Why Learning Brazilian Portuguese is Important
If you are an American and have ever traveled to the UK, or visa versa, then you understand that American English and British English can sometimes feel like completely different languages.
If you are an American and have ever traveled to Australia or New Zealand, then you understand that American English and Australian or New Zealander English can sometimes feel like completely different languages. Sure, you understood most of what you heard on your trip, but every once in a while you came across a phrase or word or pronunciation that you had no idea about the meaning of or misunderstood completely.
Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese have similar differences. If you are interested in learning Brazilian Portuguese, you need to understand that taking a Portuguese class may not be sufficient to truly learn and embrace the language as it is spoken in South America. When studying Brazilian Portuguese, you need to find an instructor or a course that specializes in this particular dialect if you wish to become a fluent conversational speaker.
The Portuguese settlers came to Brazil in the 16th century, bringing their language with them to the continent for the first time. Even though many people spoke Portuguese during these colonial times, it did not become the national language until nearly 200 years after the first settlers arrived. While the rest of South America embraced Spanish as its new language, Brazil was able to keep Portuguese as its native tongue.
However, English as well as Spanish-speaking countries surround Brazil, and these languages have had an impact on Portuguese over time, thus further contributing to the differences between the language spoken in Europe and the language spoken in Brazil. Also, the languages of the African slaves and the people who were native to South America when the Europeans first arrived had an influence.
In Brazil, the written Portuguese that is taught in the schools is actually quite similar grammatically to European Portuguese. Many school-age children are not studying Brazilian Portuguese, but rather are studying the European counterpart. However, when it comes to conversational Portuguese, there is a distinct difference between the two dialects.
As you are learning Brazilian Portuguese, you will want to find a course that will teach you both the written and the spoken variations. For example, you will need to be taught the Brazilian pronunciation and accent of certain words, even though they may be spelled the same in both dialects. If your goal is to be conversational in the language, make sure the teacher is pronouncing the words as a Brazilian would. Also, you should be aware of the fact that there are some subtle spelling differences between the two dialects.
If you are ready to learn Brazilian Portuguese, you will need to choose an appropriate course or software program to help you. Be sure that you choose something that is taught by native Brazilian speakers so that you can benefit from hearing the proper pronunciations of words. Immersion in a new language is the best way to learn, so choose a program that will require you to listen to the language being spoken and respond in turn. Of course, learning some written grammar is also important when studying Brazilian Portuguese, so choose a training course that will provide a balance of written instruction and immersion training. Soon you will be speaking and writing Brazilian Portuguese with excellent skill and pronunciation!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacob Lumbroso is a world traveler and an enthusiast for foreign languages, history, and foreign cultures. He writes articles on history and languages for and has used Pimsleur courses to learn various languages.