Why is Portuguese so difficult? (and how to learn it easily)

Oi, Dani here

Why is Portuguese difficult?

In this video I’ll explain why Brazilian Portuguese may or may not be difficult to learn and I’ll give you a tip about how to learn more easily:

I’m going to talk a little about the characteristics that make some students find Portuguese difficult to learn and some reasons that make some students consider Portuguese difficult or not.

The first reason is conjugation. Many people think that Portuguese has impossible conjugations!

There are really a lot of verb tenses to learn and a lot of conjugations to remember, this is the main reason that students consider difficult in the Portuguese language.

Another very common reason is exceptions. Yes! There is a lot of exception in Portuguese, exception in conjunction, exception in grammar rules … But this is not exclusive to the Portuguese language. In other languages, this also happens.

People also find Portuguese difficult because of the pronunciation!
Portuguese has a very different pronunciation from English, for example. So a person who speaks English may find it difficult to pronounce Portuguese.
They might have it. It does not mean that everyone will have this difficulty.

Nasal sounds are also considered difficult. For people who speak Latin languages, for example French, Italian, Spanish … it may be easier to pronounce some nasal sounds in Portuguese. But this is not a rule, it depends on each person.

A person who speaks Spanish and wants to learn Portuguese, will usually have difficulty with the pronunciation of “S” and “Z”.
For example: the word CAUSA and CALÇA.

They are different words. One has the pronunciation of “S”, the other has the sound of “Z” and a person who speaks Spanish may have difficulties.

It does not mean that everyone will have the same difficulty, it depends on person to person.

Another reason why people find Portuguese a super difficult language is the regional differences.

Yes, Brazil is a huge, giant country, with many people and many different pronunciations.

So if you start taking classes with a teacher from São Paulo, for example, you may find it difficult to understand someone who lives in the northeast, for example, in Ceará.

Pronunciations, words, expressions vary from region to region.
This is normal, it happens in all countries … and in Brazil, as it is a larger country, it happens much more often.

And we also have the false cognates.
Many people think that Portuguese has many false cognates.

Another thing that can be difficult in Portuguese is knowing when a word begins and ends.
A native speaker, of any language, he speaks the language together, he speaks following a cadence that is natural for him.

A person who is learning this language, as a foreigner, will have a little difficulty in the beginning to understand this cadence.

And to familiarize yourself with that. This is normal, I learn English and go through it, you will go through it in Portuguese as well.

Of course, all of these difficulties depend on your nationality.

A person who speaks English, German, Japanese, may have more difficulty learning Portuguese than a person who speaks French, Italian, Spanish or another Latin language.

But that does not mean that a person who speaks English, for example, cannot learn Portuguese. This is a myth.

Everyone can learn Portuguese.
You may have a little more difficulty or not. It depends on your native language, your ease with languages, the contact you have with that language … there are many factors that influence your learning.

Speakers of all languages ​​will find it difficult to learn any language. Do not feel that you are not able.

Yes! You can learn Portuguese and become fluent!

An interesting thing is to think: if a language is that difficult, why can a 5 years-old Brazilian child only speak Portuguese perfectly?

“Ah, but this child was born in Brazil” you may say.

Yes, but all languages ​​can be learned. If a child has managed to learn, so can you!

Learning a language is never easy. I will repeat: learning a language is not easy.

It requires effort, repetition and consistency.

Some people have it easier, yes, others do not and everything is fine!

You need to be patient with yourself, work hard and focus on the positive.

Remember I mentioned the exceptions?
Yes, exceptions can be positives.
Imagine that a language has many rules, and within each rule there is an exception, if you master the rule you will know much more about the language than if you focus on exceptions.

So I recommend that you focus on learning the general rules first and then you focus on each exception.
If you try to learn all the exceptions in the beginning you will get frustrated and it will take a lot longer to speak.

Portuguese is a language like any other.
All languages ​​have facilities, difficulties and peculiar characteristics.

Try to align your expectations, for example, if you are starting to learn Portuguese now you need to be patient and respect your process and not feed false expectations.

What do you mean, false expectations?
Imagine that you are a beginner and you take one Portuguese class.
After just one class you won’t be able to have a conversation with a native, you had only one class.

So you need to value small gains. You will improve a little bit a day, and not much at once.
So beware of high expectations in the beginning.

And the last tip is: use English to your advantage!

English and Portuguese are different, but there are many grammatical and structural points that are the same.
For example the present continous “I’m working”, we have that in Portuguese as well: “Eu estou trabalhando”.

So focus on the things that may be easier for you, the things that are similar.

Use this to your advantage and if you need to translate use the translation to help you and not to disturb you.

If you liked this content, leave your comment and your opinion and also leave your suggestion for new posts and videos.

See you next time, 


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Daniele Lima

Oi, I’m Dani, I am a native of Brazil and I teach Brazilian Portuguese to students from all over the world. Here at Brazilianing, we believe that learning Portuguese doesn't have to be difficult. Let's speak Portuguese together?