How to improve your Portuguese in Rio


Improve your Portuguese / Briton's tales from Rio Rdj4u

Almost five months into my stay in Rio and I’m finally getting to grips with the language. Portuguese can be tricky, but Rio has its own unique version of the language which can only by mastered by speaking to the lovely Cariocas. As the locals are so friendly and eager to get to know anyone who comes to visit their city, you will inevitably pick up some phrases. However, if you’d like to speed up the process and impress the locals with your fluency, below you can find just out how to do so.

Improve your Portuguese with a Briton's tales in Rio / Rdj4u

Practise the language it is also a great way to make Carioca friends when you first arrive

Language exchanges

Although tourists come to Brazil to learn the tuneful native language, there are many cariocas who would like to learn ours, or any other language for that matter. To avoid paying for Portuguese lessons you can use websites such as Language Exchange “” in order to get in touch with native Portuguese speakers in return for offering them conversation in English. You can communicate via skype, by being a pen pal or do what I did and meet face-to-face. I still meet with my friend who I made through Language Exchange every week, twice. One hour in English then an hour in Portuguese. Not only is it the perfect opportunity to practise the language it is also a great way to make Carioca friends when you first arrive. On websites such as these you have to create a profile with details such as age and location. Therefore it is easy to find someone your own age who knows the city well and can offer you some advice.

How to improve your Portuguese with a Briton' tales in Rio / Rdj4u

I then went to see my favourite Brazilian band, Natiruts / Source

Listen to some Brazilian music

One of the best ways to learn any language is by listening to music. Brazil has a famous musical history that stretches beyond the legendary songs “Girl from Ipanema” and “At the Copacabana”. Due to Rio’s thriving music scene, if you find a current Brazilian band that you enjoy, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to see them in concert. In which case you can become a true fan by learning the words and then belting them out amongst the Cariocas. I’ve been to do outstanding concerts since arriving, I went to see Jorge Ben Jor at Nivea’s free concert on Copacabana beach and the whole evening was fantastic. He is famous for his song “Mas Que Nada” and when he began to play the whole crowd went wild, and everyone (including me!) knew all the words and sang along. I then went to see my favourite Brazilian band, Natiruts, at the Casas de Show Metropolitan in Barra de Tijuca. They are a very popular reggae band and during the concert I met lots of like-minded young cariocas who helped me to understand the lyrics!

Improve your portuguese with a Briton's tales in Rio / Rdj4u

Although a slightly unorthodox method of language dating, why not try speed-dating?

Try your chance at finding your true Brazilian love!

Although a slightly unorthodox method of language dating, why not try speed-dating? Some friends and I gave it ago before and it was a hilarious evening and I was able to truly put my Portuguese to the test. The concept is headed by a Language School, Caminhos, ( and pairs Cariocas and gringos. The idea is to practice the language and find a potential love interest. You have five minutes with each person and can later decide if you would like to see them again. Although the whole notion may make some want to wince, it’s really just a fun way to put your language to the test and make some new friends. Although not everyone will find their one true Brazilian love, almost everyone is guaranteed a fun night as the party continues until the early hours of the morning. This year it will take place in the Pura Vida hostel in Copacabana on the 28th of April. ( evening requires you to harness the one essential aspect of learning a language: confidence. You have five minutes to ‘wow’ the person in front of you which will require you to sharpen your communication skills in Portuguese. Not to mention there is a free Caipirinha included in the 30 reais ticket price!

. . .

In Rio it’s not difficult to strike up a conversation with Cariocas. In a city where the beaches are always full of locals and tourists alike, there is plenty of intermingling between local and foreign culture. Its outdoor nightlife also provides the perfect scenario for meeting and getting to know the locals as popular spots such as Lapa and Pedra do Sal always have a mixed crowd of both Cariocas and foreigners. Therefore once your Portuguese is up to scratch, you can begin to confidently insert yourself into the Carioca culture and get to know the people at the heart of the city.

By: Lucy Gavan, student of Spanish and Portuguese culture at the University of Bristol in England, currently living in Rio as part of an exchange programme with Rdj4u.