Learning Portuguese as a Spanish speaker

Spanish and Portuguese have the same Latin origin and as a result both their vocabularies and their grammars are very, very similar. They say it is easier for Portuguese speakers to understand and speak Spanish than it is for Spanish speakers to follow Portuguese. This may well be true but, in any case, both speakers are at a great advantage when learning each other’s language, compared to learning a language, for example, that has a completely different root to your own. If you are thinking of learning Portuguese as a Spanish speaker, then there are a few things to bear in mind.

I started learning Portuguese from a reasonably high level thanks to being a Spanish native speaker. I also had a very immediate need to learn the language – and fast. I was travelling to Angola for work and knew that, with sufficient preparation and support, my learning curve would shoot up due to the full­ immersion .

Thankfully, I had a large source of materials available to help me improve my understanding of Portuguese from the very beginning. With assistance of a dictionary (I found it very useful to have a dictionary app on my phone!) I soon felt comfortable reading texts online or listening to the radio and the TV in Portuguese.

However, being a Spanish speaker and learning Portuguese it is not all advantages – there are a few catches! The temptation is to simply use the Spanish word-order in the construction of phrases and to drop in Spanish words with a slight Portuguese accent. In my experience, I would rely heavily on trial­ and­ error as I tried to figure out which Spanish words I could use and which I could not when speaking to locals. I did, however, notice that many people are just too polite to correct your mistakes and I sometimes only realised much later that I had been using a particular word wrongly for a long time!

Half way through my stay I started listening to the Portuguese language podcasts I had downloaded before my trip. Taking the time to understand the grammar points which are different to Spanish and making a note of which words are “false friends” made the language click. I was then able to understand much better how I ought to be constructing phrases and which words I ought to use.

Learning Portuguese: Recommendations

I would like to recommend a set of podcasts and accompanying downloadable texts which I found particularly useful and very enjoyable to listen to as a Spanish speaker learning Portuguese. They are developed at the University of Texas especially for Spanish speakers:

Tá Falado – Brazilian Portuguese for Spanish speakers by the University of Texas
For more information see:

http://www.coerll.utexas.edu/brazilpod/tafalado/

(Direct link to the podcast)

Portuguese Dictionary Apps

Portuguese English Translator (Android App)

Portuguese Verbs (Android App)