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Learning portuguese : Day 1 – Pronunciation

September 4th, 2013 Posted in languages, portuguese

There are many different language learning strategies, but the one thing you’ll hear again and again is the importance of immersing yourself in the language. Obviously the best way to do this is to live in the country where your language is spoken, but if that’s not possible, listening to podcasts is the next best thing, as it will help you recognise the sound of the language and start to learn the pronunciation. Whilst learning German, I listened to the Tagesschau daily news podcast. The subjects aren’t always relevant, and you do end up learning a lot of words with limited daily use. Bundesregierung (federal government) and Verteidigungsministerium (defense department) are two that come immediately to mind. Despite this, actively listening to real German for 10 minutes every day helps you to rapidly increase your comprehension levels.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced level learner, you can find interesting podcasts in iTunes by changing your country in iStore and looking at the top podcasts for your country. You can do this by following the “Change Country” link at the bottom of the iTunes Store window.

As I’m starting from zero with Portuguese, Podcasts for native speakers will be less useful initially, so I’ve decided to start off with a few websites and podcasts aimed specifically at beginners. This will specifically help me to learn pronunciation basics as well as some basic vocabulary and phrases.

In the order I found them, I’ve looked at:

  • BBC Talk Portuguese – an on-line video Portuguese course for beginners. A series of 10 short clips with basic vocabulary and phrases aimed at beginning language learners. You can listen to the pronunciation of each phrase and there are short descriptions of the main rules of pronunciations. Unfortunately the full HD videos are only available in the UK, making this less useful for me. Each lesson takes under 5 minutes so I’ve decided to listen to a couple of these every day for the rest of the week. There is also a course for learners of Brazilian.
  • One Minute Portuguese – A series of 10 “supposedly” one-minute podcasts, purporting to teach you basic words and phrases to “impress your portuguese friends”. Each podcast actually lasts around 4 minutes and contains lots of superfluous english (“Let’s hear that again”, “One more time”, “Can you imagine how impressed your friends would be if you wished them ‘Happy birthday’ in Portuguese?”). Within the first 30 seconds of listening to this podcast I was already feeling frustrated and annoyed at my time being wasted. It could be useful for someone who has never learned a foreign language, someone lacking confidence in their language learning ability, or someone who wants to know a few basic words for use on holiday. I’ll listen to a couple of these every day too (if I can force myself to sit through them).

  • Brazilian pod class – as it’s name suggests, its for learning Brazilian. the podcasts are free but you need to pay for the learning guides. Each podcast lasts around 10 minutes and contains a real Portuguese conversation.

If you are an intermediate or advanced learner, you can try listening to Portuguese By SBS Radio, a portuguese language podcast created by SBS, an Australian broadcaster

So, for the next couple of days, I’ll be listening to a couple of these beginners podcasts every day. I’ve also completed DuoLingo level 2. I’m also going to start learning some vocabulary. More about that tomorrow. 39 days to go…

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