constructions, such as how to use the past participle, check out the political articles on this Brazilian news site.
For more basic reading practice, read articles on the latest news, science and health, the economy, international news, politics and technology.
The articles are accompanied by plenty of photos and videos so you’re getting visual stimulation at every step of the way for more memorable learning.
The articles also include lots of great quotes from regular people that capture how native speakers actually use the language.
Finding Fun Portuguese Articles Online
While the news will give you a good start, you might not be interested in the topics news articles cover. To find online articles that you enjoy more, but that are still credible sources, try online magazines.
These articles will still go through an editing process—so that you know that the Portuguese you’re seeing is grammatically correct—but the topics are more varied so you’re more likely to find articles you can enjoy.
Magazine articles are also written in a more casual tone, so the sentence structure will be closer to how you’d actually talk.
Here are some online magazines you can use to learn Portuguese reading:
“AnaMaria” is a Brazilian magazine that could be compared to the American home and lifestyle magazines.
It includes articles on recipes, wellbeing, beauty and diet.
It’s written in a very casual and fun writing style. Reading the text will feel almost like someone from Brazil is talking to you!
For another casual reading option, “Maxima” offers a Portugal-style of writing.
Articles cover similar topics to “AnaMaria”—like beauty, wellbeing, world, celebrities and weddings—but using European Portuguese.
It’s an easy read with casual language and includes video content for when you want to take a break from reading and take your listening skills for a spin.
If you’re interested in learning about Portuguese celebrities, then “Nova Gente” will give you everything you need.
Just like any tabloid, the articles are quick and easy to read. They also have lots of photo galleries and videos to accompany their articles for tons of memorable context.
Finding Portuguese Blogs
If you’re learning Portuguese for conversational purposes, then you probably don’t have to worry about spotless grammar. Blogs are typically written in a colloquial language, which means they’re written how people speak.
Since blogs are personal, you’re also more likely to find slang and common expressions on blogs.
Here are some blogs that’ll help you learn Portuguese reading:
The articles cover everything lifestyle-related, from travel to health to book reviews.
The text is written in a very colloquial, Brazilian Portuguese but is also sophisticated in writing style. This is a great blog to read for learning spoken sentence structure that you’ll hear in Brazil.
Article topics include fashion and entertainment and have many eye-catching images and videos to help support your understanding.
Articles cover many topics (television, beauty, home, fashion, music, travel, social commentary and more!), and they’re written in a way that almost sounds like casual academic writing, if you can imagine such a thing.
This is a great website for intermediate Portuguese readers.
With the internet at hand, it’s easy to learn to read in Portuguese. It just takes some simple techniques and a whole bunch of practice.
Sooner than you realize, you’ll read a whole sentence without having to look up a single word. And that’s something to be proud of!
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