We all wish there were more shortcuts, but at a certain point, learning Portuguese will come down to putting the study time in and getting enough long-term repeated practice with the language. The key to developing a routine for learning Portuguese is just to find a way to be consistent with your learning.
Consistency doesn’t mean doing the same exact thing over and over. It means fitting Portuguese into your life on a regular basis. Learning a new language is a gradual process, so learners benefit most from routines that are the most sustainable, rather than the most impressive.
What kind of study schedule really works for you? If you push yourself too hard (“I’m going to study for 8 hours every single day or else I won’t let myself eat dinner!”), you’ll burn out quickly. If you make it too easy or too vague (“I’ll just study when I have time”), you probably won’t get enough practice to make things stick. Think about the time of day, length of study session, and method of studying that realistically fits your lifestyle. A perfect routine for learning Portuguese is only perfect if you can actually put it into practice, so don’t get stuck planning something that doesn’t fit your real life.
Build off existing habits
It can be hard to start a new habit, so why not build off of an existing one? Think of all the things that you already do regularly without really trying. Do you drive to work every morning? Do you do the laundry every Friday? Do you have a cup of coffee after lunch? Do you buy groceries often?
Whatever it may be, find a way to link Portuguese study time to that habit, whether it’s listening to a Portuguese podcast on the way to work, practicing vocabulary while your coffee is brewing, or naming food items as you add them to your grocery basket.
Go ahead! List some of the things you do regularly. How can you “attach” a Portuguese habit to some of them? Working Portuguese practice into your daily life is an easier way to get relevant, regular practice without having to commit to an intense study schedule or rely on others.
Even with the ideal plan, we will all have moments when we procrastinate or want to give up. The trick is finding ways to keep yourself motivated and to continually challenge yourself without ending up overwhelmed or discouraged.
This is where a little creativity can do wonders. Are you sick of reading grammar books? Try a different strategy like taking a more interactive course or find new ways to use the resources you already have. Did you just complete a worksheet in your grammar book? Now use some of the words you learned to write a short story, or work on pronunciation by speaking the sentences out loud.
You can also think of specific short-term goals to give yourself that rewarding feeling of completing something while inching you closer to your goals. (If you need ideas, check out our blog post on Overcoming a Plateau in Your Portuguese Learning for examples.)
When your routine starts to feel tiresome, it helps to engage more with the learning process. One way to get ideas is to look for ways to use your senses:
- 👀 Use your eyes to read books and articles, watch videos, and look for Portuguese on signs, labels, and menus.
- 👂🏼 Use your ears to listen to real and recorded dialogues and search for podcasts with helpful tips.
- 🤚🏽 Use your hands to write about your day in Portuguese, send text messages or emails, or write down words as you listen to a news report or conversation.
- 👄 Use your mouth to talk on the phone or in real life, talk to yourself about something you are going to do, or sing along with your favourite Portuguese music
- 🍷 Then all that’s left to do is reward your sense of taste with a pastel de nata or a nice glass of Portuguese vinho wine!