Of course, this is my own analogy, but it seems to strike a chord with the unschoolers in my program. Even those who already speak Portuguese have had lightbulb moments after hearing about my “queen” analogy.

I’m actually talking about stressed syllables. If this is a new concept, try saying “comfortável” in a robotic way to figure out the number of syllables. Hopefully you get to four: com-for-tá-vel. Now, instead of me telling you which of these components is going to be stressed more (I’d rather avoid the word “stress” in my approach…), I talk about the queen. Think of an imposing, impossible-to-miss female figure behind “tá”. The accent, quite often dismissed as an annoying detail of the language, is, in fact, a friend. It’s there to help you. Most words in Portuguese ending with an L will have the queen hiding behind it. Since this is an exception, we signal it with a graphic accent. Don’t ignore them, is my friendly advice.

When we combine words, the queen is present too. Look: centro de saúde, /setru de saUHde/ may well become /setd saUHd/. If the queen is hiding behind cen- and saú- and an “e” at the end of a word gets swallowed up, why bother pronouncing anything else in between?

The queen rules in Portuguese, não é?

If you have enjoyed this quick lesson and would like to learn more Portuguese outside of the box, then please contact Catarina from The Language Unschool - catarina@thelanguageunschool.com