When I started learning Portuguese?
I started learning Portuguese at the end of 2022. You see, after having learned French, Spanish, and Italian, it was only natural for me to add Portuguese to my repertoire. For me, Brazilian Portuguese is the sexiest language I’ve ever learned. Another reason why I decided to learn Portuguese is because I love Brazilian music, Carnival, and samba dancing. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time. Let me tell you my story of learning Portuguese.
My short story with Brazilians in France
Back at the beginning of 2023, 15 Brazilian students came to France for my master’s program. At the time, I was still a beginner in Portuguese. I saw this as a perfect chance to improve my skills. During our first meet-and-greet while having lunch together, I noticed that everyone was talking in groups, the Brazilians with my professors, and the atmosphere was still a bit cold.
People were shy and hesitant to talk to each other. So, I decided to take my chance and practice my Portuguese. I went up to a group of three Brazilians and started introducing myself in Portuguese. They were quite surprised when I spoke to them in their native language, and we started to get to know each other. People often say that Portuguese and Spanish are like brother and sister and that if you know Spanish, you can easily understand Portuguese. But in my case, at that moment, I struggled to understand Brazilian Portuguese. Even I got B2 of Spanish at that time. It’s not true that speaking Spanish means you can understand everything in Portuguese.
During my conversation with my Brazilian friends, I also asked them if they had any difficulty understanding European Portuguese. Some said that they had no problem understanding the Portuguese spoken in Portugal, but others said that they had trouble understanding it because the Portuguese speak too quickly and swallow the ending sounds. By speaking Portuguese even at my very beginner level, I made a very good first impression on my friends. I spoke to them in Portuguese every chance I got, although sometimes they wanted to speak to me in English. But I always started my conversations with, “Oi, tudo beleza?” (Hi, everything is ok ? ).
After three weeks of exchange program, all of my friends went back to Brazil with lots of great memories of Angers, France, where we had many great moments together in class and during outside activities. During our last drink together, they said to me: “Minh Cuong, I will always remember the moment that you spoke to us in Portuguese. If you ever come to Brazil, you have a place to stay, my friend.”
Brazilians are so nice and affectionate compared to other cultures. They say “te amo” (I love you) and “beijo” to each other naturally, which fascinated me as an Asian. In my culture and even in France, people don’t speak these phrases often between friends. I learned many things from my Brazilian friends, not just about language, but also about culture and the way people talk to each other in a friendly manner. Truly, 🧡Te amo e saudade de você da França (I love you and miss you from France)
How did I practice it?
I feel more motivated to learn Portuguese now. Currently, I’m at a B1 level and I keep learning it every day. To practice this language, I try to talk to my Brazilian friends whenever I can. I also visited Porto for three days at the end of 2022 to speak with local people and eat bacalhau (codfish). It’s such a fascinating language to learn, isn’t it?
To keep learning, I follow some Portuguese teachers online on Instagram, and I try to learn at least three new words every day and make sentences with each of them. I’m also a big fan of Easy Portuguese, and I’ve watched every single one of their videos. I never miss an episode, and I always leave comments on their channel. I’m pretty sure that you can easily see my comments everywhere on that channel.
Furthermore, I keep a notebook for Portuguese with new vocabulary and concrete examples. Occasionally, I try to write random essays or new vocabulary on a blank sheet of paper until I fill it out. I even write blog posts about learning Portuguese on my personal blog as a way to practice writing in the language.
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Although I realize that my current B1 level in Portuguese may not be sufficient to become an official member of the Hyperpolyglot International Association (HYPIA). But, I still decided to apply for membership. They asked me about 6 languages at a professional level. I understand that learning a language is a long process, and I’m taking my time to enjoy the journey. I hope that one day I can become an official member of this amazing organization. In the future, I hope I can visit Rio de Janeiro and emerge myself in the crowd of Carnival and sing in Portuguese. Muito legal, gente né ? 🙃 (So cool, right?)
I hope my short story has inspired you to take on the challenge of learning a new language. Although it may seem daunting at first, the benefits are truly remarkable. Who knows, you might even make some lifelong friends along the way, just like I did. Bom dia e boa sorte! (Good day and good luck!) 👋