Portuguese learners, it’s time to turn up the volume.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a keen learner of the Brazilian dialect or a curious student of the classic European renditions—music is bound to conduct you into fluency.
How, you ask? It’s actually quite simple.
So, without further ado, let’s hit play on this post.
A Jazzy Guide on How to Learn Portuguese by Listening to Music
First up, let’s take a closer look at how music can help the everyday language learner.
How Portuguese Songs Will Help You Become Fluent
A simple breakdown of the benefits of musical learning is all it takes to prove this point.
First of all, everyone knows music is catchy. But did it ever occur to you that this can be a great memorization tool? Whether it’s a song that’s stuck in your head or a line of lyrics that you’re learning, you’ll be adding to your existing knowledge base simply by paying attention to your chosen Portuguese-language tunes.
On that bright note, song lyrics can be instrumental (pun intended) in helping you contextualize all the vocabulary you’ve been learning. You’ll be seeing how colloquialisms, slang and everyday words come together to paint a picture, form a message and capture the story each song has to tell.
What makes things even better is that music is highly accessible. You can stream it online, boot up your favorite playlist on your car’s stereo or plug in some headphones to your smartphone to jam to some cool sounds on your daily commute. In many ways, music is present in every aspect of our lives.
And you know what? Singing is a fantastic way to get some pronunciation practice. Songs expose you to how words are meant to be enunciated, so joining in and belting it out will definitely get you closer to owning your native accent of choice.
Now that we’ve covered our basics, it’s time to set our learning metronomes to a four-beat medley.
4 Snazzy Tips That Will Resonate with Every Portuguese Learner
1. Find songs you truly enjoy listening to
Even the most eclectic musical souls are going to be turned off by songs they dislike. Which is why it’s crucial that you focus on finding music that you’ll look forward to playing over and over again.
Apps and sites like YouTube, Spotify and Pandora will definitely help you source some cool sounds. Jazz it up, get creative and see where different keywords can take you (even an English-language search is likely to get you some good hits).
Here are a few examples to get you inspired:
- Try these YouTube playlists from Brazil and Portugal. You’ll find many more like these just by searching for “músicas brasileiras” or “músicas portuguesas” on the website—pretty straightforward, right?
- If you’re a Spotify user, check out this Portuguese music compilation or this Brazilian alternative.
- Pandora listeners could take a look at (or have a listen to) this Brazilian music list or this Portuguese station.
Actually, you’re likely to find musical gems in places you’d least expect. For example, Reddit has proven to be a great resource for tracking down Brazilian and Portuguese music; if you’re ever stuck for ideas, just take a look through the r/somluso and r/brazilianmusic subreddits.
Feel like making a challenge out of it? Try plunging into a more advanced lyrical journey: tune into any online radio station from Brazil or Portugal and try to source some new chart-toppers from those live streams. Naturally, this approach is best suited for advanced speakers whose ears are already attuned to the native accent—a beginner might not yet be quite ready to catch song lyrics from this immersive process. But even if you’re a beginner, you can still enjoy some good tunes!
Not feeling too adventurous? Ease yourself into your musical feat by searching for songs in your favorite genres. For instance, if you’re a rock music fan, you could try searching for “rock brasileiro” or “rock português,” depending on which language variety you’re learning. Likewise, if you’re a rap/hip-hop fan, you search for “rap brasileiro/português”; if you’re more attuned to pop music, you could try “música pop brasilieira/portuguesa”; and if R&B is your jam, a search of “R&B brasileiro/português” could give you some interesting results.
When you’re ready to diversify your listening with traditional or localized genres, you can always check out some of our previous recommendations. We’ve got a nice list of Brazilian songs and various Lusophone hits for you to check out, as well as a nice overview of some famous Portuguese language singers.
2. Set up a system and learning routine for listening to Portuguese music
So you’ve compiled your ideal playlist—great! Now it’s time to put it to good use.
You’ll greatly benefit from tracking your progress right from the outset. Knowing how much you already understand and where your comprehension is lacking will not only help you identify how often you should practice, it’ll also let you know how far you’ve come just by listening to music.
The best way to keep a record of your achievements is to simply write things down. Grab a notebook, listen to each song a couple of times and jot down any familiar words that jump at you. It doesn’t need to be something extremely structured unless you’re the kind of person who needs to see things flowing in a logical manner. If you need something more organized, try dedicating a page for each song that you’re playing back. Then do the same at the later stages when you’re reassessing your vocab skills.
Every time you listen to a new song, identify any words that you’re already familiar with. That will also help you notice unfamiliar words that repeat a lot, which will help you focus your vocabulary learning efforts.
Once this step is completed, you’ll be ready to close in on the finer details of each song.
3. Track down those lyrics—and translate them!
Song lyrics will put your vocabulary into context. That’s why knowing exactly what is being sung and how the words are being presented in music is such an important part of your melodic learning journey.
Finding lyrics is relatively straightforward too. A Google search for “[song title] letras” is usually all you’ll need to hit the jackpot. Alternately, you could always try your luck on a lyrics site like Letras e Músicas Portuguesas Online (for popular songs from Portugal) or the site Letras (for Brazilian music and international songs).
Again, having something you physically go back to will come in handy. Print the lyrics out, or write them in your notebook—for the latter, make sure to leave enough space to note down your translation. Having an English translation side-by-side will ensure you’re getting the gist of the words you’ll soon be singing along to.
Don’t worry too much about getting your translation perfect. Simply look up any terms that need clarification, and take the time to analyze how they’re used in each song you’ve selected. Essentially, as long as you can generally understand what each verse is trying to convey, you’re all set for your final challenge.
4. Put your skills to the test
As you know, listening is only part of the equation.
In this final step, you’ll be relying on your vocal chops as well as your Portuguese comprehension.
It helps to break a song into manageable sections as you’re trying to get in tune with the lyrics. Try singing along to the first few verses a few times. Once you’re confident with that, move on to the chorus, then the next set of verses and finally the bridge. If you prefer, start with the chorus first—that’s the part that gets repeated the most, after all! There’s plenty of room to experiment at this stage, so feel free to play around with different approaches.
Want to turn things up a notch? Record yourself singing. Whether you go for a video or an audio recording, it all counts. This will enable you to identify whether you’re pronouncing things properly, or if you need to do more work to perfect your accent.
As you become more familiar with all the Portuguese language songs on your playlist, go ahead and test your skills against other educational apps and resources—that way, you’ll know how far along you are on your path to fluency.
Now you know how to jazz up your learning with some cool sounds. So gather up your hit list and make sure to practice until your abilities take you to the top of the charts!
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