Immersive Language Opportunties

I’ll be going to Portugal for a week this fall/winter. I’m looking for some ideas of activities I might pursue while I’m there that would force me to speak with natives, perhaps either half- or full-day activities. I’m hoping that the context of the activity might match up with my interests, but also constrain the vocabulary enough to make the interactions manageable for the level at which I’m functioning in Portuguese.

Suggestions are welcome, and I’d love to hear what kinds of things you have done that got you out of your comfort zone of speaking your native language or English while you were visiting Portugal.


I don’t know how long you are practising portuguese. I am a foreigner too and for me te language on the street is not easy to understand. In summer when I was there for my first time i switched to english because with Corona mask i couldn’t understand and they didn’t understand my portuguese.
If you are able to order your food in restaurants or cafés and do small conversations with the waiter it’s great. I will be in Lisboa to chrismas time too - I only know that there are big decorations of the street everywhere so i will enjoy that. And visiting Maat museum where are alwaxs changing exhibitions.
If you are in Instagram - there are a lot of pages of Lisbo lovers and when you follow them, you will be informed about concerts, nice restaurantes and get picturesof a lot of places that you will love to see on your trip.

Hello. It sure which part of Portugal you are visiting nor you language level. I am at A2 and it is still hard to understand locals speaking especially due to mask wearing. But doing something like shopping for something specific eg shoes or a book it gives a chance to speak directly and to use lots of different vocabulary. Even if the assistant answers me in English I keep responding in Portuguese and I have always found the Portuguese very helpful and willing to carry on a conversation beyond the actual transaction
Also obviously restaurants cafes and bars are another place where it is possible to speak to others or just sit with a coffee and “eavesdrop”to practice listening skills.
Listening for rhythms cadences and speech patterns if the words cannot be understood.
Going on a guided tour led bPortuguese by a Portuguese speaker is another opportunity to practice listening and even trying to ask questions
Good luck

Thanks for your suggestions. The tour idea is one thing I’d been toying with, so I think I will try that. I’m not much of a shopper, but will see what I can come up with.

And yes, masks :mask: do make it hard to understand people, even in my native language.

When I was there I found that people in smaller food stores especially in non-tourist areas were quite happy to have me speak (or try to) in Portuguese. I got bread, cheese, fruit and cookies in such places and was able to use my rather limited Portuguese to good effect.

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I had the same experience in 2 small grocery stores while in Lisbon. I would practice prior to going. I had to order through a window due to COVID restrictions. They were so helpful & encouraging it helped with my confidence speaking. I only had one problem when I asked for dishwashing soap “sabão de loica” she didn’t understand my made up word at all. Finally she came back with a bottle “detergent”. We both laughed.

Try and get out to a smaller village or town, away from tourists, you can sit in a cafe and see what you can understand from the locals. I managed to get by buying baby things from an elderly shopkeeper who spoke no English in a small village 30mins from Lisboa. It was a great experience.