Learning Portuguese as a Spanish speaker…
……….MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM!
Ok, seriously, it sucks. Just when you think you’ve figured the beast out, it swoops down like a vampire, simultaneously biting you on the shoulder and pinching your ass ’til it bruises, and then flies off. Talk about ABUSE.
What I mean is there are a ton of similarities between Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish, but pronunciation is SO different. And certain grammar rules are just barely different enough to cause you to forget how to speak Spanish properly. And mastering Portuguese starts to seem like a dream as elusive and ass-kicking as a blood thirsty vamp.
….In the end really all you’re left with is an imaginary language called Portuspanglish, that you may as well just mumble to yourself since NO ONE else on the face of this earth will be capable of deciphering what the hell you are saying.
Whew! Deep breaths…gooos fraaabaaa. Alright, now that I’ve made it clear that Portuguese has been the bane of my existence for the past few weeks, let me explain why…
I’m going to Brazil in a few days!
Now you might ask: Is it really necessary to learn Portuguese before traveling to Brazil?
No, of course not!
Any traveler will tell you that it is possible to get around without knowing the language in pretty much any country, and you will certainly find some Brazilians who know English. But in my opinion, the more meaningful exchanges you have with locals, the more fulfilling and rewarding the trip will be. I often remember more about the people I meet while traveling than I do about the actual place, so it makes sense that I would want to learn the language spoken in the country I’m traveling to.
So is my current level of Portuguese good enough to have a full conversation with someone? HA. HA…..yeahhh….so I’m hoping my English and Spanish will be enough to get me by. Reading Portuguese is a breeze for the most part, but my listening comprehension skills are whack and my speaking level is pretty much ZIP, ZILCH, NIL, NADA, NEIN.
That being said, here are a few online resources I’ve found really helpful in trying to teach myself Brazilian Portuguese:
- Ta Falado (Podcast pronunciation lessons for Spanish speakers!)
- Street Smart Brazil (YouTube lessons)
- LiveMocha (Social networking/language learning site)
- Busuu (similar to LiveMocha)
- Portuguese Pod 101 (Podcasts for various grammar levels)
To be fair I love the challenge of learning a new language, so I’m actually enjoying myself quite a bit. I just want to emphasize that already knowing Spanish when trying to learn Portuguese can be both a benefit and a hindrance. Unfortunately, my level of Portuguese is not strong enough for me to ask difficult questions about social and political issues, but perhaps it will be enough to order um cafezinho and ask where o baneiro is. The rest will have to be communicated through charades, grunts, and smiles