Learning the language is the preferable way to integrate in any foreign country. Most of mainland Europe appears to be able to communicate easily. Portuguese can understand Spanish. Dutch speak good English. The Germans, Swiss and Austrians speak each other’s languages. But English people are well known for not making an effort to bridge the cultural divide. Stereotypically, we will learn enough to get by and if needed, rely on shouting louder to make ourselves understood. Or we learn just enough to order drinks and food, gesticulating with hand gestures? Is this a hark back to colonial times or because Britain is an island?
Even outside of the Algarve, many Portuguese speak English. In school, it is a second language, taught everywhere. In Spain, Italy and Germany, English and American TV shows are usually dubbed. Unlike in Portugal, where TV programs and movies are in English with Portuguese subtitles. Because they often come into contact with spoken English, the Portuguese people seem to enjoy chatting in English. But that is not a good reason to avoid learning Portuguese. Speaking the native language will enable you to chat with the locals in the café. The best way to find out what is happening locally. The bureaucracy will be less intimidating. Appointments with doctors or other professionals less awkward. And best of all, you will feel more at home.
To get you beyond Bom Dia! and Obrigada! here are our recommendations for learning European Portuguese:
1. Pure Portugal 4 day residential language courses.
No English allowed at all
2. Skype lessons with Ana. Free 30 minute taster lesson.
3. Practice Portuguese with podcasts and videos.
4. You tube videos of Portuguese children’s fairy tales.
5. Memrise European Portuguese.
But please, please, please do your best not to sound like Bobby Robson in this 1993 interview:
Diga-nos seu método favorito para aprender português