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Is Portuguese a Difficult Language to Learn?

There are 280 million speakers of the Portuguese language worldwide, and many people want to learn this Romance language. But is Portuguese a difficult language to learn? 

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Learning a new language may be one of the best decisions that a person can make. The reason is simple: learning a new language can open new doors of opportunity for a person. A person who speaks only one language may miss out on lucrative opportunities for his career and personal growth if he chooses not to learn a new language. On the contrary, being fluent in more than one language improves and enhances an individual’s communication skills considerably.

True, learning a new language can have its own upsides, but not all languages are easy to learn. Portuguese is one such language that is considered by many to be quite tough to learn. But is Portuguese really a difficult language?

The answer is that it depends on what language you speak natively as well as on your knowledge of languages. Portuguese is a Romance language, so if you are a native speaker of a Romance language, you will not have a hard time learning the Portuguese language. Meanwhile, you can take help from professional Portuguese translation services.

Let us look at some challenges that make Portuguese a hard language to learn and how you can overcome these challenges to learn this Romance language.

Challenges of Learning Portuguese

When you decide to learn the Portuguese language, you are bound to come across some challenges, but by following some simple strategies, you can easily overcome those challenges. One strategy that is sure to help you not just with Portuguese but with any other language is hiring the help of a certified translation partner. For example, a translation company that delivers Spanish translation services is bound to be helpful for people wanting to learn the Spanish language.

The Many Ways of Speaking Portuguese

There are approximately 280 million speakers of the Portuguese language, and about 207 million of them live in Brazil alone. This means that there is a huge variety of accents and ways in which the Portuguese language is spoken in Brazil. Interestingly, Brazilian Portuguese is filled with colloquialisms and has an expanding vocabulary that is sure to confuse the learners of this language.

One way that you can overcome this challenge is to take the time to listen to different accents of the Portuguese language from time to time. You can do this by listening to Portuguese speakers from different regions, scrolling through YouTube videos, watching Portuguese movies, or participating in language exchange.

The Gender of the Word

One of the big challenges that non-native speakers of the Portuguese language face when learning this language is the gender of the words. This is because all the nouns in the Portuguese language have a grammatical gender. This affects the articles used with the nouns. For example, “a casa” in Portuguese means “the house,” which is a feminine word, while O carro (the car) is a masculine word.

To wrap your head around the gender problem of the Portuguese language, there is a simple rule that you can follow to know whether a word is feminine or masculine. The rule is to look for the letter at the end of the noun. If the word ends in -a, it is probably a feminine word. If it ends in -o, it is probably a masculine word. For example, O gato (ending in -o) means “the cat” in Portuguese, which is a masculine word, and A gata (“the cat,” ending with -a) is a feminine word.

Difficulty in Pronunciation

The Portuguese language has words that are hard to pronounce, even for native speakers of French and Spanish. This means that even if you are speaking a simple sentence such as “How are you” in Portuguese, you may encounter problems in pronouncing the words correctly. Portuguese has some difficult sounds, such as the “nasal” sounds that are present in common words like “Nao” meaning “no” and “Mae” meaning “mother.”

Unlike the Spanish language, which has a clear connection between how words are written and how they are pronounced, Portuguese has two types of vowel sounds; oral (a,e, i,o,u), and nasal. There are also problems with consonants. For example, the “R” at the beginning of a word is pronounced as an “H”. Moreover, the Portuguese language also has more phonemes (or sounds) than Spanish, Italian, French, or English.

European vs. Brazilian Portuguese

There are various differences between the Portuguese spoken in European countries and the Portuguese spoken in Brazil.  One big difference is that the Portuguese spoken in Europe has stressed-timed pronunciation, such as in English, while Brazilian Portuguese is syllable-timed.

Other than this notable difference, there are certain words in European Portuguese that have different meanings in Brazilian Portuguese. A novice learner of the Portuguese language may have a hard time understanding the meanings of the words in these two types of Portuguese.

Key Takeaway

Learning a new language is beneficial for communication and may even be fun for some people. However, not all languages are easy to learn. Some languages like Portuguese come with their own set of challenges that may make it a hard language to learn.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways a person can learn this beautiful Romance language, such as spending time with Portuguese native speakers or watching Portuguese movies and videos. Moreover, you can always get assistance from specialized Portuguese translators who understand the nuances and vocabulary of the Portuguese language and can make learning Portuguese easy. and fun, like other languages.

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