Learning a new language is hard. It takes time, dedication, and consistent practice to reach a fluent – or even conversational – level of proficiency. But some languages are more closely related than others and this makes it easier to reach the status of “multilingual.”
Two such languages are Spanish and Portuguese. The two Ibero-Romance languages share a high lexical similarity of more than 90% and share words with similar meanings and pronunciations. Both languages also trace their origin back to vulgar Latin.
So, how long does it take a Spanish speaker to learn Portuguese?
How Long for a Spanish Speaker To Learn Portuguese?
How hard is it to learn Portuguese if you already know Spanish? Learning Portuguese after learning Spanish means a smaller learning curve and a shorter time to reach your goals. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges.
The close relationship between Spanish and Portuguese has led to common language-related misconceptions. There are many words with similar meanings and pronunciations in the two languages. At the same time, there is a plethora of “false cognates” that one must watch out for.
Here are some of the main differences between the two languages and how Spanish-speaking students can overcome them.
Pronunciation is one of the major differences a Spanish speaker must watch out for when learning Portuguese. Even though most words are similar, letter for letter, native Spanish speakers find Portuguese quite challenging to pronounce.
One of the shocks that Spanish speakers cannot get over is that they have to discard most of their Spanish pronunciations when learning Portuguese, even when the words are similar. Instead, they have to adopt new rules like nasalizing every n and m they see at the end of each syllable. Portuguese have seven more nasal vowels than Spanish
The differences in pronunciation lead to different meanings of words in Spanish and Portuguese; a good example is the treatment of letters like f and h.
Spanish has the Latin “f,” which turns into h on pronunciation. For example, farina is pronounced as harina. However, in Portuguese, the letter f is pronounced like the consonant “f” in English.
Same Words, Different Meanings
Spanish and Portuguese share a lot of similarities and notable differences in grammar and cognates. If you are learning Portuguese after Spanish, you need to watch out for the use of certain Spanish vocabulary because they mean different things. For example, the word “polvo,” which is the Spanish name for “dust,” means “Octopus” in Portuguese.
Also, similar challenges are experienced in the case of words with the same pronunciation, like rojo (Spanish) and roxo (Portuguese), which mean different things in each language. These discrepancies can distort the meaning of words and create confusion, especially for non-native Spanish speakers trying to learn Portuguese.
In addition to pronunciations, proper use of conjunctions is a serious impediment to learning Portuguese as a Spanish speaker.
In writing Portuguese, present and future subjunctives are not optional like in informal or verbal communication. While both languages share these conjunctions, Portuguese tends to have more subjunctive moods in casual conversations than Spanish.
Due to the nature of Portuguese syllables, using Spanish conjunctions in Portuguese will make one sound medieval. Mixing Spanish and Portuguese is such a common phenomenon among people speaking these two languages that it has been dubbed “Portunhol.”
Mixing Spanish and Portuguese can distort the message on various occasions. For instance, exquisito means excellent in Spanish, but the same term means “weird” in Portuguese. One must learn to switch from one language to another to ensure they are speaking clearly.
Learning Portuguese Online
There is no straight answer for how long it will take a Spanish speaker to learn Portuguese. In general, it can take between 3 months and two years for a student to learn a new language. A disciplined student using the right learning methods and being guided by an instructor will be able to pick up a new language quickly. A Spanish speaker studying Portuguese, in most cases, should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.
LanguageBird is here to help you overcome any difficulties you experience when learning a new language. All of our instructors are native speakers in the target language and lesson plans are built around specific strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest.
Contact us today or download your free brochure to learn about the unique benefits our programs provide.