Motivation when studying Português

I’m ashamed to admit, I am running low on motivation these days when studying my Português. Does anyone have some ideas to keep it “fresh”, for lack of a better term? I started studying online 2 years ago and last year signed up for online lessons. I’ve tried numerous ways to include Português in my daily life (iPhone settings, podcasts, book/flashcards, watching tv…). I miss speaking/listening (to) Português, miss wandering around Lisbon, and I simply cannot wait to go back, which should be motivation enough, but life gets in the way. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
Obrigada a todos!


Oh my word… I just proofread this post and I sound like a giant whiner. Sorry about that, not trying to be a giant baby, just looking for some fresh perspectives.


Hi, @Paige! I can relate to this feeling, myself. Sometimes the intensity of my excitement/motivation for learning Portuguese is high, sometimes low. I think it’s just natural, and I know that something will soon pique my interest again. I read a few of the online Portuguese journals each day; try to find books at my level and about something that intrigues me; watch lots of YouTube videos in Portuguese (which are multiplying like rabbits on the Home/Recommendations screen); and continue to plod along in Practice Portuguese! I don’t find that it helps me to try to “force” things, and I know that I won’t ever abandon learning it. You started a good topic that will be of help to many of us! :slight_smile:


Thank you for your support and recommendations. I used to read Jornal Noticias everyday but forgot about it…I will start that again, thanks for bringing it up. Also, I think the one thing that I have continued to do (other than my online class) is watch “The Voice Portugal” on RTP.

I will check out the Home/Recommendations screen for the YouTube videos.
Thanks again, I appreciate it. (Oh, I too, can’t imagine abandoning learning Português now).:heart::portugal:


Honestly - sorry if this sounds like an egocentric or neurotic motivator - but habitually reminding myself how easily embarrassed I get (fumble over words, face turns red, clearly a mess, etc.) when I make mistakes while speaking with more native português speakers evokes a sense of urgency (“You need to study, like, NOW - your reputation and ability to communicate is on the line, buddy.”) So, that helps me in a weird way - aside from wanting to pay homage to, and preserve, part of my familial heritage. :blush:


I don‘t know where you live, but in Switzerland I found a Portuguese tandem partner, i. e. someone who is learning German and wants to practice German as much as I want to practice Portuguese. So we meet every week for a drink and speak 30 minutes in his mother tongue and 30 minutes in mine. We correct each other a bit, but mainly it is just chatting about anything - work, films, weather, books, food, holidays, sport. We always have a good time and we both make progress. Maybe you can find a tandem partner in your city, if not in Internet, you can try over libraries or a Portuguese restaurant or just asking around. The Swiss website is
Speaking regularly is fun and encouraging!
Don‘t give up! Barbara


To keep my motivation up, I do a couple of things:

  • Listen to Portuguese music
  • Keep the tab of Practice Portuguese open on my browser, so I have a visual reminder to practice
  • Throw barely understandable sentences towards a very patient Portuguese friend
  • I downloaded an app called Drops, which has quite an addictive reward system for expanding your vocabulary
  • But most importantly, I found a language cafe in my city that has a monthly meetup. Having a social circle where everyone is both trying to learn a language and helping others learn theirs is super motivating! And because it once a month, I really want to show progress every time I attend. Maybe you can look on Meetup or Facebook to see if there is something similar in your area as well.

Olá Paige! I think it is natural that everybody goes through. I know I have my ups and downs not only when I study Portuguese but with other hobbies and studies I have. What usually gets me motivated again is picking a certain area I need to study more and really understanding it. Then once I have a real good understanding of it, I have that little accomplishment that makes me what to go onto another topic and fully learn that one. Another method is using other learning resources. Practice Portuguese is an awesome website and learning resource. But when I get into a rut I use another websites or another resources and it gives a fresh perspective on learning. Everyone has different learning methods and everyone has different teaching methods. Listening to someone else teach and their teaching method definitely helps me to get back into it and keep things new and exciting. Then I always end up where I started…Practice Portuguese!

Espero que ajude!


Muito obrigada. Eu agradeço a sua ajuda e sugestões.


Hi Paige, I too have been studying online for 4 years and get low in motivation, mainly because when I am in Portugal my ability to converse is like a toddler. But when I started out I also joined an online community called ‘Wespeke’. Not sure if it is still going, but it offers you the opportunity, for free, to match up with native speakers of your chosen language. Seems many want to learn English, so easy for us to find matches. I did find there were way more Brazilians than Pt Portuguese, but it is still a chance to talk out loud, have a laugh and listen to the language. I ended up meeting my chat buddy in Lisboa as I was going there to walk the Caminho, and we fell in love, truly amazing. So we now have a crazy across the world relationship, still going strong after 4 years, with frequent trips between Pt and Australia. But we tend to speak mostly in English, so I try to have chunks of time when we only speak Pt. His family understand me more and more and nobody speaks English, so it is sink or swim. I try to do my Practice Portuguese as a daily short activity, a few of the unirs and then a ‘ shortie’.
When I have real energy, I find writing down the new words, explained in various units ( eg the cooking, kitchen, units) helps, I stick post it notes to the correct items in my kitchen.

Also like you, tv, phone, Pt radio et . My real buzz now is that somehow actual songs in Pt are much more understandable. My partner makes me collections of fado, from UTube and I play it constantly in the car. I also listen to Radio Amalia online when at the gym.
I used to read the online jornais, now I have moved onto online revistas about travel in Pt. More cheery than the news.

The main TV channel is easy to get online as well and the content is mostly understandable, until the ‘ screaming’ begins between football commentators, lol.
But go easy on yourself, life does get in the way, but you will absorb more and more by multi modal exposure.


mainly because when I am in Portugal my ability to converse is like a toddler.

I loved that comment Roberta. I feel the same often. But I remind myself that one really needs to be totally immersed in th country for a good while, not just an occasional visitor, to become anywhere near fluent.
And then I compare myself to the folk who have lived in the country for 20 years or more and can’t even use obrigado/obrigada properly.

I can more than “get by”. But I get stuck, lost for a simple word but hey it never seems to happen when I want a beer or some food…

Don’t be disconsolate



Funny that you say “you speak like a “toddler” because I basically said the same thing to a Language School instructor I’ve corresponded with numerous times. It seems I can only use indicative verbs (well, almost all tenses of indicativo verbs, I still need practice on the imperfeito tense).

I absolutely love that you and your language partner fell in love. What a wonderful story :hugs:.

Thank you for the suggestions. I wish you all the best!

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As I told Roberta, I said the same thing to someone. I feel like I speak like a child when speaking Portuguese (well, indicativo verbs only minus the imperfeito tense). I am going to find something new to read, Jornal Notícias seems to write a lot about depressing things (I guess a lot of news sources are like that). Is there a Portuguese equivalent to “People Magazine?”:joy: I found some radio station online, but it seems the channels I like have a mix of English and Portuguese music, but the advertisements are in Portuguese.

Thanks so much for your help, I appreciate it.

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Ahaha, oh yes, there is. Some of our gossip magazines are named after women, for some reason, like Ana and Maria. There’s also a Cristina magazine, but I know that one is named after our poor person’s Oprah, Cristina Ferreira.


There are a lot of good suggestions here!

It is not whining to be complaining or to be critical. I tend to be very critical of the learning curve and my own relationship to it. I started Duolingo a long time ago and make it an absolute point to do two lessons per day. I know it is Brasilian and not European, but it does not matter. The pronunciation is clear most always and I do a lot of correct answers in a row. Sometimes I get several in a row wrong, too. I also ignore sentences that I know I will never use.

The short stories on Duolingo are much better suited for my level than the very hard shorties found here. I am starting to better understand Duolingo short stories now and that is good. The stories are written in short sentences and avoid using too many different tenses or forms of words so they are easier to follow. There is nothing more annoying for a beginner to have to deal with a “traffic jam” of words that are in different tenses and forms.

When I get annoyed at too difficult lessons on PP, I drop them and go onto something easier. Or I may try a journal or two. I try to do those twice a day. Many of the articles are hard to read. I often get maybe 30% of the words but not the meaning. A language translation service helps, though they are far from perfect.

The hardest part is repeating audio stuff again and again only to suffer from continuing “not understanding.” I just drop it and go to something more simpatico!

Very few websites are user friendly for beginners. They just are not! They like to say they are, but they seldom are. I am not sure what goes through the minds of most teachers. But one thing I am sure of and that is they never consider what its like to be beginners! Their use of over complicated language shows it!

While I really enjoy good music, I do not find Portugues lyrics understandable. I don’t bother. If I cannot understand it, it is too advanced.

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I have the same issue overhere. Sometimes I am very enthoustiac about studying and sonetimes I think I will never learn… What helps me is a weekly Skype lesson with a Portuguese teacher, I get homework and need to talk. It goes okay for my level A2 but when I am in Portugal it sometimes feels like I don t know anything anymore, just black out.
I love the other ideas as well. For now I listen to the shorties and the music stations.

Anyone here that wants to practise European Portuguese with me? I speak Dutch and English. Please message me on

It’s great to read through all these suggestions and realizing that we all go through similar struggles! It’s absolutely normal to go through ruts, since it’s not sustainable to keep 100% of our motivation at all times, especially months and years later after arriving. That’s why it’s so important to really ride that wave of excitement and maybe fear-based motivation when you first get here, since that urgency falls away soon after you become adapting into your routine.

But you can definitely get it back. Lots of people here have provided great tips, but I wanted to echo the importance of finding material that really interests you, so you can minimize the feeling that you’re studying at all. Continue to focus on what you want your speaking ability to look like 1 or 5 years from now, and what small steps you can commit to making on a daily basis to get there. Even 5 or 10 minutes every day is much better than procrastinating for weeks, waiting until you have the motivation for a 3-hour studying marathon. Consistency is key, and trying to keep a light approach, instead of letting the inevitable mental pressure weigh you down.

For every one of us who are here trying to learn the language, there are 10 more who aren’t even making the effort. So whether it’s 5 minutes or 3 hours per day, do what you can realistically sustain, and try to be at peace with that goal you’ve set for yourself.

I guess that’s more mindset type stuff that might not be super practical, but maybe something in there will strike a chord with someone reading :slight_smile:


Great advice Joel. I tend to be the type that will do a 3 hour marathon, after not practicing for weeks. However I live in a small community in Setubal, where English is rarely spoken. This has forced me to tackle speaking Portuguese head on, whether I like it or not. At times it is confronting but it’s a great way to learn, as the local people do not mind correcting me when it’s due. The downside is that I tend to ignore PracticePortuguese frequently and need a boost from you guys. Therefore, I suggest you keep nudging me to find the motivation to study more officially. Furthermore I shall need you even more when I go sit the CIPLE A2 Exams early 2020. Keep up the great work and thank you very much for your skill.
PS. I apologize for not writing the above comment in Portuguese, which I could, but decided to be lazy. Sorry!! All the best.
Kind regards, Dorville


Hi Paige and David,
Some comments do sound like whining, but you don’t Paige. I totally get your frustration. My husband and I moved here from Australia 5 years ago to make our dream of living in Europe after retirement, come true. I am now 60 and he’s 65 and still feeling youthful and the love for travel. Alas, we never had and still don’t have that vital language connection you get when you work or study formally at school. My husband reads rather well but he’s developed a timidity to speak. I’m the “social animal” with the “big mouth”, so I have a tendency to speak more, as I have amassed a rather rich and plentiful vocabulary. However, this is terribly limited by our inability to hear spoken Portuguese clearly, especially when the people talk at normal speed in a group or even with just 2 people conversing. Anyway this has only made me more determined to continue listening and learning, and using PP, although right now, I feel in the trough of a learning curve. I intend to go sit for the CIPLE A2 level Exams in 2020, to see how far I shall be with this very challenging Portuguese “lingo”. Keep the faith guys. It’s like gym… the training takes time. Kind
regards, Dorville

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Hi Everyone. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the topic about keeping motivated I have found the ideas and sharing of experiences very helpful.
One of the ways I have been using to try to keep motivated whilst we have been back in the U.K. for the last 2 months is to keep a learning journal. Each day I record the date in Portuguese, the modules or shorties I have worked through, new vocabulary, verbs etc. As I do so I begin to notice areas to explore in a more just out of curiosity type way ie with no pressure on myself to actually remember any of it, for example looking at the differences in meaning between conseguir and poder, or I begin compiling all the words I know to do with times of the day, dawn, dusk, sunrise, sunset evening, bedtime and so on. At the end of the time allocated usually around an hour but sometimes less I jot a brief note to myself about what I have actually learned, what I might review next time and sometimes how I feel. I do this in a very informal way, sometimes making colourful splash diagrams it’s sort of playful. Anyway after 2 months I have a lovely record of all my efforts and hope it will bring rewards when we get back to Portugal and I have to try communicating in real time again