Intermediate B1

This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the B1 level.

CEFR Scale

My suggestion* for these two weeks is to focus on:

  • perfeito vs. imperfeito / subjunctive mood intro
  • reading and listening comprehension
  • conversation

*There's always room to adjust the course according to the group's preferences:

After this course, you'll have come closer to the B1 level and have the tools and strategies to get there and beyond.

Not sure if you should enroll in the A2 or B1 course?

Clean Slate A0

Geared toward Absolute Beginners, this course gives you a solid start and foundation to build upon.

CEFR Scale

This is an introductory course to the Portuguese language as spoken in Portugal. Throughout the course, we will focus on the Portuguese sound system and basic Portuguese grammar.

You will also learn how to introduce yourself and day-to-day, useful phrases. Finally, we will discuss learning resources and strategies to support your learning journey.

After the course, you will have a basic understanding of European Portuguese pronunciation and grammar. You will also be capable of engaging in simple, short oral interactions. Last but not least, you will be aware of a variety of learning resources and strategies to help you succeed at learning the language.

Portuguese short story for beginners - de maos dadas - Portuguesepedia
Easy Reads for Portuguese Lanugage Learners - Entre a Felicidade e a Tristeza - by Portuguesepedia

I will keep you updated on upcoming course seasons

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Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)

Beginners A2

This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the A2 level.

CEFR Scale

My suggestion* for these two weeks is to focus on:

  • prepositions
  • past tense: perfeito vs. imperfeito
  • listening comprehension and conversation

*There's always room to adjust the course according to the group's preferences:

After this course, you'll have come closer to the A2 level and have the tools and strategies to get there and beyond.

Not sure if you should enroll in the A2 or B1 course?

Beginners A1

This intensive course is for language learners striving toward the A1 level.

If you have just started your learning journey, you may find this course too challenging. Consider enrolling for the Clean Slate A0 instead (if available).

CEFR Scale

This is an all-round course, meaning that we’ll work on all aspects of language learning (at the A1 level):

  • pronunciation
  • listening comprehension
  • reading comprehension
  • conversation
  • grammar

After this course, you'll have come closer to the A1 level and have the tools and strategies to get there and beyond.

Not sure if you should enroll in the A1 or A2 course?

There are plenty of interesting options for our accommodation. It will most likely be a countryside house near Tavira.

I haven't booked it yet because I want to get a better idea of the group's composition (how many couples/singles) and your preferences before I do so. That will for instance help me understand how big a house we might need.

I look forward to soon talking to you about this and much more. Até breve, p

Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)

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Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)

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Learn Portuguese through Short Stories

Easy Reads for Portuguese Language Learners

Learning Portuguese doesn’t need to be a tedious enterprise. Never mind if you don’t resonate with textbooks, sitting in a classroom, or learning grammar rules – there are certainly other ways to go about learning a second language.

Today, I want to talk about the advantages of learning Portuguese through reading stories. In addition,  I will suggest best practices to make the most out of this kind of learning material.

Let’s get going.  

Let the Power of Stories Lift Your Portuguese.

The perils of too much grammar

I find that most students that overdo grammar don’t do especially well when they try to speak Portuguese in real life.

There’s something insidious about studying grammar. It may give us an illusory sense of progress and control as we analyze our target language and make sense of the rules that govern it. 

Yet, learning habits that rely too heavily on grammar may do more harm than good.*

See, too much emphasis on grammar makes us overly self-conscious and worried about grammar correctness. 

We easily end up caught up in our minds grammar-checking everything as we try to string words together into sentences. This leads to an overworked brain that will prevent us from speaking more fluently.

Becoming a proficient speaker of a second language certainly entails more than just learning and mastering a set of abstract rules. 

We need to allow the language to sink deeper in us (without us needing to constantly analyze and deconstruct it). That’s where “organic”, in-context learning materials such as stories come into play.

* This is not suggesting that studying grammar is wrong. Grammar surely has its place in language learning (for adults). The question here, however, is if you should let it dominate your language learning strategy. I think you shouldn’t.

Speaking of language strategy, here’s a read on this topic: Mindsets and Strategies to Learn Portuguese the Best (or any other language)

Learn Portuguese through stories 

We learn a second language best when we practice with compelling materials that we can easily make sense of and relate to. 

When our learning materials are captivating, we “consume” them effortlessly and with pleasure. As we find ourselves craving for more, we end up getting generous amounts of input in our target language.

Now, this is not just any kind of input. It’s organic. It reflects casual, everyday language usage that nurtures your idiomatic feel for Portuguese.

But there’s more to it. 

Believe it or not, when we read stories we are also learning grammar! Not in a conventional way though. 

By reading and listening to stories, we are naturally assimilating syntactic structures that govern our target language (just like when children learn their mother tongues). The more we do it, the deeper these structures will sink in us.

It is perfectly possible to learn Portuguese grammar simply by being exposed to in-context materials like stories (as opposed to learning it by studying abstract rules). 

Arguably, learning grammar this way is not only possible but also desirable since you will now be able to speak correctly without ever needing to worry about grammar rules.

By knowing the grammar intuitively, you can free your mind from being overloaded with processing all those grammar checks. This greatly improves the flow of your speech.

Last but not least, it is a well-established fact that word retention rates are significantly higher when we learn new words in context. 

When we associate words with characters, emotions, situations, or places, we increase the likelihood of recalling those words later on.

Simply put, our long-term memory retention performs better the richer the contextual associations are.

Stories designed for language learners

As pointed out before, enticing and in-context practice materials make your learning more productive and idiomatically rich.

Now, you may not find it very enticing if you jump straight into José Saramago or Clarice Lispector. What you want is to get hold of stuff especially designed for language learners.

Crucially, these materials are normally CEFR-graded according to the different levels of language proficiency. 

As a beginner, you need to find books that cater to the A1-A2 levels. These will typically be reads divided into short chapters made of paragraphs and simple sentences. 

If you find yourself in the low-intermediate tier, you may want to raise the game a notch or two by finding something within the A2-B1 range, and so on.

Here’s the bottom line. Your reads should be challenging enough to expand your language skills, but not overwhelmingly difficult to the point that all your reading joy is stripped away and you give up.

If it is too easy,  you’ll be adding little to nothing to your language skills – time for you to tune into something more advanced.

If it is too hard – for instance if you need to look up every other word in the dictionary – that will make your brain burn too many calories and you’ll end up putting the book away. Find something simpler.

In short, a good read (from a language learning perspective) is a balancing act between it being ambitious and, nonetheless, pleasurable. 

The fact that reads designed for language learners are graded according to the CEFR scale, will help you find something adequate for your current needs.

Best practices – maximize your learning outcome 

Here’re four simple steps to help you make the most out of your reading practice. 

This method presupposes that you have access to both script and voice-over (three of the steps will require audio).

In fact, I strongly encourage you to find materials that include the audio since it will allow you to also work on your listening comprehension and pronunciation skills. 

You don’t have to follow the exact sequence suggested below. Play around with it and find what works best for you.

Tips! Visit our StoryLift page to find stories designed for language learners (script+audio) available in both European and Brazilian Portuguese.

1. Listen only (focus on listening comprehension)

Forget about the transcript for now. Listen to the audio in one go and see how much of it you can grasp.

It’s perfectly fine if you miss some words or even full sentences. It’s supposed to be challenging. Besides, listening will always be tougher than reading. 

Do it again and see if you can fill in any of the blanks.

2. Play copycat (focus on pronunciation)

Play it again, but now put all your focus on pronunciation. 

Take a first round where you simply shadow what you hear – mimic the sounds as you hear them. Do it in one go.

Pay special attention to any sounds that you are not familiar with yet. Notice also any melodic or rhythmic patterns that feel alien to you.

Play it a second time and pause the recording at your convenience to mimic sounds and drill your pronunciation skills. Spend as much time as you need with it. 

Depending on what catches your attention, you will be mimicking either single sounds, words, or even entire sentences.

Notice your lips, jaw, and tongue while you’re reproducing the sounds. The more you become aware of pronunciation’s physical dimension, the better you will perform.

Tips! If you want to go deeper into the sounds of Portuguese, consider enrolling in this Crash Course on Portuguese Phonology.

3. Read (focus on reading comprehension)

Read the text in one go and see how intelligible it is for you. 

You should, at least, be able to get the gist of it (provided that the material is adequate for your level of proficiency).

Read it once again. This time around, spend as much time as you need with it to fill in the gaps without obsessing with understanding every single word or expression (you can always revisit the material later on).

Don’t rush to look up unknown words or expressions in the dictionary. Instead, try to figure them out from the context*. 

*Learning new words from the context results in higher rates of long-term vocabulary retention. Besides, by avoiding translation, you are wiring your brain to your target language more effectively.

4. Listen one final time (focus on celebration)

Take a short break before this final step. 

Play and listen to the audio one last time (with or without the transcript). Everything should sound clearer to you now.

Don’t forget to celebrate the progress you’ve just made. Well done!

English translation

Often, stories designed for language learners include English translation. This is especially useful when you are practicing with more advanced materials (in relation to your current level of proficiency) as you can read it in advance to get the gist of it. 

You can also read it afterward to validate your reading comprehension (especially concerning idioms and idiomatic expressions). 

Either way, avoid back-and-forth comparisons/translations between Portuguese and English. As pointed out before, a translation-free practice is more effective for word retention and in wiring your brain to your target language.

Perfect vs. Imperfect

Break Free from the Tyranny of the Present Tense

Portuguese Bad Words

Master Portuguese Strong Language and Swear Like a Native.

Intensive Courses

Get right on track towards fluency 

Stay tuned for upcoming online courses and other learning materials.

Where are you at? (1 Beginner–10 Fluent)