I have been learning Portuguese for about a year and am a solid intermediate speaker. However, living in Portugal, everyone wants to speak English to me so it is really hard to get any practice. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas of how we might occasionally do a group chat on Skype or something similar!
I totally relate to this. It’s easy to feel stuck when you don’t have the opportunity to practice in a real world setting. Knowing English is both a blessing and a curse in these situations. Maybe you could pretend you don’t know English…
I know there are a few conversation exchange websites that match you with native speakers of Portuguese who also want to learn your native language. Have you ever tried any of those? I like the idea of a 1-on-1 conversation like this because a group chat could become overwhelming with so many people trying to speak at once. It seems like a great idea, but I think anxiety has prevented me from giving it a shot!
I would say I’m more of a beginner when it comes to speaking, but maybe there’s another intermediate speaker in the forums who would love to practice with you!
And maybe one day Practice Portuguese will do a meetup in Lisbon…
Haha, quem sabe! We would love to do some kind of meet-up some day, but with the amount of other new additions to the site we are scrambling to release in the next few weeks, I couldn’t say when we’d have the time to plan something like this properly.
Of course, if someone else were interested in organizing a get-together in Lisbon, it would be a great way to meet other learners.
@janie.curtis, as for people always wanting to speak English, that’s definitely the story of a estrangeiro’s life… so be armed and ready with a phrase like, “posso praticar o meu português consigo? Ainda estou a aprender!” I find saying something like that does a few things:
- It lowers their expectations so they can end up being more patient, and wait for you to finish what you’re saying
- They’re often flattered that you’d want to practice with them, so are more likely to be helpful
- It takes some stress off of you, since you no longer feel like you need to say everything perfectly and quickly
It used to bother me a lot when people would switch to English. It made me feel like I had failed in my noble mission to transition from fanny-pack tourist into a well-integrated citizen!
But after some time, I realized that it doesn’t need to mean that I’ve failed. They might switch to English because they want to be accommodating, or perhaps want to practice their own English. Even if it’s because I said something in Tarzan Portuguese, it’s not the end of the world.
It’s kind of funny how you can end up playing a game of language-chicken, to see who will swerve back to their native language first. Depending on how stubborn I’m feeling, I’ll sometimes have entire conversations where people will speak to me in English, and I’ll speak to them in Portuguese!
Even after 7 years here and a C1 course under my belt, people will still want to switch to English every once in a while! (So don’t feel discouraged when it inevitably happens to you).
So rambling aside… another tip might be to try to spend some time outside of cities centres like Lisbon. If you can spend some time in a more rural community, for example, the English fluency can decrease.
@Molly was probably joking, but you definitely wouldn’t be the first of our members to pretend not to speak English to keep the conversation in Portuguese!
Just make sure that if you lie that you’re a native speaker of a different language, don’t pick another romance language like Spanish, French, Italian etc., or else you’ll find them trying to speak with you in that language too!
Thanks for the suggestions Molly!
Thanks so much for your fantastic response Joel!!
I do horseback ride with one person who doesn’t speak English so that helps a lot!
Guys, don’t be afraid of just telling people that you want to keep the conversation going in Portuguese for as long as you can. Unless they’re pressed for time, I expect most people to be happy to accommodate you and to truly appreciate your effort to speak our language, which is not easy
I have found that staying away from tourist places; where empregados are pressed for time, helps a lot. Wife and I will frequent off the track spots, with locals. My go-to phrase when o empregado talks to me in english, is “Descuple, por favor falamos português, mais devagar” - usually the local empregado is only too willing to accommodate me. Also, returning to the same place over&over helps - they get to know you and you them. Builds everyone’s confidence. Oh- and to @Joseph 's point - I really get the sense they are very appreciative of the effort.
Good tip! Being a regular in a non-crowded place always helps. Here in Portugal, it’s usually easy to build rapport with the people who work at the places you visit most often and it opens up a nice path for lots of conversation practice.