Are you an expat planning to move to Portugal? Learning Portuguese may be a great way to help you adapt quickly to the new country.

Last Updated on October 13, 2021 by Lea Melo

When you move to a new country, it’s critical that the adaptation succeeds for your well-being. One of the things that help expatriates living in Portugal the most is learning Portuguese.

Of course, you are not required to become fluent in a new language at this stage of life, but knowing at least the basics can help you immensely to get by on your own in the country.

In this post, we will present the main factors that can inspire you to learn to speak Portuguese, how and when to start and when it’s not even worth trying. Let’s move on!

Do I need to speak Portuguese in Portugal?

Well, it depends on what you want from Portugal. This southern European country is famous for its receptivity and quality of life for a low cost of living. However, in many regions of the country, it is quite difficult to find people who speak English, let alone French or German.

Therefore, speaking Portuguese can come in handy on many occasions. For example, negotiating the rent, explaining symptoms at the medical center, solving some bureaucracy in public services, and so on.

Also, if you want to integrate with the Portuguese and make local friends, learning Portuguese is more than a good idea, it is highly recommended.

But that doesn’t apply in all cases. Many foreigners live in Portugal but do not socialize with the Portuguese. They live in their own expat community and don’t bother getting to know the local culture.

In any way, it’s always recommended to dive into the Portuguese language to start making yourself at home in Portugal.

Learning Portuguese: the basics

If you already want to start learning Portuguese, we can give you some useful vocabulary tips in the day-to-day life of an expatriate in Portugal.

Greetings

EnglishPortuguese
HelloOlá
Goodbye / ByeAdeus / Tchau
PleaseSe faz favor / Por favor
Thank youObrigado
You’re welcomeDe nada
I’m sorryDesculpe
Good morningBom dia
Good afternoonBoa tarde
Good evening / Good nightBoa noite

Meals

EnglishPortuguese
BreakfastPequeno-Almoço
LunchAlmoço
DinnerJantar
SnackLanche
I’m hungryTenho fome
I’m thirstyTenho sede
FoodComida
DrinkBebida
CodfishBacalhau
WineVinho
BeerCerveja
WaterÁgua

Hospitals

EnglishPortuguese
I feel pain hereEu sinto dor aqui
It’s an emergencyIsto é uma emergência
Blood testsAnálises de sangue
Are there any doctors here?Há algum médico aqui?

Purchases

English
Portuguese
Do you accept card?Aceita multibanco?
How much does this cost?Quanto isto custa?
Do you have change for 50 euros?Tem troco para 50 euros?
Where is there an ATM?Onde há um Multibanco?
That’s expensive. Can you give me a discount?Está caro. Você pode me dar um desconto?

Why you should consider online lessons

Especially after the Coronavirus pandemic started, people in Portugal and all over the world began to value distance learning. The teaching of languages, mainly, is a modality that fits perfectly with the style of classes through the internet.

Learning Portuguese through video-calling classes with experienced teachers is currently the most practical way to do it. There is no need to physically travel to a language school.

But of course, if you’re the type of person who misses the teacher’s physical feedback to learn, or you just don’t get along with technology, feel free to try whatever will help you learn better.

See also: International schools in Portugal: where to enroll your expat children

Portuguese language teacher recommendations

As we at Viv Europe are Portugal experts with connections everywhere, we are lucky enough to know some great Portuguese teachers and courses to recommend to you. Here are some of them:

Attention: European Portuguese is different from Brazilian Portuguese

Although the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil is the best known internationally, it is not the one spoken in Portugal. Many Portuguese people even feel uncomfortable with this confusion.

In Portugal, people speak European Portuguese (also known as Iberian Portuguese), and the language has many differences from the Brazilian version. As well as American and British English, in Portuguese, there are differences in accent and vocabulary. So if you are going to live in Portugal, learn European Portuguese, not Brazilian Portuguese.

Knowing the language also means knowing the culture

Portugal has a lot to offer, not only in terms of landscapes and weather conditions. Portuguese culture is so rich, and it would be a huge waste to live in Portugal and not experience it. And that includes the Portuguese language.

The Portuguese way of life, the people’s warm welcome, and long lunches during the day cannot go unnoticed. Part of Portugal’s identity, of course, is present in the language, and vice versa. 

As with any language, there are expressions and jokes that can’t be translated, unique words and rhymes that lose their meaning in other environments. This is just another nice benefit of learning Portuguese.

Not everybody needs to speak Portuguese

Although recommended, you are not required to learn Portuguese to live in Portugal. Especially among immigrant communities, it is common for foreigners not to speak the local language and yet go on living their lives.

Cities like Albufeira or Lagoa in the Algarve, with a large resident population from the UK, have businesses with English-only signs and employers, English breakfasts served at all cafés and cultural events, and local newspapers made by and for the English community. It’s like having a little England in the middle of southern Portugal.

And besides, not everyone has the capacity or willingness to learn a new language. As long as you respect the Portuguese culture and its history, the Portuguese people will welcome you with open arms, trying to speak your language to make you feel welcome.

Are you ready to live in Portugal?

If you’re interested in joining the expatriate community in Portugal and learning Portuguese, it’s never too early to start getting to know people and sharing experiences.

Join our Facebook group and meet thousands of other expats that are in their own process of relocation to Portugal. If you need any help, count on Viv Europe to guide you.

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