If you are considering moving to Portugal for relocation, retirement, or simply for a change of scenery, it’s not absolutely necessary to learn the native language. English is widely spoken, especially in bigger cities and vacation destinations like The Algarve.
But being able to speak Portuguese will make your life easier. And, despite what you may have heard, Portuguese actually is relatively easy to learn — especially if you already know a little Italian, Spanish, or Dutch.
One of the reasons people in the US think Portuguese is a difficult language to learn is that it isn’t widely taught in American high schools, unlike French and Spanish. Italian and German are more popular subjects than Portuguese even though those languages aren’t widely spoken outside of their home countries — unlike Portuguese which is spoken in Brazil, in parts of Africa, and many other places around the world.
Portuguese shares a history with other Latin-based languages. So if you already know a little Spanish or Italian, for example, you probably will pick up on Portuguese relatively quickly because many of the words and phrases are identical or very similar. The biggest challenge students tend to have are the Portuguese verb tenses. There tend to be more irregular ones than in other languages. But once you start using it every day — when you live in Portugal, for example — they quickly will become second nature to you.
As any language teach will tell you, the best way to learn any new language is to speak it all the time, every day. When you immerse yourself in Portuguese culture and life and are committed to learning the language, it won’t be long before you speak it like a native.
The only thing you need to learn Portuguese is an open mind, a genuine interest in learning new things, and a passion for the culture and country. The rest will take care of itself!