In a globalized world, the more languages you speak, the better. Speaking different languages is not only good for business, but it’s also a great ally for making connections, meeting new people and cultures. Not to mention that it makes traveling around the world much easier.
But learning a new language is never an easy thing to do. It is a real challenge. We often hear people say that Portuguese is the most difficult language to learn, but is that really true? Can it be harder than an Asian language?
Of course, any language has its characteristics, peculiarities, and degrees of difficulty, but most of the difficulty that comes with learning a language is related to the background of the learner. Spanish speakers might have an easier time learning Portuguese, while a Japanese speaker might not find it so easy. On the other hand, a Japanese speaker would find learning Chinese much easier compared to the Spanish or the Portuguese speaker.
But is Portuguese easy to learn? The answer to this question depends on different factors. For example, the languages that the person already speaks. Someone who speaks Spanish, Italian, or French ends up learning Portuguese much more quickly, without major difficulties. Since all of these languages come from the Latin family, they are quite similar in both structure and vocabulary.
A Japanese speaker, on the other hand, will probably find Portuguese quite difficult, as there are not so many similarities between the two languages. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn Portuguese effectively. It will probably take a few more classes, more time and effort, but Portuguese is not impossible to learn. Some students will just need to put more effort into it. In other words, the Portuguese learning process will depend on the learner’s background.
Portuguese has certain particularities that can bring some degree of complication to learners. Knowing these beforehand can be very helpful so you can put an extra effort to overcome them and avoid hitting a plateau in your learning process.
Let’s see what are some of these difficulties.
Portuguese has many nasal sounds. Nasal vowels and diphthongs, such as ‘ã’, ‘om’, ‘ãe’ and ’em’ can be difficult to pronounce. ‘Pão’ is one of the words that our students find most difficult to pronounce. Especially since this is a tricky question: mispronounce ‘pão’ and you might embarrass yourself.
Portuguese can be complex because of all the verb conjugation. But after a while, you will understand that the regular verbs have similar patterns and it becomes easier. Of course, irregular verbs will be harder for anyone to learn, but with practice, everyone can master them.
Brazil is a huge country and the Portuguese language shows great variation between regions. The way people speak in Santa Catarina is very different from the way locals speak in Pernambuco. Although São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are very close, the regional accents are very different in each state. But don’t worry if you find it difficult to understand Portuguese when visiting other parts of Brazil. Even Brazilians sometimes have difficulties understanding the different accents in the country.
Portuguese is known for having many false cognates. These are words that sound the same but have completely different meanings.
Rules and exceptions
For every rule of Portuguese grammar, there will be at least one exception. Even well-educated native Brazilians will speak or write “badly” in Portuguese from time to time because of this.
Is it worth learning Portuguese?
Despite all the complications you might experience while learning Portuguese, learning Portuguese can be a really amazing experience. Although this language is not as widely spoken as English, French or Chinese, learning it is not a waste of time. In this article, we want to break a lance in favor of the language and give you 6 reasons why you should learn Portuguese.
Let’s see why you should really consider Portuguese as a new language to learn:
Portuguese is a beautiful language
The sonority of a language is among the most common reasons for wanting to learn Portuguese, and with Portuguese, we have all this and more. It is a very musical and mellow language. Portuguese literature, music, and especially poetry are beautiful. If you learn Portuguese you will be able to read things as beautiful and evocative as As Máscaras do Destino by Florbela Espanca, As Lusíadas by Luís Vaz de Camões, or enjoy to the fullest the fados of Amália Rodrigues, three of the most beautiful cultural assets that the Portuguese country has given us.
- Working in Brazil
Brazil is becoming in the last few years an economic power to be respected. This means that the country is growing, developing, and creating jobs. Not only are professionals of all kinds being sought after, but Spanish teaching jobs are abundant as Brazil is surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries. So if you are a Spanish speaker, and you want to spend a year getting to know different places and cultures, you may easily find a Spanish teaching job in Brazil and enjoy the experience.
2. Working in Portugal
This is a whole different experience than working in Brazil. Brazil and Portugal are very different countries and the distance or the characteristics of each one is different. They are recently experiencing a boom in their economy and chances are you could find good work positions there.
3. It is the fifth most spoken language in the world
You may think that Portuguese is only spoken in Brazil and Portugal, but there are a few more countries where you can use the language. Some 270 million people speak Portuguese. It is the mother tongue of Brazil, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau.
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Portuguese is a language that has been growing in demand in recent years. Along with Italian, it is one of the easiest languages to learn for Spaniards and Latinos, and its pronunciation is not very difficult for learners with this background.
After reading this, would you study Portuguese? If you’re ready, book a free class and see how you can improve your Portuguese learning with the help of a tutor.
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