I am curious to know your personal reasons to learn Portuguese. I teach Portuguese and English in Italy, and right now I am starting to teach here at italki. Most of my Italian students just learn Portuguese for fun, but also because millions of Italians immigrated to Brazil last century, so there is a big cultural connection (and also family connection) between these two countries. For me it´s important to know what motivates learners to learn so I can improve my lessons and also learn about how people are interested in learning my language.
I'm probably not the average student, but the primary reason I started to learn the language was because of my Brazilian students. I teach English here on italki and about half of my regular students are Brazilian. Although I was familiar with Spanish-speaking Latin American culture, I had very little exposure to Brazilian culture. I live in a major metropolitan area in the US, but we don't have a large Brazilian population.
Having taught ESL as a volunteer to adult
immigrants for many years, I've found that being able to speak even just
a little bit of someone's native language often serves as a nice ice
breaker and helps to build rapport. I know a bit of Spanish and it's
always come in handy in my ESL volunteer work, both for things like
grammar and vocabulary and for "soft skills" like making people less
nervous and self-conscious. Basically, I wanted to be a better teacher. Plus, I thought it would only be polite to be able to say "hi, how are you?" since my students have spent so much time learning my language.
I started with an app which was good for basic vocabulary, but not so
helpful for pronunciation. After realizing that the app could never
teach me to pronounce "pão" correctly, I found a teacher on italki who has a well-developed sense of humor and the patience of a saint. And three months later, mais or menos, here we are. Now, the motivation of learning something new and challenging is what keeps
me taking lessons even though I am a slow learner and am still pretty
terrible. Oh, and the amusement that my students get from me saying "Oi, tudo bem? in my gringa accent is also great motivation. :)
I'm learning Portuguese for fun. My first foreign language that I learned was Spanish and after 8 years. I decided to try to learn French. I found French very difficult to practice so one day I started a discussion soliciting learning companions for Italian, German and Portuguese (I'd study the one that I got the most inquiries for). Within 2 hours i had 5 or six brazilians that offered to help me and that made my decision. I've been studying Portuguese for 11 months now and even though there are virtually no brazilians in my home town, i've learned to really enjoy the language.
I truly believe that language learning is about making connections with the people, places or things. If you don't acquire that desire to connect then you'll never stick with it. I practice spanish daily and virtually never work on my french but Brazilians have been so great in helping me and they are so passionate about their language and culture that it's contagious.