We are on the verge of seeing more and more expats walking around Portugal holding a smartphone at mouth’s hight. Even though we appreciate Mr. Google’s help in moments of need, I believe it’s time we take back human power and communicate directly with the Portuguese people, without interference.

These days I notice two main issues with this approach:

1. Online translators steal away from you what should be an organic discovery of sentence structure and all the small details of Portuguese grammar.

2. They all seem to have a bias towards the American version of Portuguese. You may then opt for DeepL, or Linguee, or even Reverso. All somewhat better alternatives… except, you are still bound to encounter Brazilian sentence structures – “Ele me disse”, instead of “Ele disse-me” –, vocabulary – “café da manhã” instead of “pequeno-almoço”, verb conjugations – “Ele está estudando”, instead of “Ele está a estudar”.

A true Portuguese unschooler will look at a monolingual or bilingual online dictionary (one that translates words, not sentences), like infopedia.pt, look up verb conjugations (Infopedia helps with that too), note down sentence structures they’ve seen somewhere else, and avoid previous mistakes.

I usually say: write to create your own textbook. Make Portuguese your own language!

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