August 1, 2020

Portuguese Family

Why learn a second language?

Learning a new language requires time and dedication. Once you do, being fluent in a second language offers countless benefits and opportunities. Learning a second language is exciting and beneficial for all ages. Offers practical, intellectual benefits and many opportunities

Physiological studies claim that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people work differently than speakers of a single language, and these differences offer several mental benefits.

Our confidence increases when a new competence is mastered, and learning foreign languages is no different. Language students can become smarter, improve decision-making and keep their brains healthy in old age, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Always the Right Time to Learn a Language

In the current world, there are more than 7000 languages and learning at least one will help you in life in a massive way. While it has been proven that it is easier for children to learn a second language, it is certainly never too late to learn, and the benefits definitely reward effort and dedication.

Among many other benefits, learning a language facilitates problem solving, decision making and multi-tasking, develops memory and concentration, and increases creativity. Whatever your age, speaking two or more languages certainly has its advantages, especially in today's global society.

The Portuguese language

Being a native speaker of the Portuguese language has many advantages when it comes to learning a second language, as Portuguese has a Latin origin, which facilitates the learning of other languages of Latin origin, in addition Portuguese is among one of the 10 most spoken languages in the world. By entering the game of global expansion early, Portugal managed to establish roots in many countries - especially in Brazil, where it is the official language spoken - including some countries in Africa and some Asian countries like India and Burma.

So, how about taking advantage of your knowledge of the Portuguese language and start learning a new language.

Romance Languages

The Portuguese language is a Romance language, that is, it is part of the languages that are forms of Latin that have evolved over the centuries in various regions with some interaction from other local languages

All Romance languages are derived from vulgar Latin, or the colloquial form of Latin spoken by the lower classes. The Latin language had its heyday during the Roman Empire, and from there, it separated into several dialects. After the collapse of the Empire around AD 476, these dialects then began to take the form of the distinct languages we know today.

Romance languages make up the group of languages with the greatest mutual intelligibility, that is, speakers of a Romance language can often understand each other without the need for any special study or knowledge of these other languages.

Why does it matter?

As there are many languages that share structures with Portuguese, and when you have a grammatical structure or vocabulary in common, the learning process becomes faster and easier.

1 - French

Known as one of the most beautiful languages in the world, French is in the Romance language family and enchants thousands of people, in addition to being one of the most widely spoken languages across continents, making it an easy language to learn.

There are several similar aspects between the French and Portuguese languages, mainly in terms of grammar, spelling and verbal conjugation times, and it can be considered the most similar.

However, the native speaker of Portuguese may find French a little more difficult to learn than Spanish and Italian, for example, due to its phonetics, which requires greater dedication, in which it has had a great influence of the German language.

As in the case of Portuguese, the vocabulary derived from Latin becomes easy for Portuguese and Spanish speakers, with words like edifício, real, circo, etc.

However, for those who want to know how to learn a language on their own, it is necessary to be careful with the French language, due to the “false cognates”, which are words that we believe have similar meanings in Portuguese, but which in reality do not have, as for example the word "costume" that people think means habit or custom but its real meaning is "tender".


2 - Italian

Italian is a language known worldwide for its influence on gastronomy.

In addition to Italy, we can find Italian-speaking people in Switzerland, Malta and Argentina, as well as in 25 other countries, thus adding a total of 70 to 125 million Italian-speaking people worldwide.

The grammar is very similar to other languages of Latin origin, with less irregular verbs when compared to Spanish or French. It is always a good motivation to "study" the language from the menu of Italian restaurants, ordering dishes like bolognesa, parmegiana, panino, bruschetta, mozzarella, pasta and much more.

3 - Spanish

It is no secret that Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, but most people are unaware of how similar these two languages are.

With the same origin, in proto-romantic Latin, both native Spanish speakers are easy to learn Portuguese, on the contrary. But for Portuguese speakers it is even easier, since our language has more phonemes than Spanish and facilitates pronunciation.

The two languages also have similar grammatical systems. Both languages use two genders, male and female, and also four definite articles. Portuguese and Spanish also have similar conjugations and tenses.

So, if you know a little bit of Portuguese, Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn. They are so similar that native Spanish speakers can often understand Portuguese speakers without having learned any Portuguese.

4 - Romanian

Romanian is a language spoken by almost 30 million people in Romania and Moldova. And as surprising as it may be for many people, Romanian is a Latin language, like Portuguese, which makes the similarities very noticeable.

Although it has evolved a lot over the centuries, it still shares many words with the other Romance languages - French, Spanish and Italian - and even English. There are approximately 500 similar or even the same words between Romanian and Portuguese. An example is "superior", which is written and pronounced in the same way.

So if you are familiar with the most popular Romance languages, Romanian will be an easy transition. In addition, when visiting the castles and the popular city of Transylvania, you can impress Count Dracula with your stellar Romanian skills.

5 - Catalan

Catalan is probably one of the most important Romance languages in the history of Spain and probably the most important of all Romance languages.

Catalan, is a dialect of Valencian, a language with a long history as a Romance language, but more related to Spanish than any other Romance language, but it also has some connection with Portuguese, possible to notice in words like: schoriço, amo, burro.

6 - Dutch

Dutch belong to the West Germanic-speaking family. The Dutch language as well as the Portuguese language has both male and female genders for nouns.

Dutch is also among the easiest languages to learn for people who already have some knowledge of English.

7 - English

The Latin influence of the English language has words similar to Portuguese, such as traditional, student, human, history.

Although English does not have much historical similarity to Latin in the Portuguese language, it is considered one of the easiest languages to learn.

This is because it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

Thus, English is an "easy language" due to the need, world standards and immersion in this culture, since it is required in proficiency tests, selection processes of multinational companies, besides being present in several famous songs, films and series .

The great advantage of choosing to study English is that it is a language composed of small words, and of course it has almost no variation in gender and verb tenses, contrary to what is seen in Portuguese.

8 - German

As in the Portuguese language, only one sound is assigned to each letter. German also has a few specific pronunciation rules, which once learned are repeated in all cases. In this, the language is easier than French.

The biggest difficulties arise when there are several consonants together ... which often happens, because there are many compound words like Haarschmuckfachgeschäft (salão de cabeleireiro).

The German language has 3 genders, masculine, feminine and neutral, each with its corresponding declines. Because it is a very logical language, it takes just a few hours of memorization to make significant progress.

It is not as easy as English because it has less Latin terms, but it is the language of philosophy because of its ease in creating new concepts by combining words, it is certainly worth trying.


9 - Norwegian

Norwegian does not share many similarities with the Portuguese language, but it is the central language for Scandinavian languages. Each respective language has several dialects, depending on the region of any specific country in which it is located. However, the differences are not so great that they hinder their ability to understand and talk to the locals.

Norwegian speakers understand written Swedish and spoken Danish extremely well. So, for starters, Norwegian is the best bet.

10 - Greek

The Greek and Portuguese language vowel system and consonants are so similar that they make the Greek accent similar to Portuguese. In fact, if we hear someone speaking Greek on the street, it is possible to confuse it with Portuguese. Both languages have 5 vowels that are clearly pronounced and there are no long or short vowels as in English.

Learning this language is never a bad idea as a tool to improve the understanding of Aristotle and other Thinkers. In addition, there are other academic and professional advantages as many terms in the scientific vocabulary come from Greek.

3 golden tips for studying a language

Put your goals on paper

These goals should incorporate all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The amount of time or effort you spend on each one varies depending on your personal preferences, your learning goals, and your learning style, but it's a good idea to include them all as they help reinforce each other.

If all you want to do is to talk to the people you know, then writing an essay every day is probably too much, but keeping a journal in which you write a few sentences a day will go a long way.

Challenge yourself, but don't overload yourself

A big mistake that many people make when studying a language is trying to learn too many things at the same time. Setting high goals and wanting to master a language, or even master it one day, is a noble goal, but to be successful in learning you need as much specificity as possible. If you're short on time, it's much better to study a little every day than to do study marathons a few times a month. For example, if you only have 2 free hours a week to dedicate to language studies, it is much better to do 20 minutes a day, 6 days a week than to do the full 2 hours in one day.

Include the things you like

Learn words that you will use in your daily life, learn about the things that you like and that pique your interest. If you start from scratch, the first thing you have to do is think about which words you will use the most on a daily basis in whatever situation you find yourself. You can make a list of the foods you like, the things you want to do, and other daily needs.

"Language helps us capture the world, and the less language we have, the less world we capture." Fernando L. Carreter

What NOT to do to learn a second language

Is there a way to improve the foreign language learning process? Eliminating these five things is sure to help you learn any foreign language more effectively.

Translate literally

One of the most common mistakes in language learning is learning new words by translating them into your mother tongue. After all, it seems like the most efficient way of doing things: all you need is a two-language dictionary and the translation and definition of each new word is only a few turned pages.

But this all-in-one method is not a productive way to learn. Not only is the translation of each sentence very laborious, but the complexities of the new language are not learned.

Focus only on your mistakes

You have worked hard and you have learned many things. Don't worry about making mistakes or not having the perfect accent. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Don't let fear of making mistakes keep you from speaking up. Remember that it is also very important to celebrate your successes and acknowledge your progress in the language.

Focus on grammar

Intensive study of grammar kills the progress of the conversation. Get your feet under you and get comfortable with this new adventure. Don't worry about grammar until you have mastered the so-called basic skills of listening, repeating, and understanding some of the new languages.

You started studying grammar in school after becoming a fluent speaker of your mother tongue. Grammar study is for higher-level literacy, not fluency in conversation in the early stages.

Pay for low-quality professionals

Make sure you have the help of a native speaker or qualified teachers, this type of attention is important to avoid wasting your time and money.

Forget to have fun

Don't forget to have fun! Learning the language takes time, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Always remember to associate language with your everyday situations and the things you like. If you follow the tips mentioned above and approach learning a language with a smile, you will be successful!

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About the author 

Jaimi Saunders

J’aimi has worked in the education industry for over 20 years, gaining experience in teaching, mentoring, and coaching. As a seasoned educator he is passionate about advancing teaching excellence and student motivation. In addition to working in the education industry, he is also involved in continuing his personal education and improvement. Outside of the office, J’aimi enjoys, antique vehicles, motorcycles, and travelling to new destinations.

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