How to learn a language online

How to learn a language online

wayne parry

Learn Portuguese Online - For Free






This first step is to introduce us to the language with a clip that shows us all the places where the language is spoken. There are no subtitles (intentionally) but it doesn’t matter if it’s difficult to understand. The point is to just sit back and take it all in. Becoming familiar with the language is important before we begin to explore some of the cultural aspects of this language.








The capital of Portugal is the starting point for this journey of the Portuguese language and this clip is a visual tour of this beautiful city without any words or dialogue. This is an introduction to a major place where Portuguese is spoken.








A market is a great place to pick up sights and sounds of the language in its natural habitat. Other good examples are street scenes and local shopping centres. In this step it’s important to observe any signs of the language in its written form.








To understand the people who speak the language we must first understand how they behave. Television drama is an ideal way to explore the emotions, idioms and reactions of the native speakers – especially if the drama is contemporary as opposed to fantasy. Here is a clip of a typical (and recent) Brazilian soap opera watched by millions of people around the Portuguese speaking world.


Perfeito Coração  =  love story set in Lisbon after some street riots bring two people together

Gabriela  =  drama set in the 1920’s in Ilheus (Bahia)

Cheais de Charme  =  Brazilian series about three maids who successfully form a band

Deixa que Te Leve  =  story about a rich Italian family in Minho (Portugal)

Avenida Brasil  =  love story set around a famous footballer’s family in Rio de Janeiro

Fina Estampa  =  Brazilian drama based on the family of Griselda, a female mechanic from the Azores

Carrossel  =  Brazilian series for children set in a fictitious school

Sentimentos  =  story about a girl who finds out she’s adopted, filmed mainly in Lisbon and Macau

Big Brother Brasil  =  TV reality show

Amor Eterno Amor  =  drama about the destiny of a man living on the island of Marajó in Brazil

Insenato Coração  =  story about two brothers living in Rio de Janeiro

Minha Terra Minha Mãe  =  Angolan-Brazilian soap opera filmed in both countries










Learning about the food eaten in the place where the language is spoken is very important for it allows us to understand more about the culture. It’s also a fun and motivating way to learn faster because it encourages us to find out more about something we all enjoy to do – eating. Here’s a list of just some of the food eaten in the countries where Portuguese is spoken.  Many of these dishes, such as feijoada, are enjoyed almost wherever the language is spoken.




Acarajé com caruru (deep fried black eyed pea balls stuffed with spicy shrimp paste) from Bahia

Caldo verde (potato & kale soup) from Portugal

Coxinha (chicken croquette) from Brazil

Bolinhos de bacalhau (fried cod balls)

Bauru (cheese & mozzarella sandwich) from São Paulo

Quibebe (squash soup) from the north-east of Brazil

Tapioca frita (fried tapioca usually served with cheese or coconut) from Brazil

Chouriço (spicy sausage)

Chamuças (samosas) from Goa

Casquinho de siri (stuffed crab shells) from north-eastern & northern Brazil




Feijoada (black bean & meat stew)

Moqueca Capixaba (tomato & fish stew) from Espiritu Santo in Brazil

Caldeirada (seafood stew)

Calulu de peixe (dried fish stew) from Angola and São Tomé e Príncipe

Rojões à moda de Minho (fried diced pork with blood rice) from Minho in Portugal

Pato no Tucupi (duck in cassava broth) from Pará in Brazil

Pirão de caldo de feijão (manioc flour paste with bean stew) from Brazil and Angola

Bobó de camarão (shrimp pureé) from Bahia

Galinha à Portuguesa (curried chicken in coconut) from Macau

Carne de sol (sun dried meat) from the northeast of Brazil

Inteiro com piri-piri (whole barbecued chicken with piri-piri sauce) from Mozambique

Sumatena (barbecued dried fish) from Angola

Alheira (yellow sausage with fried potatoes & fried egg) from Trás-os-Montes in Portugal

Caril de carangueijo (crab stew) from Mozambique

Vatapá (shrimp & coconut stew) from Bahia

Churrasco de picanha (Brazilian barbecue of sirloin beef)

Francesinha (sausage & tomato sandwich with fries) from Porto

Caril de galinha (chicken curry with roasted peppers & coconut) from East Timor

Baião de Dois (rice & bean dish with dried meat) from Ceará in Brazil

Sarapatel (spicy meat & offal dish) from various places – Goa, Portugal and north-eastern Brazil

Maniçoba (meat & manioc leaf stew) from the Amazon region of Brazil

Cozido à portuguesa (winter stew) from Portugal

Piracuí (dried & floured fish meal) from the Amazon

Galinha à Africana (barbecued chicken in spicy sauce) from Macau

Carne de porco à Alentejana (pork & clam dish) from the Algarve region of Portgual

Frango com quiabo (chicken and okra dish) from Minas Gerais in Brazil

Bacalhau à Minhota (cod dish) from Minho in Portugal

Pato de cabidela (duck stew) from Macau

Vindaloo (pork curry) from Goa in India

Xinxin de galinha (chicken marinated in vinegar stew) from Minas Gerais in Brazil



Quindim (baked egg & coconut pudding) from Brazil

Bolo de rolo (rolled sponge cake) from Pernambuco in Brazil

Bebinca (coconut & ghee pudding) found in Goa and East Timor

Bolo de brigadeiro (chocolate bonbon cake) from Brazil

Cuscuz branco (tapioca pudding)

Açaí na tigela (açaí fruit of the Amazon with granola, banana & syrup)

Canjica (sweet corn porridge) from Brazil

Cocada (dried coconut sweet) from Brazil and Angola

Goiabada (guava paste) eaten all over, but especially in Brazil with cheese (Romeo & Juliet)

Fios de ovos (egg angel hair) from Portugal

Creme de papaya (papaya cream) from Brazil

Arroz doce (rice pudding)








Eating the food is the easy part. Learning how to make it is more challenging but essential to learning a language. A recipe is an instruction and if we can learn how to follow instructions in a language, we can learn how to create results. In this case, the result is something incredibly tasty.








By learning the songs from this language, it opens us up to another part of the culture and this is an incredibly useful way to learn Portuguese. It also introduces us to some rather excellent music along the way. This is a language that has been dispersed through its music like no other language except perhaps English or Spanish. From Brazil there is a huge variety of music from samba, bossa nova, funk, axé, forró, pagode, sertanejo and MPB (Música Popular Brasileira). There is also kuduro music from Angola, marrabenta music from Mozambique and the one that started it all – fado from Portugal, sung mostly in the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra. Here’s a list of some recent artists from this part of the world.


Ai, Se Eu Te Pego (Michel Telo)  =  Brazilian sertanejo singer from Paraná with this worldwide hit

Tudo que Eu Sinto (CW7)  =  Brazilian pop rock band from Curitiba

Rosa Sangue (Amor Electro)  =  one of Portugal’s newest pop rock bands to create success

Despedida (Mayra Andrade)  =  the best singer from Cape Verde since Cesária Évora

Odeio (Manu Gavassi)  =  female pop singer from São Paulo

Quem Não Quer Sou Eu (Seu Jorge)  =  famous singer / actor from Rio de Janeiro

Ilusão (Neyma)  =  female marrabenta singer from Mozambique

Ainda Bem (Marisa Monte)  =  very popular MPB singer from Rio de Janeiro

Anda Comigo Ver os Aviões (Azeitonas)  =  pop group from Portugal

Problemas (Ana Carolina)  =  MPB singer from Minas Gerais

Juras de Amor (Bruno & Marrone)  =  sertanejo duo from Goiás

Preto (Claudia Leitte)  =  axé / pop singer from Rio de Janeiro

Pisa Papará (Cabo Snoop)  =  Angolan kuduro singer

Fado das Queixas (Carminho)  =  female fado singer (fadista) from Lisbon

Quero Toda Noite (Fiuk ft Jorge Benjor)  =  pop singer known from the Brazilian TV show Malhação

Duas Mulheres (MC Roger)  =  rap singer from Mozambique

Menina Estranha (Restart)  =  pop group from São Paulo

Lê Lê Lê (João Neto & Frederico)  =  another sertanejo duo from Goiás

Covarde (Jorge & Mateus)  =  one more sertanejo duo from Goiás

Dançando (Agridoce)  =  folk rock group from São Paulo

Amor de Alma (Victor & Leo)  =  sertanejo duo from Minas Gerais

Sexta-feira (Boss AC)  =  Portuguese hip hop artist whose parents are from Cape Verde

Leite Condensado (Parangolé ft Rodriguinho)  =  pagode band from Salvador (Bahia)

Nega (Luan Santana)  =  sertanejo singer from Mato Gross do Sul in Brazil’s central west

Céu Azul (Charlie Brown Jr.)  =  rock group from Santos in São Paulo

Aonde é que Cuya Mais? (Puto Cossa)  =  Angolan kuduro singer who lives in Portugal

Dois Olhos Verdes (RPM)  =  rock group from São Paulo

Nunca Amei Alguém Como Eu Te Amei (Ivete Sangalo)  =  axé / pop singer from Bahia









It should come as no surprise that if someone is learning Portuguese, whether it’s Portuguese from Brazil or Portugal, the word “football” will come up in conversation. That’s no different from many of the other countries that speak Portuguese, such as in Angola or Mozambique. Compared to other sports, football is overwhelmingly popular wherever the language is spoken and of all the countries in this part of the world, Brazil always comes to mind. Brazilian teams like Flamengo or Botafogo compete fiercely in the same way that the national team has done for many decades.  








Most of the Portuguese speaking cinema is produced in Brazil, which is of no surprise because it has the largest population. However, many interesting and popular movies come out of Portugal or Angola as well. Here are just a few examples of some recent releases.


Família Vende Tudo  =  story about a Brazilian family that has a scheme to make some money

E Aí, Comeu?  =  Brazilian comedy about sexual relationships

Paraísos Artificiais =  Brazilian love story about a man who falls in love with a female DJ

Dois Coelhos  =  action movie from Brazil about a prison escapee who wants revenge

Uma Aventura na Casa Assombrada  =  Portuguese fantasy adventure set in a haunted house

Tropa de Elite 1 & 2  =  police drama about the BOPE (Special Operations) in Rio de Janeiro

Morrer como um Homem  =  movie about drag queens in Portugal

Corações Sujos  =  story about a terrorist cell of Japanese immigrants in Brazil during WW2

Girimunho  =  set in rural Minas Gerais about two elderly women

O Emigrante  =  movie about Angolan migrants in the Netherlands who return to Angola

De Pernas pro Ar  =  Brazilian comedy about a professional woman and her friend’s sex shop 

Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto  =  love story set in rural Portugal during its month of festivities  =  Brazilian comedy based on a relationship that turns sour and ends up on the Internet

Bruna Surfistinha  =  true story about a girl from Rio who runs away to become a prostitute

Assalto ao Banco Central  =  action suspense movie about a planned bank robbery

Complexo – Universo Paralelo  =  Portuguese movie set in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro

Chico Xavier  =  true story about the life of the late clairvoyant who was famous in Brazil

Os Inquilinos  =  drama about some strange neighbours in an outer suburb of São Paulo

Na Cidade Vazia  =  Angolan drama about life in the capital city of Luanda








Communicating with native speakers is essential for the learning the language and that should be obvious to anyone. But how do we find them if we’re not in the country where it is spoken? Simple. Look for a language partner on websites that promote language exchange and then start communicating with them on Skype. Just be sure to find someone who has similar interests and is almost at the same level in your language, otherwise you’ll find that it might not last as long as you’d expected. Here are some websites that are helpful.


The Mixxer

My Language Exchange





Working in a country where the language is spoken is an effective method of learning the language, provided that the language is spoken in the workplace.  Here are some tips for speaking professionally in a job interview. Even if it’s difficult to catch most of the words without subtitles, it’s important to get a grasp of what’s being said to make it easier to then go and work in that country.








There has always been some form of rivalry between the two main speakers of this language – the most populous Portuguese speaking country (Brazil) and the mother country of the language (Portugal). Like all parts of the world where a common language is shared, these relations can vary from animosity to close ties. Here’s a clip that shows some newly arrived Portuguese migrants in Brazil and what they think of their experiences. 




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